My oldest little girl is the spitting image of her mother. To be clear, that’s not me, she looks just like my husband’s first wife.
I am a spitting image of my Mom. We sound eerily similar on the phone, we feel the same way about most things, and sometimes when I’m speaking to the girls I can hear her voice. I am her. So much so, that in business situations, I’ve run into people who used to work with her and they’ve said “Chris???” Yes…I’m Chris and I just happen to look 25 years younger. Or…better yet…I’m me and I look 25 years older. Either way…seriously?
I know how cool it is to look exactly like my Mom. I have been lucky enough to be compared to her my whole life.
I digress. As a mother to little girls who are not technically mine I sometimes wonder about my influence. I am fully aware that I am one of the four parents and they will soak-up the things that I give and share but at the end of the day…what will they really get from me? It’s something that creeps into my head late at night every once and awhile when I ponder whether I have any desire to have more children. Children that might look like my husband and I instead of my husband and someone else. Children I would be able to parent exactly as I see fit without the input of people with whom I’m not necessarily friends.
Our little girls may split their time between two homes but they also have six sets of grandparents who clamour for bits of time, numerous aunts and uncles, a slew of family friends, and it makes it hard for anyone other than the four parents to get real quality time in. I will never have conversations with these little girls in which I will remind them of things like “Gordy is my Grandpa’s cousin’s son, you know, the one who owns the farm in Southern Minnesota.” My Grandma in Phoenix is doing poorly right now, but the little girls have only met her twice, and thus explaining it to them might be confusing and feels futile. They might never be privvy to family history that has been so engrained in my own upbringing because there simply doesn’t feel like enough time.
It makes me wonder sometimes what they will actually inherit from me. When I start to labor over these things, or find myself consumed with where I fit into this crazy puzzle, things always happen to set me straight.
My oldest little girl is in a phase in which she wears a tank top underneath any and every shirt. For the past couple weeks I’d been wondering why on earth she does this. I was getting dressed for work on Friday morning and was wearing an argyle sweater that is too low for the office. I grabbed a tank top and as I was finishing my make-up I realized that I wear tank tops under shirts. Often. To save myself from wearing something too revealing, to the gym underneath t-shirts, or just as another layer. I do that! My oldest little girl is copying ME. I did a little dance in my bathroom when I realized it because, while it’s trivial and isn’t something that will last, it is in fact something and it’s something tangible that I can see with my own eyes.
On Friday, after I picked the little girls up from the bus, my oldest little girl was using the word infer over and over again. When I asked her about it she said she’d learned it in the past couple days and wasn’t it a “good word?” I talk about words, and language, and grammar a lot. It’s something that was important to my parents as I grew up and now it’s something that we talk about in our household. The fact that she was so excited to share this great word she’d learned made me so so proud.
And finally, over the weekend we’ve been celebrating my birthday. Tonight the little girls made books for me (I’ve made sure books in any shape or form are a huge part of our lives). Each little girl referenced several times that they know how much I love them and that I take care of them. Oooofff. That children of seven and eight can verbalize that they feel loved and taken care of not only boggles my mind but also makes me feel like the struggle, and concern, and work I put in to being a great Mom is paying off in spades.
Tonight as I packed their lunches for tomorrow I included notes that said my best birthday gift is being THEIR MOM.
TODAY: What if what my little girls will inherit from me is a strong sense of feeling loved and taken care of? What if THAT is more important than whether or not we share the same eye color or ancestry?