Episode 39

Motherhood Unmasked with Vanessa A. Harris Episode 39 My Child Is So Different Than Me: Who Is This Child?

My Child Is So Different Than Me

One of these kids is doing their own thing. One of these kids is not like the others and worse still, not like you.

What do you do when one of your children is so different than you, you struggle to like them?

You cozy up on the sofa with your favorite beverage and hang out with your girl. Because I get it, and in this episode I’m sharing what I’ve learned that helps.

Listen to Episode 39

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Homework: Tell Them

That’s right. Go back to that list from your homework in Episode 32 and tell them how you see their quirks that irritate you, as a blessing too.

That kind of acceptance goes such a long way in building connection.

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Episode 39 transcript

Don’t you love it when someone says your child looks just like you? You may even chuckle if they say your child acts like you. But when your child is wired completely different than you—then you’re on the struggle bus.

Hey there, Mama Bare. Vanessa here with compassion, candor and clarity for you, the mom who’s wondering how in the world the child who came through is nothing like you.
I’m so glad you’re. You know why? Because I know how you feel!
If you’re new here, welcome. I’m a mom of three: a 17, a 15 and an 11-year-old.
And I wonder if when you think back to the first time you shared pictures of your new baby, you remember comments on who the baby looked like.
You were so excited when they said you, and a little irritated if they said dad.
But i bet you didn’t give much thought to how you’d connect with your child because you couldn’t imagine after letting a person borrow your whole body for their development that everything about them would be foreign to you.
That you would find everything about them puzzling at best, and infuriating at worst.

Yet it happened to me.

One of my children, who shall remain nameless, has been doing their own thing since birth.
Well, even before birth considering they were 9 days overdue and needed delivery via c-section for a failed vaginal birth.
The child just did not want to vacate the premises!
And that insistence on moving at their own pace and resisting all attempts by outside intervention, combined with a determination to use as few words as possible made for a quiet rebellion I didn’t relate to, and a child I struggled to like.
The fact is this child exposed every insecurity in me.
Nothing about me seemed the right fit to raise this child, hence the reason for how I close every episode of this podcast.
If you’re a regular or you went back and binged episodes you recall my friend Cameo coined the phrase “you are the woman for the job” when I’d share my latest mom fail with her—usually regarding this child—and wonder how in the world this would ever work.
And every time I talked about not knowing what to do, she’d say, “I know one thing, you’re the woman for the job.”
She didn’t just say it as a good girlfriend, she said it as my prayer partner who knew none of us get here by chance.
Having made me, God knew all about me.
He intentionally made this child too and planted them in my womb, knowing by grace alone, I would shape my child while my child would stretch me.

Brings new meaning to the term stretch marks, doesn’t it?

I’m in a Facebook group with moms struggling in the tension between catering to their comfort level and meeting their child’s needs.
And the guilt drives them to ask who should sacrifice—them or their child.
And the truth is, you sacrifice first, because you’re role is a leadership one.
And a good leader always sacrifices for those who follow.
But that comes with the realization you’re growing as much as your child.
And there’s something about being the mother to this particular child that’s necessary to provoke you to change.
Change that broadens your boarders and sets you up for a richer life than the one you’ve settled for.

I wish I could say I was always open to my kids stretching me.
Motherhood itself is a stretch for me, in light of my childhood, so to have, not one but, two kids so different from me seems disrespectful—to be honest.
But like any good father, God is not interested in catering to my every whim, but in preparing me to walk in all the good plans he has for me.
And that means increasing my flexibility and discernment.
Because it’s easy to value people just like you, but can you recognize and appreciate the beauty in a child different from you?
Can you humble yourself to allow their wiring to teach you some things?
And years later, the humbling myself and the stretching continue, but with it I’m learning to see the beauty in a child who both exposed my insecurities and broadened my skill set.
I think that’s the blessing of each of us having different temperaments.
Dealing with each other compels us to temper our belief that our wiring is best.

This week’s homework is to go beyond your homework from episode 32.
Now that you’ve found out how the things about your husband and kids that frustrated you, actually compliment you, how about you compliment them for those qualities or quirks?
For example, my child, the one slow to move and and then only on their terms is also the one who demonstrates the most patience and contentment.
Sometimes it’s flat out laziness, but most times that slowness to react is just what you need in a family—in a world—with opinionated characters.
And though it’s work to get a conversation going with this child, I know they weigh their words before sharing them.
And what they share—is usually rich.
I respect that because it’s so unusual and refreshing these days.
But I don’t just think it anymore. I make it a point of telling my kiddo I see the benefit of something, they know also irritates me at other times.
Because I need this child to know how they’re wired is intentional.
And while they may need shaping in order to show up as God intended and to exist in community with others—there is nothing wrong with their style.
They are God’s masterpiece and that makes them quite remarkable.
The child I once struggled to like is so beautiful to me today. Now, anyone who knows my family knows exactly which child I’m referring to, but I never want to be transparent at the expense of any of my babies’ reputations.
So, I thank you for indulging my care in sharing.

I’ll be wrapping up this season sooner than usual. I hope to do one more episode, but real talk mama is tired!

The care and effort I put into producing and promoting the podcast—really the promoting part, yuck—along with pandemic life and my responsibilities at home left my nerves frayed.
My children stopped getting the best of me and by now you know I can’t have that.
I have a rising senior getting ready for college. So, we have colleges to visit and scholarships to apply for.
And between that, and the activities my other kids are in, and my own sanity, I have to pump the brakes and nurture my soul.

If you haven’t visited me at my virtual home, come on and stop by at vinelifefaith.com.
It’s where you can read my latest soul food article, find information and resources related to this podcast, links to my books in the DADDY’s Girl Forever collection, and where you can shop this month’s tshirt design.
For June I designed a unisex tee for men and women who want to rep the District of Columbia or any of the 50 states they call home.
Because Vine Life Faith is all about helping women like you and me break negative cycles, build healthy community starting right at home, and to do it in style!
Thank you so much for your support! I appreciate your messages, the reviews you left on Apple podcasts, and for spreading the word about the show.
Motherhood is not easy, no matter how social media influencers make it look.
And I hope that if you have a child who makes it particularly tough, today’s show encourages you to grow through it.
But know this, when it comes to you being the mother of your children—YOU are the woman for the job. Take care.