Thursday, April 14, 2011

She's not me and she's not mine - repeat

Willow was born not looking like either of us, but over time, she’s come to look like me. River on the other hand, was Mark’s clone. With time, features from my father and grandfather appeared in him. I sometimes had the surreal sense of reraising my husband, or my father, but never myself. When I was pregnant the first time, I hoped for a girl, thinking I knew how to handle a girl, since I am one myself. But upon finding out a boy was coming, I soon realized the benefits. Boys are probably easier to handle as teenagers. But best of all, I’d be less likely to project myself onto a boy, and therefore we might avoid the conflict me and my mother had when I was growing up. So far, I think this is the case. I love River and feel exceptionally close to him. I enjoy sharing experiences with him and am excited when he likes things that I can do with him. However, I see him as a distinct person. His personality is a lot like mine, but his looks, and some of his interests are distinct. Now that Willow is starting to look a lot like me, I sometimes catch myself looking at her and seeing myself as a baby. So far, her mild temperament matches River’s and what my parents say mine was like. When I’m watching her kick, notice herself in the mirror, smile at the attention she receives, I wonder if what I’m seeing is what my parents saw in me. I wonder what I can do to make sure she is happy, healthy, feels secure and confident. I think about the parts of myself I’m not proud of, and wonder if my parents could have done things differently to change those. I wonder what I should do to set the best path for her, to establish the best relationship between us. I tend to think that if I do things differently, I can change the course of what was my life. This is dangerous. Her life is not my life. She is not me. She is not even mine – though I’ll enjoy her for the brief period in which I’m responsible for her. She’s an individual with her own characteristics, will and destiny. Hopefully she’ll show us some of those characteristics soon, so that I can appreciate her unique personality. I’m fearful of projecting myself too much onto a female child, of thinking that the thoughts and experiences I had at a certain age will be what she will be thinking and experiencing then. If she continues to look like me, this will be even more of a risk. It might have been easier if River resembled me and Willow looked like Mark. Do you fear projecting yourself onto your child and their experiences? Does it make a difference if they do or don’t look like you? How do you avoid doing it?

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