Baby Talk (or how I discovered my children weren’t me)

The final story in the trilogy of how I have accidentally learned some life lessons from my children involves my youngest son – Three-of-Three.  He was seven or eight at the time. In this story, the parent (me) and the kids were all snuggled up in bed having a ‘tell-me-stories-about-when-I-was-a-baby’ session.  I was obliging with funny stories about babies eating worms and being afraid of garden hoses and leaves and cacti and somehow it came up that when I was pregnant with Three-of-Three, due to a pregnancy complication (placenta praevia), I had to stay in bed for two full months.  The conversation that ensued went something like this –

Three-of-Three: “But did you stay in bed all the time?”

Me: “I did.”

Three-of-Three: “Every single day for two whole months?”

Me: “Every single minute of every single day.”

Three-of-Three: “But why did you do that?”

Me: “Because if I didn’t you wouldn’t have been able to grow in my tummy.”

Three-of-Three: “Would I have died?”

Me: “Probably.”

Three-of-Three sat up in bed, looked at me very seriously and didn’t say anything for a few seconds, he was obviously thinking about this new information.  Finally, once he’d digested it, with a very solemn expression on his small face he said – “Thanks, Mom.”

I was completely taken aback.  I had always seen that time when I was pregnant with him as being about me.  My experience.  My pregnancy.  My fear.  My worry.  My potential loss.  I saw my two months of being consigned to bed as something I did for myself.

He saw it differently.  He saw himself as a person in his own right, not an extension of me, or even a ‘product’ of me but a whole, distinct other person.

And for the first time, I really realised that that was true.  Not that I hadn’t given lip-service to that idea before – I had.  There was just something about his heart-felt expression of thanks that showed me not only that was he grateful but also that he really wasn’t me.

Which got me to thinking that our children, as well as being born of and influenced (for better or worse) by us are also complete human beings in their own right (also for better or worse).

Which means so are we.  We are products of certain people and certain times and certain environments but that’s not all we are – we are also uniquely ourselves.

Just like Three-of-Three.

17 Comments

  1. Wonderful!
    And its inspiring to me that you can use these memories to learn about yourself, even so much after the fact.
    Your children are very wise!

  2. Wow! Oh just wow. That is so beautiful. I got tears in my eyes. Thank you for such a heart-warming post.

  3. I hear you… I’ve learned a lot from my kids too … and continue to learn. 🙂

  4. I am glad I finally got down my list of reading to this, rather than just deleting because I was so delayed. What a wonderful morning read and a reminder, thank you.

  5. Recognizing that not only are our children their very own human beings, but so are we, is a healthy way to help us remember that we don’t have to carry all that baggage around forever. The baggage belongs to the parts of us that are still connected to someone else. What we do with the baggage belongs to the part of us that is our own unique individual human being. Nicely done!

  6. Life lesson well learned from your child–they are NOT extensions of us! As a grandmother, I am still remembering times when I wanted certain achievements from my children because I had not done them myself. My children seem much wiser in raising their own children; so maybe our discussions on this topic are bearing fruit!

  7. Our children can teach us so much if we’ll just listen. This is a beautiful story.

  8. Thank you – I think the surprise helped me to listen if I’m honest.

  9. What an awesome insight and such a beautifully tender way to receive it from your “three-of-three.” Thanks for this lovely story. My son is six… you are so right that they way little ones share their keen observations can – at the most unexpected times – break open a world of grace and growth for a listening parent. I often enjoy your thoughtful posts. Blessings, Angela

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