Like Mother, Like Son


Bedtime stories

He padded into the bedroom, freshly bathed and dressed in his favorite pajamas. Fishy pajamas, slightly droopy in the bottom and snug around his belly.

He walked over to the bookshelf and sorted through the latest batch of library books to choose his bedtime story. Except he choose a book about oceans and sea creatures – not exactly a story but more like a junior oceanography book.

He came around and settled into my lap. I snuggled him closer and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“Everett, can you say sorry for being cranky all day and for yelling at Mommy and Daddy?”

“Sorry Mommy for being cranky and yelling,” with a slight whine in his voice.

“I’m sorry too Everett. Mommy was cranky today too.”

“Yeah Mommy, you were yelling a lot today.”

“That’s right buddy. I was and I’m sorry too.”

reading bedtime stories

I see a lot of myself in Everett. The bossy bossy nature. The flood of love and affection when he’s willing to let someone in. The chubby cheeks. The stubborn nature. The love of collecting things. The temper.

It’s my temper that is mirrored in his little body. I can picture myself at Everett’s age (and even older) throwing a temper tantrum and turning bright red in the face. Anger is ugly and a negative emotion. It was something that I was criticized for and ultimately something that I became self-conscious of.

Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time with Everett sometimes. It makes me uncomfortable seeing my son display temper and in a way that’s so similar to my own. What we criticize in other people is often a reflection of our own internal baggage, right?

These days, when I get angry and have a bit of a tantrum, I often try to cover up the evidence as quickly as possible, to gloss over the outburst and to pretend that nothing happened.

“There’s nothing to see here. Move along.”

I don’t often acknowledge my anger or what led to it.

I want Everett to be able to acknowledge and express his emotions in a way that isn’t out of control. I want him to know that anger is an emotion that everyone experiences – kids and adults. That we all can have a bad day.

But I know that he needs someone to model that behavior for him. Acknowledging that I was angry and apologizing for yelling was a first tiny step. I just need to figure out the steps to take after that.

Do you see yourself in your kids?


 {Linking up with Shell at Things I Can’t Say for Pour Your Heart Out.}


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  1. says

    Frighteningly so. I applaud your honesty for having trouble because I find myself having trouble as well and it makes me feel terrible. It’s human not to have the patience you believe you should have with your own flesh and blood but it still makes me feel disappointed in myself.

    My little guy is a lot like me in his anger as well and I find we butt heads often. I, too, want to show him more constructive ways to deal with his emotions and I’m working on it….and so is he.

    This hit home for me in ways I can’t express well. Thanks.
    Melissa Burton recently posted..Tunes For Tuesday (70′s Edition) – Boz ScaggsMy Profile

    • says

      It totally makes me feel terrible. I know that when I completely flip my lid that it’s a sign to look at the behavior that is bothering me and then to look at myself. It sucks most of the time and it sucks to not have patience with our own kids. I totally get that. I keep saying that it’s a good thing that E is cute otherwise we’d all be in trouble :-)
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  2. says

    I have a post in draft titled ‘Anger’.
    It’s bits and pieces of what angers feels like to me.
    And I see some of that in my oldest.
    That’s a little scary. I want him to be just like us. The good parts. BUT. We are human, not perfect. All we can do is, as you say, model the kind of behavior we want for them.
    It’s not always easy though. The roar in my head (hello Anger) can sometimes be too loud, override my sensible Mother side. Sigh.
    I think the fact that you see this, you acknowledge this, is a step in the right direction.
    Alison recently posted..Off He GoesMy Profile

    • says

      Sometimes it scares me how loud the roar of anger in my head can be and I can’t imagine what it’s like my son’s head during those times. I guess it’s a little much to expect that only the good characteristics would be passed on?
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  3. says

    I definitely see myself in my kids especially my daughter. I think that is why we butt heads a lot. I see behavior in her that I did as a child. I don’t want her to be like me in that way. We are all trying to work on our anger and processing our feelings. It’s a very long process for sure.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..My 5 Favorite Running BooksMy Profile

    • says

      I think that’s largely what gets me – seeing behavior in him that I did as a child and knowing that that was something that I was often criticized for. I guess it’s a reaction to that and not wanting him to be associated with that negative behavior. Oy it IS a long process!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  4. says

    I see different pieces of myself in my daughters. Of course, I only want them to inherit my very best traits, but, alas, I see myself my oldest’s hyper sensitivity!

    I love that you are teaching your son that anger is natural. When I was coaching Girls on the Run, there was an awesome lesson on emotions. It did a great job explaining that emotions are not good or bad, they just are. We all experience anger, sadness, jealousy. Teeling those emotions isn’t good or bad. It’s how we react to them that matters.

    P.S. Love the saggy bottoms pic! Adorable!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Summer Lovin: Kuhl Vega Sleeveless Dress ReviewMy Profile

    • says

      I love that GOTR talks about emotions in that way. I think that that’s one of the biggest challenges is that we often see (and were taught) that emotions are either good or bad. And frankly that sometimes that it’s better just not to have any emotions. I want my kids to have a healthy way to express their emotions but I often find that I do often resort to “conventional” reactions versus construction feedback. And seriously? Thank goodness for the saggy bottoms and things like that to make me smile!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  5. says

    Heck yes! Especially in Fiona. I’ve been a work in progress since becoming a mom because I don’t want them to model my behavior! I think it’s great that you can step back and see yourself this way and know that it’s something you want to work on.
    Ilene recently posted..Learning to FlyMy Profile

    • says

      It definitely feels like a constant work in progress. I think that before kids, I figured out how to act and manage my emotions but with kids, all of that is brought right back up to the surface again. It’s a challenge to say the least!!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  6. says

    YES! Sorry – that wasn’t an all caps yell. It was an all caps “Amen!” I see myself a lot in my son and it drives me crazy just because I don’t want him to be like me! That sounds terrible. With my daughter, she got a lot of my husband’s personality and that works out great for her and for us. She’s very go with the flow and genuinely happy and comfortable. I have never really been fully like that so when I see my son’s frustration with wanting to grow faster than he can, and his more sensitive and introspective nature, I’m all, “Stop, save yourself!” I’m not giving either of us enough credit but it’s more those dark thoughts I can’t help but think sometimes, but they’re not necessarily 100% true.
    Tamara recently posted..Learning To Fly, To Ilene’s Place!My Profile

    • says

      I completely know what you mean about not wanting your son to be like you. I feel the same way. It is like “save yourself!!!” because I really don’t want them to inherit my temper because I know how hard it can be sometimes on friends and family. I’m hoping that by knowing this and recognizing this we can help our kids find a way through it.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  7. says

    Oh, yes…my daughter is me totally, only amplified. Especially in the temper department. We just discussed it the other day–she voiced to me how she has a hard time controlling it and I told her how I had to learn to get on top of mine and that I would be there to help her with it. Like your situation, too, I definitely butt heads with her more than with my son. Parenting isn’t easy!
    misszippy recently posted..The beauty of the solo runMy Profile

  8. says

    I can relate to this post so much. My son has so many of my *negative* traits like a quick temper and it really makes to take a step back and look at myself. I find it difficult to justify getting angry at him when he reacts to a situation is a similar way that I would because I know it learned it from me. It’s a daily learning curve. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Jenny @ simply be me recently posted..An amazing runMy Profile

  9. says

    What a timely post for me. It’s been pretty crazy around these parts lately and patience has taken the short end. I don’t like it when I get angry, but when I see my kids get angry, it’s like I’m looking in the mirror. It’s tough to be that role model 100% of the time.
    Michelle recently posted..Up, Down and All Around.My Profile

    • says

      It does kind of scare me sometimes when I see their reaction and it is like looking in a mirror. It’s hard and a constant struggle. Some days are easier than other for sure. I hope that things are settling down a bit for you!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  10. says

    My boys are both like me in many ways. We react to things in similar ways, which can be challenging. But on the good side – because of this, we sort “get” each other. We can see where the other person is coming from and it lets us relate so that we can move on together.
    Kim@Co-Pilot Mom recently posted..How You Love Me?My Profile

    • says

      That’s really true Kim. I think because my son and I share a bit of a temper, I can often sit with him and talk whereas my husband gets more and more frustrated because he won’t immediately calm down. Thank you for that.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  11. says

    My oldest son has my personality and temperament ( he’s like a mini-me)and my daughter has my stubbornness, which I keep telling myself will pay off someday (fingers crossed!). My youngest son is still developing his personality and I can only hope he is patient like his dad. He’s going to need a lot of it to deal with this crazy family!

    It’s scary to see such a mirror reflection of yourself, especially when it’s not pretty. It CAN be such a good reality check too though. I truly believe that having kids makes you a better person. Maybe not when you’re yelling or you’re angry, but when you look at the big picture and realize you have a lot to learn from them!
    Michelle @ Crazy Running Legs recently posted..Weekly Menu and WorkoutsMy Profile

    • says

      It is a good reality check and I’ve been trying to remember that every time I see it. Having kids definitely has made me grow in ways I never thought possible. And I keep telling myself that my son’s stubbornness will pay off in the future too!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  12. says

    I can’t even tell you how many times that my sons (especially the youngest) and I have both had to apologize for the same thing – we both are quick to spout of when we are mad and often say things that we really don’t mean. I tell him that I’m working on it just as much as he has to.
    Kim recently posted..Pictures are Better than WordsMy Profile

  13. says

    I definitely see myself in L, and you’re so right about being critical of the things we are most aware of in ourselves. She can be very bossy and controlling (first child!) but like E is very snuggling and needs lots of love and affection. Beautiful post!

  14. says

    I was nodding my head as I read! I definitely see myself in my kids and one more then the other. It’s very hard to get upset with a small version of yourself. It makes me worry about his future and if he will do everything the hard way, like his mom before him. At the end of the day, I can be the best parent I can and maybe because we’re so much alike I’ll be better to able to help him along. That’s my hope!
    Allie Burdick recently posted..SPA by DEXTERMy Profile

    • says

      I have the same hope Allie! I guess it’s partly that I don’t want him to have to go through the same challenges and struggles as I have had to (and continue to). But he’s stubborn enough that I think that he will insist on doing everything the hard way!
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

  15. says

    It can be so satisfying to see a “mini me” and I feel so happy — “that’s my boy!” Then, he’ll be a “mini me” in a not-so-good way and I cringe! I wish my kids could take only the best and turn a blind eye to the bad stuff! But, I think it gives us a mirror to look into and see what we need to work on and we can show them a different way. Beautiful, honest post.
    Leah Davidson recently posted..Quote of the WeekMy Profile

  16. says

    Ah, yes. I know I butt heads with my daughter because I see so much of myself in her, or I don’t want her to suffer with the faults I see in myself. It’s Ok to be angry, you just have to express it appropriately. 😉
    Coco recently posted..Healthy Snack Ideas On The GoMy Profile

  17. says

    I sure do. I am a perfectionist, and I’m often very hard on myself. I set ridiculously high expectations for myself, and rake myself over the coals if I don’t meet them all the way.

    I thought this was a good thing. I’m extremely productive and I turn out top-quality work. I’ve taken care of my son all by myself–from the minute he arrived when I was 19, until now that he’s about to start his senior year of college. Everything he ever needed–including his college tuition–I provided for him all by myself.

    Now I see him putting pressure on himself to perform better than the best–just like I do. I see how upset with himself he gets when he doesn’t do as well as he wants to (like when he gets a 97 on a test instead of 100), and I worry. I don’t want him to miss the sweet stuff in life because he’s too busy making stringent demands of himself. It’s made me ease up on myself a little bit, and paved the way for some great mother-son advice conversations. It’s not too late…for either of us.
    Carla from recently posted..We’ll Induce Labor Monday? Reconciling My Expectations With My RealityMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you Carla for this. We sound similar in many regards and I have similar thoughts about how my perfectionist tendencies may affect my kids too. I too have found that recognizing some of my character traits in my kids has made me ease up on things more and not take them too seriously. Thank you for sharing.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Double the SweatMy Profile

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