“Mom, I want to be number one!!”
His shrill cries pierced the afternoon air, bringing to life the otherwise laid back mood that characterizes life at home, miles away from the blaring matatus and glaring graffiti. At first I was perturbed simply because I did not get the gist of what he was alluding to. What did he want to be first in? I was preparing to do laundry and there he was screaming at the top of his lungs as he ran downstairs. We got down and I changed my slip-ons and he still wouldn’t stop screaming he wanted to be first.
I then realized what he meant was he wanted to be first in everything in that short period of time: first to get downstairs, first to change his shoes for the outdoors, first to embrace the humid air… never mind that I was heading to do laundry and he to play. He threw tantrums for a short while, the usual jumping like a Masaai moran, running to the gate and back like a Kipchoge and spinning like a ballerina dancer. With the latter I requested for a dance which he flatly refused, much to my amusement (because moms learn to Press CTRL+IGNORE for those undeserving gimmicks of manipulation by kids).
When the dust settled, quite literally, I sat the kid down for a pep talk, because he is four years heading on fourteen.
Me: So, Jayden, what is all the fuss with been in first place, all the time, in all things, everywhere??
J: Because I gotta be number one.
Me: But why? Does it make you happy? Or are you doing it just because you want to be ahead of everyone else?
J: That aeroplane is huuuuge mom!
Me: Yes it is a big bird. I ask, why are you so insistent on been in first place?
J: *silence* *chirping birds* *roosters crowing*
Me: See, here is the thing Jayden. You cannot always be first in everything, everywhere, every time. Because sometimes, life is not like that. You make the best of everything, that’s what matters…
I am not certain my son had a good grasp of what I meant, but it got me thinking. How often do we compete against people whose lives are on totally different trajectories? How often do we get ourselves thinking, “I must beat person X on this and this front”, yet it is not so much to be a better person as it is to be ‘ahead’ of them? Case in point, Jayden wants to be first to get out and play, All I want to do is to do laundry, get a glass of wine and read a good book. See, different ‘destinations’.
As I approach my thirties (OMG, the big 3-0!! Is just a couple of years away, yikes!), I am slowly learning that to each their own path of life. There is no need to compete with people whose life paths and purposes do not intersect with mine. It will only lead to comparison, and there is no better thief of life’s joys than this. I am learning to charter my life’s path, at my pace, learning from my mistakes, celebrating the successes and ultimately, acknowledging that doing ‘it’ first (whatever it is) does not necessarily mean I did it right.
I love picking life lessons from my motherhood journey, and boy oh boy, how fundamental these lessons are. Enough with been first, how about I make the most of my experiences in getting to be first??
The calm before the storm 😀