Sometimes it’s hard to separate my daughter’s identity from what I remember about my childhood identity.  She is a competitive swimmer, and I was too.  She likes to draw, and I did too.  She shares enough of my physical features to elicit comments like, “we know whose daughter that is.” 

So even though I know, conceptually, how important it is to recognize her individuality, I still find myself occasionally projecting an “I excelled here, why can’t you?” attitude. “Mama’s a writer; why don’t you like writing?  How come you don’t like to settle in with a good book and read for an hour?  I set a backstroke record; you have the body length to do the same.” 

Yikes!  Flashing red lights appear on my radar when I say these things.

Luckily these differences ARE signs that Amy, now nine, has her own identity!  I’m also watching subtle changes in her interactions with me and with others.  She’s started to temper her public displays of affection with me.  She won’t hop on her bicycle just because I love to cycle – she’d rather push her scooter.  She’s getting more comfortable performing dramatically in front of others (something I never achieved in my childhood!). 

Yesterday I even watched her stand up to one of the boys in her classroom who’s been blaming her for their table’s penalties.  She didn’t know I had slipped into the classroom, silently cheering for her all the way. 

My commitment to you, Amy, is to recognize who you are, not who I want you to be.  I just need a little help, and I trust you’ll continue showing me the way. 

Mama J (Diane Fromme) is a writer, parent, and stepparent located in Northern Colorado.  For more information on her book, Stepparenting the Grieving Child, go to

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