One of the Best Gifts I Can Give My Children is Other People

The other day I found myself watching a bunch of children take part in a celebratory dance party. There were balloons, glow sticks, loud, crazy music, and loud, crazy children. Because that’s what kids are supposed to do sometimes. Be loud and silly. And, as you can see from this failed attempt to get a still shot of my daughter, she was having the time of her life.

So, how did I find myself at a loud, crazy dance party with tiny humans? Well, I’ll tell you.

Anne Rulo One of the Best Gifts I Give My Children is Other People

Last summer, I did a quick search for “local children’s theater.” It quickly turned up Itsy Bitsy Broadway, a local theater program for “young performers and young audiences.” Sign-ups for the fall production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were open. As I had been looking for an outlet for my creative, free-spirited, theatrical daughter, I signed her up immediately. We were both pretty excited.

Our first time at the theater was the fall open house. There were snacks and drinks, plenty of stuff to play with, and memorabilia from past productions. After a few minutes, the director entered the room. It took me about 2.5 seconds to recognize I had made exactly the right choice.

This gal was all things I am not. She came in exactly as you might think a theater-loving person would. Loud, demonstrative, and speaking with great expression in a slightly British accent. She welcomed us and then led the kids off for a tour. I followed behind quietly.

Quickly, they all disappeared backstage. I could hear them going through the green room, dressing rooms, and then walking behind the permanent set. As the director still had her microphone on, I heard her say something about going through an on-stage door to get out. Then there was some rattling, a little laughter, and the director with fantastic fake distress, “Oh no! The door is locked. Yell for help! Yell for help with drama!”

I smiled.

I’ve never encouraged my kids to do anything “with drama.” But, that’s exactly what my expressive, creative daughter needs sometimes.

Other People Are Essential to Our Children’s Development

You know, when my kids were younger, being around women like this made me question things. As an introverted, less “playful” Mama, I wondered if I was not “enough” somehow. I would see the way other Moms enjoyed their kids that seemed so different from my own experience. I mean, aren’t Moms of small kids supposed to really like kids? I liked mine, but I was far from the stereotypical “kid person.” Truth be told, I still am.

Years later, that old question of my “enoughness” still tries to pop up sometimes. But, now, it gets batted down by the truth of what I’ve experienced as I’ve embraced the gift of other people in my children’s lives. Instead of feeling inadequate, I am now grateful for the Moms who have my daughter over, sending her home loaded down with crafts. Instead of feeling like a stick in the mud, I love to watch my kids with their teachers and coaches as they play, making silly voices and faces. And, instead of thinking I have little purpose sitting quietly in the back of a children’s theater dance party, I am intentionally creating a mental reel of images, watching my daughter dance her heart out with her new friends.

To my fellow Mamas who sometimes fall prey to this same question, “Should I be everything my kid needs?” Our answer should be a firm and confident, “No.” The talents and gifts of those around us are not a threat to our value. Rather, they are simply additional lights, brightening the runway our children are traveling before someday, they take off. Frankly, I want every one of them lit so they can see best where to go.

That day in the theater, when my daughter finally tired from all the dancing, she knew exactly where to find me. In the back, sitting quietly, ready to welcome her when she was ready. She climbed in my lap, sighed, and said, “Mom, this was so much fun.”

I am so grateful, sweetheart. Please go, spread your big creative wings, I’ll be right here watching.

PS – In this same vein, here is a poem I wrote years ago. Thanks to all those in the village helping raise my kiddos. I am grateful for you.

For more poetry from Anne link here.

Anne speaks and writes about motherhood often. For more on her speaking link here.

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