I was six months pregnant with my third son when one day I decided to take my 3-year-old and almost 2-year-old boys to the park and run off some energy . . . or play as I sometimes like to call it.
Tired and in need of sleep, I leaned against a wall in my usual pregnant stance: hand on left hip and right foot crossed over left at the ankles.
I don’t know when he got there, but my eldest son had stopped chasing the ball and was standing by my side, sheepishly grinning up at me.
“What are you doing?” I asked as he awkwardly attempted to reach one hand out to the wall while crossing his feet, hand on waist, and shoving his little tummy out as far as he could bend.
“Why you little . . .” I laughed and jumped at him as he dashed off giggling at his joke.
Like all good parents, my husband and I are always wanting to instill good values in our children, so they can enjoy harmony first, amongst themselves and in society.
We both agree that the easiest, most effective way to do so is to live the values we desire them to practice.
Parent goals! Yes! But I have to admit, he’s much better at it than me.
The truth is there are those moments when I’m reacting instead of responding to my kids.
I totally mess up how I should have dealt with certain demanding situations. Sometimes I wasn’t patient enough or helpful enough or gentle enough. Honestly, it’s sometimes a bit too much for my own comfort, and I get jealous of my husband’s calmness. I might recognize my folly right away, but other times I was too engrossed in my own frustrations to see it myself. That is until an undesirable behavior pops up and I can’t help but think, Hmm, something’s awfully familiar about that bad attitude.
That’s because it’s yours, my inner self eventually enlightens me. It’s a child’s innate nature to be a copycat.
It can be cute! They copy my sneeze, how I greet my friends, walk in my shoes, call me by my first name like my spouse does. Other times, it just isn’t pretty, especially when it shows my workable areas. It’s in those times I wish I could fall back on “do as I say and not as I do,” but it just isn’t the reality.
Nothing’s worse than disciplining the me out of my kids.
Though I’ve learned to not beat myself up about it, I can’t help but cringe anytime I notice something not-so-great that they got from me. But I’ve found these shortcomings as wonderful opportunities to own up to my mistakes and give them something else to copy.
It can be a real kick to my mommy pride, but I kneel down to meet their eyes and say I’m sorry and it melts my heart to hear them say, “I forgive you” or “I love you even though you shouted at me.”
I’m so glad making copycats can go both ways. I try to be more mindful and deliberate, whether it’s in being generous, not holding grudges, or being responsible.
God knew what he was doing in making children with that ability. I’m glad my children are copycats. It’s how they grow.
I’m growing and learning too with my kids, and they’re keeping me in check on my journey to being not just a better mom but a better person. People often comment on which one of the boys most looks like me. I rather they all look like and mirror the love of God I try to copy. Each of my children will always be a copycat of who I am and I want them to be good ones. Every day is a chance to do as Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”