I never ever feel like there’s enough time in the day. Every night I go to bed wondering what I forgot, who I didn’t give enough of my attention to, and trying to figure out how I can do it all again tomorrow but better. We went to our 3rd and 5th graders parent-teacher conferences this evening. I won’t hold you – I was nervous. I know that we are there to speak about the girls but yet I always feel that whatever’s revealed will be a direct reflection on our parenting that quarter. My 5th grader, I recently discovered, has a boyfriend and as of late things have been really hectic around here. With that being said I was prepared for things like “she’s distracted”, “she’s not turning in her work”, or anything of that variation. Instead, for both girls, we were told that they were advanced, always turn in their work, they’re respectful and helpful, and they’re a pleasure to have around. In addition to that we were told to keep doing what we’re doing at home because whatever it is, it’s working! I can’t tell you how proud (and relieved) I am! Even with their great marks I still know there’s never enough time in my day to give them each the individual attention that they deserve but to know that they’ve been taught enough to strive for the best and that they’re putting it in action brings me a great sense of pride and only makes my dreams for them a step closer to reality.
The act of having a child is easy for most people. Most of us even think we are ready to be parents. The truth is no matter how easy becoming a parent is, the actual act of parenting can be challenging. Most days I love being a mom. There is no greater reward than to watch your child grow. I’d even go out on a limb and say I’m pretty good at it but the truth is like most people I have days where I question what I’m doing or what my next move will be. There are many days when I’m tired and I’d like to just lay down and take a nap or have three minutes of quiet time but those are usually the days when chaos is at it’s highest level and there is no help in sight. Raising daughters has it’s own set of challenges. You can’t be too soft on them, nor can you be too hard on them. You have to have very delicate balance and the balance part is where the challenge comes in. In recent months I’ve looked carefully at myself as a parent. While my mouth is preparing itself to yell at the girls my brain is saying, “No! Don’t do it!” but I’m far from perfect and I’m a Gemini so somehow I can yell audibly while my head is screaming something else. Yes. I know. Both a blessing and a curse. I often shutter at the potential damage my words can have when my frustration is at an all time high but then I wonder too how damaging it would be if I kept it all in or didn’t say anything to the girls when their behavior is anything but acceptable. With birthday season in full swing the girls will be turning 13, 11, 9, and 4 with the youngest waiting to turn 3 mid-summer. As they continue to get older I find that raising them up to this point has been relatively easy. I fear the teenage years more than anything and because of this I am making an honest attempt at learning to balance my temper and my desire to guide them in a peaceful manner while they continue to grow and build both confidence and courage. I know my days of scheduling showers, keeping my hair up, and drinking pots of coffee to stay awake are far from over but the benefit of being their mother will far outweigh any of the rough times.
It’s no secret that my 10 year old had a bit of a rough start. I’ve spent countless days trying to “fix” her and build her back up but part of me wonders if she’s actually even broken. The truth is she has some issues but who doesn’t? None of us are perfect and none of us really has it all figured out so is she really any different from the rest of us? I believe that her ever so intelligent self knows exactly what we all think she’s worth and what we all know she is capable of but from day to day there is always the question of whether or not she believes it.
Lately she’s made it very clear that her source of unhappiness is her sisters and she believes they are holding her back. In an attempt to rebel she has become increasingly “lazy” and blatantly disregards my requests for assistance. Unfortunately her braveness has been continually met with my impatience and frustration and she ends up hurt a majority of the time and still responsible for fulfilling my requests. I am then left feeling bad for hurting her feelings and especially because it goes against everything else I’m attempting to repair. She and I both know the consequences of our “reactions” and I know this because we’ve discussed it. Even though I hold her accountable for her taunting, as the parent I know that I need to learn to react differently. My only hope is that we can learn to express ourselves better before she enters true “teenage” hood. I imagine that this battle of the “Queens” will only get worse if we do not.
If you read No Thank You Halloween than you know I was not at all interested in letting my girls do Halloween this year. Luckily for me they didn’t do it and they didn’t make a big deal about it either but I don’t think it’s because they didn’t want to, I just think they knew my answer would be “no”. As uninterested as I was in Halloween is as interested as I am in Christmas though and I’m afraid there will be people who think it’s not for the right reasons but I’m going to be honest anyway.
I’m very excited about Christmas this year because it is an excuse for me to give my girls what they want. I’ve been unable to say yes to almost anything in the last two years and to see the joy in their eyes this year will make me especially happy as this month marked the end of my nursing program and signifies that relief is in sight. Although I don’t intend on ever giving them everything they want I know that my “no’s” will be broken with at least a few “yeses”in years to come but for now I’m just looking forward to Christmas morning.
My 9 year old pointed out today that some tractor trailers were made with beds for their drivers to sleep in during long distance trips. This was after she pointed out that Butterfly World was next to a landfill and that “RTG USA” stood for Rooms To Go USA. She doesn’t always feel the need to talk but she is always gathering information for when she’s ready. Today when she told me about the tractor trailers I remembered my (biological) paternal grandparents used to drive a truck and that they had brought me a babydoll once when my mother met them at a stop. If I remember correctly it was some sort of bath baby, I’m pretty sure I saw the inside of the truck, and I was probably about 5. I don’t think I ever saw them again but this memory seems like a fond one and it leaves me wishing I could contact them. I’m sure that my brief story response to her comment will be followed up with a trail of questions once she returns home and I’ll be happy to engage in the conversation with her but unfortunately that’s all I remember. I wonder how many things we really remember as children and how much we really let go. My 9 year old was never much of a talker but I often wonder if this is a result of her first few years of life. If I had to bet, I’d bet yes, but I wonder if she’ll ever remember why and if she’ll ever become a talker or if this is just who she has become.
As a mother to all girls I often feel a lot of pressure to make sure that they understand what I value and why. Many of the things going on in today’s society make me cringe and I don’t want any of them to get caught up and value the wrong things. It is so important to me that they express themselves and that they grow into happy and healthy women but as equally important that they are respectful of themselves, others, and life itself, that they are humble, and that they are aware of how valuable they are. Unfortunately I also know that as they grow from young girls into young women they will become very rebellious and will not want to listen to their mother most of the time. I am also equally aware that no matter what I teach them today the role their father plays in their lives is just as important and will be a vital part of how they choose to treat themselves and their bodies later in life. Young children often act as though they don’t want to be bothered but in reality they want and need love and attention from both parents each and every day. If they know we are watching they will be more likely to maintain their grades in school and take pride in themselves and their work. If they know that they have our love and attention available at all times they will also be less likely to accept negative attention from others later in life. I feel very blessed to have beautiful, healthy children and I feel that God intended me to be the mother of girls but I also feel blessed to have my significant other in my life as my partner and in their life each and every day.
Last week as I prepared for my finals I told my daughter’s I couldn’t have done “it” without them. The “it” was attending and completing an accelerated nursing program with 2 children under the age of 2 in the house. My 9 year old looked at me and said, “Sure you could’ve! It would’ve been easier with none of us here. Then you could’ve studied and finished all your work!” I wanted to pinch her but instead I reminded her of how much her and her sister had assisted me and how much I appreciated them. The truth is there are many people who have supported my family over the last 16 months, some with words of encouragement and others with financial help, but without my significant other and my daughters I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’ve done. They have sacrificed so much to watch me reach my goal and for that I am eternally grateful. I can’t wait to start making it up to each and every one of them and I certainly hope my beautiful 9 year old someday forgives me and realizes just how important she really is.
Sitting here this afternoon as I watched my 16 month old quietly watch Nick Jr I realized just how quickly the last 2 years have gone by and just how many things have changed. Goodness, my children must really be disgusted with my lack of time and attention! My 2 youngest children have been watching way too much TV as of late. There was a time not that long ago that my now 2 year old wouldn’t even consider sitting down and watching TV. That was until she discovered Finding Nemo and then Curious George and then Ponyo and then Go, Diego, Go and then Dora the Explorer and Olivia and on and on and on! Now she watches it all and all the time and unfortunately so does the baby! I remember when my now 7, almost 8, year old would beg me to read her a story before bed but now I can’t remember the last time she asked or rather the last time I said no. As I prepare to graduate next week from this 16 month nursing program I pray that my daughters forgive my every “no”, “wait a minute”, and “I’m busy” and that my mother is most forgiving of the hours and hours I’ve allowed her granddaughters to spend in front of the TV.
I started to write a blog this morning about church and why I don’t attend but then life happened as it usually does. My ever so accident prone 2 year old who was only feet away from me took one of her routine trips off the couch but this time she cut her face bad enough for stitches. Things only happen in my house on the weekends (and when their Daddy is at work) but there was no time to complain. Off to the ER I went with 4 of the girls. What could’ve been an okay experience for her quickly turned into a fighting, screaming match that probably traumatized the rest of the children (mine and everyone else’s). It took 4 adults to hold her down while the egotistical, “do-it-my-way” Dr proceeded to give her 3 stitches. Some people just shouldn’t work in pediatrics and I think I decided today that I might be one of them. You never know what kind of opportunities will be thrown at you in the future and it’s possible that I’ll be presented with a great nursing opportunity in someone’s pediatric department that I may even decide to love, but I’m not sure that unnecessarily traumatizing children is my cup of tea.
Written September 25, 2011
We’re definitely not 19 Kids and Counting by any means but our family is certainly large. Some would say the more the merrier but that isn’t always the case. It’s next to near impossible to find any alone time or personal space for that matter and sometimes the girls struggle to keep themselves and their things individualized. As much as they enjoy each other for short periods of time they all dream of their own little piece of our noisy, cluttered household. A place where they can be themselves and most importantly keep their belongings safe from each other.
The day will come when they can all walk away from the commotion but until then it’s important to recognize each of them individually and not just with the collective term we use so often, “the girls”. It’s hard to provide this for them with such a hectic household. Lately in order to give them each time alone with mommy or daddy we’ve had to get creative with special trips to the market or walks around the neighborhood. It’s probably not what they’re looking for but I can tell by the smug looks that they give each other it’s much better than nothing. It will take a lot more creativity to give them everything they’re looking for but we’re working on it with every passing day. If in the end they each felt that they’ve been given an opportunity to shine I will be satisfied. Now if I could just keep their names right maybe they’d be satisfied.
Written September 24, 2011
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