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Life’s Mirror by Jenyng Wu

Jenyng writes: Recently, Noah, my two-and-a-half-year-old can be heard shouting, “BABY BROTHER, BABY BROTHER!  NO, BABY BROTHER!”  Somehow, baby brother (Thomas, nine months old) has crawled his way to a toy that Noah does not want him to have or play with.  As I am preparing lunch in the kitchen when this happens, I wonder why the sudden outburst while Noah is hovering right over his little brother.  It isn’t until the evening, when I am reflecting on the day’s events, that I realize and shudder: Noah is imitating me!

These days, I find myself setting boundaries and limits for my two year old.  It’s a far cry from a year ago, when he was 18 months and we were like two peas in a pod: mama and Noah, best of buddies.  He was so easy then (if I may use that term).  Now living in and developing his “will,” Noah is doing what every two-year-old does, pushing his boundaries and stretching my patience. And sometimes I am not as graceful in handling these moments.  Of course, it is those moments that my son chooses to reflect and imitate my actions.

At first, I am both upset and guilt ridden. I can do better. I should do better. Then I remind myself that there is no handbook for parenthood or mothering.  We are all doing the best we can with who we are and what we have.  “There is no perfect parent,” I tell myself, “and there is no perfect child.”  I must let go of my expectations of how Noah should act and try to do the same for myself. And while I resonate with the LifeWays approach and the Waldorf philosophy, I was raised in Confucianism dogma.  So it is only natural that my default should be correction instead of compassion.

My reflections also remind me that Noah and I are on a journey together. Two years ago, there was only my biography.  Now our biographies intertwine. He has become the mirror to my life: past, present and future.  He reflects how I was raised and reminds me how different I want his childhood to be.  He reflects how I am in the present, showing me the choices I make in the moment.  And he reflects the endless possibilities of growth–for him, as well as for me.  When I see this, I am humbled that in Noah I am given the gift of life, not just in him, but in the countless opportunities for me to grow and be the kind of person he will be proud to be.

Another morning, another day, and I have another opportunity to do things differently.  Today I will learn to see the world as Noah sees it.  I will find wonder in the mundane.  I will find joy in the simple.  I will live as if time is endless and I exist wholly in the moment.  I will also remember how unsettling it must be for a small soul of two to find his world changing.  Then I will call upon empathy to react with compassion and hope that another day Noah chooses to imitate something more worthy of imitation.

Jenyng Wu is a mother of two young boys.  After a career in the corporate world, she found her calling as a mother.  Now her days are filled holding a rhythm, providing a nurturing environment, making home cooked meals, and lying on the floor with her boys and doing whatever they are doing. She took the LifeWays Training in the San Francisco Bay Area.