She did exactly what she was supposed to.
She slept fitfully.
She ate two bites of scrambled eggs and mushrooms, even after she requested it as her breakfast of choice.
She sang at the top of her lungs while climbing on top of our couches, up onto the curtain rods like a cat.
She whined a bit.
She gave herself time out.
She tried on Papa’s flip-flops and attempted to walk in them.
She watched some Daniel Tiger to regroup.
Exactly what she was supposed to.
I have had all of these expectations for her, for her two years of living. She should be sleeping through the night. She should be too old to whine for what she wants. She should be able to sight-identify all of her letters by now. She should do this and be that, over and over again. And then I stopped and wondered.
Kids are so perceptive. Can she feel my expectations upon her? Does it wound her, the way Mothers expectations have wounded children for generations? Does she internalize the comparisons I make? The fears I have that she is lagging “behind”? Behind whom?
So I stopped. I wrote down three expectations that were non-negotiable.
1. To know, love and serve God- to continually learn what that means and all the excitement that goes with it.
2. To honor her Father and Mother- to trust, obey and learn that we always have her bigger picture in mind.
3. To always be the unique creature she was created to be.
That’s it. I have let everything else fall away.
Her path will be different than mine, than other children, because is not me. Or them. She is Ellie. Ellie who loves to climb trees and eat broccoli and sing to birds. Ellie who loves to hug you tightly around the neck, who makes the surprised face to get a laugh, who think M&M’s are their own food group. Ellie who sometimes still thinks 2 am is the perfect time to think aloud, awake, with one of her parents.
I want to honor her- this beautiful gift in my charge to nurture and grow- I want to honor her by not expecting her to do things like anyone else.