Monday, December 9, 2013

One Mother, Two Distinctly Different Children

My children are polar opposites. My daughter is bright and reserved and meticulous; my son is clever, exuberant, and gregarious. I marvel when my son, who is only four years old, talks in depth about his feelings and is able to ferret out his own opinions in the blink of an eye. For my daughter, a ten year old girl on the verge of adolescence, feelings and opinions have always been a bit of a mystery, but she is a master at focusing her attention on most any task that is set before her. She doesn't know the meaning of the word, "quit." She pushes herself as far as she can go in almost everything she pursues, while my son enjoys pushing others to their limits. These two souls are both so unique and have such different needs. I am only one person with one view of the world and one skill set. So how do I go about parenting these two distinct personalities?

I do have a husband who is very active in this parenting journey we're on together. Luckily he comes with his own point of view, his own set of strengths, his own skill set, all of which are different from mine. So when you put us together, we have many of the bases covered. But I can't help feeling a little inadequate when I look to him to provide something to our children that I can't. Why is that? Well, if you know me or have read this blog, you know that I am a doer by nature. I have a hard time delegating. When I manage to do so, I don't find it a relief. While the expression, "Many hands make light work" may be true, it is not satisfying to me. When hands other than my own do the work, I end up feeling lazy or like I got away with something.

I realize I can't be everything to my children. Not only is it impossible, it's unwise. Deep down I know they need influences other than mine to help them grow into the well rounded people I aim for them to become. Still, I am humbled when someone other than me comes up with the "right" answer to a problem.

When my daughter struggles with making a choice, it's my husband who talks her through it, breaking down the pros and cons of either side of the issue. And there I stand, observing, mystified by the concept of not knowing how to choose. I was born with an opinion - about everything!

The other day my son was upset when my daughter opened the door to an Advent calendar without him being there. He was beginning to have a meltdown, and I (in the midst of trying to get us out the door on time) became flustered and unable to calm him. My daughter curtly resolved the conflict by closing the door to the calendar and letting him open it a second time. So simple, and more importantly, so effective! My son was instantly mollified and we were all able to move on with our day. A big part of me was proud of my daughter for being able to problem solve on the fly. But I felt annoyed with myself for not coming up with that solution right off the bat. It was so obvious that a 10-year-old girl could clearly see it. Why couldn't I?

I am still learning how to parent each of my children. As they grow and change, so do I. My education in parenting started by watching my own parents. It has developed through reading books and blogs. I gather advice from fellow parents and friends. But most of all I am feeling my way. I am trying to remain flexible, to love in the ways they need, to be the mother they each need me to be.