Friday, March 12, 2010

Like Mother, Like Son

There is no doubt in the world that Ryan is Herb's son. Ryan is Herb's spitting image, so much so that strangers often blurt out remarks like, "Well, there's no doubting HIS paternity!" or "There's no denying who HIS daddy is!" I love how much he looks like his daddy - what greater joy can a mother have than to raise a son who is the image of the man she loves most in the whole world?

But I do occasionally find myself studying his features looking for a glimpse of my own face. The eyes could deepen to my grey instead of Daddy's clear blue, the little button nose could eventually mature into a honker like my own, the strawberry blond peach fuzz might darken to my natural ash brown (oops, I think I just outed myself there), the round face might slim down to my oval. But as he is right now, there's just not a lot of my face in his.

But what I am starting to see of myself in Ryan is some of my temperament. He's generally pretty laid back, but when he gets worked up he gets REALLY worked up. And he flips between the two on a dime. As my poor long-suffering (but unbelievably patient) husband can attest, my emotions ride that razor's edge as well. In general, though, Ryan is a very happy baby, easily amused and quick to laugh, fascinated by everything he sees and always delighted to be the center of attention. I recently realized how much this is like my own temperament when my mom gave me a pile of old letters she had written to her parents when I was a toddler.

When I was about 3 years old, my grandparents (who lived not far from us) spent a year or so in West Virginia with a volunteer organization called VISTA. Back then, with no internet or Skype or e-mail to keep us connected, my mom and her two siblings mailed them cassette tapes and long, detailed letters with updates, particularly about all the grandchildren. My grandmother had saved all these letters and they were eventually passed down to my mom, who recently rediscovered them and passed them along to me to read. I find them to be a fascinating window into my own childhood. For example, in one letter my mom comments that she was driving my sister (who was about 7) to all kinds of activities like Brownies and choir, and it was hard for me because it threw off my naptimes having to be schlepped all around town, which was not helpful to my disposition. "She gets so that if someone says the wrong thing to her she just disintegrates into a heap of tears." And yet, in another letter, she remarks that I am "a fairly happy-go-lucky kid, always bumbling merrily along, usually singing to herself", and in several others she mentions my funny hop-skip gait and my continuous humming or singing.

Thus far, Ryan could definitely be described as "happy-go-lucky" and he's already begun to sing to himself (well, "sing" to himself, anyway). And even though he can't walk yet, his funny bouncy march in the jumperoo will definitely develop into a funny hop-skip of his own.

So even though he may not look like me, he is most definitely my son. I just hope he hangs onto the happy-go-lucky part and outgrows the disintegrating-into-tears part!
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