Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Child At a Time: A Series

I recently asked what I should write about and was given a suggestion of what it's like to a mom to many or what I have learned with each new child- I thought I'd put a bit of a spin on those ideas and do a piece on each of my kids. My oldest is the obvious starting point since I've been a mom to her the longest and in a lot of ways we have come so far, she has been the one to teach me what is important and how to parent in my beliefs.

R was born August of 1993, I was just 3 weeks shy of 17. I was 41.5 weeks pregnant when I was induced because she was "late" and they suspected she was a BIG baby. I was hooked up to an IV and given Pitocin around 4 or 5 in the evening, a shot of Morphine in my back around 7cm dilated and pushed for roughly an hour to birth her at 2:26 am. I had an episiotomy, 2 small stitches, let me tell you getting stitched up hurt a hell of a lot more than the birth itself. (Little did I know I have a low tolerance for Novocaine and it never has worked properly on me.)

The biggest of my bunch she weighed in at 8 lbs 13 oz and 21.5 inches long. A good sized baby for a first time teen momma. But she was a champ at breastfeeding and sleeping- even was sleeping through the night at about 3 weeks old. She made being a mom easy, for the moment.

I don't know if it was because she was the oldest or just her personality but she did everything early! Walking at 9 months, full sentences by 14 months and potty trained around 18 months. But being the first and earliest to do everything has continued through her childhood and into the teens. Making for lots of strife and opportunities for me to learn what to do and not to do.

From the ages of 6 to 12 R (and my eldest son T) lived with their father and step-mother, coming to us every other weekend and all school vacations. (Not going into why, it is what it is and its something that they and I had to live with and learn great life lessons from.) R doesn't see this as a good time in her life and from the experience became very angry. Not only from the time at dad's but from life in our home too. At 12 they came to stay for the summer and R made the decision to not go back, and at the same time the break down of the marriage between their dad and step-mother came about and both kids stayed for good.

The next few years are a bit of a blur of emotions, anger, growth and just life on life's terms. Angry bitter fights were common between her and myself and generally everyone around her that got in the way of her "living her life". 12 going on 25....I became very hard on myself, wondering why I couldn't help this child be happy or see how special she was, and how the path she was taking would lead her down some very long, hard, lonely roads. Eventually I turned her over to the my higher power and the world.

No this does not mean I kicked her out of my house but it did get to a point where I told her if she could not live by the rules and show respect to everyone in the house she'd have to go stay somewhere safe and with people who could be responsible for her. She choose to try her dad's again, a situation that lasted a few short weeks before she bounced to my mom's house for another few weeks. My mother was not able to handle her either, and dad, well R couldn't handle him and the ideas she had had didn't surface.

Being back at our house she had very few rules to live by really- go to school, take the consequences that are given to you, be home by curfew and show respect to everyone in the house, yes even siblings. No, I will not say it was a bed of roses- we all still struggled. We learned to talk to each other, and a thank you to my husband is required here for he was the go between for us for a long while. Simply because he taught us how to talk to teach other, shut up and listen and just was a saving grace for our relationship. R and I butted horns like two rams during mating season- each of us trying to show dominance over the other.

R is 16 now, soon to be 17. She has her driver's license, is a Junior in high school and passing all of her classes. Next year she'll be taking PSEO (post secondary education options) and graduating. She is employed and has a very nice boyfriend (yes we like him!) . She is very independent still but also one of those teens adults like to be around. She seems like a good influence and has a level head.

I have, and am still, trying to foster a lot of self-sufficiency in her (I want her to know she can live life with others there to support her but not to do it for her, that women can be strong without another to hold you up). Some days I wonder if she sees it more as I don't care than giving her independence to learn to live. I make her find rides or take the bus to most places she wants to go, but if she is really stuck or lost I will be there.

With this freedom she gets a lot more liberties than my other children ever will, even at this age and I am already hearing about this from them. And am starting the teenager/parent dance with my 11 year old daughter, but I have learned from our mistakes and am ahead of the game. Maybe I'll even have perfected it by the time my youngest daughter is here.

I allow my eldest to make mistakes and learn to live with the natural consequences. She has a very late curfew, is allowed to stay at friends on week nights (it helps she goes to online school), and uses language in front of me that most parents would balk at. But this is what works for us, a balance that was long and hard to find.

R likes history, a very wide range of music, is often called a hippy, is learning to live with her sister borrowing her things, dances with her little brothers, brushes her youngest sister's hair, and just in general is lovely to be around- when she's here. The end of next summer she'll be 18 and plans on moving into her own space (something the oldest of 6 dreams about nightly). I won't see her much then... and try and remember this is all practice for then.

Let her spread her wings and she will fly only as far as you have taught her. So choose wisely- clip her wings and watch her fall or uncage her and see her soar. The places she'll go will make you wonder and her excited!


  1. What a beautiful truthful post! I'm so impressed with your writing flow and with your confidence in your relationship with your eldest daughter even though it is never perfect! THanks for sharing!


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