Pointe Shoes and What Ifs.

I was a late starter in the world of dance.  At the age of eleven I decided that dance was something I really wanted to do and had to do and couldn’t live without.  So I entered the world of leotards, tights, shoes and buns.  I started with modern jazz and quickly added ballet to the list of classes.  Now with ballet you really need to start with the basics and build up from there….so I was placed in a class of five and six year olds.  That’s quite a good motivator for anyone….to be twice someone’s age and to be learning something new……I practiced and I pranced and I danced and a twirled and I skipped, all with good toes and bad toes….and I worked my way up the grades….and I sort of caught up to my age group, but never really got there…

While I had determination and drive, its fair to say I never had a huge amount of natural talent.  I was never going to be an Anna Pavlova.  But it is amazing what you can accomplish through lots of practice and a sheer will to succeed.

Pointe shoes.  They were my nemesis.  They hurt.  They really did hurt. I was never comfortable in them, never felt at ease and never really loved them.  Those pretty, shiny pink satin covered blocks of wood became the enemy.  My barrier to success.

A couple of years ago I was online looking at ordering some pointe shoes for a friend, to send back to NZ from America.  Everything in America was cheaper.  Everything.  I came upon an article on how to find the right size of pointe shoes for your feet, and I realized that all along in my experience with pointe work, I had been wearing the wrong size shoes.  I’d never been properly fitted, never had the best fit for my feet.

And thus began my brief flirt with the idea of the ‘what if?’.

What if I had actually been wearing the right size shoes and what if pointe shoes had no longer hurt?

What if I grew to love them and wearing them became such a natural and easy extension of my life as a dancer?

What if I flew through the upper grades of RAD and my level of talent actually matched my level of enjoyment?

What if?

Now I quickly came to realize that even if any of those things had been true…..I was still not a great dancer….but for the meantime, that flirting with the idea of ‘what if’ gave me a false sense of reality…a warped view of the truth.  Allowing the ‘what ifs’ to creep in….overshadowed some stark realities.

And isn’t it the same with parenting?

Any and every time that we tango with a ‘what if’ with regards to our children, when we’re looking back in hindsight, from my experience….that ‘what if’ doesn’t do us any favours.

These ‘what ifs’ can be anything from:  what if we’d noticed such and such earlier?  What if we’d been more proactive in this area?  What if we’d made our kid do x, y and z?  What if we’d stopped them from doing x, y and z?  What if we’re not the right parent with this job?  What if I don’t how to handle this issue?

Big and small ‘what ifs’ surround us.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that for me, personally, the fact that all three of my boys have speech impediments/ issues (all three are different too!), has been a big thing for us both practically and for this Mama’s heart.  I’ve battled sooooo many ‘what ifs’ over this one.  I once got an email from a well-meaning person with a link to a (poorly written and badly researched) news article about a link between television watching and speech problems in kids.  Whammo.  There’s a massive ‘what if’.  It wasn’t until a saw a speech therapist with my oldest boy and she sat me down and told me straight….GENETICS…..that I realized I could no longer hold onto these ‘what ifs’.  I can’t escape the fact that these issues have been a part of my boys’ journeys, but I can control how I react to these situations.  And believe it or not, I am equipped to help my boys.  While I am lacking in a whole bunch of good qualities, just ask my kids, they’ll put you straight.  One thing I do possess is patience in bucketloads. And patience is what I need with these boys and their impediments.

If I have what I need, to parent my kids as best I can, both in me and my husband with our giftings combined and with calling on friends who are that little bit further along in their parenting journeys, not to mention as a Christian I believe so very strongly in the changing power of prayer….and I’m just as flawed and a mess as the next person, then I believe you too, have in you what you need, to parent your kids as best as you can.

Whatever the issues you’re facing, I’ve found that you can’t hold onto your ‘what ifs’.  They skew your reality.  They take your eyes off the goal.  I’ve found it takes a lot of energy to focus your thought life on all your negative qualities, all the things you’re lacking in.  That energy surely is better spent by focussing on what tools you do have at your disposal to approach different issues, as best you can.  Whether they are tools inside of you, or in people who are alongside you.

What ifs?

So what.  Let’s all work on eliminating parent guilt.  We can live without it.



Mother guilt

Some families have asthma as their ‘thing’.  Others are prone to ear infections or wonky teeth, food allergies or fevers.  Think for a moment and I’m sure you’ll come up with your family’s ‘thing’.

My family has a bit of a speech ‘thing’.  Our middle boy had about three years of speech therapy – some of it through a private therapist, and then through his public school.  He’s made remarkable improvements – but those years when we was three and four, and I was his main interpreter, they were tough.  Super tough.

So when our third boy came along and he showed himself to be slow to talk, that was a huge deal for this Mama’s heart.  We’d been down the path of therapy appointments, the kids who quite openly admit they can’t understand what mine was saying, and the constant need for interpretation before…..I dreaded doing it again.

But we went ahead with assessments and referrals and all that razzamataz, and with an official diagnosis of a speech delay, our little Ash began speech therapy at the age of two and half.  The therapy went hand in hand with a whole bunch of Mum guilt (what had I done or not done to cause this), a total team effort by the whole family to reinforce the therapy, and a whole bunch of prayer.

Ever noticed how a watched washing machine never finishes when you want it to?  The shortest checkout lane at the supermarket often takes the longest? Well the more I looked for progress, the more progress with Asher’s speech seemed illusive.  For months.  And months.  And we left the States with him still not talking in sentences, and still my Mother heart hurt.  And I grieved in a sense – for don’t we all long for our children to fit into the realms of ‘normal’ – whatever ‘normal’ is?

But you know what…..just lately in the last month or so, little Ash has begun speaking in sentences.  He’s begun to sing.  And how my heart sings to hear him.  He now utters those three little words that mean so very much, ‘I love you’.  I was waiting for a very long time to hear those words.

Time will tell with how well he progresses with all his sounds and pronunciation, but for now – we’re just so thrilled that he is talking.

I’d love to sit here and be able to tell you without a doubt that whatever ‘thing’ you’re facing concerning your children will improve over time, and healing will take place.  I’d love to be able to have complete confidence that Asher’s speech will be flawless in another twelve months time.  But I can’t say that.  What I can do is this – carry on praying; for I believe in the power of prayer, and I can carry on doing all the practical things I need to do to help him and encourage him, and I can refuse to take with me the guilt I feel over him carrying this burden.

This speech delay is part of Asher’s journey – just as Luka’s impairment was a part of his.  Not something that is pleasant.  Not something to be proud of – but not something to be ashamed of as well.  Nothing I did or didn’t do, caused these issues.  And to walk with that as a burden, heavy on my shoulders, is unneccessary and not helpful to anyone.

What are you carrying unnecessarily today?  What false blame are you laying on yourself today?  We all do it……because we want reasons for things – we want to be able to blame someone…..

How about this year we deal out as much grace to ourselves as we do to others? In what areas of your life can you show yourself more grace?