Most people fall into a broad category of terms to define who they are. Words I’d use to describe myself would differ greatly from how others would describe me. We all make assumptions on appearance or on a career choice or what schools we attended. The characteristics that are familiar in anyone I meet, I just assume they are like someone else I know.
I think most of us feel safer & more comfortable being with people who are familiar to us. I see myself as a Vermonter, Dem. leaning toward liberal & Jewish. So you’d think I’d look for the same. But were is the fun in that? I seem to want my life to be as difficult as I can make it. I married a man in Alabama, Republican to the core & Catholic. Our daughter was transverse & broke my water 10 days early. I had an emergency c-section.
Sophie came out ready to go. By 18 months she was ready to move out, go to college or get a job. She did everything, she could do anything you asked her. She never really had much to say. In her company, I felt like she was a stranger. I felt like she was the adult, that she knew everything, could solve the mysteries of the universe. I think the deep wrinkles between my eyes came from looking at my daughter, trying to fit her into a category or a box. On the outside, she was a beautiful toddler..blue eyes, blond curls. Little fingers that had the fine motor skills of an adult. I would try to put her into terms I could understand. One day she took out all her blocks and made stacks in perfect ascending order (or descending order, I never asked). Ok, great, I can label her as wanting everything in perfect order. Her father is like that. I would feel relief because I fit a square into a square hole. Life makes sense to me now. She is going to be like David. And my brow would unfurl & the wrinkles would leave just a little evidence of having been there. Then she would stand with this wicked look in her eye, smile a wicked smile & walk through all that perfection like a giant villain, a destroyer of worlds. Oh! She’s like me. That was fun Sophie! I’d say its time to clean up, having no idea if she would be like my husband & clean them up without protest or if she would be like me & walk out of the room, leaving chaos behind her. She would chose, most of the time, cleaning them up with help. Help under her terms. Yellow first, animal up, then blue, number up. If I made a mistake, she would correct me, patiently.
Sophie is 10 now, the lines between my brows are deep. Sophie is my puzzle. She can be anything she chooses to be. Teachers told us she has a reading disorder, that falls under dyslexia. That she would struggle with reading. We told Sophie that, and within a year, there was no sign of any disorder & her reading coach said she thinks Sophie is gifted. Teachers would tell me she understands adult themes in books, that she can comprehend stories at three or four grade levels above. As the teacher’s are telling me this, I see their eyebrows furrow, the lines deepen. I was just grateful that people who spend most of their time teaching children, were also puzzled by Sophie. I still can’t fit her in a category for longer then an hour, because she will be someone else soon enough. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. Sophie’s parents are polar opposites, maybe our traits got thrown out the window when Sophie came into being.
I can wait, but I do often wonder, what (not who) she will be when she grows up. I cannot put her in a box, if I did she would grow wings, just to show me who is in charge. Whatever she decides to do, she will be the best there is at it…and God help anyone who stands in her way.
I wrote the above about a long time ago. Sophie graduated High School, her eyes on a career in finance. She moved in with friends shortly after graduation. I knew she’d fly as soon as the door opened. She is thriving. And i’m learning to live without her in my life everyday.
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Hi ! Can you tell me how your daughter made this stained glass-like project ?
Hi Leslie, I have cheap paper on a roll, they sell them at toy stores, not art stores. The paper is very thin & slick, so when she created this amazing piece of art, at the age of 9, i had to photograph it. When she walked past a window, i saw that it looked just like stained glass…she used sharpies. That is all. This piece of art has had over 250,000 views. My daughter is now 13…she gave me the art work about two weeks ago, she said it is too child-like. Amazingly she chose to hang it on her wall, not a window. The art would have faded otherwise, i’m going to have i professionally framed. Good luck! ~amy
Powerful stuff, beautifully written. Your daughter sounds amazing.
My daughter also came into the world through the sunroof, after a long and difficult labour. I couldn’t hold her immediately after birth (for hours, because my epidural was turned up so high I could barely breathe, and apparently I lost loads of blood, though I only found that out when I had baby #2) and I often wonder if that broke my bond with her. They say it’s harder to bond with c-sec babies, though I’m not sure who ‘they’ are. My daughter is a puzzle of moods and contradictions. She’s gentle and loving, but with a destructive streak. She talks sense and nonsense in the same sentence. She wants to learn but can’t stand being taught. She tells me she loves me and hates me a dozen times a day. She’s four. My husband and I look to the future and wonder at the fights she and I will have. Apparently his mother and sister fought like cat and dog. The only people who fought in my house were my parents. I hate fights, though I have my father’s temper. I want to understand her, I want to connect with her, but I can’t. I don’t ‘get’ her. My son is a mini me, a mini version of my father (though they will never meet, unfortunately). I understand him. My daughter, not so much.
I think our daughters are already grown, but trapped by limits. I would however immediately stop her from giving her the right to tell you she hates you, if you allow it. You don’t feel strong & safe enough for her to push against you. I think children push against us to make sure that even though they feel like they could be in charge don’t ever what to. I’ve been told to my face one time each daughter, that,”She hates me.” my response was instant. Without anger, but with firmness, I said, “You will not be mean to me, I am not mean to you & I will not tolerate it, do you understand” both girls went off in tears & later came back to say they were sorry. I said I understand that they hated what was happening at the time, but its not excuse to be rude to each other. A mother is to be a safe harbor. Strong & sure of herself, so when children push against rules or changes, they are met without a strong mum who can explain why it has to be this way. That is what kids do, they feel like they want to be in charge or in control, but thats when they to cry & get angry, because at the same time being in control is scary. Who will keep them safe. She is not your friend, she is your daughter who needs firm & loving arms & voice.
These ideas were reinforced by teaching preschool. The less control the teacher had over the children the more “punch drunk” and dangerous to one another they became. It is something that will happen every single day. You can decide if you want your daughter to learn its ok to tell others that she hates them & hurt others, she may learn bully behaviors this way. But empathy & sympathy work far better at raising a child that you will grow to admire, if you may never really understand her.
My mother tells me I’m just like my father. Hard headed, brave & strong, stubborn & bit spoiled. But she is the one who raised me & I learned so much about how to understand that words & actions mean so much. please don’t let your daughter use such strong word to hurt you. You are giving her a sense of power, that could make her unhappy with herself. She need guildlines to ensure she loves herself & you.
Thank you so much for your advice. As a parent and a preschool teacher (and you have my utmost respect on that!) you clearly have huge amounts of experience. However I don’t necessarily agree with your view with regards to a child saying they hate their parent or that them being permitted to do so would lead to bullying behaviour.
I always encourage my daughter to say what she feels, although I certainly don’t allow her to be rude or mean if she does so in a controlled fashion. When she lashes out in the heat of the moment, I tell her she is entitled to her feelings but that I will always love her. When she comes back with, “you’re not my best friend anymore,” I always tell her I am her mother not her friend.
She goes to her room crying and always comes and says sorry afterwards, knowing that she can come and say anything to me. If I made a big deal of her saying she hated me, things would escalate much further as she would dig her heels in and get stubborn.
I guess it’s all about the parenting you received as a child and the things that are important to you. I have never told either of my parents that I hated them, but then I have never told them I loved them either. Ever. I’ll never be able to tell my father now, and even though I see my mother every week I can’t imagine ever saying the words to her. I don’t talk about anything deeper than the weather or the cricket and, if I ever do talk about anything else, I get the impression she disagrees with everything I say but chooses not to comment.
As a result, I tell my children I love them all the time, and they often tell me they love me (at the most random moments). I want my daughter to be able to tell me all the things she is feeling, even if sometimes I don’t want to hear them.
As far as your description of a mother as safe harbour goes, both my kids missed that opportunity when I got PND with my second child. I am not a safe harbour. I don’t get through a week, sometimes not even a day, without breaking down in tears because of some trivial thing. My kids take care of me as much as I take care of them. I’m not proud of the fact, although I am immensely proud of them and their empathy. I know I’m a rubbish role model, but I do the best I can. I talk openly about my feelings, my strengths and my weaknesses. I wish I could be their rock, but that isn’t always possible.
I choose not to take antidepressants because I remember how I was when I took them before, and I would rather be fun and alive 90% of the time and raging/crying for the remainder, than disconnected for 100% of the time. Maybe that isn’t the right choice, but I can’t change the past.
This is why parenting is so very tough. Every child, every parent, every family situation, every person’s history and upbringing and values, is different. And, in the end, we’re all doing the best we can.
Hi you contradict yourself by saying you are not a safe harbor when you tell me that your children can tell you anything. Telling your daughter that you are not her friend, you are her mother is a safe harbor. If I offended you because I don’t allow verbal abuse coming from their mouths, that is me telling you how I feel. I know what that feels like & I react very strongly about it. It’s just something I cannot handle & my kid know it. We all have something going wrong, but hopefully most things are going pretty good. My kids can tell me anything they want to, but I have big kids who are busy. We have dinner together every night & most of the time, we share with one another one good thing & one bad thing. We talk about what we said or behaved for both. What we wished we had done.
I’ve been in bed since July 27th & I have five more weeks to go. I beat myself up with guilt, I miss family dinners. I’m in pain, so I’m grouchy. I know my kids are afraid for me because they see the pain in my face.
I guess what I’m trying to say, as mothers, it is really learning as we go.
You seem like a strong woman, that got knocked down & then got back up. My kids see all my new scars crossing over old scars, but they know I will get back up again.
I wasn’t offended. It actually forced me to reevaluate my parenting, which is always good. 🙂
I have flash points with the kids – I have zero tolerance for physical roughness because my dad used his hands and it terrified me as a child.
I’m sorry to hear you’re poorly, that must be beyond frustrating. I can’t imagine juggling that with parenting, you’re amazing.
Guilt’s the killer isn’t it? I thought I struggled with guilt before having children but that was nothing compared with now!
Wishing you a speedy recovery (and hoping I didn’t offend you with my reply)
Not offended. I like getting my own thoughts out of my head to hear what others think of them. Just as I like listening or reading your thoughts on parenting. My kids have been wonderful though this rebuild pelvis/lay in bed from june 27-Sept. 18. They feel good about taking care of me. They are older & very independent already, so it hasn’t been too hard. I know they hate it when I’m in pain & crying, but they learn to accept things as they are & just do the best they can.
I never asked you, where do you live in this big earth?
I live in a tiny village in the middle of the UK!
This is really great. My son is 25 now and I have learned so much from his one liners…
Thank you, Lissa. It means a lot that you stopped by & then commented. ~amy
Love your horse picture!
Reblogged this on 2me4art.
I love it that is so sweet of you to wright about your daughter. She is so kind and nice sweet and everything. I love her
nice comment, daughter of mine. Glad you have so much self confidence
Amy be concerned but don’t hurt yourself by getting obsessed, Hashem will protect her and you!
I’m not concerned, nor obsessed. She is who she is