Raising Myself

My daughter’s been waiting for this post for a long time. I keep threatening to write about how odd it is to be “raising myself.”  Given that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, this seems the perfect time to explore this.

It’s not just that my daughter is following in my footsteps and seeking a career in the arts, or that we both adore theater, or that she, like me, did her studies abroad in London and fell in love with England. It’s not just that we read the same kinds of books and watch the same TV shows. Nor is it that we were both late bloomers in romance or squeaky clean kids in high school. And it’s not just that we have the same eyes.

But when my daughter tells me about her life, I know what she’s going to say before she says it. She tells me anyway. Like me, she’s a non-stop talker. When I was a kid, my dad used to ask if I was “talking just to hear my head rattle.” My husband now tells my daughter to “wrap it up.” And though I usually agree with him, part of my heart goes out to her. I know what it feels like to be silenced.

And I know what it feels like to want to always make other people happy and do what’s right. And how it feels to want your hard work to be recognized, but also to be quick to recognize it in others. The things that frustrate me about my daughter are the things that frustrate me about myself, and that’s hard.

Because she is “me,” I have a tendency to want to protect her from the things that will hurt her, because they are the same things that hurt me. But she is stronger than I am and more confident than I was at her age. I’d like to think maybe I had a hand in that. Maybe because I knew the things that would bring her down, I was able to build her up.

But really, my whole approach to parenting has been the same approach I take to art. Each piece of art, and each child, is unique and special. I’ve never asked my kids to be anything other than what they are. It just so happens that what my daughter is — is a bit too much like me. Poor kid.

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