We’ve all heard it before. “I hope you get one just like you.” It was usually said during a battle of wills or after a trip to the principal’s office and more than likely, muttered under their breath like a curse. You almost forgot about this hex placed upon your firstborn until your mom starts saying “just wait” when you find out you’re pregnant. Just wait for what? Super sweet baby snuggles? Adorable sleepy smiles? Nope.
Revenge in the form of a tiny version of yourself.
In one last attempt to drive my mom crazy, I vowed to see this curse as a blessing. It’s all in the interpretation, right? “I hope you get one just like you (because you were such a joy).” My vow started as a final act of defiance but turned into a parenting tactic. Why wouldn’t I want a child just like me? I know myself. I know what makes me happy, sad, or frustrated. I know my anxieties and fears. Isn’t one of the hardest parts about parenting learning how to communicate with your children? If I got one just like me, I would obviously have an advantage.
So instead of rolling my eyes when my parents respond to my latest parenting woe by saying, “you were just like that,” I remember how they handled it or how I wished they had handled it. Instead of feeling uncomfortable with having a mirror reflect my least favorite qualities back at me, I confront them and try to understand why we both cry when we’re frustrated or shut people out when they hurt us. And when she stands her ground and refuses to back down, I silently applaud her tenacity and calmly inform her that she’s going up against the master and she might want to check herself before she wrecks herself.
I’m not going to lie.
Really seeing myself through the actions of someone who is “just like me” hasn’t been easy. In a recent moment of clarity, I realized that I had been wrongfully blaming all of my daughter’s anxiety on my husband’s genes. While he is definitely more anxious than me as an adult, her reaction to her anxiety is all me. The way she digs her heels in and causes a scene is frighteningly familiar to a dentist appointment from my past. (Mom, I see you nodding.)
When I look back on my reaction to the dentist’s office, I can see now that it had a lot to do with being blindsided the first go-round. I assumed every appointment thereafter would involve unpleasant surprises. Even as an adult, information helps relieve my anxiety. With my daughter, I try to talk to her about what she should expect. It doesn’t always work and sometimes even backfires, but at least I have a strategy that has proven to be somewhat effective. If it works on me, then I should have a little success with someone just like me.
Parenting is hard, and it can start to feel like our kids are being difficult to be difficult.
In reality, they are just using the genes we gave them to navigate through life. So if you’re lucky enough to have a child “just like you,” embrace the similarities, use them to your advantage, and thank your mom for the “blessing.”