Parenthood is a fascinating journey. I often feel as though I'm learning more than I'm teaching, and I feel like it should be the other way around. But as I journey on, I realize time and time again that this is as much of a learning and growing process for me as it is for my children.
I'm seeing things and feeling things for the first time, right along side my kids. And sometimes, I get to experience things that I was never able to experience as a child. It's emotional, it's humbling, and it's an honor.
There are lots of different interests and hobbies my boys dive into that force me to experience things I've never done or much enjoyed doing. Camping, playing in the dirt, dissecting bugs in the house, etc. Although it's dirty, it's always fun.
But when I picked up my eight-year-old from school this particular day, I would be reminded once again of the full circle experience parenting gives us.
As he ran out of class, he had a grin that took over his entire face. He couldn't wait to tell me what he did that day.
"Mom, I might get a solo and sing in front of the whole school!" He shouted.
"WHAT?!?! You tried out for a SOLO?" I shockingly and possibly aggressively answered back.
"Yup! With a microphone. In front of my whole class!" He confidently said.
"WHAAAAAATTTTTT??????!!!!!!" I was obviously floored.
"Tell me everything, son! This is AMAZING!"
And he did. From start to finish, he told me every step of the audition process.
I asked him, "Did you feel nervous?"
"Not really," he said. "But I knew all the words to my audition song. I picked "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."
And here's the kicker....
"What made you want to try out for a singing solo, buddy," I inquired.
He looked me dead in the eye. "You. I'm doing it for you. I want you to see me on stage. I want you to watch me." He gently replied.
After I composed myself and scraped my heart and all its insides off the floor, I asked myself a question that I seem to keep asking over and over again.
Where the HELL did he get all of this confidence from?
I have never, not once, observed or noticed my kid being interested in singing, or anything else from the arts. Have I been living under a rock or is he really this spontaneous and willing to try anything? Regardless, I was proud as can be that he was taking such initiative to try something new, and in such a courageous way.
When my children display characteristics and actions that are so polar opposite to what I was like as a child, I often explore why I lacked it. In this case it's confidence.
Why didn't I grow up with the confidence that my son has? Was it the gender difference? Was it the lack of stability in my life? Was it just his personality? Yes, I think all of those things have some weight and emphasis on it, but as I stew and process, I know why.
I lacked stability in my life as a child, but more importantly, I lacked the stability of a necessary and crucial relationship in my life. Necessary to thrive in such a way, if I had it, confidence would exude from my spirit and dance around me everywhere I went. I lacked confidence. I lacked an understanding of my self-worth, which created a gaping hole for mistakes and hard lessons. It hurt me. It created an anxiety in me. It created a distrust for others that built walls to keep people out. To keep people from hurting me the way I was hurt before.
But my son has none of that. He's able to feel the solid, concrete love of two parents who wholeheartedly exist in every moment of his life. Two crucial roles are not just fulfilled for him, but enjoyed, and honored to be in those roles.
My son is not perfect, he's far from it. Aren't we all? But he's so full of love. His spirit is light and airy. He has an amazing childhood that even though I didn't have, I get the privilege of experiencing a second one through him.
How wonderful is that?
I am painfully aware of the differences in our childhoods, my sons' and my own, but even more appreciative to be able to provide them with the ones they have.
As parents, we get a second chance to infuse our children with all of the moments, feelings and love we lacked in many of our struggling childhoods. And while I firmly believe many struggles can be amazing success stories that build character and greatness, they can also be very painful, devastating and detrimental to those who would have otherwise had incredible potential if given the opportunity.
I don't want my kids to have the same struggles that I did. And if they must struggle, which I know they will somewhere along life's journey, I want them to be supported through their struggles. Their struggles don't have to take away their confidence and self-worth, but hopefully succeed in creating learning and growth within.
My son's confidence has helped me to regain my own. His lack of fear has taught me that I must seize the opportunities that are presented to me because I am worthy.
And through our journey, he continues to heal me over and over again without ever knowing it.
Alison Chrun is a wife and mother of two who writes about parenting, relationships and self-development on her blog Appetite for Honesty. She's a mental health rehabilitation specialist who is currently receiving her Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.