Monday, October 26, 2015

Personality clashes

Nine-month-old babies have no personalities. Right? Right.

I mean, that's what I thought before I had one.

Of course, I heard what people would say. "Oh, it's amazing how they have their own little personalities right from the start!" Sure, I would think. You think that. You're pretending your baby has a personality. But come on. It's a baby. They all want the same thing: to chomp on your hair and jewelry.

(Don't get me wrong: I've always loved babies. I could not wait for my own little personality-free hair-yanking child.)

But they were right. She really does have a personality.

And it's already starting to clash with mine.

Those of you who have met my baby are probably thinking, "Whatever, Emily. There is no possible way your good-natured little angel could ever clash with you." And you would mostly be right. (I'm not being sarcastic here.) I mean, she doesn't really get upset with me. She just gets a little exasperated.

(Yeah, babies can get exasperated. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

I can be kind of an intense person. I try to tone it down around other adults, because I don't want to seem like a crazy lady, but I let loose when it comes to my daughter. I mean, I've been waiting years to have my own baby to smother with kisses, and goshdarnit I'm going to kiss that baby! I'm going to kiss her all I want!

I can tell that, while there's not much she can do about my kisses, she's sometimes thinking, "Please, Mom. Just give me some space. I can't work on chewing this fascinating toy when you're smooching my adorable chubby cheeks."

It's a glimpse into her teenage years. I'll be crowding her, trying to cheer her on in everything and asking whether she's done her homework and giving her more chores to do to build her character. I will be obsessed with molding her into a wonderful human being, when she'd probably be wonderful all on her own if I would just let her be.

Call me crazy, but I think I already know what she's going to be like. She's focused, but quite easygoing. She already thinks about other people--since she was born, I've had the sense that she tries to be cheerful even if she doesn't feel it. Although I believe in firm discipline and character-building and whatnot, I can't help but believe (maybe just because I'm her mother) that my daughter is naturally a perfect person.

(Hey! You parents of older children--stop laughing!)

But I can't help it. I'm obsessed with her. As much as I believe in hands-off parenting, I can be a bit of a smothering mom. It's not because I'm worried about her; it's because I just can't stop myself.

I'm a bit of an extrovert, and when I'm cooped up in the house with a baby most of the day, a lot of my energy lands on the baby. My daughter, on the other hand, is a very low-energy person. She has plenty of excited moments like any other child, but she likes to play alone in her crib, she sleeps a lot, and she get overstimulated and overtired easily.

It probably doesn't help that her mom is constantly trying to make life more fun and get more stuff done and enjoy every moment with this darling little baby. I just can't leave her alone.

I never thought about this stuff before my baby was born. I just thought that she would automatically like me, because, you know, I'm her mom. But I have to consciously think about how to meet her needs and get along with her. I have to tell myself to take a step back every once in a while.

It's almost like she's a real person, or something.


  1. Other people's kids usually don't seem to have personalities, so it's always amazing to see how strong kids' personalities are when you get to know them. I'm not laughing at the idea of your child being perfect, because I think that Summer is perfect, and I'm pretty sure that opinion will last her entire life because I actually have always thought that YOU were perfect! (If that's too much pressure, pretend I didn't say that.) Even in the face of obvious misbehavior, I maintain my belief in the perfection of my child (or sister) by saying things like, "How will she ever learn if she doesn't make mistakes? I want her to learn!" or, "This is developmentally appropriate," or, "Isn't it great that she has her own ideas and doesn't just blindly do what I say!" I guess I just think that normal is perfect, because that's exactly what I want: my own unique, normal, amazing child.

    On a side note: Summer always refers to Rhonda as "Baby Rhonda." But just now as I was typing the last paragraph, she told me that when Rhonda turns two, she's just going to call her "Rhonda."

    1. My kids always called their cousin on the Prall side "Baby Kate" until her little brother was born! Then it was just Kate and "Baby Hace!"

      I think it's really important to know and respect our children's personalities, because then you can help them in ways that are tailored to what they need. I treat my children very differently based on what I know will give them the best chance to make good choices and be happy.