Have you ever taken a look at yourself or your spouse or your children and seen the pieces…not the full picture? I remember my wife as the whole, the person who smiled and melted my heart. The woman who encouraged me to do anything I thought I could achieve and helped me to succeed when I did.
But there are times I see the issues with those parts of myself and my wife.
Those pieces, just splinters of DNA that copy and mold to the distinct personalities and thoughts of my children. This is particularly difficult in days like the first day or school at a new school for the first time since they started their educations. I see the pieces of myself and my late wife in them, and they’re not always the best pieces.
My son, Sam, is outgoing and smiles a ton. That’s like his Mom. He flirts and acts silly . . . then he gets ahead of himself and starts to stutter a little and that’s like me. He makes friends easily – like his Mom – and then gets shy and doesn’t ask their full names – like his Dad. He’s happy, nervous, and still okay with moving schools. He gets nervous and giggles a little and tells too much information and can’t stop himself from talking – like his Mom. He’s athletic…okay that was neither of us. No idea where he got that one from, but it’s to his benefit in today’s society.
Then there’s Noah. Noah lives in his head, though not in a bad way. Like me and others of my ilk he doesn’t share too much of his feelings. He holds them in, to the detriment of himself and others. It’s been over 2 years and he can’t delve into finally grieving properly for his mother. He’s insanely smart and particularly caring. He is imaginative but to the point where he cannot understand why others can’t see what he’s thinking. He has a head full of miscellaneous information and cannot wait to let it all out. That was me, and I totally understand how that makes him hard to understand. I know this because that was me as a kid. I had a ton of random information in my head. As an adult and a journalist it’s a great thing, I can know a little about a lot. As a kid it’s maddening because you think everyone should like it as much as you do and they just . . . don’t. You get made fun of and you get isolated. That was Noah on his first day of school. When asked to share what his likes are and what he does he talks about making stop-frame movies. When asked to explain he mentions Ray Harryhausen. That gets him called a “blabbermouth” which follows him the whole day. As the new kid. In a new school. When he gets angry he can’t control it – that’s where he’s like his mother. The poor kid got the worst two pieces of his parents.
He still says it was a good day, difficult as it was.
Now I face my middle, the shy, bashful, quiet Hannah who plays guitar, heading out tomorrow to school. She wants her sister to drop her off because her sister has been to that school. She’s nervous but doesn’t want to tell me – that’s her mother. The shy, bashful, quiet thing is me. She’s tall like her mother with thick dark hair like her father. She’s powerful on the guitar and creative like me and pouts like her mother. She’s an amazing kid, smarter than she gives herself credit (like me) and strong in her will (like her mother).
Her older sister has recently begun mothering more and more. I don’t get angry at this, it’s like her Mom. But I can see that’s a front for the nerves of leaving all three kids and her Dad behind to start fresh as her own person in a totally different state. Alone. She compensates by doing 1,000 things – that’s her mother again. But she’s right and knows it all and tries to mother even her father – that’s both parents coming out.
Gather all four kids together and I see the whole of both parents. But they didn’t just get the worst, they got pieces they have to live with and adjust and bend to their own will as well. Abbi is stronger-willed than her father but creative like him. I love that. Hannah is shy like her father but powerful in ideas like her mother. Noah and Sam are both major combinations of both parents.
Some of these things would never happen if their mother was still with us, I know that, but that doesn’t mean it would be better. Instead…I’m happy they are adjusting, however slowly. As long as they know I am here to talk with them and help them use the strengths from each of us to their advantage.
Those are the pieces that will help the most.