When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Seeing in mirrors

I always find it fascinating to observe how children can resemble their parents, not just physically, but in personality too. How many of us as adults now see and hear echoes of our parents in our actions and words, and suddenly realize that we have "become" our moms or dads? How many times have we caught a glimpse of ourselves in our children's ways of speaking, thinking, and acting? Of course, our children are not us -- they are their own complexly unique selves -- but sometimes seeing a part of us in them can lead to some interesting self-realizations.

It's easy to swell with pride and feel wonderfully happy when our children exhibit personality traits that we value in ourselves. I am thrilled with Noah's love of and aptitude for language, and I delight in sharing books and writing with him. I love how confident he is and admire his ability to plan and problem solve. When Will shows his sensitivity and deep caring for others, I smile inwardly at what a kind soul he has. I treasure the times I spend with him nurturing his very creative thinking and his love for music, rhythm and movement. It feels good to know that it is in part because of me that these wonderful boys came to be, and it's easy for me to encourage them to develop these traits as they grow.

The story changes somewhat when we recognize that our children also share with us some of the characteristics we wrestle with in ourselves. I get frustrated with Noah's need to be right all the time and his frequent habit of correcting people. Will's struggles with anxiety and his perfectionistic tendencies make me worry and cringe sometimes. It's as though our children are a kind of mirror for us to look into, and seeing ourselves reflected back in that light is uncomfortable, to say the least. I know I can't help but feel guilty that I may have passed on a genetic code for these traits to my boys, or worse, that I somehow taught them to be these things by modelling them in my own day-to-day life.

The thing is, we love our children, beyond measure, for ALL of who they are. We accept that they have parts of themselves that will make life difficult for them sometimes, and we offer them understanding and guidance to help them work through their challenges. I wonder why it's so hard sometimes for us as adults to have the same feelings of understanding about ourselves. Maybe when we gaze into the mirrors of our children, we should look harder for an acceptance of our own challenges, and for the realization that there is still room for us to grow and work through them, too. Maybe, in seeing the inner beauty, strength, and potential of our children shining back on us, we can remember to be gentler on ourselves.

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