Cult of Personality

“You’ve got a big personality,” said my oldest and dearest friend, M.

This was in response to my worries that I was damaging C’s personality. When in fact I can’t even tell what her personality will be. Which in turn makes me sometimes feel like a bad mom.

The conversation started when I talked about not wanting to stifle whatever C’s personality would be. Being a baby, she had started to tuck her cheek on my shoulder when meeting new people or in new situations. After a while she will warm up and become interested in the situation, but I found myself saying “oh, she’s shy” repeatedly. And after each time I would mentally kick myself. I didn’t want to already label C’s response to situations that most adults respond to in the same way, or if they don’t, plow through by plying themselves with drinks or inappropriate and awkward jokes.

I’m an extrovert. To have a potentially shy child would be something I would need to navigate – not be more overbearing or embarrassing as any typical mother. Thus, my concerns and M’s response.

So I’m doing my best to not respond anymore when C snuggles a little closer. Yet even last weekend during a play date with little and big friends C has known all of her days, she was sometimes shy. And I responded as an extrovert mother and a slew of comments about her response. Again, internal cringing after the fact.

I’ve entered what I am sure will be dozens of instances that will make me question how I can best parent my child. There is no answer as I learn, mock my internal voice and wonder how I can tweak what I hope doesn’t become a pattern. What I look forward to seeing emerge, in her own natural time and on her own terms, is her personality. And I look forward to holding her as this unfolds, at least as long as she’ll let me.

– MD

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