There’s this children’s book that I wish I could have been brilliant enough to write, and talented enough to illustrate. Nearly every time I read it to Martell, I get teary-eyed and have to kiss both my kids like a thousand times because it resonates so deeply with my mama heart. There is not one thing I would change about it, and so many things I want to applaud.
In this last week, as we’ve celebrated our son and being able to finally call him our own, I’ve found myself looking through this wonderful book I mentioned before entitled: “The Wonderful Things You Will Be.” You see, after struggling to find many children’s books with black protagonists, we found a book with many races represented. Martell can point to the pictures and find a boy that looks like he does—“There’s Martell,” he says. I love this book for that reason. I love this book because it causes children to feel delighted in by their parents. I love this book because it encourages exploration. I love this book because it helps children use their imagination. I love this book because it displays good and compassion so sweetly. I love this book because it opens so many differing doors of opportunity for our children, yet expresses a sense of contentedness in whatever it is that they choose to be.
As a parent, I find myself hoping things for my children—good things. Things like hoping they’ll be likable, gentle, kind, brave, both products of and givers of grace, college graduates, believers in the gospel, athletes, compassionate, and the list goes on. I think it’s healthy to desire character traits that are both admirable and holy for our children. However, boy is it easy to begin to change my hopes into expectations. Expectations can be good when they’re in the form of boundaries and paralyzing when they’re in the form of pressures. It can be so easy to give up when the preverbal bar is set so high that it’s hovering over you at an unreachable height. Now, I am far from a perfect parent, and in all honesty, I find myself embarrassed in some moments when my son is not abiding by my expectations or behaving the way I would hope, but I want to fight back against the unattainable standards I could begin to set for my children and allow them to be children—the most natural place for them to learn and grow. I so deeply desire for them to feel the freedom to be kids—to feel as though failure is just as natural as triumph; that standing up from a hard fall is as admirable as remaining on their feet entirely; and that asking for help is not weakness, but rather strength in its truest form.
It’s amazing to me all of the life that is wound up inside of our kids, that will lengthen and grow into all of these beautiful, unique different directions. There are so many possibilities, so many little seedlings of interest and opportunity that need nurturing and light to burst into life and vibrancy. May we be the parents who foster the unique beauty and strengths we find in our dear ones rather than steer them in directions we want them to go. May we redirect gently and keep our eyes peeled for the positives. May we look at our kiddos deep in their eyes at the end of each day and say, “I love you whoever you grow up to be.”
This week if you get a chance to hop on over to your library, rent “The Wonderful Things You Will Be” by Emily Winfield Martin, and try not to tear up. I dare you.
To see more of Emily Winfield Martin’s work, check out her website here:
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