When I was a kid, I was quite shy. Many of you will find that hard to believe but it is true. I remember my kindergarten teacher sending me to year 1 to get cotton wool for arts and crafts. I was standing in front of the door of the classroom, holding the door handle in my hand.. and I paused. It was like an actor overcoming stage freight: I transformed into a self-assured toddler on a quest to get cotton wool. I must admit having 4 elder siblings helped: if you didn’t yell you also wanted Nutella, the jar would not make it’s way to your end of the table during the entire breakfast.

I guess one develops survival strategies: hide being shy by being loud. It might not sound very logical to some but hey, what can I say, I was a kid.
Looking back, I am sure I struggled with the balance. I probably did not get an ice-cream at my aunt’s house because I did not dare to say yes and I am sure I unknowingly hurt a dear friend who I did not know how to comfort – by talking too much, by overdoing it.
Like I said, I was a kid.

Having kids of my own these days, I see them coping with their own personalities and insecurities in the world that is out there.

Axelle, the eldest one is shy but considerate. She does however take on the leader role sometimes. She is the kind of girl that would say “wow, thanks!” when she receives a gift she does not like. That makes me happy because I find it polite and even intelligent. I would however not be a mum if I did not worry. I am worried she might deny her own feelings for the sake of sparing someone else’s (do not do that too much in your marriage, sweetheart). I am even worried it might result from her being a bit calculated, “I will smile if it keeps the gifts coming”, that sort of thing.
But first and foremost, I am proud. Empathy is a rare quality.

Celeste, the youngest can be shy down to the level where she crawls behind me to pull my skirt, like a 2-year old. On the other hand, she can be the class clown if she feels like being the centre of attention. She gets annoyed when things don’t go her way (this sore loser I sometimes let win, for everyone’s sake), and if dinner doesn’t please her, the chef is thanked with a loud “yuk!”.

Of course, no matter how different they are, all I want is for them to be happy. And I try and protect them from disappointments in life. And I will fail miserably. When having a baby, you know he or she will get hurt from the start. It is the tragedy of the parent.

I see now that that is exactly what my mom tried to do: protect us. The last years she was still alive, we talked a lot. She kept telling me stories from the past. I just assumed she was drowning in nostalgia because she was unhappy. I see now she was merely trying to protect me, trying to prevent me from making her mistakes.
She need not worry: I made all my very own.

Good night mum, big hug.

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