Like mother, like son

7957795548_991816cc9cThere are a lot of things I like to think my son has inherited from me – his love for making (insanely creative) art, a totally corny sense of humor, the ability to enjoy an impromptu dance party in the kitchen for no other reason than Dance Yourself Clean starts playing on Pandora.

I’m more than happy to take credit for the good things.

But there are things about me I’d rather my children not inherit, like my terrible eyesight, my vertically challenged frame, my fiery temper, and most definitely my intensely timid nature.

Yet early signs are pointing in that very direction. My sweet Connor is – so far – a very cautious child. He has passed on countless activities – which I really think he would have enjoyed – simply because they make them too nervous. Perhaps because it means he would have to go without Mom or Dad, or Mom and Dad are there but on the sidelines, or maybe it just involves a wild mob of party people and a piñata.

If he was fine about not taking part, I’d support him. Smell the flowers just quietly, my little Ferdinand, I’d say.  (Insert your best cow joke here, book fans.)

But I can see the internal struggle as he starts to put on his coat with a brave smile … then flings it down again crumpling in a defeated heap.

“I want to go, but I don’t want to go!” he cries woefully.

And I kind of want to bawl right along with him. I feel my muscles tightening, my jaw clenching, my blood pressure rising …

I get so worked up about Connor’s inhibition because it strikes a very familiar nerve. I was an extremely introverted child, and I am not a naturally outgoing adult. I’m much more comfortable tapping out my thoughts and feelings on a keyboard than opening up to even the most kindred of spirits.

(Luckily, my dear friends understand this about me and love me anyway. Thank you so very much, by the way.)

So this shy scenario? It reminds me of my own painful issues, and I just don’t want him to have to deal with that crap. I know, he has to have limitations. But not my limitations.

Because if his struggles are the same as mine, then isn’t it my fault? I must have passed them on in utero. If it weren’t for me, would he be happily trekking all over creation, eagerly meeting new people, and excitedly trying interesting things??

Instead it seems he is in turmoil at times. And I get how he feels in those moments, maybe a little too much. Instead of my experiences making me more nurturing and soothing when  he’s melting down, the guilt and bad memories just stir up irrational anger. Not at him, of course, but at myself and the Universe. But unfortunately he probably feels my cross mood, which in turn I’m sure just makes him feel more anxious.

Ugh. I’m creating a vicious circle here.

Deep down, I know I just need to back off and let him find his own way. I’m working on it. I’ve been focusing on deep breathing and counting down from 1o in my head to stay serene when he needs calmness the most. All the things I tell him to do when he’s upset, but I somehow forget to role model when it really matters.

He’s only 5, after all. I do understand this could just be a short-lived age-appropriate developmental stage he is in right now (fingers crossed). After all, there have been a few breakthroughs. He talks about the (the) time he went to the neighbor’s house to play by himself, and he was scared at first but he went anyway and he had such a good time he didn’t want to come home.

“Remember, Mom?” he asks, eyes bright with pride.
“Yes, love,” I reply. (I don’t remind him of the 20 minutes we struggled to walk out the back door. Then 5 minutes to step off the patio. Three more before we open the gate. Ten to walk from our yard to theirs. A 30-second trip took 40 minutes, but whatever. It’s progress.)

I need to remember this feels much more extreme right now because we are in the moment. Very likely, he will develop his own self-confidence and courage at his exact right time. And having a supportive, sympathetic (not pushy and controlling) mother in the background will do nothing but help him find his way.

In a blink of an eye, I will probably be re-reading this post with a heavy heart knowing my son is becoming assured and independent, and he is also pulling away from (sniff) me.

I will think, What the heck was I complaining about anyway??

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6 thoughts on “Like mother, like son

  1. jo February 12, 2013 / 9:40 am

    i can so relate to much of this. kat (as you may have noticed) is petrified of being in front of groups.. ahem, can’t imagine where she got that from…. and just last night i was bemoaning all the ways she is like me – specifically in the ways i don’t want her to be… but i, too, am hoping it is a stage through which she will pass.. and me too? a long, long stage, admittedly, but you never know..

    • amyheather74 February 12, 2013 / 1:03 pm

      Ha! I was thinking the same thing after I wrote this. Maybe there’s still time for me to grow out of it?? Stranger things have happened. Thanks, Jo!

  2. Judi Linville February 12, 2013 / 10:01 am

    I was one of those childhood introverts, too, Amy, so this strikes a chord. You have already figured out what Connor needs from you, so go ahead and do it. Stop blaming yourself. I have had many friends whose first child was quiet and thoughtful while the second one was always climbing the cabinets to get to the top of the refrigerator! If you haven’t read the book, the Introvert Advantage, see if you can find a copy. Lots of helpful suggestions about coping in an extroverted world. And I do love this blog of yours!

    • amyheather74 February 12, 2013 / 1:07 pm

      Oh, Judi, thanks so much! I will definitely find that book! Funny, I can relate to the climbing-the-cabinets second child, as well. Thank you for reading and commenting, it means a lot!

  3. marcy February 13, 2013 / 7:12 pm

    We always say we want them to have Jeff’s eyes & my teeth. If only we could get what we ask for! LOL. But serious now, I have a similar issue with M2 where I tend to overlay my own memories onto his deal & wish I could just resist. Some lessons have to be lived but they are hard for us to watch. Knowing where they’re coming from both hurts & helps. I think the 20 minutes out the door is time well-invested BTW.

    • amyheather74 February 14, 2013 / 11:54 am

      Ha! We say the same thing: my teeth, Cory’s eyesight. Funny! And yes, it’s definitely time well spent – thanks for those wise words. Another thing to remember in the moment that will help me focus, I’m sure!

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