My friend, whose daughter is interested more in dance than in competitive sports, often jokingly takes deep breaths, closes her eyes, and says, in a very Zen-like voice, “I am not her; she is not me.”  The rest of our friends have also taken to repeating this mantra as we, more and more frequently, realize our kids are going to be exactly who they are, with or without us.

 It’s actually a very liberating notion, the idea that Harper Lee and Isaac are going to be who they are going to be and I don’t have to “make” them be any one particular way.  That’s not to say that it’s no longer my responsibility to teach them manners and kindness and compassion and a good work ethic, but ultimately they are their own people.

Another friend of mine, who is unabashedly himself, said,  “You don’t have to be anything other than the best YOU possible.”  Amen. 

I love that. 

My children are as different as night and day.  I couldn’t force them into a mold of what I thought they should be if I wanted to— it simply wouldn’t fit.

I also can’t make them be like me, and that’s OK.  They both like video games.  I hate video games.  Isaac likes to know exactly how and why something works.  I do not care as long as it comes on when I hit the power button.  Harper Lee reads lots of fantasy.  I have never been a big fan. 

I loved Caddie Woodlawn more than any other book character in my life (with the possible exception of Scout, Jem and Atticus), but Harper Lee actually said of the book, “It’s sort of boring.” 

What??? Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind? What is boring about a pioneer girl romping through the woods of Wisconsin and Indian camps???

I cannot fathom this, yet she is completely unmoved by my righteous indignation.

You mean all this time, I’ve been planning to share my favorite books and movies with her and she might not be the least bit interested?  Yep.  Exactly.

It is not my job as their mother to make them into mini-mes.  To put that sort of expectation on them is cruel; it creates unreasonable expectations that result in them possibly never feeling that they live up to my standards or missing out on what really and truly lights them up.  Besides the anger, resentment, and downright depression this would likely cause, it also robs the world of knowing that precious person, made by God to be his or her own unique and brilliant self.  For me to hope that they will somehow be like I was is to take away from the person they already are.

In various ways over the past few months, I have been reminded of the absolute necessity of being exactly who you are.  It’s a theory we’re all familiar with.  Our parents told us numerous times to just be ourselves, and now, we pass that same advice onto our kids.  But I see increasing evidence that this is one of those quaint ideas that we love to give lip service but that we don’t really believe. 

Every time we worry about what another parent might think of our child, of what someone else must think about how we’ve chosen to deal with a certain situation, or what we can do to make our child or ourselves more
fill in the blank here with any number of adjectives… then we are not following the rule of being true to who we or who they are.

There is no one way to think, one way to live, one way to act, or one way to be.  There are as many ways as there are people on this planet, each of us an original and complete creation.  How often do we line up snowflakes and choose one by which all others must be judged?  The very thing we’ve always marveled at about snowflakes is that no two are alike. 

So it is with children and with grown-ups too.  There is no need to line up for our grade, to see who has the best score.  All we can do is be the best we can be by reaching our own unique potential.

 

 Remember this? 

*Check out this article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

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