It was Halloween. We had eaten our burritos, explored decorated houses, and traipsed around in our family bear costumes. Despite many attempts at nap coercion throughout the day, our two year-old, Norah, was still awake. She was going on twelve hours straight.
She will be out like a light, we thought. This thought dissipated rather quickly. Each time Norah fell asleep that night, she awoke with seemingly irrepressible energy after mere minutes. After the third time of putting her back to sleep, I thought in exasperation, When other children need a teaspoon, she needs a horse tranquilizer.
Norah has always seemed to require extra. Even as a teeny thing, she was continually on edge. As new parents, we were unsure how to respond to her temperament, let alone soothe her frustrations. My husband used to oscillate her in the shape of a capital "J" while making ornate shushing noises just to bring her to neutral. Even in her infant stage, Norah seemed to be more perceptive. More stimulated. More attached. More in need of understanding. She has always been more.
At times (in the middle of the night, mid-meltdown, in the midst of her fears) the more feels like too much. We feel ill-equipped to respond. And our culture reinforces this, suggesting that we be smaller. That we fit the mold and walk the line.
On the recommendation of a friend, I found Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka at just the right time. This book changed the way I see Norah, life, and the people I love. Kurcinka encourages reframing the way we label others, our children included. She describes the practice of switching negative labels to labels that carry a positive connotation. "Tiring" becomes "energetic" and "stubborn" becomes "persistent." We joke now that Norah isn't demanding and particular, she's just a visionary. I have learned that it is important for children, and all of us, to hear the benefits of our individual characteristics.
Today I am deeply grateful for her more. She makes us more patient, more present, and more receptive to the goodness of life. She helps us think more, wait more, and understand more. She stretches us and amazes us with the beautiful intricacies of her self.
There is much to be gained when we value the more in ourselves and others.