A Parent Conundrum
I’m in the car driving to the grocery store with my husband and my 5-year old daughter. A learning through motherhood opportunity presents itself when my daughter announces: “Mommy when I grow up I wanna be just like you! Exactly like you!” As a parent, I’m not gonna lie, hearing this feels amazing! Initially, my ego is triggered and pride starts lurking. I can feel its presence rising from deep down inside of me. I’m thinking, this just validates it right here, on the spot, that I, as a mother, am doing something very right to have my child say she wants to be just like me!
Wrong. Now, let’s put aside the fact that this statement came from a 5-year old. And let’s put aside the fact that the teenage version of this beautiful angel I have been blessed with after an eleven-year infertility journey, will indeed wanna be nothing like me, for at least a few years, until the teenagites heals (pun intended).
Within a millisecond of my pride taking over and making me feel like the chief leader of “the gifted” mothers tribe, I thought, wait, what?… Oh, shoot! Why does she wanna be like me? Not only do I want her to be ten-fold better than me in every aspect of her life, but most important, I want her to be her! Not some kind of carbon copy version of me. For the past five years, I’ve been taking my time and making intentional effort to explain to her how important it is she is her own, unique, amazing self! Her conclusion to all those talks is that she wants to be just like me?…
A Simple Compliment or a Life Lesson?
Learning through motherhood can be challenging. In questioning my pride, my mind took off completely abandoning my instructions to not make a big deal out of this. Have you ever had this happen to you? Your child says something on a whim and you wanna turn it into a life lesson? I’m sure as a mother you do appreciate grand announcements such as this one, but also as a mother, do you run into conflict with yourself over those same announcements from your child/children?
Maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s the mother of a miracle child syndrome. I don’t know… Or maybe these days we are too consumed with parenting and feelings and how we are doing it right and other moms are doing it wrong or how we are doing it all wrong and other moms seem to have it together.
Whatever the source of this self initiated internal conflict I started with myself triggered by my five-year old in-the-moment amazement with her mother, was a good way to check-in and run inventory with myself. Although it’s healthy to feel good about yourself as a mother and although comments and statements like this one coming from your child are welcomed at any given point in time, I still believe we need to be careful in dismissing them as just something my kid said today that made me feel good.
The Most Valuable Relationship
Because it’s not about you. And this statement was not about me. It wasn’t about my daughter either. It was about our mother-daughter relationship. And her statement as lovely as it sounded at first, it was a minor indication (to me), of a potential one-way street type of relationship. And I can not stand for that.
What do I mean? How does that indicate a one-way street relationship? If I respond by showing excitement she wants to be just like me when she grows up, I run the risk of her associating my love to her following my footsteps. On the flip side of that, if I respond by showing disapproval and tell her she must be and do better than me, that creates the type of pressure I never want to impose on her. I want her to know that she will be equally loved if she is the polar opposite of me.
So this is why, as I’m learning through motherhood, I did not respond with something like: Wow, that’s great sweetie. You are a smart girl… Or something along those lines. I simply said:
How about you are just like you? That way we can share our unique ways of doing and being so we can learn and grow together?
Surprisingly enough, she seemed to have grasped what I was saying because she paused for a second and then said:
“Oh, I know. It’s like when you tell me: “do it your way”.
Yes, it’s like when I tell her: Do it your way.