Sunday, March 13, 2005

It Sounds Like I'm Ungrateful, But That's Not It

There is a recent post on MomInTheMirror that asks about how your kids are and are not like you. This touched me in a particular way, because Peanut is so very much not like me in most ways. An exercise in a book about infertility I read way back when asks you to list all the things you are hoping for in your child, and then to go back and think about what characteristics are inherited and what are taught. Then you were to look at that list and understand that none of those inherited characteristics were guaranteed to appear. For instance, you might have this picture of a little black-haired, green-eyed baby who loves to sing and read and hike outdoors. The black hair and green eyes are inherited, but your child may still end up with light brown hair and blue eyes. Singing ability might be inherited, but can you can also teach your child to love music. You also are more likely to teach your child to love reading and the outdoors than for them to have some inherent desire for those things. The object of this was to help you get over the idea that you must have a child that is biologically related to you in order for you to have some control over how they turn out. That really all you lose if you use donor egg or sperm or adopt is the discussions about baby getting those long fingers from Grandma. I think it is an important thing for anyone who is planning to have a child to understand, because it helps you realize what sorts of expectations you are already putting on your child.

This was difficult for me to accept, more difficult than I had realized. I didn't get that black-haired, green-eyed baby, getting instead a beautiful blue-eyed, brown-haired girl. I certainly didn't expect a rare cogenital condition. I don't yet know where her future interests lie, but I know that her approach to them will be different than my own. She is far more laid-back and mellow than I could ever hope to be. In fact, the only things where I can see we are alike are in our darker sides. She is a perfectionist, like me. She is stubborn. And, like I did, she has chosen not to talk at the same time other babies do, refusing to say Mama anymore unless she really wants to, not babbling all the vowels, showing no interest in talking at all. I adore my daughter, but it is so strange for me to look at her and see so little of *me* in her. The fact that she does look and behave like my husband doesn't console me in the slightest--I wanted her to be like me. I wanted a child for the ego boost, it seems.

How are your kids NOT like you? What has surprised you about their personalities, their looks?


Carlos said...

You're both also utterly charming.

(And frankly, Peanut is much cuter than her daddy T. So I figure she gets that from you.)

C in B

Anna said...

My Little Man is not like me in that he is very friendly and warm and outgoing, as if he expects people to be nice to him. He's also magnetic, charming, and popular; definitely not like me. Physically he's not much like me either, and most people say he looks like a clone of his father. He does, mostly, but he's got my nose and my chin, so there's definitely me in there. He's got red/blond hair and blue eyes though, as opposed to my brown and brown/gray. He's (so far) also quite slender. Frankly, I'm pretty happy about these ways in which he's not like me; I didn't want to hand any of that down to him.

Jen said...

My little girl loves to be the center of attention - EVERYWHERE!! She wants to make friends with everyone, and everyone wants to make friends with her. I, on the other hand, would prefer to hide in the corner and watch everyone else interact. I am very skittish about meeting new people and find myself just sort of backing away from the crowd. Since my little girl is so out-going, it has forced me to start talking to strangers everywhere we go, and we have met some amazing people.