You might call it Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I prefer the term idiosyncrasies. You might say anal retentive, while I would classify it as organized and efficient. But regardless of the terminology, the truth of the matter is.........I've got some quirks. They're such a part of my daily routine that I hardly notice that I do things a little differently than most people, until someone points it out that I don't allow my food to touch. Or that I have all my clothes hanging in the same direction, organized by sleeve length and all hanging on white hangers. I'm sure I could write a novel how this kind of behavior is rooted in some sort of need for control and a fear of change but I don't have the time nor the energy.
And this post really isn't about me to begin with - it's about Natalie. Or more importantly, how this behavior of mine affects her and the person she becomes.
I constantly have to remind myself that even though she inhabited my body in the most intimate of ways - she is not an extension of me. I do not own her and I cannot expect her to be an exact replica of me. She will have her own personality traits, her own unique perspective on life and her own voice that she will hopefully use to do great things.
All the time, I find myself making comparisons and picking her apart to find myself instead of appreciating the wholeness that creates HER.
Already I have to force myself to put aside my own "quirks" and embrace the fact - or even REJOICE - that at this time she seems not to have inherited those aspects of my personality. She, quite frankly, does not care if her food touches - even though I do put it on her tray in nice and neat little piles clearly separated. Nor does she mind throwing puzzle pieces around the room or mixing up her Little People animals (some go with the ark and others with the jungle) whereas the idea of toys mixing and pieces getting lost causes my chest to tighten up.
Part of my initial PPD reaction when Natalie was first born was the fact that she looked NOTHING like me. Not one smidgen of me in her tiny little face. I was crushed. I felt no ownership of her because she bore no resemblance to me. She didn't feel like mine - I felt like a carrier for an heir to my husband's family lineage. Over the course of her first year I desperately searched her facial expressions and developing personality traits for any sign that she was indeed my child.
I read an interesting article the other day about women and their fears about having children that are "different" from them. Different in the article meant a jock when the mother is not athletic or extroverted while the mother is introverted. In some aspect, I could relate - there are so many things in life that I hope to share with Natalie: athletics and physical activity, Harry Potter, playing dolls and coloring. My heart aches to be able to one day share those loves of mine with her. But then there are things that I absolutely do not want to pass onto her. I do not want her to feel overwhelming anxiety. I do not want her to be obsessed with perfection. I do not want her to worry about everything that comes out of her mouth and how it might affect other people. I do not want her to wear her heart on her sleeve so much that it is ragged, ripped and weathered by the time she is 28.
So what am I supposed to do? Children do not learn from words but instead through actions. I can tell her til I'm blue in the face how to live a contented life free of the anxiety that consumes me, but if I can't demonstrate and model it for her..........
Or she could be just like her Daddy and I'm worrying over nothing.