I was puttering around the kitchen today trying to make a dent in the massive mess that has become my house and I asked Lila a question. She answered me and I thought, "that's funny. I wonder where she learned to say that in that way." A few minutes later she asked me a question and without realizing it I answered her almost exactly the way she had just answered me. Same intonation, same words... and I thought, WOW! I didn't even realize that was something I said. And then for some strange reason, it really hit me how much of myself I see in these little folks that are running around my house.
I mean, you always know that your kids are kind of like you but in that moment I was a little scared. No, maybe scared isn't the right word. I felt kind of overwhelmed by the responsibility. If I have to examine myself really closely I'd admit that I'm probably not where I want to be. There are lots of improvements I'd like to make before I'm ready to be imitated and cloned. But there it is. My little girl wanting nothing more than to be just like me. She excitedly told Johnny tonight that when she gets to be a mommy she's going to have moles. (Apparently that's my most valuable trait in her eyes... yikes!!)
I've been thinking about this idea of imitation ever since. I just read a quote by Sophia Loren that says "When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." I guess that's the beauty of motherhood. It keeps us on our toes and keeps us from thinking only of ourselves! What a responsibility to realize that the person I am still struggling to become and figure out is also seriously shaping the kind of people my little ones will be.
I've also been noticing that they are picking up on how I react to the world. Johnny and I have always been proud of the fact that when Lila gets hurt we cheer and clap for her. She hardly ever makes a big deal of getting hurt now and we know that if she does, something is really wrong. I am positive that she learns how to deal with life and how to react to situations from the way we handle things.
A few weeks ago I was feeling particularly stressed out and let out a sort of frustrated growl when something didn't go my way. It wasn't really my best moment but I specifically remember thinking to myself, "oh well. I'm stressed and it doesn't matter." A few days later Lila was mad about something and there it was. My growl coming out of her sweet little mouth. "Oh NO!!" I thought. "I've gotta stop reacting that way!"
Once when Lila was about the same age as the babies are now (about 16 months.) She was starting to talk and copy everything I said. I was driving to Boston and took a wrong turn (which is no surprise if you've ever tried to drive around Boston). "CRAP!" I said, and from the back seat of our little purple Geo Prism I heard "cap!" At which point I really thought, "OH CRAP!!" Three more wrong turns and three more little "cap" echos coming from the backseat. I couldn't help but laugh. Granted, it could be LOTS worse but still, it wasn't one of the first words I had in mind for my little baby.
On the flip side though, there are times when I am so proud of my kids and then I realize that their actions are things they've seen me do. Abby fell down the stairs tonight. She banged her nose up pretty bad and was bleeding. I was rocking her and Lila came over and put her cheek on Abby's and said "shhh, shhh, it's ok Abbs..." I love it when she is sweet to them! At dinner tonight Zack (who is sick) was crying about everything. Nothing I did was what he wanted. Lila sweetly said to him, "Come here, Zacky. It's ok, I'll hold you!"
I guess that's how life goes. You have to take the good with the bad. And every once in a while when I slip up a little (or a lot) I have those three little mirror images to mimic me and keep me in check. Luckily they don't realize when they are seeing the bad side of me. To them, I'm just mommy. The dinner making, bottom wiping, song singing, owie kissing, mom. That's one of my favorite parts of this job. The adoration that I see reflected in their eyes.