Pieces of me

Hannah spent 15 minutes in the bathroom washing her hands, scrubbing in between her fingers, and scouring her wrists to get the watermelon juice off because they were so unbelievably sticky. I kept hearing her as I stood in the kitchen, “I’m SOOOOO sticky! Mommy! I’m STILL sticky!”. And I shook my head and said out loud (but quietly), Where Did She Come From?

I wish I had the picture from my parent’s house to post up here for you all to see. No, make that PICTURES (dozens of them) of me, very chubby little me, sitting in the sand/dirt/gravel/woodchips eating a popsicle/lollipop/peach/watermelon with something dripping down my wrist down to my elbow. A barely visible big smile that you couldn’t tell where the popsicle ended and my lips began, smeared across my face. Not only was I disgustingly sticky but I had sand/dirt stuck to the stickiness. And I Didn’t Care.
I look at this little girl of mine (growing bigger by the day) and I see myself in so many ways. For one she LOOKS so much like me. We were visiting my grandmother last week and there’s a picture of 6 year old me sitting in Nana’s lap. Hannah was looking at it, very confused. When I asked her what she was thinking as she stared at it, she said, “Why does Nana look so young in that picture?” I told her it was because it was taken 30 years ago. And she said, “but I’m only 4 mommy, how am I in her lap 30 years ago?” Yes, even SHE thought I was her.
I’m afraid she also got my emotional sensitive side. She gets her feelings hurt easily. She wants to be liked and doesn’t understand if someone doesn’t seem interested. She “works” a pouty face and bring on tears as if she’s on stage. But at the same time, she’s the first to someone’s side if they’re hurt. She cares deeply. She wants to understand how someone feels and why they feel that way. There’s no one you’d want by your side more than her if you’re sad. She’ll make you feel like you’re the only one in the room. Ultra sensitive – good and bad – like her mom.
Because there’s so much of me in her, it comes as a huge surprise when something shines through her that is so obviously NOT from me. (And many of these things don’t come from Tim either so it really throws me). And I’m fascinated as I notice pieces from all of her relatives and see where she came from. I am a true believer that kids are born wired a certain way. There’s very little we can do to change the fundamentals. We may be able to sway them one way or another or strengthen different aspects of their personality that are already there but for the most part…they are who they are. As I sat and thought about this today, and watched her, I was able to attribute almost everything to someone.
Although she looks like me at first glance because of her coloring, eye shape and nose; her hair, mouth and jaw are daddy’s.
The wide smile… makes me melt just like her dad’s.
The fine straight hair… I could run my hands through it all day and what I wouldn’t do to have that same hair on my head. And now that he’s grown out of his bowl haircut, daddy has some fine looking hair too.
The sense of direction, the crazy memory for detail – Tim… all Tim. I’m book smart. Tim, he’s “real” smart.
The curiosity, the questions… I see and hear my mom. My mom has always been a question asker. Wanting to understand better, know more. I get that from her too but I see that part of my mom in Hannah.
The sweet, sweet nature. Yes, yes, many of us in our combined clan have that, but something about the delivery of it – I see my dad. The honest, pure, natural sweet, that I think was actually too much for me growing up but now I see how lucky I was to have it in my dad.
The knack for words – as much as I’d like to say it comes from me, it doesn’t. Hannah is verbally amazing. Tim’s mom is a word genius (and she’d agree). This woman passes on the Monday and Tuesday NYT crossword puzzle because they’re too easy. She does the rest of the week in pen. Brilliant.
The silliness – definitely not my side of the family. Yeah, I can go along with the funny faces, made up dances and tush wiggles but really, that’s all “the other” side. I’m giving that to Tim’s dad, the one who loves to pull his pants up to his chest, put on a silly smile and earn the laughs in the room. I only wish being that silly came more naturally to me. But it was handed down nicely to my husband so my house doesn’t lack the sillies. Lucky me.
So many pieces. Competitive, obstinate, fun-loving, dramatic, nurturing, strong-willed. All can be handed out as a piece from someone in our blood. All of these pieces combined make her who SHE is. (I’m still trying to hunt down the relative who gave her the throw-me-out-the-car-window tantrum gene. They owe me, big.)
Everyone is always looking at Luke and guessing who he LOOKS like. I keep saying he looks like Luke. It’s too early to tell which parts of his make-up come from who, but I’m going to guess that he has as many pieces as Hannah coming from the farthest branches of our family tree. He looks NOTHING like me, but I wonder which pieces will come from me. I wonder how much he’ll LOOK like Tim once his personality flourishes. Will I stare in amazement as he plays a sport because he’ll look JUST like Tim? Or will he stand back and observe a crowd reminding me of myself or someone from my side of the family?
My mom said she and my dad only recently realized that I was TRULY and honestly a sensitive person and that it looked like I got that from my grandmother who also was just born “sweet”. For so many years they thought they’d be able to make me less sensitive by repeatedly joking around with me to get me “used to” the sarcasm. It only made me cry harder. Since neither one of them was so sensitive, they didn’t understand how I could be. If only they had figured this out when I was young. It might have saved us all some tears.
I’m glad I see early on that Hannah is not only pieces from Tim and I. I’m also glad that I know I’ve been handed a blueprint and that there’s only so much wiggle room for her to change her nature. She’s all girl. I can’t change that. She loves attention, craves it actually, and I have to work with that. I may be able to encourage the way the pieces work together but really, I need to support what comes naturally to her. I need to keep this in mind if she never wants to play a team sport (but please, please let that not be the case!) and instead wants to go into drama. That’s not to say I’m not going to encourage continuing to try the team sports but at some point, I may need to realize what she is drawn to, may be who she is. My job is to keep her safe. My job is to keep her passionate. Beyond that, I need to let the pieces fall into place.
Oh and the obsession with not being sticky? Thanks mom.
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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Pieces of me

  1. Kristen

    I feel like I'm really getting to know Hannah through your posts the past couple of weeks. What a wonderful memory book you're composing for her – with this post, particularly, a family history as well.

  2. Aidan Donnelley Rowley

    Isn't it amazing though to watch the pieces fall into place? Pieces of us, yes, but pieces of otherness too. I constantly marvel at the mysterious pieces that manifest in my girls too. I wonder about their origin. I ask myself those perennial questions about nature and nurture, about metaphysical wiring. This pieces analogy is apt because I think so many of us look at our kids as puzzles that we are trying to put together. But parenting is more inscrutable, more messy than this, isn't it?Thanks for these pieces of you, and your little girl.

  3. Lindsey

    Oh this is wonderful. I can totally relate and have written often about the way I see parts of myself (good and ugly) in my daughter. My son, though older than Luke, remains inscrutable to me in much the same way that you describe.For me, parenting is basically a process of coming face to face with the worst parts of yourself animate in another person. Not always awesome!

  4. TKW

    Isn't it fun to watch them grow and become their own person? I, too, cry at the drop of a hat. My family calls me "the watering pot."

  5. Jen

    What I find truly unbelievable is how incredibly different my first two children are from one another. They differ in every imaginable way. Except, they were born to the same parent, only 17 months apart. And then, when I look at their sister, who is three years younger than my now-middle child, I see them both equally. 14 months in, she has the best qualities of each of my other two. I wonder what would happen if I kept going. Which reminds me, I need to call and make an appointment for an IUD. But that's off topic!

  6. withoutadornment

    Beautiful thoughts!When my husband was growing up, there was a picture that he was absolutely convinced that it was him, but it actually was his dad. He didn't get it until he was a teenager that the picture actually could have been his dad. haha.Stopping in from SITS.

  7. Sassy Chica

    Great post…never a dull moments with those little angels we call our kids!Smooches,Sassy Chicathanks for stopping by and commenting!

  8. Andrea (ace1028)

    What a sweet post. She does look like you, you're both beauties!

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