First Time Stage Mom

Last Sunday, J was tasked to be the bible bearer at his ninong's wedding. We were officially informed by the couple about a month before the wedding that J was to take part and I have to admit, Big C and I were pretty nervous, since J had only started walking independently about two weeks ago. We thought it might be a good idea to practice with him.

We spent the few remaining weeks before the wedding coaching J on what would happen. We explained that we would go to a big church and that there will be lots of people he doesn't know, but that he shouldn't be scared because both Daddy and Mommy will be with him. We told him step-by-step what was going to happen: he and Daddy will walk down a long aisle, and Mommy will be waiting at the end. We even showed him pictures and videos of other little kids doing the same thing and he seemed to get it. I practiced him with the Yaya, with him holding a book and coming towards me. In a few days, he was able to walk down the length of the whole basketball court.

Those were hit and miss days. He'd start out okay, but then he'd see something interesting along the way and veer off the path we set for him, as the little ones tend to do. Or there would be those days that he would just slam the book we were using as a bible down on the floor just because he didn't want to hold it. In the end, Big C and I resigned ourselves to the fact that even if he had done well on all our sessions, we'd have to leave it up to chance on the big day. The question wasn't whether he could do it or not. It was a question of whether he would or would not.

And so the big day for our friends came. (But as with any other parent, for Big C and I, this day failed to be about the couple as much as it was about our son.) We carefully ensured that he would nap at the right time, even leaving for the church two hours early so he could sleep longer during the car ride. We arrived at the venue early, to give him time to get used to the new place.

However, Big C and I decided that it would be best if he carried J down the aisle. He was so much younger than the other kids, who were at least 5 years old, and since the wedding wasn't really hosted by either of our families, we didn't want our son to be too fussy and hold the entire wedding procession up. So that's what happened in the end. My mag-ama walked down the aisle together and to this wife and mother's eyes, they were a sight to see.

Despite the fact that my son didn't walk down the aisle by himself, my heart still felt like it was bursting at the seams from pride. At the end of the day, it was enough for me that he behaved himself (relatively) during the entire ceremony, didn't break anything, and was on the whole, a charming little boy towards Mommy and Daddy's friends.

It kind of makes me think about the kind of parent I am becoming. Most of the people who know me would guess that I'd become a Type A parent, always pushing my kids to do this or that and demanding that they outperform everyone else. But as with J's first time to be part of a wedding entourage, I felt instinctively that it was okay that my son be unable to do this yet. This doesn't mean I don't have expectations from my son. I've just learned that my expectations are different. He doesn't have to be a mini-Doogie Howser (I think this pop culture reference has outed my age.) for me to be proud of him. I am proud of him no matter what, simply because he is my son.

But even I'm surprising myself. It's an ongoing lesson to stop constantly comparing my son to the development of other kids, and I do have to admit that I'm secretly thrilled when he hits milestones ahead of his age. But I've learned from experience, both as a teacher and as a mom, that kids really do develop at different times and that in the end they will excel at different things. What's more important is that we parents are there to support them, help them find their path, show them how to make the most of their advantages and opportunities and teach them the importance of hard work. All of this is mixed in with a truckload of hopes and wishes that their lives would be well-lived.

Of course, if he did turn out to be a prodigy, that wouldn't be so bad either. :-)


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