What does it mean when your children have the same philosophies or values, even when they are dissimilar in every other way? Does it mean that they might have learned something from you? Or does it mean that they have all become adept at telling you what you want to hear because you are that easy to manipulate? Or does it, perhaps, mean nothing at all?
I got to thinking about that after that last post of mine, when both of my daughters came in here (four minutes apart) to say essentially the same thing. Since both comments had to be approved by me before they were visible, you can’t say that Gina saw Kimmie’s comment and decided that she had a good point and would echo it. Besides, that would be completely out of character. And, considering the time of day that they posted and the fact that there’s a 3 hour time difference involved, I don’t think there was any conspiracy involved either. That would be completely out of character for both of them. They just happened to have the same thought.
This is interesting to me because my children are four very, very different people. There is no real reason to assume that they would agree on anything because they have all led very different lives, with varying degrees of hardship and challenge and success and failure. So, they make an interesting case study for the whole nature-versus-nurture question. And, bearing in mind the fact that they had two parents — as much as some of them seem inclined to deny that simple biological fact — how much influence came from where?
How did they get to be who they are? And why are they so much alike?
My own sister and I have so little in common that we have no relationship. As far as I can tell, while we share some memories — and even that is questionable because I remember a lot of things differently than she does — we share no opinions. And yet, I’ve been told more than once about how being traumatized leaves a more lasting impression than its opposite. Bonding through trauma can be very real, as my own daughters have demonstrated to me, but I guess it only works if the trauma is shared. My sister and I had very different experiences with the violence in which we grew up, experiences we could not share because we dealt with them (and continue to deal with them) differently. And we didn’t have anybody under whose wing we could come together.
My children have come through quite a few trials with me, some man-made and some that were gifts from nature. Those trials have tended to pull us together instead of driving us apart. I like my kids a lot and that makes it very tempting to claim that they got to be so awesome because of me. I know that’s not true but I think I can take some credit here. The funniest part about all this is that, fairly often, I have not been able to convey things that I thought were important and that I made certain parenting choices because I wanted to convey them, but I have been able to convey other things that I never gave much thought to, simply by virtue of the fact that even if I didn’t talk about them, I lived them. I guess that speaks to the fact that your children know what your values really are, regardless of what you may have to say on the subject. And I guess the moral of that story is screamingly obvious, isn’t it?
But the other moral of the story is that the degree of self-discovery that can come to you through your children is yet another of the many wondrously cool things there are about being a parent.
I think that’s an appropriately joyful thought to carry around with me on this 27th anniversary of the day I became a mother.
Oh, and one other thing: happy birthday, David.