30 Days of “A Year of Living Your Yoga” — Day 8: Your Child is Not You


Welcome to Day 8 of my blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.” While the book has 365 quotes, I picked only 30.

I will try to keep these posts to about 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)

Here is the quote:

May 28 — Your child belongs to her/him -self. As much as we want to make life perfect for our child, her life is hers, and helping her and you understand this is the most important job you can do as a parent. Remember today to live the awareness that your life belongs to you and your child’s to him.

> > > >retching sound< < < <

Sometimes these quotes really get to me. This is absolutely one of those times.

My mother wanted to be my twin. She wanted us to have the same haircuts, the same clothes, the same shoes. She even wanted us to go into business together — how that would work, I’m not sure, but the plan was that she would design the clothes and I would make them (what is thread?). She wanted to call them “MolMee’s” (her nickname was Mimi, so the “mee” was that transliteration of her name). This enmeshment had all the hallmarks of doom from the get-go.

I was born to defy her be my own person. I just was. And I was born to instill in her a duty to love me anyway. And I was born to love her anyway. She would put me in a dress and I’d destroy it. She’d put me in shorts and I’d go put on a kilt. She’d ask me to pick flowers and I’d cut down a bush. She had this vision of me… this concept and ideal… it was simply not going to happen. She gave me lots of ideas…

As a result: I distanced myself from her because I felt I constantly disappointed her. It’s really hard on your kids if they feel your happiness or success rests in their achievements.

I suspect this is dragging you down, but this is one of The Easiest posts for me to write in this series. The thing is: do you do this? Do you try to get your kid to be your buddy? Do you try to get your kid to excel where you blew it? Do you try to get your kid to love jazz (archery!) or Proust (plank?) or crocheting (flour?) when she’d rather throat punch herself? And then you wonder, “I THINK ALL THESE THINGS ARE WONDERFUL! Where’s the love?!”

The love is right there. Standing in front of you. Staring you in the face, saying (without saying): LOVE ME ANYWAY. DO ME A FAVOR: ASK ME ABOUT MY DAY and LISTEN TO MY REPLY.

How are your boundaries going? Are they blurred? Are they all gooey, like jell-o before it’s set and flooping (new word) through your fingers and your kid doesn’t know what’s his and what’s yours? Do you make your kid show everyone her new glasses or training bra? How about when your son (I hope!) gets his first chest hair? I don’t need to see that. I don’t really care and he’s freakin’ mortified.

If you are still confused about where your life ends and where your kid’s begins, check out “Toddlers and Tiaras” or “Mary Kate + Eight — Again” or “Honey Boo-Boo” (whatever the hell that is) or try this: ask them.

One of my favorite movies is “Little Miss Sunshine.” At first, the whole family is a giant codependent mess of effed-up boundaries and identity confusion. But as the pageant nears, and life-changing / ending family events transpire, we begin to see everyone figuring out that they are their own people. So we witness a glorious transition from ego-driven vicarious existence / mortality fear to everyone is their own person yet we can still support one another -thing (that’s a very technical term).

one big happy. eventually.

one big happy. eventually. (c) searchlight pictures 2006.

Does your child have a beautiful singing voice? Great. Guess what? it has nothing to do with you. You might be a beautiful singer, and maybe her maternal grandmother and likely a gazillion other people in her heritage. UM… So, NO. She doesn’t get that voice from you. She gets it from herself.

Take me for example. I write. I sing. I paint. I draw. I have parents who did all of this. But it didn’t all begin with them, and I certainly don’t think it will end with me. I used to be terrified that I would be paired up as a female version of my dad simply because I write, but our styles and attitudes about writing couldn’t be more disparate.

I have a quote. It’s my own:

Live vicariously through yourself.

Do you really think the world needs another You?

Don’t foist your dreams, fears, urges, drives, repressions, preferences, biases, ignorances on to your kid. JUST DON’T. They are gonna screw up, JUST like you did. It’s your job to try to educate them from doing it, BUT to be the soft place they land when they fall, because they will.

Thank you.


10 responses »

  1. Smiling and crying and laughing and high fiving. All of this. Yes. I lived it, you lived it, we vow to do better. I was literally just thinking about this exact same topic today.

    Cosmically connected, we are. Ohmmmmmmmmmmmm.

  2. “Live vicariously through yourself.” is really a great quote. How do we get it on goodreads?

    This reminded me of when I was pregnant and I bought everything in yellow and green because I didn’t want to push pink, girly stuff on my daughter. It was really more about me because I have always sort of balked at the girly stuff. Anyway, my daughter was born and it turns out she loves pinks and frills and sparkly stuff. She’s about as girly as they come and I let her be because that is who she is. The weird thing was discovering that I am more girly than I ever wanted to admit. Being “girly” was considered weak when I was a kid and I was always trying to live up to another person’s expectation of me. I’m not as “girly” as my daughter and never will be, but somehow allowing her to be herself has also allowed me to be more myself too. Vowing to do better for your kids trickles upwards too. I have so much gratitude for learning these lessons.

    This is a great post about boundaries…something I am always working on these days and staying mindful of. I appreciate the reminders I bump into on the Internet and in other places. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Lil.

      I too am more girly than I thought and it was curbed for the exact same reason. I would like to write an inverse / answer to this post in the vein you’re alluding to because it’s in the living and more importantly THE ALLOWING that we grow and thrive.

  3. This is awesome. I was never skinny or blond or ladylike enough to get my mother’s approval. And I have banged my head against a million walls as my inlaws claimed with each one of my children’s traits, “She gets that from ___” “OH just like _____” FUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKK! Thank you. I feel so vindicated and understood.

    • i’m glad you feel vindicated. and not so alone anymore. it’s really pathetic when people do this. and it’s never the “bad” traits the children get from the observers, it’s always someone else then… such as a penchant for fallacy and cunning: it’s always NEVER from the same person who gave her the singing voice.

      i have a relative who went to an ivy league college a LONNNG time ago. an of-age descendant was interested in learning more about that college, and the elder couldn’t help but bash the school now because it’s become so “radicalized” and “liberal” (which i counter with open-minded and more innovative) from the good old days of woolen underwear and lies. all this kid wanted to do was hear about the campus, the town it’s situated in, whether it was a strong fit for this child’s future…

      it was exhausting. no question was answered; it was all opinion.

      she gave up.
      she walked away from the conversation.
      she felt unheard.
      she was right.

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