Lately, as their personalities have developed, I’ve noticed some pretty vast differences between my two daughters. My eldest, Rose, is three and a half and ridiculously intelligent – with a big dollop of ’emotional’ firmly in the mix. She loves to learn new things but worries far too much. Her little sister, Willow, is almost one and a half and is so laid back she’s practically horizontal – with a side order of ‘reckless adventurer’ thrown in for good measure. She loves to climb but has absolutely no fear whatsoever, resulting in far too many knocks to the head. I’ve noticed other personality differences recently too: only this time they’re mine.
As Rose’s Mother, a New Mother, I was ever-so-slightly overwrought, to put it nicely. I read A LOT of parenting advice from so-called ‘experts’ and fretted over routines, milestones and development as a result. I knew how old she was in weeks and days and what she ‘should’ be achieving by that point in time. Fast forward three years and although routine is paramount in Willow’s babyhood (in fact, I swear by it for a good night’s sleep), the other things I held in such high regard with her big sister have fallen by the wayside. Sometimes I have a quick pang of “Eesh, shouldn’t Willow really be doing X by now…?” but it quickly dissolves as I’m dragged back to reality to find her teetering atop something stupidly dangerous, like a flight of stairs, to use a completely fictitious example. (Gulp).
So my chalk and cheese children have me wondering how large a part my Mothering style has played in shaping their young personalities. If Rose had been my second born, would she still find it unbearable to watch her sister stack her rainbow rings in the wrong order? If Willow came first would she be the one neatly lining up her toys or would they still be in a careless heap? Maybe. Or just maybe my delightfully different girls might just be the way they are regardless of my input/interference. Rose might still insist on changing her clothes when she gets a minuscule speck of dirt on them, just because she likes having clean clothes, and not because I tried my hardest to keep her outfits pristine as a baby. Willow might still smoosh spaghetti bolognese into her hair just because she’s a mucky little sod and not because I am waaaaaaay more relaxed about mess these days.
There’s no way of knowing, which is probably a good thing because Mum Guilt is right up there with toothache and I’d feel bloody terrible if my New Mum Neuroses were wholly responsible for Rose’s ever-increasing sensitive side. Similarly if Willow continues to be as calm as she is, she might resent the impact Second Child Syndrome had on her ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ Mama when she can’t really be bothered with more important things, like school, learning to drive, getting a job, etc.
Hopefully, I’ll be here to offer calming vibes if Rose gets too stressed out, motivational kicks up the arse if Willow is lacking in ambition and love in abundance for them both. Deep down, I’m still the same person, I’m just older and wiser than I was three and a half years ago. Sometimes I still worry far too much what people think, but as life goes on and my Motherhood experience develops I care less and less about the opinions of people who don’t know me or my children.
I certainly believe our attitudes, behaviour and morals rub off on our children but I guess we will never really know to what extent we shape who they become. The New Mum Me of 2013 would probably read every article ever written on the ‘nature vs nurture’ debate but the current Me will just happily embrace the variety, the uniqueness and the magic of having two incredibly special daughters to call my own and just cross my fingers that I haven’t messed up too much so far.