Right now I'm halfway through a bible study called "Mom Matters" hosted by our church, North Point Community Church. About 450 women meet once a week to learn about practical and biblical topics related to motherhood, discuss life in small group settings, and seek advice from other moms. It's been a really great month so far, and every week I've left with some interesting things to think about until the next meeting.
This week's topic was about becoming a student of your child. The gist was that every child, every person, is unique and that you can't parent blindly or en masse. In Proverbs 22:6, it says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it." I've heard this verse a million times, but I had never considered that it doesn't say "in the way everyone should go;" instead, it personalizes the path to the person. I've also never viewed this verse with general life in mind, only with the the idea that you should teach your kids about Christ. In practical terms of interacting with and loving your child, then, you have to really study who they are to figure out how to support and love them as-is, without trying to change their personality. It was an interesting concept that I've been unknowingly dealing with already.
To make things easy, we talked about general types of personalities using a four-pronged personality test based on color: Powerful Red, Playful Yellow, Peaceful Green, Proper Blue. Everybody's done these types of tests before, and so I knew immediately that I'd fall into whatever was deemed the Type A/Lion/Bus Driver category, which turned out to be Red:
Strengths: Decisive, Works Well Under Pressure, Production-Oriented, Great Leader
Weaknesses: Too Opinionated, Workaholic, Overly Intense, Insensitive
I've also got a significant touch of Blue:
Strengths: Attention to Detail, Good with Numbers, Great at Processes/Systems, Self-Starter/Initiator
Weaknesses: Lacks Spontaneity, Hard to Please, Can't Function Without Structure
We mostly talked about what it's like to parent a child of a different or completely opposite color/personality, how to foster their strengths and help them with their weaknesses. In reading the personality traits of the other colors, I knew immediately that both Ryan and Emma Vance are Yellow:
Strengths: People Person, Humor, Creative and Colorful, Great Storyteller
Weaknesses: Disorganized, Talks Too Much, Distracted Easily, Often Late
Although Red and Yellow aren't complete opposites (Red's opposite is Peaceful Green--the kind, anti-confrontational type), being in love with and married to a Yellow has proved that there are some major conflicts that can occur between the two personality types. The most prominent one that comes to mind is time management, something that Reds are amazing at and that Yellows, well...let's just say not so much. This issue of Yellows lacking time management can drive a Red CRAZY and is a constant topic of debate around our household.
Since Day One, I've been joking that E.V. has so much of Ryan's personality that it's scary. They both are Yellows to a tee (and, yes, I can already see that in Emma Vance at such a young age). Although I do have momentary glimpses of my hard-working Red personality in her, her dominant traits are Yellow, which I've already had to adapt to a bit. Although I'm naturally creative, I'm not naturally fun, and I really want E.V. to have a super fun childhood. I'm already consciously trying to create superfluous, crazy, carefree, fun activities in her routine, because, left to my own devices, we'd probably do the same thing everyday and already be practicing her counting skills. :) The talk this week at "Mom Matters" encouraged me that I'm on the right path, that fostering her naturally joyful spirit and encouraging her to be serious when necessary is the way to grow a healthy, confident adult out of my child. That's the good side of it...but what about the bad?
This is so silly, but I have this fear that Ryan and E.V. will outweigh me in family life. Even worse, what if this second baby is also a Yellow? What if I'm the only Red in a family of ALL Yellows?!? What if having a different personality than EVERYONE in my family turns me into the controlling mom everybody hates?
I know it's not the worst fate, but I can just see my silly little family of Yellows, joking and unaware of the time, not doing homework or caring about grades, lacking responsibility in life. I can see myself always feeling frustrated, nagging them, pushing them too hard, unable to understand them fully. I know this definitely does NOT fit in the category of training them up how they should go, but I also know that on some level I must lovingly help E.V. and Ryan learn to be more responsible, which is an exhausting role. Dear Lord, with Baby #2, I'd love an ally at least! I'd find comfort in having an empathetic little version of myself who I don't have to worry about, who naturally does their homework, enjoys extra curricular activities and is on time. How in the world am I supposed to wrangle a gaggle of Yellows all by myself? It's tough enough to wrangle my one Yellow, Ryan, let alone a handful of his miniature carbon copies! :)
I know it might sound silly to think about, but it's a real issue that I'm already dealing with. (Did I mention that in the past 48 hours, E.V. has climbed onto a toilet and fallen off, gotten her foot caught in a fabric loop as she attempted to dive off a chair and JUMPED OUT OF HER CRIB? And then happily re-attempted all of her feats after only a few quick tears?) My social, sunny, silly, carefree baby and husband are in cahoots, and I'm already having to pick up after them. My hands are already so full, I'm not sure I can handle another Yellow personality! Ha!
On the other hand, life with double Yellows has already made me sillier, freer and more appreciative of people's natural joy in life. My greatest hope amongst my many fears is that if I'm given a little Yellow Baby #2, at least he or she will have two other people in their life who will completely understand them, and together the three of them are bound to shine a little light into my very Red world--and from that prospect, I take some comfort. ;)