I was recently asked to describe my kids as part of an introduction to an interview on parenthood. It surprisingly caught me off-guard, and I quipped,
My daughter is three and everything three is. And my son is five going on sixty-five.
We moved on to discuss the topic at hand. But as I left the interview, I had a sinking feeling in my gut.
I hated how I described my kids.
It wasn’t that the descriptions were inaccurate. They were spot on. It was that they were empty.
What I should have said is,
My daughter is three. She is determined, enthusiastic, and joyful. My son is five. He is analytical, empathetic, and curious.
I could have gone on…
My daughter loves to perform, and her favorite color, appropriately, is glitter. She lights up a room with her enthusiastic expressions. She is sassy but not disrespectful. And she is smart but not bragging.
My son captivates us with his affinity for facts and love to share knowledge. He loves structure and rules. His humor is clever and witty. And his heart is big and thoughtful beyond his years.
But I didn’t. I didn’t share those things. Instead, I hid them away.
However, if you ask me if my son can read, I’m happy to tell you about all the books he has read recently and his ability to add multiple digit numbers.
If asked, I’m eager to tell you about how my daughter is in an “invitation only” gymnastic class and that she stole the show with a center stage bow at the performance she was in.
Why do I always go to the list of things that they can do instead of the list of things they are?
I want my kids to define themselves by their character and their faith, not their accomplishments. Nevertheless, the words from my mouth tell a different story. I’m hesitant when I describe my children because I don’t want to sound like “that mom” bragging about my perfect kids.
They aren’t perfect. But they are amazing. In my heart, I know that the stuff and accomplishments don’t matter in the long game. Their character and the way they fill the room with light are what matter.
When I hide that light, I fail to fully acknowledge who they are.
When I describe her as “determined, enthusiastic, and joyful” and him as “analytical, empathetic, and curious,” I’m not implying that we have an idyllic house always full of laughter and giggles.
With her determination sometimes comes stubbornness; with his analysis, comes anxiety. Sometimes we have grumpy days, crazy days, grey days…
But these don’t define who they are.
In focusing on the challenges of their personalities or the exceptions or the products of their talents or the clever quip, I fail to focus on my child.
So next time you ask me to describe my kids, I hope you’re ready to hear about the amazingness of who they are because now I’m ready.
That light, I’m going to let it shine.