Sunday, December 8, 2013

How much do we know our children?

Sometimes I read other bloggers' posts and think to myself, "Wow, he/she really seems to have a handle on who his/her children are."  I, on the other hand, rarely feel like I know who my children are.  When I blog their annual birthday letters, I often feel I'm grasping at straws, asking myself, "What can I say about N, G or M?"

Sometimes I think I'm just not paying attention.  Maybe I'm too distracted by life, laundry, food prep and other adult responsibilities?

But I've recently considered that maybe the reason I feel like I don't know who my children are is because they really don't talk to me about how they feel or what they think.  I know what they do, how they behave, so I can characterize them primarily in these terms.  There are all sorts of sayings about actions speaking louder than words, so I'm not suggesting that knowing them by their actions is a bad thing.  John Locke said, "I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts."

Knowing them by their actions, though, sometimes feels like not enough.

Often as a parent my greatest disconnect with my children is that I am a thinker (a deliberate and annoying over-thinker) who would like to discuss, while my children are doers who aren't interested in mining the great depths of.....anything.  It is their ages, in part.  Developmentally they aren't going to talk to me about things that I would talk about with my same-age peers.  It is also that I am mother, not friend or confidante.

What sparked this train of thought was looking back at Christmas photos I have posted up of the kids, particularly N, as a baby, toddler, preschooler and younger elementary child and feeling like I don't know who she is.  Maybe it is that I don't remember who she was at those younger ages, which makes me feel like I have lost the complete picture of her.  If I have forgotten her from back then, how can I possibly truly know her now?

I know this existential brooding is a little off-the-chain.  I probably know know my children better than I think I do (although when they act like demons at home and angels everywhere else it do make me wonder.)

N turns 10 next year, a milestone of wonder for her and near desperate bittersweetness for me and, perhaps, this is setting off my momentary feelings of "I've missed SO MUCH, and I was standing here the whole time!"

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