Months ago, I was exasperated while trying to change my squirmy son in a public bathroom when another mom looked over and gave me an understanding smile. Glancing back and forth between our faces, she suddenly gasped and smiled even wider. "Oh! He looks like you! I'm glad. It seems like we do all the hard work — pregnancy, childbirth, all that — yet these babies usually look like their daddies. I'm always happy when I see babies who look like their mamas!" Since then, I've realized there are many times you'll realize your kid is just like you, though many of them aren't nearly this pleasant.
Most of the time, my reminders that my son is just like me happen when he's hangry and freaking out, and makes me say a silent prayer for forgiveness from my parents and every restaurant server I've ever faced in a similar state. Or they happen when I'm trying to get us to do something my son doesn't give AF about (or even things he does care about, but doesn't realize we have to do some other thing first in order to get to it), and I'm forced to do battle with my very own stubbornness, in a tinier, cuter package. Or I'll be trying to get him to take a nap or go to bed, and realize that — though my usually boundless energy has been tempered a lot by having, nursing, and chasing after him — he has my same high energy, and my trademark ability to get by on the barest minimum of sleep so I can maximize the amount of time I spend indulging my insatiable curiosity (which he also shares) and desire to do as much as possible.
It's all good, though. Though it can occasionally be frustrating to see all your most challenging traits thrown back in your face, it's kind of a gift, too. Seeing my own little quirks through another person's eyes has helped me unpack them a bit. Having to deal with my stubborn son, and realize that some of the things he insists go a certain way can actually go a different way and work out to his benefit, helps me see that the same can be true in my own life. Sometimes.
I'll probably always be hangry, though.
When You Look At Baby Pictures
Once my mother discovered #ThrowbackThursday, she immediately got to work blasting all my childhood photos onto social media. Most weeks, it's low-key kind of a nightmare; a weekly opportunity to relive my absurdly long awkward phase, in front of all my current friends and colleagues.
The one upside of this has been the opportunity to see more of my baby photos. After my son was born, seeing how alike his new photos and my old ones were was a really powerful reminder of just how incredible genetics are.
When You Hear Yourself Sounding Like Your Mother…
This is partly because you're just like her, and partly because your child is just like you, thus forcing you into situations where the same logic you spent your whole childhood trying to evade finally applies.
Then you debate whether you should text her an exasperated apology, or keep your newfound understanding to yourself, lest she "win" all those battles of wills years after the fact, with the knowledge that she was right all along. (I go hard for #TeamPetty, so I usually keep my mouth shut.)
...Or When Your Partner Disagrees With Them For The Same Reasons They Disagree With You
My husband has spent so much of his time trying to spare himself unnecessary grief by finding gentle, effective ways to show both of us that sometimes, things can happen a little differently than we imagined, and still be OK. He's a mensch.
Whenever They Disagree With You
There is no greater frustration than having the same personality as another person, but being on opposite sides of a dispute. This goes at least double if you are a stubborn person, facing off with your equally stubborn child. (On the plus side, when you do find yourselves aligned on the same side of an issue, opponents beware.)
Whenever You Shop For Clothes
For pretty much my whole life (until some stores started carrying pants in various lengths, praise Beysus), I struggled with pants that were either too wide or too short. My son has already had the same problem for pretty much his entire short life; his pants are always either baggy or too short, and those one-piece sleep-and-play things are just a giant hassle across the board. When your kid has all the same shopping struggles you do, it’s an annoying reminder that you’re both square pegs trying to fit into a world of round holes.
Whenever Meal Time Approaches
Picky eaters tend to beget picky eaters, voracious eaters more voracious eaters, and so on. (I spent my earliest days of breastfeeding wishing I or someone in my genetic history had been a bit less enthusiastic about eating. My poor nipples and I cringed every time I saw his — or really, my —hangry face demanding more food every 90 minutes.)
At Naptime And Bedtime
If you're energetic and struggle to fall asleep, of course your kid will be, too. (This is especially galling when you rely on their sleepy times to get your work done. I know I'm the reason you never want to sleep, Son, but if we'd both like to keep up our notoriously voracious eating habits, you have to do this.)
When You Spend Time With Your Extended Family
If, by some chance, there are similarities between yourself and your child that you've managed to miss, no worries! Your extended family will absolutely point them out, particularly if that means they have more opportunities to make fun of you for those same traits. Way too much déjà vu.
When You Take Them To The Doctor
Struggles with iron levels? Check. Tall but on the skinny side? Check. Mistrustful of the person who usually administers needles? Check. Busting into an all-out sprint to get out the door the moment he arrives? Check, check, check. Every pediatrician visit with my son is like a flashback for me.
When You’re In A Hurry
From when I was "in a hurry" to be done with pregnancy, to whenever I'm "in a hurry" to get out the door to do something or meet someone, my son's funky combination of moving fast AF in person yet somehow never being ready to go wherever he needs to be relatively soon is exactly like mine. I'm sorry, little one. We'll spend the next few decades figuring out how to plan our days and avoid saying 'Yes' to too much together.