My two-year-old didn’t inherit any of my genes. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I’m dark haired with brown eyes, very selective with my words, and always think before I act. I enjoy blending in, and have spent my entire life following the rules. My daughter is light haired with crystal blue eyes, and acts before she thinks. She’s adventurous, and is usually the kid doing things differently than everyone else. My child and I are different. Like, polar opposite different.

We started attending weekly parent-child activities together when she was about four months old. Before she could even sit up on her own, I was helping her to follow the class structure and obey instructions to a T. I applauded her for being just like me, a model student.

Then, she learned to crawl. And I realized that she was only following along up to that point because she couldn’t crawl away to explore yet. I would demonstrate over-the-top interest in everything that the teacher did, attempting to lead by example. But my daughter didn’t seem as impressed with structure as I was.

Two years later, while other children at her gym dutifully walk across the balance beam, my daughter wants to crawl up under the beam to “fix” the screws and other parts she finds. When they’re throwing and catching balls, she’s helping her ball to climb over mats and “swing” from the bars, and enthusiastically clapping and cheering, “Yay, ball!” as the ball completes each trick.

At first, it frustrated me. I found myself saying things like, “No, do it this way. Copy me.” I always assumed my own way was best. But slowly, reluctantly, I’ve changed my mind. As she does things differently than I would have, I’ve realized that more often than not, her way is just as effective as mine. We may be different, but we both get the job done.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want her to be just like me. I want her to be just like her.

Sure, I would love it if she shared my childhood passions for reading and writing. I would stock her bookshelves with The Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew, and let her read some of the “novels” I wrote in fourth grade. Oh, the bonding!

But I don’t want to push those things, or even allow her to think that I’d like for her to like those things. I want to learn what naturally piques her interest.

I’ll always remember the time my mom tried to learn how to play my brother’s favorite video game. She has no coordination in real life, so it wasn’t surprising that she was a terrible gamer. But she tried, and my brother loved it. They laughed together as her character died over and over again, usually due to (a) accidentally blowing herself up or (b) getting disoriented and running straight into the enemies.

I hope my daughter doesn’t like video games. Because I, too, lack coordination.

I really hope she doesn’t like soccer. Long outdoor games in the south Texas heat? No, thank you. But if she does like soccer, I’ll buy one of those huge umbrellas, the camping chair with the best reviews on Amazon, and six different misters to hit me from every possible angle.

I’ll happily learn whatever my daughter loves. Because whoever she is, even if she’s very unlike me, I want to be her biggest supporter. When she “fixes” the beam at the gym, I ask her what she’s doing and act very interested. I cheer on her ball as he commits yet another amazing feat on the uneven bars.

I certainly don’t allow her to disrupt her class. But when she does do things differently, I’ve started asking questions, and trying to see the world through her eyes. And most of the time, I find myself amused and genuinely delighted with her unique perspective. She keeps me young and energetic and optimistic. She opens my eyes to see and appreciate even the smallest of joys.

I’ve become braver and bolder thanks to her. Since her birth, I’ve found myself asking questions like, “Who says I have to do it like that? Why not try this instead? What have I got to lose?” I’ve started to loosen my grip on perfectionism. I’m less afraid of failure, and more afraid of missing out on life and love.

My child and I are different people, but it doesn’t frustrate me anymore. I believe that God has given each of us a unique personality and gifts, and I want my daughter to grow into who she is, not who I am. I’ve decided not to lobby for my own interests, but to discover and support her interests. And in the process, I’m becoming a better person.

If I force her to adopt my own way of doing things, I’m doing both of us a disservice. Instead, I’m choosing to discover who she was created to be. I’m unwrapping the gift of her unique personality just a little more each day. And each day it’s bringing joy, light, and wonder into my own life. I’m raising my polar opposite, and my world is better for it.

 
So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Deb Preston

Deb Preston is an author, editor, amateur gardener, and professional cheese lover. Originally from Iowa, she now lives just outside of San Antonio, Texas with her husband, daughter, and unnecessarily loud beagle. You can find her writing on her website (DebPreston.com), HerViewFromHome.com, or in any of her books. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading