Why I Want to Be Like My Children When I Grow Up


(Ariel, the Intellectual)

My friend Wesley wrote a wonderful post recently on the occasion of her daughter Barrett’s second birthday, where she spoke of Barrett as “someone to reckon with.” I loved her birthday tribute, and I love that phrase: Someone to reckon with.  It made me think of my own children.

From a very early age, Ariel and Benjamin both made it clear that they would live life on their own terms and that they were not here to fulfill my dreams, but their own. Even when they were very young, I could see that they were people to be reckoned with. I soon learned that rather than try to subdue their strong will, I should think of that strong will as a positive force that would serve them well in a cold, hard world and to see that force as something that could be channeled in creative and constructive ways. And since they usually took “No” as a challenge, I always looked for ways to say “Yes.”

When Ariel was three, she loved to play dress-up. We had all kinds of stuff in our dress-up box—from plastic animal noses to hats I’d bought at yard sales to elf ears (that wouldn’t stay on). But one of Ariel’s favorite things was a pair of big, black, plastic fake eyeglasses. And someone (it may have been me) told her once that those glasses made her look like an intellectual. Well, she took a shine to that word and decided that she wanted to be a full-time intellectual. At first, I thought it was cute. She wore them as she played around the house and liked to say, “I’m an intellectual!” Except that she said it, “I’m an int-LEK-shull!” I laughed until the day she insisted on wearing them when we went out. And after that, she wanted to wear them everywhere—to the doctor, the grocery, the Walmart, the library. And she would not give in.

So I gave in. I said Yes. And she wore them everywhere, completely undeterred by the stares, the laughing, and the gentle teasing that strangers sometimes gave her. When they teased her, she just smiled, pushed the glasses up her nose and said, “I’m an int-LEK-shull!”

And I must admit that I sometimes cringed. I’m a shy person, so I don’t really like anything that draws attention my way. And you can be sure that a very cute little three-year-old wearing oversized black plastic glasses draws attention. Lots of it. A few people told me that they would never let THEIR children look silly out in public like that. But, see, that’s the thing—she didn’t think she looked silly; she liked how she looked.  She looked like an “int-lek-shull.”  And she really didn’t care what other people thought.


My mother-in-law (who died when our children were very small) used to say, when she’d see Ariel or Benjamin assert themselves, “It’s hard now, but you’ll be glad of their strong wills someday. When they get to be teenagers, they’ll hold fast to that strong sense of who they are and they won’t go along with the crowd.” My mother-in-law was a very wise woman.

And she was right. My children have very much forged their own paths and have kept a steady course on those paths, even when the way has been rocky or difficult to follow.

From the time Benjamin was very young, he has had a love for birds. He’d listen to birdsong tapes for hours and learned to recognize birds by their calls. And now, at age 19, he is quite the avian expert—we often rely on his expertise when we’re hiking. But as you may imagine, a love for birdwatching is not considered the very coolest and hippest thing to admit to when you’re a teenager. But he openly talks about it and even posts his bird shots on his Facebook page, where he has over 200 friends. He doesn’t care what others think.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you may know that my children often comment on my posts. And when my children comment, you may have noticed that they call me “Mommy.” But if anyone suggested to them that it’s strange for young adults of 19 and 20 to call their mother that, well, they’d probably smile a quizzical smile, shrug, and say “Why do you have a problem with it?” Because that’s what they’ve always called me and what they probably always will. They don’t care what anyone thinks about it.

I have learned so much from my children—about confidence, about staying true to yourself, and about not giving so much heed to what other people think. May Ariel and Benjamin always be confident, no matter how much others try to steal their joy and belittle them. May they always be true to themselves, in a world that’s often false. May they always know and recognize the real truth about themselves. And may they always consider and ponder what others say about them, but never believe the lies.

And may they always be someone to reckon with.


(Benjamin’s First Car)





19 Responses to “Why I Want to Be Like My Children When I Grow Up”

  1. Judy Says:

    Those pictures are the cutest things ever and I love Benjamin’s little toes sticking out from under that car. I know how proud you must be of them both and I also know that some of the credit for how they turned out is due to having a great Mom that knew they were forces to be reckoned with and encouraged their individuality. My girls call me Mommy, too, and they are in their 30’s.

  2. Betsy Says:

    Oh Beth…. That is such a neat post. I heard my hubby today (he’s 67) call his mother, Mommy… She’s almost 89… SO—it must be okay!!!!!

    Kids do grow up so fast, don’t they.. None of my 3 sons live nearby –and I miss them so much… Mine are 37, 39 and 45 now!!!! They too have forged their own paths.. I’m proud of the men they have become.

    Have a great day tomorrow.

  3. wesleyjeanne Says:

    What a wonderful, beautiful post and tribute to your children. You can be proud of your children because you had a lot to do with how they turned out by honoring who they are and allowing them to be themselves. I can only hope to do half as well by my children.

    I love the photos, too!

  4. wesleyjeanne Says:

    BTW, I want to be like your children when I grow up, too.

  5. Pat Says:

    Like you, we have always felt grateful that we had children we admired and whose company we enjoyed.

  6. Ariel Says:

    This is an awesome post, Mommy. 😀 I love the last part, especially. It’s sort of like a benediction or a prayer. This reminds me of the thing you’d always say to us: “Be true to yourself and be true to God.” If I had to pick out the best tidbit of advice I’d ever recieved from anyone, I’d have to say that would be it. Your commentors are right; you’ve had a huge impact on making us who we are, and for that I’m grateful, because you are the best mommy anyone could ever have. I love you infinitely and beyond.

    And thank you Wesley. Your comment is really sweet. But you don’t need to do that, because you’re wonderful just the way you are. 🙂

    P.S. I’m an int-LEK-shull!

  7. eemilla Says:

    I really enjoyed this post; thank you.

  8. Benjamin Says:

    Thank you…even though I only hope to be half the wonderful person you are. You are unwaveringly yourself, and a constant source of light for those around you. Your posts are good, and very int-LEK-shull.

  9. CountryDreaming Says:

    What a fun and inspiring family! The world could sure use more like you.

  10. CountryDew Says:

    What a beautiful post. Made me smile inside and out!

  11. Peggy Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your children! My daughter doesn’t have the shy streak that I had to overcome, thank goodness.

  12. Going Crunchy Says:

    Luv it! And needed it……..I find myself challenged by the strong will of my children. I respect it, but it can be harder sometimes when I want things to go my way.

    Oh way….I see where they get it……

  13. Sharon Says:

    Your writing is amazing. I love this post and I love your children, and the way you love your children. They both remind me of my daughter, who knows how to be true to herself and has never, ever been afraid to be exactly who she is. I envy that so much, but am so proud of it. Bravo to you for putting this into such beautiful words.

  14. Debi Kelly Van Cleave Says:

    What a good mommy you are. I smiled the whole time I read that. Your daughter is beautiful with those glasses on and I can see Benjamin is following in daddy’s footsteps!


  15. colleen Says:

    Your mother in law was wise. Most people complain about strong willed kids and want you to use corporal punishment to bend their will.

    I love the photo of your daughter. She looks so poised and pink and just slightly off center with those glasses to top it off.

    This story reminds me of my sons who had to carry real hammers around. My first son had one and my second son wanted to carry one in each hand. But I could usually get him to only carry one when we went out. I was surprised at how many people thought he would bang glass or be destructive. ‘He likes hammers. He’ not stupid,’ I’d be thinking.

  16. Sara Says:


  17. Jeff Says:

    Now, *that* is a post with a great deal of wisdom! I’ve always been a contrarian but I don’t know if that is something to be proud of or not. I continue to find solace in the writings of Henry David Thoreau. There is much to be said for following your own light and you should be proud indeed that you have encouraged your children to follow theirs. Now, follow yours and don’t apologize for not wanting to read the classics! 🙂

  18. Clara Melvin Says:

    Hi Beth, I’m a little late reading this post, but it warmed my heart. What lovely children you have and I can see they take after their Mommy! I’m also proud of my children but there are times when I still want to “spank” them. They are 47 and 44. Your writing is superl.

  19. obsidianfactory Says:


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