As moms, part of our assignment is to help make our kids into the best “selves” they can be. During a conversation with my son, then in college, I remarked that he wasn’t supposed to be like me, his dad, or anyone else. He was supposed to be the very best “Daniel” he could be and our job was to help him accomplish that.
But it does make us smile when, for better or worse, we see reflections of ourselves in our children or grandchildren or we notice resemblances from one generation to the other.
None of my “progeny” look like me. Not one. My husband has the strong genes in the family (good thing I married such a good looking guy!) and all four of our kids look like him. After the birth of our newest grandson, my machatenista (mother of my daughter-in-law) came out of the delivery room, pointed to my husband and exclaimed, “He looks just like YOU!” As do two out of our other three grandsons.
Last week, 16-month old Jillian and I went to her music class. She just wasn’t into it. About two-thirds of the way through the class, she retrieved her shoes from the pile and handed them to me. I asked, “Do you want to put your shoes on?” She solemnly nodded “yes.” She got up and pointed to the stairs. “Do you want to leave?” I asked. She again nodded yes, walked across the entire room and started up the steps. The teacher called out, “Jillian, don’t you want to stay for the rest of the singing?” She emphatically nodded “no” and kept going.
Inside I was smiling and applauding her independent spirit. My family teases me that when I’ve had enough (of anything), I am “out of there,” decisively and quickly. “Mommy’s done,” they’ll laugh. I finally saw something of myself in a grandchild! Maybe next time, someone will display a more endearing quality of mine.
I also get a kick out of how much my grandson Aaron is like his uncle Andrew. When Andrew was 3, his teacher gave out “awards” at the end of the year. Best cleaner-upper! Best block-builder! Best clay-molder! Andrew was the “best politician.” Morah Judy told us that each day when Andrew came to school, he would work the crowd. “See you at lunch!” “We’ll play trucks later!” “Meet you at the block corner!” His natural charisma and friendliness was evident at an early age and has stood him in very good stead since. Aaron, who looks remarkably like him, also has Andrew’s outgoing, friendly personality. People are drawn to him in the very same way.
All our children need to wrestle to establish their own identities, particularly vis a vis their parents. This seemed particularly true for one of my daughters. However, now that she is a mother, she and her siblings recognize in her, a younger version of myself. I am not sure she sees this as a compliment.
One day I bought an irresistible gift for that daughter which I hesitantly handed her, not sure if she would see the humor. I was relieved and flattered that she immediately placed it prominently on her living room chair.
It is a small cushion with the words, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all.”