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.
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.
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.