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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Success

The blogging group I joined has challenged me to write about success. Snort. Game on, people!

Truth be told, I am a mainstream-society-kind-of-person. Growing up, I let magazines tell me what was in style. I listened to the American Top 40 to dictate the popular songs. I worried about looking the "right" way and saying the "right" things.

To succeed at these things meant ultimate success and popularity in life, right?

Yeah, I know. Pretty stupid notion. Reality of that hit like a slap in the face; however, there is still a part of me that wishes it. And, admit it, you wish it, too. Parents: how many of you bragged to your playgroup that your child was already walking/talking/reciting Chaucer at an advanced age? Which of you is guilty of bragging about your ballerina prodigy, your future martial arts black belt or spelling champion?

I think we are all guilty of defining our self worth by the standards of society. I was okay to play that game until I became a parent.

"Look at Cody! He is sitting up, and he isn't even six months old!" I remember hearing in one of many playgroups when our older son was young.

"Our son is also!" I would say, happy to see him succeed at this milestone. Sure, he was bent over a bit. And, yes, his tongue is always sticking out and there is a lot of drool, but, hey, this is HIS version of success. It's just as good, right? RIGHT????

Wrong.

"Your son looks tired or something," that mom said. "He isn't sitting up correctly."

What, so there is a proper way for a baby to sit these days?

As it turns out, yes. There is a proper way to sit, to crawl, to walk, to eat, to run, to talk, to interact, and, my friends, our son did not do these on the same schedule as typical kids do. Therefore, he did not succeed. I felt every defeat deep into my heart.

How can anyone look into the eyes of either of my children and say that they are failures?

Of course, they don't. They look to me, the mother, and say it.

For a mother, that is one of the most hurtful things one can say. And, yet, it is something which I am forced to absorb every day. Every day I am reminded that my children are deemed UNSUCCESSFUL because they learn differently, and on a different timetable and by different methods.

For the sake of our boys, I can easily shun the criticisms of society. However, there is always that part of me, that young teen who was an avid follower of society, who cringes at the realization that my family lives on the outskirts of what is acceptable by society.

We have had to define our own success. When our older son learned to use utensils, believe me, that was a success! When his brother was finally able to supinate his left hand, yes, that sure was a success for us!

Our successes are won inch by inch, day by day. It may not be appreciated by the upturned noses of the mainstream society I coveted in my younger years, but that's ok. We celebrate them in our home with the hopes of building self- secure young men in whatever their abilities may be.

Darn it. My children sure have a way of forcing me out of my comfort zone. What I find, though, is that, in the end, I am much better for it.

36 comments:

  1. You are successful parents because you have faced your challenges head on. Even when you get tired and frustrated, you persevere and keep on doing what you think is best. You try hard to take care of each other and enjoy your family. Not all children are so lucky, especially those who are considered "successful" by mainstream standards.

    T is successful because he has learned how to do so much. Some of that ingenuity is scary and yes, annoying at times, but how many other kids are as persistent and crafty? He is a beautiful child with a big heart and an impish smile that makes me fall in love with him every time I see him.

    W is successful because his brain is able to retain so much knowledge. He is a sponge for trivia and has a thirst for knowledge. People just don't understand what it means to want to learn on your own terms. In fact, they are jealous of people who are able to do that because they have been programmed by the mainstream to follow a prescribed pattern of learning. Too bad for them.

    Never measure your success against other people's dictations of what it should be. Look within and watch the growth.

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  2. It's amazing how much strength we discover we have once we become parents. Deep wells of wisdom and joy and reassessment of priorities are suddenly ours, and by some magic, we live up to what our kids need from us.

    From what I know of you, I think your kids are so incredibly lucky to have you. One of the reasons that I believe this is that with every word you utter, you confirm that you feel blessed to have them, and that is the single biggest gift that a parent can give their children.

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  3. Some of the people that society has deemed "perfect" or "successful" went and turned out to be murderers, serial killers, corporate thieves, etc. So what do they know! There are those who have a successful facade but when it comes down to it, they are usually the biggest failures in the most important areas of life. You are doing a wonderful job raising your children to be loving, generous and to have a thirst for knowledge, that in itself gives them the tools to make the world a little better and brighter. Don't worry about statistics or comparisons to other children. Each child is an individual and learns and grows on their own time. I bet you a lot of those other mothers you mentioned, have their own self-esteem issues and are carrying that over to their children by pushing them too hard to be all that they themselves could not.

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  4. My son met all his developmental milestones. It wasn't until he was around 3 years old that we started to notice "off" things about him. Too much to go into in the comments but I was told by all my "friends" that I was doing something wrong. He didn't behave right, I didn't discipline correctly...I even had one friend tell me that I "didn't beat him enough". It was quite a journey to accepting that he wasn't going to act like the rest of my kids...that he was going to be a little more different...and accept him for the perfect little boy that he is! I could really relate to this. I wish you more success!!!

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  5. *Smiles* you are learning lady, great blog but better than that a real self analizing and understanding. Hugs

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  6. Life has taught me that our "mess" becomes our "message" - as the years go by and you inch your way to a life of successful days, you will have a message of encouragement for those who come behind you with the same challenges.
    Great Blog.

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  7. I appreciate you sharing these viewpoints. Too many people are quick to judge, in my opinioon. But then again, at the end of the day, it is ourselves we have to live with, not them. So kudos for acknowledging your sons' individual milestones despite society's snubs. It takes courage and integrity for you to do so. :)

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  8. I didn't grow up in mainstream society; I was raised on welfare without any father by an addict. Needless to say, I'm good at letting some BS roll right off me. I AM guilty of turning to my better half earlier today and saying about my 18yo daughter who recently graduated high school with honors: "She gets her intelligence from me". lol! ;-)

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  9. I used to be like that too. I was always into the fashion and magazines and top 40 as well. As I became a teen, I became anti everything more than what I was. I'm rambling...I will go and say nice blog... =D

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  10. I can relate, in having a daughter on the spectrum, things like following directions and speaking and behaving well all came to us much later than the other children in her age group. I defined success as making a shopping trip and having only one or two major incidents. I can't tell you how many of those were not a success. Or perhaps, getting through a restaurant meal with only one nasty comment or glance. "She should know better" was something I heard often. I felt like screaming some days...but always held my tongue.

    Success is therefore something that has to be self-defining, at least how I see it. I can only live up to my own standards, face my own risks and if I find success then I can say it was truly mine.

    Great blog post on Success!! Cheers!! Jenn

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  11. I can not believe that mom would say such a thing. Not sitting properly? How rude, unwarranted, uncouth ... just plain nasty. No doubt (one would hope) she did not mean to sound that way, but my goodness.

    Thanks for another great post.

    And ps - any advice with all those vacuum cleaners in your photo on which one may work the best? Mine seems to be aging poorly and leaving dirt behind so I'll soon be in the market for a new one. I know it's totally off-blog topic, but you look like a potential expert!

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  12. *pointing up*
    These are all the things I'd like to say to you, and I understand where the measure of you children's successes comes from.
    I have a niece with Mosaic Trisomy 8. She was born with clubbed feet and creased hands.
    Every day she does not lose more of her hearing or vision is a success.Every time she advances a grade level is a major milestone.
    Thank you for having the courage to be so open about your children, and your life. We can all learn a lot from your words (((hugs)))

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  13. We learn so much from the children, don't we?

    Great blog!

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  14. Amy you're the biggest success I know. You succeed at keeping your humanity and sense of humour under a range of utterly unpredictable tests. And those milestones - they are such tyrants in the early years aren't they? Everyone has a book or a list of them and constant comparison and competition. I did get sucked in, I admit it, was relieved when F finally rolled over, late, sat up 'on time' and walked 'on time'. Now I celebrate a range of odd successes - just this last week she has managed to use a knife with a fork for the first time Woohooo. And she can suddenly manage monkey bars Yay! And best of all, suddenly she doesn't always extend a strop into a meltdown and sometimes says 'Oh never mind' leaving me astonished.
    How parenthood transforms us. These wouldn't have entered my head for a definition of success 20 years ago.
    Thank you again for everything you write.

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  15. "Our successes are won inch by inch, day by day. It may not be appreciated by the upturned noses of the mainstream society " yup the upturn noses..cuz they CAN'T SEE!! ever see a person trying to look thru their bifocals? Their noses go up in the air...thank you for posting a CLEAR PICTURE with your words from your <3!!! LOVE THIS love you

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  16. Inspiring post and the comments are, too! Thanks for sharing about your struggles.

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  17. Success can never be defined in terms of other people. Success can only be defined by an individual and on an individual basis. Your children are a success every time they do something, every time they achieve, and every time they do that, they are showing what a success you are.
    I can quite honestly say I have never given a flying fig for mainstream, always choosing to walk my own path. I don't care if people look at me funny because I still wear my hair in bunches (at the advanced age of 47). I don't care if people tut when I laugh or sing in the street and jump in puddles. I'll go my own way, and I couldn't wish anything better than that for you and your sons. May you always walk the path that is right for you.

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  18. Wonderful job! I applaud your attitude as a mother to the children God blessed you with, and not to be influenced by societies unrealistic views.

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  19. Lil tibit:

    The saying "Keeping up with the Joneses" is said to refer to Edith Wharton's (a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. "The House of Mirth", "The Age of Innocence", "Ethan Frome") father's (George Frederic Jones) family.

    (info from wikipedia)

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  20. You know, I was one of those mothers that--as proud as I am about my kids--tried to disengage myself as "Hannah's mom" or "The Parent of Bailey" (all caps because usually that's how the school addresses me.

    I had my own identity! I was a person too, goshdarnit!

    Then one day I realized that my children will be my greatest accomplishment. That my legacy lies in them and that one of my greatest successes will be guiding them into adulthood and out into the world.

    Yeah, I still fight the power and try to set my own identity. But at the end of the day, I don't mind it when my kids' friends call me "Hannah's Mom."

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  21. Thank you for all of the wonderful and thoughtful feedback. I think that because parenting is so near and dear to our hearts, and because everyone has an opinion on it, how difficult it is to become truly numb when you find yourself taking a different path. Today, I am okay with that path. However, there was a time when this wasn't so.

    And, in case you are wondering, our older son prefers uprights to canister vacuums. Canisters are cumbersome. Also, ultra light vacuums don't seem to pick up as well, which frustrate him terribly. Wind tunnel vacs are WAY COOL to watch when you get lots of stuff spinning around and around. He enjoys the look, feel and performance of those. He doesn't give a dyson the time of day. What he doesn't have and would give his left arm to own is a bagged upright. However, I'm not shelling out the dollars for one just so he can take it apart. LOLOL!

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  22. Beautiful commentary on the struggles you and your children overcome on your way to success. Very heartfelt and moving blog. Thank you.

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  23. Thank you for sharing. In so many ways I can identify with your struggles and yet I still find I try to say oh look, my son just...what a great accomplishment. The difference I suppose is that sometimes I have found that I don't say them for other people but for my children so that they know their successes count and matter and are great.

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  24. Great point. I can't tell my children enough how PROUD I am of them. How PROUD I am to be their mother. How SMART they are and what a GREAT kid I think they are.

    Growing up is so difficult. I remember being plagued with so many uncertainties and being to scared to voice them. I see this trait in my younger child. I'm not so sure I see that my older child would be scared to ask a question, but he literally can't. For both of them, I simply must tell them that they are doing a great job and that they are loved.

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  25. As your children become older they'll push you waaaay out of your comfort zone, be prepared. Then it starts again with the grandchildren, the wonderful cycle of life.
    Pam
    A Pirate Looks Past Sixty

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  26. I really enjoyed your post and can relate to it so much!! I tend to fall in the trap of gaging my ability as a parent by how well my kids behave and their achievements. I really struggle with that. My two children are as different as day and night. I have really made every effort not to compare the two against each other. I try to see them as individuals and celebrate that. I love my son's exuberance, vitality, and spunk. I sometimes want to spit because of his behavior but I love him and think he is as great as my perfectly behaved daughter. Your kids are perfect as they are and have successes just like everyones, just at a different pace. People are just rude to come right out and say things like that. God created us all complete with imperfections and for good reason! And He loves us all no matter what which is good enough for me! Outstanding post!!

    Kathy
    http://www.thetruckerswife.com/

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  27. I believe that whatever skills we each may or may not have, are initially given to us by God. The milestones we reach then can not be judged by how someone else reaches theirs, but by how we "invest" the talents in our own pockets. Do we reach as far as we possibly CAN reach? Or do we squander, or bury what we were given to grow? Jesus pointed out the woman who put two cents into the offering box and said she had given MORE than the guy who gave a fortune in gold. You are obviously giving above and beyond, and your kids, with such a good example, will certainly supersede those proper sitter-uppers who may by now be shamefully slouching. We don't need to bother with the measuring rod; only God can judge all things perfectly.

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  28. Kathy, I think what you say is a common trap for many parents. I also know that I would have been doing it if I didn't have the children that I do. With their special needs, I've just been taught to see them as individuals because they offer such different things.

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  29. Mike, your words are very powerful. Thank you.

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  30. Holy crap...what a powerful blog post. It's very hard for me as a parent to listen as other moms compare children and talk about their successes. I'm so proud of my daughter but I also don't want to get caught up in the competition. Your right that we need to find our own success. And I need to be okay with knowing it - and not telling the whole world about it. :) Thanks so much for this post.

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  31. Those bragging parents don't have a leg to stand on until they can say, "My child is a self-supporting adult." Until that time, they can lower their noses. So many of these kids don't make it in the real world because Mom's helicopter them . . . but they judge your child at a young age. They need to get a life!

    Joyce
    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com/2011/05/acrostic-success_31.html

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  32. Another wonderful blog, Spedmom. Sounds like you're doing a great job, and your sons are able to be successful with your loving support.

    Well done

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  33. Thanks so much for your words about my blog! As for our parenting, I wish the answers came quicker. But, you are correct, our household is supportive. In the very end, we are their parents, and they simply MUST feel that we will support them through life...even if we all have to figure it out as we go.

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  34. I have an award for you on my blog

    http://www.wine-n-chat.com/2011/06/versatile-award.html

    Cheers, Jenn (GBE2)

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