Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Copy Cats

Yesterday, as Britny and I had our usual late morning catch up chat, she mentioned that her three year old daughter had spent the morning copying her by pretending to be on the phone. I was just in the middle of laughing and saying that Sis does it all the time too, when the dame in question walked past me with her hand up to her ear (like a phone) casually chattering in her own special language. As I watched, she flopped into the chair I had just been in (still 'talking on the phone') crossed her legs, glanced up at me and put her hand up in the silent 'wait' sign I give the kids when I don't want to be interrupted. I laughed at her dead-on mimicry of me and ruefully considered that when she is a teenager that I can't manage to get off the phone, I can only blame myself :-) For the rest of the morning, she insisted on doing everything I was doing. I vacuumed and she pulled her little toy version out and copied me step for step. When I used the hose, she did too. When I stopped to pick something up, she did too. Ditto for the sweeping and floor steaming. Silly dance steps? She nailed it on the first try. I watched her kiss her dollies and pretend to change their diapers and tuck them in the way I do to her every night. She was a chirpy, affectionate, determined shadow at my heels for hours.

It both amused and scared me that she watches me so closely even when it isn't as obvious like today. Because I watch her watching me, I know that my logical future conclusion when she makes a bad decision will be that I did something wrong in my parenting, even though in general I don't believe that we have quite that much power. However, it does remind me that now is the time to show my kids my good choices because they are so eager to do as I do. If I show them that I exercise and eat right and tell the truth and get to church on time and clean up my messes and know how to apologize while they are still little copycats, there is every hope that some of that stuff will stick when that darn free agency really kicks in.
Of course, this also means I need to curb things like my temper and my chronic tardiness and going over the speed limit, my occasional nail biting and my massive caffeine intake, etc. etc.

It is both intimidating and also an honor to be able to parent these three little people. To answer their questions and fix their owies and teach them right from wrong (even if the process is certain to remove years from my life in the end.)

I love being a mom. I don't love being tired. I don't love being a constant referee. I don't love the countless sleepless nights up with sick kids or wide awake babies. I don't anticipate that I will always love dealing with teenagers or last minute science projects and girl drama. And I REALLY don't love doing all of this as a parent with no daily backup or way to recharge. But I do love my kids and I love serving them. I love the love notes and the cuddles and watching them learn something new or gain confidence. I love watching them befriend and watch out for each other, even after being mortal enemies the day before. I love tucking them in and then coming back to check on them after they are asleep and sprawled out in positions that only kids can be comfortable in.

I may have many regrets about the demise of my marriage and especially the way my life has to be now, but I don't regret for a second anything that led to my little buddies. They are my heart and center and I love them, probably more than they will ever know.

But I really hope they have never yet observed me eating the cake directly from the pan without bothering with something as proper as a plate...