Monday, September 21, 2009

"You take after your Mommy." Is this a good thing?

It can be heartbreaking when you realize your child takes after you...has inherited your worst traits, the ones you have to work every damn day to repress.

I think for the most part, people would describe me as bold, adventurous, a bit in-your-face. All of that is, in fact, true. But I've said it before: I'm really just a big chicken. I'm scared. A lot. Often. I get anxious about things. I worry. I fret. I over-analyze. When I want to try something new, I think about all the things that could go wrong.

And then I do it anyway.

See? There is the repression. It can be exhausting, spending so much of your time trying to go against your nature (or, possibly, nurture, since my parents spent most of my childhood trying to protect me from the world and most of my adult life trying to protect me from myself).

I don't want my child to grow up like this. I don't want him to have to live life, often, afraid or worried or anxious. I want him to be like his Dad: balls to the wall (as he'd say...sorry), no worries, just get out there and do it. All of it. Any of it.

But as Ben is growing up, I am realizing more and more that he is more and more like me. And I hate that. I hate that he thinks before he leaps (literally). I hate that he worries about being the slowest on his soccer team. I hate that he absolutely refused--the fear evident on his little face--to go down the slides at his own birthday party.

Over the last few days he has developed a new anxiety: peeing in his underwear. Mind you, this kid has been potty trained for a year or so. He has been sleeping through the night with no issues for months. Now, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he is obsessing over going to the bathroom...constantly. (Yes, we took him to the doctor.) We have tried both ends of the spectrum: from paying close attention and discussing it to all-out nonchalance and ignoring. But last night, after almost an hour of constant trips to the bathroom, we had to step in. We tried to explain he was "empty." We tried to be soothing. We tried to be intimidating. In the end, we had to give him an ultimatum ("choice" as we, parents, call it): either you go to bed now as is, or you go to bed with pull-ups on. He went to bed...after several minutes of a full-blown panic attack. To see his little face so out of control, so frightened by his own was heartbreaking...and remarkably familiar.

"He takes after you, Liz."

I hear it often.

He is stubborn, strong-willed, verbal, and a thinker. He loves the spotlight, likes to make people laugh, and can negotiate you into thinking it was your idea. He likes order, routine, and rules. And when he has an idea he likes, good luck trying to change it.

It can be hard to see yourself in your child. It's like yet another reminder, everyday, of how important it is to be brave. Bold. Free. Because now that I'm a mom, I don't just want that for myself. I want it for him, too.


  1. I love stubborn, strong-willed, verbal, and thinker...I hope he never loses those qualities! We have a two year old and I hope he also has these qualities. Not my sassy mouth, but everythingn else is ok. :)

  2. Liz, thank you so much for directing me to this post. I absolutely love it. Once again, I see myself in you - the habits, the anxieties, and now the fear over seeing those anxieties revisited in my child. I have a draft of a post on this very topic and reading this might just give me the courage to finish it up and post it. Thanks again for your words.


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