Not like Mom

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As we helped him work his way through the college application process, there were all sorts of aptitude tests that came his way.  What were his gifts, what were his strengths, what should he pursue for a degree, and who would he become?  So much pressure and options to wade through at 16 & 17 years old.  Around the same time, I was exposed to the enneagram, I thought it would be fun to have each of my family members take an online test.  My son complied out of a desire to please his mom more than a personal interest.  This particular online test, ranked your top three scores.  As we were looking at his top three, his question was who was he more like.  And this sweet first born son shared 2 of his 3 numbers with me.  But this was defeat, as he said “I’d really hoped to be more like Dad.”  Honesty.  Not coming out of spite, but out of the deep, secret place of vulnerability.  Sharing it with me felt sacred.  I couldn’t violate this with my pride.  Because in our family, Dad is the fun one.  Dad is the successful one.  Dad is the risk taker.  Dad is the one who is quick witted, and generous, and flexible, and dependable.  It’s not that I’m not those things, or that I don’t bring a lot of value to our family.  It’s just that my contribution to the family often comes in the form of orderliness, and structure.  Where dad is flexible, I’m more rigid.  While dad is not easily ruffled, I can ride the emotional rollercoaster.  Dad is diplomatic and encouraging, and I tend to put my foot in my mouth.  

In the moment of the realization that my son didn’t want to have my tendencies I felt sad.  And maybe surprised that this wasn’t more personally wounding.  Sad for his reality that he couldn’t be a cookie cutter of the man he so admired.  Sad that my journey is more about publicly humbling myself and wrestling with my inadequacies, than confidently walking in who I am in Christ.  My husband really hates if I make any reference to him being perfect.  Because he’s not.  We all know it.  But he has a quiet, steady confidence in who he is, who he’s created to be, and what his purpose is.  And he walks in it.  Daily.  And it’s inspiring.  As much as Ethan’s disappointment in being wired more like me could have stung, it actually was just the gateway to greater self-awareness and opportunity for conversation.  Ethan actually doesn’t share his top number with anyone else in the family.  He is his own person, and will have his own way of relating.  And I am so thankful that he’s had the Dad that he does, so that he has vision for what a Father can be.  And I'm so thankful that he has had me as his mom for the structure and focus and self-discipline that I know he’s adopted.  And as Ethan learns who he is and who he’s not, I’m learning right along with him.  Without shame.  Without condemnation.  But with vision for what could be as we grow more fully into our best selves.  

 

Sara Carlson