The Trouble of Acceptance.
May 17, 2012 § 10 Comments
As a parent, children add a whole new gamut of uncomfortable situations to the table, sadly. It wasn’t until we had Audrey that Trever and I realized how many issues we have with feeling embarrassed in public.
I can clear as day remember the first time this really hit me when we moved into our new place in Long Beach and my dad, step mom, and little sister came to visit. We went to a pizza parlor together and a man in a booth behind us said,
“Who brings a baby to a pizza parlor?”
Trever looked like he was going to punch someone in the face. Instead he stood up, scooped the crying three-week-old Audrey from my arms and walked out into the cold beach night. From that point on, he almost always refused to eat out with Audrey until she was about twenty months and not crying as frequently.
My first reaction to his stubbornness was they just need to deal with it. Yet as time has gone on, it’s become apparent that my feelings of embarrassment arise as a parent much more frequently than Trever’s.
Since the parlor brawl (hehe) over two years ago, Trev has let go of a lot of the issues and triggers that were holding him to those feelings. I, on the other hand, have only explored more with my children by my side and come in contact with more people who want a kid-free (or at least explorative, bouncy, energetic kid-free) environment. You’ll never guess where I’ve discovered these more than uncomfortable situations:
• At the grocery store: Audrey wanting to help put things in the cart
• In mommy and me yoga: She’s too old for the class
• Music class: She’s too bouncy, bubbly, and the center of attention
• At the park: She wants to be everyone’s friend
• In mommy groups: She wants to explore and needs a lot of hands-on play
My daughter is so much like myself and her father–playful, funny, personable, and always performing–that I’m constantly reminded of myself. I can’t help but remember what it felt like to be that way and to continually have people treating me like I was making them uncomfortable, embarrassed, or the like.
Now I see the scenario playing out from a different perspective. I don’t feel like either of my parents knew what to do with me and also felt constantly embarrassed. Here I am replaying the same parenting techniques and I have no idea how to break free.
I love my Audrey, but I don’t really feel comfortable taking her practically anywhere–on top of that, I’ve got an infant’s needs that I’m trying to meet while protecting the heart of my toddler. I feel like staying at home all day every day to protect her and keep her safe from the world because I know the end result of having people constantly shame the behavior of a performer: You stop wanting to perform. You turn away from community and people and hide from everyone you know because it’s easier than being hurt.
And I want her to perform! If I had the money to, she’d be in dance class, voice class, musical theatre class, acting class,…anything performance related, you name it, she’d be there. She loves it! She eats it up! She will watch movies and act out the entire thing. She’ll sing the songs, dance, put on outfits like them, say the lines, and drag you along to perform with her. It’s the best!
I’m so afraid of killing that spark inside of her as so many people in my childhood did to me. It’s the acceptance that I do desire for her. I have such a hard time knowing and feeling if I’m accepted and I often run away from people, places, and events if I don’t know if I am or I can’t tell.
We all need to feel accepted, it’s a core desire of our humanness. Yet I struggle with it so deeply.