Someday, I hope you have a child JUST LIKE YOU!!
And I did...sort of...get one just like me. Adam is very like me in many ways--except that he's a boy, very much so, and I am not (very much NOT). In temperament we are equals. His sense of humor parallels my own. But he is also very much "Adam". He makes Darrin nuts, which leads me to believe that one person like me is enough for any family, regardless of my mother's generous hopes that all my children would be in my image. But Adam and I understand each other on a deep level, we can talk about most anything, I know when he's lying, we laugh at everything--all in all, I'm pretty blessed with my "just-like-me" child.
The thing that I did not anticipate in any way, shape, or form, was that I might have a child completely unlike me, or Darrin, for that matter. That "gift" was delivered in a Tabitha package. She lurked quietly for the first three years of her life, luring us into the misconception that she was sweet, quiet and innocent. Then she turned four, and all hell broke loose. Tantrums would pop up over a bent straw, an untied shoe, lint on the carpet, and the rising sun. I would watch in awe, a little bit impressed at how her head disappeared behind her open, screaming mouth. When the noise got to me, I would walk away, hoping someday she might damage her vocal chords and lose her voice permanently. Everyone assured me, Tabitha would grow out of it. Three years later, I was attending parenting classes to keep me from inflicting bodily harm on my child. Darrin's and my previous agreement that spanking would be a rare, if not non-existent, form of punishment, was on the verge of being rewritten. In short, I was ready to sell my emotional daughter for any amount of money offered.
As she got older, we made it through the tantrum stage, and many other typical "girl" stages. I tried to be understanding and kind. Some of the time I succeeded, but occasionally I was heard saying, "Tabitha, if you value your life, you will stop_________________immediately." As her personality developed, it became abundantly clear that she had zero similarities to Darrin and an equal number of traits that were mine. Darrin and I were seen exchanging bewildered glances at everything she did.
Things about Tabitha that her parents find confusing:
1. Eating habits. Tabitha firmly believes that none of her family members are capable of proper digestion without her incessant chatter. Her concern with this matter keeps her from eating her own meal in a timely manner, thus, Tabitha's mealtimes can stretch out for hours. Sometimes her entire day constitutes eating one meal for 16 hours. Darrin threatens constantly to get her a t-shirt that says, "HELP!! I'm talking and I can't shut up!!"
2. Collecting. Tabitha believes that if it can be picked up, it is collectible. This includes rocks, used tissues, gum and candy wrappers, paper in any size and shape, pens and pencils (she's a kleptomaniac when it comes to those), markers, beads, hair clips, dishes from my cupboards, cd players (doesn't matter who the owner actually is) , cd's, blankets, strings, toilet paper and paper towel rolls (with or without the TP or towels intact), legos, and cooking utensils. I am often heard saying, "Tabitha!! Go get my stuff and PUT IT BACK IN THE ONE PLACE!!!"
3. Tidiness--lack of. A clean room to Tabitha means that you can walk in a trail between the walls of "stuff" she's collected. It means, with a little work, you can dig out her bed. It means always having a variety of reading material because you can never find the book you were reading, so you simply start another one. It means having at least one clean uniform for school the next day. It means the clean, folded clothing made it to the bedroom, if not into the drawers and closets. It means that when Tabitha asks for permission to do anything, the first phrase out of her mother's mouth is, "Yes, certainly, after you spend some time taking care of all the clothes on the floor of your room..." or "after all the books in your room are shelved, upright, spine out..." or "after you've filled a trash bag with paper/trash/broken toys from your room."
4. Singing. Tabitha sings constantly. This would be nice if her voice was pleasant. It's not. It's shrill and loud. And she sings songs no one enjoys listening to in the first place. "Wicked" is a wonderful musical, but if I hear one more song from the soundtrack, I will puke repeatedly until I die. There is nothing that aggravates family members more than when Tabitha decides she must sing herself to sleep at 10:00 at night. D.J. comes to me, sleepy, cranky, aggrievedly asking, "Mom, won't you PLEASE make her stop?" Darrin gives me a pleading look, Adam adds his request, and I am left to gently break the news to my darling daughter that no one is enjoying the joyous strains of her lullaby, and therefore she MUST STOP!
Darrin and I were discussing our sweet Tabitha one day, and we both came to the startling realization that all her annoying habits are the same ones that drive us nuts in our mothers. We looked at each other in dismay. She is a conglomerate of all that is dizzyingly confusing and frustrating in the matriarchs of our former lives--the ones we left so we could cleave unto each other and none else. We thought we had escaped, only to be joined by an incarnation of all that antagonized us in our youth. What kind of sick joke is God playing on us???? We're good people...surely we don't deserve this.
DJ often asks me if I'm still planning to sell Tabitha. I reply that I'm sorely tempted at times. We laugh. We get over our snit at her assinine behavior. Then, when I'm tired, when I least expect it, I find that Tabitha has folded all the laudry, or made dinner by herself. I find her cuddled next to me as I read a book. I find her helping me make dinner, or planting flowers with me. I watch her make lunch for the brother who's running late as he gets ready for school. She takes out the trash and vacuums my living room. She shops with me without asking for anything for herself. She says a special prayer for mom when I struggle to eat, for DJ when he has a bad day at school, for Adam when they've beat each other to a pulp over a lego...
I suppose my Mom-daughter isn't for sale after all. And I made it through my first life with my mom--I can make it through my second life with Tabitha. "And if thou shouldst have a daughter like unto thy mother, or like unto Darrin's mother, and the sentence of frustration passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the depths of her bedroom; if her constant prattle conspire against thee; if fierce singing becomes thine enemy; if her mood gathers blackness, and all her emotions combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of Tabitha shall gape open, the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my Samantha, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."