If you want to learn something about yourself, have a child. It won't take long, you'll see. You'll be going about your business when you'll suddenly realize your child is saying what you say (and it better be good), using gestures you use (also better be good), trying to discipline others like you do, and making noises you didn't know you made. It will open your eyes to yourself in a brand new way, I promise you.
A classic example, is my frustrated growl. I never realized I made such a growl, until Hazel started doing it multiple times a day, when I'd ask her to do something she didn't want to do. It made me laugh the first few times she did it--where did she come up with that? And then, I figured it out. When I noticed I was doing it time and again--after spills, when trying to make it somewhere on time behind three shoeless wanderers, or when my keys were missing (again). Hazel's frustrated growl came from me--and perhaps my mother, and her mother, and so on.
This copying has happened continuously since then, with Hazel and now Parley, and even Julian--who seems to watch my every move. It is a most careful job I have. So very careful.
But beyond this outward copying, is the deep and inner copy of my DNA in these little people. It has become quite clear to me that my Hazel is a smaller and prettier version of me (with, you know, artistic talent and other Jed-ness too). I know that little girl so well--because I've been her mother for almost six years, but maybe even more because I've been that little girl for almost thirty.
My goodness I love that Hazey. How full of senses she is! She feels so deeply. She is strictly obedient and feels sorrow to her core. She loves and is loyal. She will stick up for her brothers. She needs to feel accepted, acceptable.
It won't be long and she'll be asked to play by two friends on the same day. She will cry and not want to make a decision fearing to hurt feelings. It will break her heart to miss one on her spelling test. She will attend a baptism at 10 years old and cry throughout the song she sings with her cousins. She will dread priesthood blessings from her father because her emotions are so close to the surface--she'll certainly cry. She will feel guilty for years for putting an extra marble in the marble jar in sixth grade as a dare by her friends. She will want to please her teachers, her parents, her friends. She'll find herself unable to do so sometimes, and it will hurt her. She will, above all, want to be good.
I have wondered, what do I tell her? What can I tell her? How would I want to change, and what would I want to stay the same? Part of me wants to warn her, to help her avoid feelings of anxiety and guilt--to conquer them. But the other part of me knows that these feelings, in a big way, have actually made up the good parts of me.
And so I watch. And I learn. And learn and learn. When she tells me she's sorry fifteen times for being a little too gruff with Parley, I understand. She is sorry. So sorry. And when the temptation comes to be frustrated at her incessant apologies, I remember. At 29, I don't always say, 'I'm sorry' fifteen times, but I feel it. Maybe even 1,000 times I feel it. And I can't help but feel that God has given her to me, to help me learn about myself. And in helping her, I can see how He continually helps me.