Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Princess and Me

I hope you have a child just like you. ~My Mother

The Princess is an amazing combination of personality traits and temperaments. When she was a baby, every day upon waking she raised her head while lying on her tummy and just smile when she looked at her daddy or me. Her father called her "Sunshine." Even now she looks for reasons to laugh--it does not take much. On the other hand, she can be quite dramatic: Yesterday, it took ten minutes to calm her down from screaming and crying for fear of the neighbor girl dying from illness because she had touched a dead bird then put her fingers to her mouth. (Yucky? Yes! Reason to lose it? No.) The Princess is so generous, she will give her only piece of candy to someone else who does not have one, but will fight anyone who tries taking it from her. She likes to dress up for dinner, but will play as hard as most boys outside in a pair of jeans. And...she is a very, VERY strong-willed child.

What else could she be, considering her parents, both strong-willed themselves? I am face-to-face with the will of the Princess and my own on a daily basis, since I homeschool. It has hindered progress in lessons many a time. With my husband more often than not out of town from Monday to Friday, on some weekends we all up end up just unraveling. Since it rained all weekend, that is pretty much what we did this weekend.

For as long as I can remember, my mother said that she hoped I would have a child just like me, so that I could know what it was like for her. My mother, bless her, was ill-prepared for handling me and was also one to fall into thoughts of "woe is me," instead of taking charge. Needless to say, a strong-willed child could wear her down quickly and I was that child. There were many, many other dynamics working against my mother and me ever having a loving and close relationship, but I know that in our hearts we both desire it very much.

One of my fears has been that the relationship between my daughter and me would become like that between my mother and me. There is even some speculation that same fear prolonged my labor for three days before the Princess was finally born, but that is another story for another time. I started first grade at the age of five. As soon as I got the idea that I could learn things from a teacher and excel in the school environment away from home, I began thinking even less of my mother.

It was in third grade that I realized my mother could not help me with my homework anymore. It may have been just that my siblings needed more help, but it was pretty obvious, even to an eight year old, that academics was not her thing. She was just lost with multiplication tables and the capitals of the states. Armed with the belief that I could outsmart her and, again, other dynamics in our home making it dysfunctional, I was not one that could be managed well by my mother.

The Princess is now the age I was when I was in fourth grade. Since I am her teacher as well as her mother, she will not have the opportunity to think I am not smart enough to help her learn. She does know that on some things that I am learning along with her, which is a good thing. She should know that no one is an expert on everything, that we should always view things anyone does not yet know as something he can learn if studied. Even so, I am confronted more now with the natural development of her independence and her strong will.

The Princess does remind me much of myself and, even though there are times she does wear me down, I find her strong will a delight most of the time. I know that she will not be easily swayed to go with the crowd when they are doing something wrong. I know that she will hold fast to her faith in God, even when others make fun of her. I know because in that way she and I are alike.

I have read books on parenting strong-willed children and, when I get a bit concerned about the Princess taking on some of my worst childhood traits, my husband reminds me the Princess' childhood experiences greatly differ from mine. He believes it is unlikely we will have the same challenges in our relationship as I did with my mother. Still, I am all that more determined to foster the kind of relationship I wish I could have had with my own mother.

I remember once when my mother said she wished I would have child just like me, I responded with "I hope so, too. I'd know how to raise that child." I had in mind, simply, the way I wished to have been raised. When I look at my Princess doing her things, I sometimes get a bittersweet feeling. I envy her because I see a glimpse of the child I could have been, but I am also thankful for the childhood I had, because it makes me more aware of how important good parenting is.

What my mother meant as a curse has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. Thanks, Mom!

Thank you, my Lord, for blessing me with a strong-willed child, who often makes me smile as she reminds me so much of myself. At times her strong will is very challenging, but I also know how well You can mold it to Your plans for her and may I be ever guided by You to do my part well as her mother.

2 comments:

  1. lol. The curse is to have a child you do not understand ~ & I had several of those. I will never ever get the whole twin thing. I watch it in action & I so do not get it. Ditz might drive me to distraction but I do actually understand what drives her & that makes it easier ~ though no easier to steer the runaway cart with rampant hormones trying to do the driving. lol. She surprises me though. Just when I think she's completely dropped the bundle & turned into a complete loop she shows the sort of common sense & morals that would make any mummy heart glow with pride.

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  2. I agree. A child who is so people-pleasing and swishy-washy that I never know how he really feels or what he is thinking is the one with whom I would have the greatest problem. Such children can seem manageable and compliant, but in some ways they are quite insecure and unsure of who they are so they are more easily influenced by what could be considered highly undesirable as well.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.