16 December 2011

Green-Eyed Mother

Isaac has had a big week.  It started with Taekwondo testing (he was trying for his yellow belt), then there was a soccer game, it continued with the church Lovefeast (in which his choir and the tone chimes performed), and ended today with his school concert.  Matt and I were there for each event and, as each one passed, I learned something about myself.

I do not expect Isaac to be an excellent athlete.  Neither Matt nor I were involved in sports growing up, so my main goal is to help Isaac find a physical activity that he feels confident doing.  It may be Taekwondo, it may be soccer or t-ball, or it may be something we have not tried yet.  I don't care if he is the slowest or least coordinated player on the team, as long as he participates and has fun.  Not so for other endeavors.

He had a speaking role in the skit his choir did during the Lovefeast.  We had practiced saying the lines for a few weeks to make sure he was ready.  He knew them by heart, though he did lack fluency and expression in his recitation.  It is a small choir and I think all of the kids who wanted one had a speaking role.  I was proud of his effort and his performance, though I will admit to a bit of parental jealousy as I watched the other kids perform who had bigger roles.

Then today, during the school concert, some of the students had speaking roles or solos.  There are 116 first graders at Isaac's school, so highlighting every child is logistically impossible in a thirty minute program.  But when I saw Isaac stuck up in the back corner of the risers, I felt that twinge of parental jealousy again.  Logically I know that my stage-shy child would not be the best choice for a speaking part, but that didn't stop me from wondering how the music teacher chose the soloists and what she has against Isaac.

Matt was a drama nerd growing up, and I was a band geek and debate dork.  So one might expect that Isaac would have a flair for the dramatic, the acting bug, or at least be comfortable in front of a crowd.  In private he cuts up and plays the fool and sings in the shower -- but once he has an audience, he clams up.  I know that him not having the biggest part, or any part at all, is not a slight on him but a reflection of his lack of desire for the limelight.  If he wanted the attention that performing brings, he would seek it out.

I would like to think that my jealousy is actually a manifestation of my desire and hope that Isaac will one day find something that he is good at and that makes him stand out, in a good way.  I want him to find a hobby or a vocation that he enjoys, that fulfills him and that brings him the attention that as his mother I think he deserves.  I want to be able to point to him and proudly state that he is my son.  Not that I don't do that now, but I would like to be able to do it to a bigger crowd.

We have a village that loves Isaac and I am overwhelmed at times by their support.  And I love all of the children who were in the church skit (the school kids I don't know well, so I can't say I love them), and I thought they all did an excellent job in the play, much better than Isaac would have. It was disconcerting to realize I harbor these kinds of feelings, though I am pretty sure that I am not the only mother who does.  I would like to think they will go away, but I fear they will only get stronger as he gets older.  It's a good thing I look good in green.


  1. This is incredibly honest--I had a different sort of jealousy as Jacob's peers grew up without him, and now I wonder what it will be like with Ryan. Will I just be utterly grateful he's on the stage at all, or will I expect him to be good at everything? Does this have something to do with the fact that Isaac is an only child, and that Ryan is our only shot at the idyllic "normal childhood"?

  2. Is there a "normal childhood"? It probably has more to do with my own insecurities and wanting him to succeed where I feel I failed. Healthy, right?