It started slowly, with just a few phrases.
Oh, gosh. Is she saying what I think she's saying? Oh, wow. Where on earth does she get that from? Oh, man. Really?
Clara is my little mirror. Every phrase I say, she says. And every time I think that there's no possible way she's getting it from me - because, surely, that is just not something I say - I start to look for it and, sure enough, it's always something I say, and something I say a lot. (Especially "Oh, wow." I am trying to quit.)
Then there was the phase where she decided to "bite" her nails. She would walk around with her thumb in her mouth, not sucking it, but clearly imitating my nail-biting habit. Lovely.
I also can't forget how she yells at the dog when she barks, while wagging her little finger at her. She used to do that before she could even speak a word, just imitating my tone, something Luke is even doing now too.
And my personal favorite - when singing, she does a dramatic head shake as she holds the final note. I don't think I do this, but I must. And I can only hope it's when I'm joking around.
It's amazing how kids can show you yourself in ways you've never seen before. It's one part of parenting I didn't expect, but it's great for cutting back on those annoying things you say and do.
Sometimes, though, the insight is a little harsher.
So, I have been known to raise my voice around the house at times. I am trying very, very hard not to do this in front of the babies, but it's a work-in-progress.
And, when I happen to be yelling, Clara immediately breaks into "Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama!"
I know. It's heartbreaking. Don't worry, it doesn't happen often, although one time is one time too many.
The other day, though, I was talking to my husband about medications and not feeling so hot when Clara, sitting in her high chair, broke into her familiar "Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama!"
I was stunned, because I wasn't mad or arguing or yelling. "Mama's okay, Clara! It's okay!" I told her, knowing that she was, for some reason, trying to calm me down.
It happened again later that day in the car. I was telling my husband about something I saw on facebook when Clara, from the back seat, started yelling, "Hi, Mama! Hi, Mama!"
Oh, dear. I knew what was up.
"Do I sound like I'm yelling when I talk?" I asked Ryan.
"Well," he tread lightly. "You have been known to be mistaken for sounding angry when you say you aren't."
Oh my goodness, he was right. It's been at the root of many a fight between the two of us. On numerous occasions I have found myself trying to explain that I wasn't mad, or didn't mean something the way he took it. It was now all starting to make sense.
And, while I'm sure it's something that he's tried to bring up with me for years, when it comes from a child, there's no arguing with it. What better messenger can you have? She is pure and innocent, with no ulterior motives, and didn't even really know what she was doing. Her efforts to calm me down, when I wasn't even upset, spoke volumes.
I asked Ryan to explain to me what I sound like, and I asked him what he thought I could do to change. Seriously, it's weird when you think you talk like everyone else but apparently you don't. It's hard to know what to do differently!
He said it tends to happen when the topic is slightly negative, and suggested slowing down, talking a little quieter and a little sweeter. He even said to channel Mrs. Duggar!
I'm working on it. The last thing I want to do is have my daughter think her mother is mad all the time. It's one thing when she's old enough and I can just explain that I'm just passionate and animated, but right now the only thing that I can do is change. And change is probably a really good thing, anyway.
I'm sure this is only the start of my kids revealing my flaws, be it annoying sayings, mannerisms, or something much bigger. They've already made me a better person and this is just a continuation of that. And here I thought it was my job to get them into Heaven.