I (don't) know you

Dear Z,

I like to think I know you.   

You are so like me, I say sometimes.  We are so alike.  Later, you repeat it back to me, especially when you're feeling scared or sensitive about something.  I'm sensitive like you, right Mama?  That's why I'm scared of monsters?

Yes, I say.  We are a couple of sensitive flowers.

I understand when you desperately want to play with other kids but don't know how to approach them.  I wince in recognition when you cover your ears and cower in loud places.  I know immediately when you are grouchy and unreasonable due to hunger and hand you a packet of almonds I keep in my purse for me - and now, for you.

I think these similarities are a gift to us both.  They bring to our relationship a recognition, a mirroring of experience.  They help me feel close to you, even during your most exasperating behavior.   I think they alleviate some of your loneliness and pain when you are scared or hurting, because you know I understand, even if my response to you is not always as sympathetic or calm as we both would like.

Sometimes this knowing you through my own experience gets in the way of really seeing you, though.  I have to remind myself that you are not scared of heights or high speed or being upside down; that was - IS - me.  I have to remind myself that while you worry when approaching new kids, you still do it, rather than hiding behind your mother sucking your thumb like *ahem* someone you know.

That elusive thing we call balance is what I'm looking for, of course.  I want to let our similarities be a comfort and a way to connect, not a constraint or a prophecy.  I want you to understand and love the parts of you that are like me, the parts of you that are like your father and the parts of you that are unlike anyone else in the history of time.


Your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


Dear E,

I sometimes think I don't know you.

Where did you come from?  I think and, sometimes say, gazing at you in bafflement.

You are the little sister in our household equation and as a fellow little sister I understand the feeling of looking up to a sibling, the constant desire to run with the big kids. 

But that is where my easy recognition ends.

You are slippery, stubborn, resilient, and not terribly interested in rules.  I am surprised time and again that you wake so slowly, completely uninterested in food, while your sister and I are wide awake in seconds, demanding food before anything else and lots of it, please.  

I don't want to simplify your complexities by saying that Z is like me and you are like your father but, of course, I think those things from time to time.  I don't want to be so determinate about it, to divide you two and act as if each one of you belongs to one of us, when of course, we all belong to each other and to ourselves and to the universe in equal measure.

I think our differences are a gift to us both. You are not a mirror for my own reactions, my swirling, volatile moods.   I see you as a separate person so much more easily than your sister, either because you are my second child or because you are so seemingly different from me or both.

I don't want to divide up personality traits and assign them like a warden:  You are the sensitive one and you are the confident one.   I want you to know that, in this life, you get to try on all the adjectives you like, my dear, including the ones you think your older sister has already taken. 

The truth is: you have parts of me and parts of your father and parts that are uniquely, spectacularly you.


Your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


Pamela Hunt Cloyd said...

Oh what a gift this is!! I have 2 very different children like you and one is so much like me. It's both amazing and infuriating and comforting. What wonderful letters these are. It's almost as if you wrote them to my own soul. xoox

Hillary said...

Oh these posts about the differences/similarities among you and the girls always resonate with me. I struggle so much with parenting myself (The Boy) and parenting someone I don't always understand (The Lad). And then I don't want to label the boys and then have them feel trapped. It's so hard. Thanks for putting it so eloquently.

beyond diapers said...

I like this part, "...of course, we all belong to each other and to ourselves and to the universe in equal measure." Very nice!

Gina said...

Beautifully put.

I have much the same dynamic with my first two - Thomas is so very much like me (but looks like clone of his father) and Theodore acts just like his father (and grandfather and uncle) but looks like the boy version of me. Like you, I find that I need to be very careful though about assuming to much. They are each their own wonderful person and they also can and will change as they grow older. I am quite interested to see how number three turns out. Initial impression is that she is more like me (and Thomas) but I know (and look forward to) how she will surprise us with her own unique personality.

Bird said...

So true! Fussbot is like me in many ways (and then not because he's also a crazy 3 year old) but B is this different person- from me and Fussbot and I find myself projecting less with her because she's just so different.

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