Really Seeing and Accepting Our Children

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by Daniella Rabbani, Honest motherhood contributor

One of my best friends is pregnant with her first. (Ah! YAYAYAY!) We had dinner the other night and I soaked up every ounce of her goddessness. Pregnancy is so magical to those of us who aren’t pregnant, lemme tell ya!

During our time together, she relaid the idea onto me that “gender disappointment” is a real thing. Something moms and dads are really dealing with. And I get it. It’s the most outta control feeling. To picture what this person GROWING INSIDE OF ME is gonna look like/be like and be WRONG?! 

How?!

It’s bonkers really. To literally be one. Share a body. A heartbeat. Air. Food. To share even our thoughts with this person and know NOTHING about them. Well close to nothing. Sure, mom and dad both have blue eyes, baby will definitely have blue eyes. Yea, we’re short…sorry kid. Smart parents? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

Gender disappointment is a lot like all the other disappointments parents feel all the time at any age and stage. Whether it be in utero or (in the case of my parents) 34 years in :) I KID, I KID!

This person, we think, is an expression of ourselves. Our BEST selves! All the questionable choices our parents made, we’re amending. So they must turn out perfect. Or at the very least, grateful. 

HA!

Turns out these littles are their own autonomous souls. Sure, they’re attached to us at first. Dependent on us for years. They are our greatest loves. Which is why this is the real disappointment: they are gifts to the world given through us by their own higher power. 

We take so much care in molding our children even before they’re born. But (honest question) what if they didn’t need molding at all? What if all they need is a loving witness? A set of eyes and hands and hearts that just stood by, in case. Just in case. Because we trust them to figure it out whether it means to choose their birth dates or their career path.

Nature’s genius in this way. Letting us surrender our preference time and time again. With things like breastfeeding at first then on to proclivities and hobbies...all the while prepping us for life partner choices and cities to move to. We get to rehearse seeing our children and rooting them on for who they are. From day negative 1. 

It’s been my experience that backing up and letting Ness be is...challenging. I’ve been taught that I made him, I’m responsible for him, I’ve gotta teach him. I practice the opposite. And I find it so, so, so deeply rewarding. To let him reveal himself to me. 

When he was 2.5 months old, he woke us up with the loudest crowing!!! He sounded like a rooster! He had been pretty vocal beforehand but this was SINGIIIIIING. I listened. When he’d babble in early infancy, I listened. I responded after long monologues as if I knew what he was talking about. He was unfolding before my eyes.

At 9 months, he started talking. Mimicking. And it was no shock. This is who he had always been. I could easily connect the dots. He’s got a lot to say. And I had the privilege of honoring that early on. 

When I am triggered by who he is showing up as (eg: when he pushes other kids), it knocks the wind outta me. I wanna be his fan 100% of the time, and sometimes he’s not earning those stats. Here’s what I ask myself: is this developmentally appropriate? It usually is. And the second thing I ask myself is: hmm, looks like you’re having a disproportionate reaction to this very casual incident. Is there something unresolved in you that might be asking for attention? (In the case of pushing, I was a bully in school and have much remorse about it.) It’s usually about us.

And that’s the good news. 

What’s something you’ve learned to accept in your child? Anything that sparks inner memories or unresolved personal feelings?

Daniella Rabbani is a Brooklyn based actress and the honest motherhood contributor to the MU community. Her full time gig is mama to Ness.