with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
Before my first child was born, I spent long pregnant hours imagining oddly gender-biased scenarios about what it would be like to be a mother. If he was a boy, I decided, we’d take long rambling walks together and look at leaves. He’d spend hours outside with his dad, throwing a ball back and forth. If she was a girl, I’d brush her hair. There would be ribbons. She’d wear sweet dresses, the kind I always wanted in the Sears catalog (but ended up with plain-jane plaid instead). Either way, I would know this child inside and out. We’d be just alike. Flesh of my flesh.
Imagine my surprise when it became clear that Child #1 (not to mention #2, #3, and #4) wasn’t much like me at all. What happened?
I read this essay at Babble about an extroverted mother having difficulty understanding an introverted daughter, and remembered that feeling of surprise all over again. Do we really expect to spawn a bunch of Mini-Me’s? I think we do. I hate to say it, but I sort of did. I’m still surprised (and a bit chagrined) when I see huge traces of my older son’s father in him, for instance, like the way he eats an apple in a hotel room, hunched over the edge of the bed to keep the drips from falling on his shirt, or when anyone else’s face but mine shows up when my daughter smiles a certain way. Who are these kids, anyway? Who let these near-strangers in my house?
Why do we expect our children to be like us? Nature AND nurture. Anyone with half our genes who watches us like a hawk day and night for several years ought to be quite a lot like us, don’t you think? So why are we surprised (and secretly disappointed) when our kids turn out like entirely new people?
Four times now, I’ve looked a tiny person in the face, just moments after they had been completely inside my body, and said, “Who ARE you?” And do I know who those people are, yet? Not really. I’m still finding out, turning each page to find something new I didn’t know the day before.
Am I disappointed?
That’s a strong word. Not disappointed, really, but other than the framework of myself I don’t have much else to look at when I look at my kids. They’re still unfolding, page by page, and it’s wonderful, but I think that as humans we naturally make comparisons. And we have nothing else to compare to than ourselves. “Whose eyes does she have?” “Oh, he has your nose!” And when they don’t turn out to be Mini-Me’s (and, newsflash, they won’t) we don’t have any other basis of comparison.
Which brings me back to Extrovert Mom in the Babble essay. She had to read a book to figure out that her daughter was nothing like her. I’m slightly appalled by this (so judgy!) but at the same time I think it’s perfectly normal to assume our kids are like us until we get whacked in the head by a giant frying pan telling us differently. I used to cringe when my older daughter came home from school, wanting to download EVERYTHING from her day right into my lap, when all I wanted when getting home from work was a nice quiet room to crawl into for twenty minutes. Different strokes.
What about you? Did you have a wake-up moment when you discovered your child wasn’t your carbon copy? How are you dealing with having near-strangers living in your house?
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