Friday, May 6, 2011

Seeing my children for who they are.

Early in parenting I spent entirely too much time thinking about who my kids were not. I was always comparing Jack to his peers. Who had a longer attention span, who was a better sleeper, who walked faster, who had more teeth (never Jack, poor kid). I was not at any point blind to his more charming qualities, but I was preoccupied with thoughts of what needed to be changed.

I felt like I did so many things to create the more difficult parts of Jack's personality (you know, the parts that mirror my own with frightening precision). He's controlling, and bossy and he used to be a terrible sleeper and he never once was willing to take any kind of bottle. I always assumed it was the result of something I did, or perhaps something I didn't do. How naive. To think I had that much power. I've taken enough psychology courses to understand the principals of nature vs. nurture, but I assumed that nurture was the more crucial part. Silly me.

Before Henry was born I was going to do things differently! I was going to make sure to change all the mistakes I made the first time. I don't know when it started but it's like someone cleaned the window and the view is finally clear. Turns out Henry was just an entirely different baby. Sure, I did some things differently... but it was never because I was determined to alter the course of his life. He was different so I changed for him, it was merely from necessity.

It seems so clear now. They are each so unique and the universe in its infinite wisdom made me capable of parenting them differently. It's what they need, it had nothing to do with me.

Honestly, I was so worried about having two boys. I was so worried that they'd be so similar that I wasn't going to feel like I was getting the variety as a parent. I was worried they'd be so different that I'd have a favorite. It seemed like these things would be magnified by having two of the same gender.

Which do I like more: the beach or the mountains? Both, neither, it depends on my mood.

Henry is laid back, happy, snuggly and unlikely to overreact. He's also emotionally needy, cranky as hell when he first wakes up, and unwilling to feed himself if he's feeling crabby.

Jack is filled with infectious enthusiasm, he's imaginative, independent and empathetic. He's also bossy, frighteningly independent, wild and impulsive.

There isn't a thing about them I would change (not that I could if I wanted to). I finally see them for who they are. They are unique and special and beautiful. Truly seeing them as they are also allows me to finally see myself.

I'm just enjoying the view.


emk said...

Sweet and thoughtful post, Em. Glad you're in a good place!

Gail said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gail said...

Wonderful! Congratulations! Sometimes this type of insight takes 18 years--you're ahead of the game! :-) Love, Mom

Nathan and Aimee said...

It's wild how each child is completely different. They come from the same parents, and are raised in the same house, but each one has their distinct amazing personality!

Kate said...

This is why every time someone complements me (and occasionally Field) on Liam's personality or sleep habits I make a point to say that we're just lucky and he came that way. I mean I am responsible for the sleep habits but only because he's a sleeper and a napper like I was (and am); nature, not nurture.

melaniet42 said...

Can I just click the "like" button? LOL.