Unless you have a child who is "more"... more energetic, more boisterous, more emotional, more easily disrupted, etc... you cannot possibly understand the ways of parents who have such a child.

Ocean will be 2 years old in February and he is the cheese to my cracker. I love that kid with every fiber of my being. Being his mother for the last 22 months has taught me how to be creative in the way that I guide, discipline and encourage him because he is one of those "more" children... he is spirited. If you spend more than 5 minutes with my little guy you will understand what I mean; as a baby he was what Dr. Sears calls "high need". There are those who become overwhelmed at his enthusiasm (and volume) and result to calling him names or speaking poorly of him (and this from adults... shameful). They look at me as though I'm crazy for negotiating with him, and roll their eyes when I'm inflexible about his nap and bedtimes. I have felt the glares of other mothers during storytime at the library when their babies were sitting quietly, listening... and my son was shrieking with delight, racing to the front to play with the puppets that the storyteller was using. I have seen the incredulous looks as I, 9 months pregnant, chased my son through the mall just because he saw a balloon in a store and would stop at nothing to get a closer look.

I have to admit my own ignorance as well, because before Ocean came along I would see other children like him and think, "That child is out of control." or "Doesn't that parent discipline their child?" How incredibly judgmental of me. I never realized the sensitivity it takes to mother a child with such an intense experience of the world. I didn't understand how much these children need to feel independent and free to explore their environment, or how they feel as though they will burst if they have no outlet for the current of energy that is always coursing through their little bodies (as evidenced by the tiny foot that is always tapping, even when he's sitting still).

Ocean is a challenging child to parent, because I am now having to think outside the box. The parenting books, magazines and advice columns don't work for us. We have to come up with our own solutions. And often times those solutions are inconvenient, time consuming and unconventional. But I came to a weighty realization last week which has given me fresh energy: I am Ocean's mom for a reason. I have to believe part of that reason is because of my willingness to be his advocate when most of the world doesn't understand. I love the creativity it takes to be his mommy; to come up with strategies that will allow him to express himself while helping him learn that there are boundaries and consequences. And of course I have to believe I'm best suited for the job of guiding him into adulthood... a daunting but exhilarating task.

I can't wait to see the spirited adult that my "more" child will become, and while he's being shaped and molded into his own little entity I'm certain I'm in for a transformation of my own.

On this New Year's Eve, Cheers to all the mothers out there, especially the mothers of the Spirited.

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