Someone once asked me if I was more of a glass half full or glass half empty kind of person. I explained that I was usually more of a glass half empty balanced precariously on the edge of a coffee table kind of person. It’s not like I am Debbie Downer, more like Patty Prepared. I like to know the worst thing that can possibly happen, mull it over, come up with options, discuss it ad nauseam, and then inch cautiously forward.
Having children is quite likely the most terrifying and worrisome thing a grown person can do. Having children is flirting with disaster, inviting catastrophe, courting danger. From the moment the stick turns pink, a parent’s imagination goes into overdrive with all the things that could go wrong. The little bundle is born and it becomes apparent that the safest place for them is actually back inside the womb. I’m not sure why we thought it would be a good idea, but we went and had kids. Not only did we go and have kids, we went and had boys. I feel like it is only a matter of time before one of them flings himself off a roof or thinks it would be a good idea to skateboard along train tracks. It is inevitable that some minor disaster involving stitches or casts or compound fractures will befall one of them, if not both. Simultaneously. But ironically, being the mom of boys has forced me to relax a bit. If I got my knickers in a twist every time they picked up a stick and pointed it at each other, I wouldn’t have any knickers left to wear. If I had a freak out every time they wrestled with each other or played ‘wipe out’ by jumping off my sofa onto a pile of cushions, then I would be writing this from the confines of a padded room.
I am not a shiny, happy person. But having children has forced me to become more optimistic in my own life. I wouldn’t call myself a cheerleader (“Good standing, Jack, you clever boy!!”) but I like to think that I am gently encouraging. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw in a little dose of reality here and there, take a quote from the worst case scenario handbook that sits on our bookshelf. And I am reasonably sure that if my boys are ever chased by a horde of killer bees, they will thank me later.
My children have taught me the power of positive thinking, because they positively think they can do anything. They live in a world of colorful imagination where there are no limits, no boundaries, no borders. They can climb a mountain face in the morning and paint a masterpiece in the afternoon, stopping only for a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich in between. It would be cruel of me to point out the faults in their little plans, to bring a fatal dose of reality to their dreams. To force them to go over all the things that could go wrong building a Lego truck. Sure, when someone is leaning back in their chair, I often can’t stop myself from blurting “Stop it!! You’ll fall over and crack your skull!!”. No one is perfect.
But I have learned to sit back a bit and let them dream. And they in turn have taught me how to dream a little bit too.