Today Alexis and I were brushing out teeth together in the bathroom before we left for the day. I noticed that she kept looking at me in the mirror. Then I noticed that she was imitating how I brush my teeth...if I went to go do the top ones, she did the same; moved the brush to the side, so did she, etc., etc.. She even leaned over the sink and spit the exact same way that I did.
This is a rare moment for us. Alexis has never been one to really show much interest in imitating what I do. There is just not too much fascination with the grown up things that I do that even I remember having with my mom as a child. Hell, even Elizabeth at the age of 12 will try to sneak using my perfume (though Very Sexy from Victoria's Secret is not my first choice for a child her age...) and my face cream and asks to borrow my shoes. Alexis just never really seemed that into "being just like Mommy".
She is fascinated with the things that her father does, though. Trucks and mowing the lawn and being outside...she is very much like him in those regards. Once she was through with breastfeeding (and I think that the constant fear that she had that her food source would go away...that child came out of the womb ready for a four course meal) she really seemed to have no use for me. She is very much so a Daddy's girl...Daddy is who she turns to when she is scared or upset. Daddy is who she wants to cuddle with nine times out of ten. Daddy is who she calls for to wipe her butt when I am standing right in the next room (OK, I am perfectly fine with that one...)
I guess it is only fair. Elizabeth and I were together alone for four years. We did everything together. I played Miss Clavelle from Madeline more times than I like to think about (me, a nun? Really? That is some imagination that kid used to have!).
It just hurts a bit. They are both pulling away from me, for very different reasons, but it is still there. While I will admit that it is nice to not have Alexis intensely hate, oh, EVERYONE, as she did when she was a baby, it still burns to know that I am not the one she wants to kiss her boo-boos. The same applies to Elizabeth, if I were to tell the truth. It is hard.
Moments like the one this morning, though, give me hope. Hope that I am not just a peripheral. Hope that I AM somehow, some way, affecting my children's lives. Molding them, shaping them. That I do matter somehow to them, in a tiny way. I guess I am doing my job, since it is their job to become separate from me. No one told me, though, how quickly it can happen, as in the case with Alexis, or how agonizing it can be when it finally does, as with Elizabeth.
Will she remember brushing her teeth with me this morning? Doubtful. But during those times when that child makes me want to rip my hair and hers out, I will think of that moment and remember that I do influence her a tiny bit. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me to think twice before I lose it on her. Maybe, it will help me to be a better parent to my very different and unique children. Especially the one that is especially difficult.