Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who Are They?

During my first pregnancy, before I even knew I was having twins, I spent some time fretting and analyzing what it would be like to bring home another human, another life-time member of our family.

It was unnerving to me that I did not get ANY say it what kind of human I would be giving birth to. I couldn't choose whether it was boy-human or girl-human, whether s/he was tall, short, funny, skittish, obnoxious, obedient, mouthy, kind, gentle... or even if this new human would be healthy. (Ha, ha, ha, or as it turned out, even if this new human was singular or plural!)

Of course- besides wondering about the sex and health of the baby- I worried most about getting a human that I didn't like, or one that didn't like me. "It's one thing to get married, because you choose who you're marrying. But I don't get to choose my child..." I mused to David one night.

I was met with a blank stare.

(Sometimes he really no fun at all.)

But anyway, after the girls arrived, I forgot about my gestational train of thought as I jumped into parenthood with two feet. Honestly, in those early days I didn't have the head space OR energy to think about much at all, beyond the girls' immediate needs.

As they've grown older, though, I've spent more time wondering WHO these girls of mine were.

I was right: I can not choose if my girls are nice or mean, happy or fretting, kind-spirited or disconnected...

I love them immeasurably, whoever they turn out to be. But sometimes I find myself bucking against who they are. When they don't let a friend have her way (be polite! she's our guest!), I get frustrated. When they are anxious about simple things, I get impatient. When they insist on doing something differently than I want, I get mad.

Even though I've known for ages that I don't get to choose who they are, it still doesn't stop me from trying to control them, to mold them into who I want them to be.

But then I stop. I watch, and I listen, and I see. I see that they are strong, beautiful, and being perfectly who they are meant to be. Even if their traits don't manifest themselves as positive, I see that they ARE good traits: they are not going to get walked on by friends; they worry about things because they are sensitive and thoughtful; they know exactly who they are, and they don't want me to interfere.

They are so different. And so alike. And they've known all along who they are and what they want. They are still in process, sure, but the process is not in the forming of their personalities, it's in the unveiling.

In many ways, this whole process has been easier with the youngest child. I'm more laid back now, more willing to let her reveal herself to me.

Also, her personality is more compatible with mine. Or really, with anyone's. She's easy-going, happy, and sweet most of the time.

But I have to wonder if she's not this way because I've been more accepting of who she is. I spent less time trying to control her, trying to mold her. She's been much more free to just BE who she is than the older two daughters...

I am still learning who these children are. Everyday, I understand them a bit more (and sometimes- at the very same time- a bit less too).

I'm still learning that they already ARE who they are, and I don't have to do anything but nurture them.

I can't think of anything more exciting about parenthood than discovering who my children are. As the mystery continues to unfold before me, I hope I can remember to not meddle/control/manipulate, but to simply sit back and enjoy the show.


Emily said...

Excellent reminder. I sometimes think about my day and wonder why I spent so much time fighting with my oldest about things that are really about control rather than importance. Why? I'm hoping that I'll learn to loosen up as we go along. And I'm obsessed with wondering what they will be like as adults, and how our relationship will be at that time. Because isn't that what this is all about? (no, it's not, that's just what my mind thinks)

Tess said...

There she is, PLAYING WITH WATER. Heh.

You know, I love the idea that certain children aren't "difficult", but maybe just difficult for THAT PARTICULAR PARENT. Like, your personalities just don't match up. I wonder, sometimes, if my relative ease with parenthood isn't because Ava is (so far) a lot like me. I feel like I understand her, ya know? It makes me less likely to get mad, when I WOULD get mad if it was someone ELSE.

Lawyerish said...

Well, I just love this post. I'm going to bookmark it and come back whenever I need to remind myself to chill the heck out about our daughter, who isn't even BORN yet, and already I fret over who she'll become. She'll be whoever she is, and that will be wonderful in its own way.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

So wise and insightful, as usual.

I am having a much easier time with E, allowing her to be who she is, sitting back and watching rather than grappling and trying to change who she is which is how I feel I often am with Z. Is it a first child/ren thing? Is it how anxious I am about each new thing with the oldest? Is it who she essentially is? I'm not sure.

Love this post. And the pics.

KS said...

Very thoughtful post. Based on what you said--and what a few of the commenters have said--I wonder if your children's gender has some repercussions on how much we want to "mold" them. As a mother of two boys, I don't struggle with this as much. I mean, I do have moments when I think, geesh, I wish he wouldn't be like this [insert disliked behavior here]... but in general, I don't--to use your words--buck against who they are. It's just that they are boys and I am not and I have no idea what it's like to be one. My husband, on the other hand, struggles with this quite a bit, especially with our older one, who is very unlike my husband--or, at least, very unlike what my husband was like as a boy.

Sarah said...

Hmm, good point, KS. I feel like Addy and I butt heads SO much more than Eli, yet, I realized the other day that in actual fact, I still spend way more time wrangling him than I do her. The confrontations with her just BOTHER me more. Maybe I expected off the bat not to "get" Eli entirely, and so I don't get too upset with our confrontations, whereas in a daughter I was hoping for something... MORE, somehow, than a child with its own personality and needs and strengths and weaknesses. I'm going to be pondering this...

Sarah said...

Also, we have that EXACT SAME wainscotting in our bathroom.

EC Anne said...

Agreeing with KS, I actually think there's a big gender thing as well as a first child thing. So you and me and ALL THESE GIRLS, especially first born ones....uff da. Big girl and I butt heads ALL THE TIME. In fact, we having huge struggles right now and I'm coming to realize it's a control thing for her, she wants to make more decisions and I need to do a better job choosing battles rather than always calling the shots....because she wants to call some.....hmmm, so help me, like momma like big girl.....