My six-year-old is shaping up to be an exact replica of her mommy. A little Mini Me. Not only does she look like me, but she seems to have inherited every single one of my personality quirks, interests, skills, and glaring inadequacies.
It has been interesting, to say the least. Some of these similarities are perfectly delightful, for instance, she loves to sing, just like me, and her favorite hobbies are reading and writing. I feel so proud! In fact, her first grade teacher told us that Izzy was the first student in her class to develop a true voice when writing. She said she could pick my daughter’s stories out of the group just by reading a few paragraphs. I love the idea of Izzy following in my footsteps as an avid reader, writer, and singer.
The flip side is less delightful to witness. I would classify myself as a graceless disaster, and my daughter has unfortunately not transcended these genes. She is one of the clumsiest people I have ever met. Every single day she trips, falls, or runs into things multiple times, and the result is always the same: hysteria and tears. She has unfortunately inherited her mother’s tendency towards, ahem, hypochondria.
I am constantly trying to make up my mind if our similarities make it easier or more challenging to parent her. On the one hand, I find I am often more able to empathize with her because I understand her emotional processes so well. We are both extremely sensitive, and when Izzy is scared, anxious, or overstimulated, I find it very easy to advocate for her and make adaptations to make her more comfortable. Ditto that for when her feelings are hurt; as someone who is highly susceptible to hurt feelings, I am usually extremely nurturing when my daughter needs some affection and encouragement.
But it is the qualities that I least appreciate in myself that make me squirm when they manifest in my daughter. The clumsiness, for example. I become so exasperated watching her flail, drop things, and lie sprawling on the ground in tears, and it is likely because I possess the same frustrating trait.
Another one that really triggers me is my emotional daughter’s inclination towards overreacting. It is not unusual to hear a conversation between us that involves her yelling and crying, followed by me hollering, “Stop freaking out! Why can’t you just calm down?” Pot, meet kettle. Yikes. The two of us can spiral each other into an emotional frenzy, and I truly dread the arguments we will likely have during her teenage years.
I guess it is always a mixed bag: it has been so rewarding to witness the traits I am most proud of in myself blossoming in my daughter. And with that gratification comes the dismay of observing the quirks that I wish I could somehow banish. But that is not part of parenthood, and every day I remind myself to dig a little deeper to find some patience and empathy for my little carbon copy.
And who knows? Perhaps her little sister will be just like Daddy.
Stephanie Sprenger is the mother of two young daughters, and lives in Colorado. As a board certified music therapist, she works part time teaching early childhood music classes. She is also a freelance writer and blogs at Mommy, for Real.