I don’t know about you, but I feel as though I am always running a race that doesn’t seem to finish.
Life is pretty, well, non-stop; whether it’s at work, where I am managing kids, paperwork, teacher workshops, and parent consultations, or I am trying my best to paint my eldest daughter’s toenails WHILE she is doing her homework, listening for the noodles (making sure that nothing is boiling over in the kitchen), and trying my best to sound and look excited as my younger two tell me (at the same time, of course), about what happened in the block area, or who got to be the door holder.
I will be the first to tell you that I am not great at noticing the small stuff when it comes to progress, especially when I am directly involved (whether regarding my own children or the children I treat). I definitely need to work on it.
Sure, the big milestones, like saying a first word, taking a first step, writing all letters in the alphabet, I notice those. But, what about those little moments? Where my youngest daughter told me that she was going to make her bed all by herself-and she did. She’s three, by the way. Or when my son started to become frustrated when building with small Legos, but turned to me, took a deep breath, and said “It’s ok to make a mistake. No big deal.”
Thinking of work, tears of pride mixed with some sadness come to my eyes as I write this. One of ‘my work kids’, a 5th grade boy who just graduated a few days ago is a great example of appreciating the cumulative value of small moments of success. In the past few months, he has had too many of these moments to count. Sure, he has had setbacks, where he, just yesterday, broke down because he lost a few minutes from yearbook signing. Yet, even in that case, he used his strategies and bounced back quickly. He knows how to label his feelings, the strategies to feel in control, and is confident in his abilities. This is a boy I was worried to send off to middle school back in December. Not anymore. A quirky, amazing, regulated, and confident young man will be entering the 6th grade in September. Those small moments really add up.
The letter above talks about a child who is, through my lens, partly the result of four years of small moments of success, paired with big achievements, big failures, and smaller ‘falls’. All of the children whom I have the privilege to work with teach me something new almost every day, and this lesson really hit home, both as a therapist, but also as a mom.
It’s easy to think about what our children aren’t doing, or areas that are hard for them. It’s really only natural. The challenge is to give ourselves, the caregivers in whatever capacity, the positive affirmations of any small positive gain that was made each day to fill our own cups, providing our own positive affirmations. (Let me tell you, when we feel empty, our kids can sense it.) Take a minute now and think of some small moment of success your child/has accomplished today, and feel proud, not only of them, but of yourself. You, in whatever capacity, have the power to create strong and affirming growth in your children (even if you don’t see the progress that moment). I am doing the same as I am writing this sentence:)
I am therefore, my friends, passing on this message from my kids, both biological and ‘acquired’: try to be present for as many of those small successes as you can. The memories and reminders of these victories in your children will not only help cushion the times when things are not going as well, but are also a tangible reminder that you have left a positive and indelible print on the children that you meet. You are special, loved, and essential. ❤