The Day I had a Panic Attack When My Daughter Said She Wanted to be Just Like Me!!

Let’s be truthful. I am a pretty good actress. I am not boasting – My husband will reassure you this is true and my daughter validated this thought not too long ago. I walk out of my home looking put together. I present calm and collected. I speak well. I manage my emotions to the point where people believe I am so confident that insecurities are non-existent. My head is high, chin up, shoulders back and I look like I have my sh*t together. I follow through with responsibilities and people say I make it look easy. But, let’s be real. I am a true definition of a HOT MESS!!! My insides often times feel like they are going to burst out of my skin. My brain is constantly compartmentalizing my life. My emotions…well, let’s just say that my journey through peri-menopause give “Hot Mess” its definition.

That being said, I am well aware and intuned to my shortcomings. I am self-reflective to a fault. I am constantly trying to redirect my life to a place I wish it was. I am my own worst enemy despite years of practicing positive self-talk. I will get down on myself more than anyone else to the point that my friends believe I am beyond neurotic for bringing self-depracation to a new level. However, this is a part of me that stays hidden within the confines of my over-exploding brain. And so, when I discovered that I was pregnant with my first daughter, anxiety and fear shot through me so fast that I just about fainted. All I could do through my pregnancy was go into “functioning mode” about how to prepare for my daughter’s life so that she doesn’t grow up to be me or have traits that I despise in myself. God forbid that I have countertransference with my own child because she carries the same traits that I loathe in myself! And then, my daughter was born and I loved her like no other. I was going to make it so that she wouldn’t experience the same insecurities I do. You know, because we can control all of that!!

Now, I must say, I believe that I do the best I can with my three daughters. I keep my issues separate and see them for them. I try to raise them to feel empowered and work on developing their character. And, then one day, my beautiful, hard-working, kind, loving daughter was crying and BAM – the world and God slapped me across the face and woke me up with a moment of sheer unrequested humility! She was crying and upset with herself (because the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree) and said….”Mommy, I just want to be like YOU. I want to be successful, have it together, and perfect.”

AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

I fell down to my knees, letting my daughter see my tears fall down my face, as I grabbed her and held her. The first things that came out of my mouth was, “NO! I don’t want you to be like me!” I had to be quick on my feet and not make this about me. Thankfully, my therapist brain turned on and it was a heart-to-heart dialogue that was about honesty and mommy’s real struggles to keep it together and that perfection is not something to attain as a substantial goal. I affirmed her that all her positive traits are what makes her so lovable. She is not called to be her mother or anyone else. She is called to be the kind, smart, talented, faithful, and yes, beautiful girl she is. She is not to compare herself to anyone else but herself. “This sweety, is a life long journey and an area in which I still work on in my life regulary.” The manner in how I normalized her feelings and reassured her that her “perfect” mommy is not perfect, but rather can associate with her, made her regress into my baby as she retreated into a fetal position in my arms. Little did she know that I was talking as much to myself as I was her!

What did I learn from this evening other than I wished I had my psychiatrist colleagues number’s on speed dial for myself? I learned that when I feel like I simply can’t pull it together or are self-doubting, that it is OK for my daughters to see it. It is healthy for my daughters to see me struggling with something and that I can’t do everything. This is a way for my daghters to connect with me when I am honest about how hard my day was or when I have made mistakes. Should they still see me work hard? Yes. Should they still see me pull up my bootstraps when I am feeling depressed? Yes. Should they still see me contained and present as though I am fearless when I walk out my door? Absolutely! My daughters should see that I am multi-faceted not just for their sake, but mine. Lesson learned.

My Pride and Joy

My Pride and Joy

And the most heartwarming validation after feeling like a horrible mother who inadvertantly placed unacknowledged pressure on my daughter? – The following day, my sweet daughter put a picture of myself on her screensaver. She gave me a hug and said, “I don’t care what you say, mommy, I still want to be just like you even when you don’t like yourself.” I heard you God. I heard you – I have eased up on myself. Ok, I’m trying anyway…

Charise

Charise Casiano

About Charise Casiano

Charise obtained her BA degree at California State University, Stanislaus and immediately pursued her MS degree at Mount Saint Mary’s College. During her college years, Charise left for one year to do missionary work. She traveled the United States troubleshooting with teenagers.