I Raised My Son. My Daughter Raises Her Eyebrows.
My son and daughter are 10 years apart. The long pause was not the way I intended it, but it’s the way nature intended. My son was conceived as soon as we began trying. Eazy-peezy. His dad and I dated and then became engaged. We were engaged forever. When we married, we planned to wait one year and then we’d try for a baby. One year after our marriage, we were pregnant. Just as planned. Nice, neat and perfect. Besides the three-straight-months of 24/7 seasick nausea, everything went as planned. Even the drug-free delivery.
I didn't want to know what we were having. He did. So we decided that the nurse doing the ultrasound would tell him whether we were having a boy or girl, and he swore himself to secrecy. We even did THAT perfectly. I was surprised when my son was born and his dad had the bris (circumcision celebration 8 days after birth for Jewish boys) all planned out. Perfectly.
Then lots of love and happiness. My youthfulness and my firstborn made me more anal than ever. My son knew his alphabet and numbers and colors way too soon. He was a way too well-behaved-two-year-old. (Terrible-two’s? What’s that? ) He wore perfect outfits. He took perfectly timed naps. He took baths at the perfect time so that dinner was always on the table at the perfect time. He went to bed at 6:00 pm and woke up perfectly at 6:00 am. And no, there was no crying himself to sleep at bedtime. I was there when and if needed, to help him slumber off peacefully and perfectly, without a tear drop.
Now I can recognize first time parents from a mile away. Only because I have had a second one. As my son grew, I was pre-op in motion.
Me: We need to get ready in 10 minutes because it will take 20 minutes to get there. Make sure you've gathered whatever you want to take with you so that we can leave as soon as we need to.
Me: I packed a coloring book and crayons in case we have to wait awhile. I even put your special markers in there that you picked out at the store the other day.
Me: Go ahead and put your socks and shoes on now. That way we can really be ready.
Me: I’ll go brush my teeth and then we’ll be ready. Don’t forget to brush yours.
Me: Is your seat-belt on? I can’t pull out of the drive-way until you have it fastened tight.
Me: Are you cold back there? I have the air on high. I’ll turn it down a notch.
Me: I need to stop at the grocery store and get something really quick. We will just run in and out really quickly. No snacks or treats, okay?
I don’t know when it was that I realized how anal I was. I was always the one behind the camera at his birthday parties and our holidays. I think I heard myself talking during the videos when I’d replay them and I’d realize that I was over-thinking things (understatement). It was obvious in the audio.
I got better over time. The proof was on the videos. My silence. 🙂
In between my son and daughters’ birth (10 years later), I got older in so many ways. Lots of messy things happened and helped age my brain and me. I don’t record videos as often as I did with my son (kind of a second, third, fourth child symptom of well-meaning parents), but I hear myself all the same. My brain is now more used and abused as my daughter grows up. I’m older, too.
Me: What time were we supposed to be there?
Her: 30 minutes ago.
Me: Did we buy the birthday gift yet?
Her: Yes. An iTunes gift card.
Her: We need to stop at the store and pick up a birthday card still.
Me: Did you bring the invite? I need the address.
Her: Yes. I put it in your purse.
Me: Is it a sleepover?
Her: No. Pick me up at 3:00.
I can look at my two kids, now 21 and 11. My son, he makes me a walking smile whenever I’m around him. He’s made choices already in his life that have put him on a path his mom and dad can be proud of. He shines with wit and love and grace. He made it through completely; all that coddling and doting and perfectionism and helicoptering-mom. He’s wonderfully independent and polite and confident and knowledgeable. And he made it to adulthood beautifully.
One word? This is the first time I have tried to define him in one word. It’s gotta’ be good. Bright! Both literally and figuratively. I have succeeded as a mom, even with all that overprotective sticky stuff.
My daughter, being 11, is beginning middle school.
I love that she doesn't fret the cool quota. She could care less about being “cool.” Which in my mind makes her way cool. She wants to be "her" no matter who everyone else thinks she should be. She’s on her own path.
She adheres to my advice but always spouts her opinion when it doesn't match hers. You can’t make her do something she doesn't want to do, but what she doesn't want to do is always within reason. Usually things I wouldn't want to do even as an adult.
One word for her? One wish she always had as a younger girl was to fly. She’d ask Santa every single year to give her the ability to fly. Any water fountains that have my coins in it were wishes for flight. My word for her? Flight! She’s gonna’ fly as high or as low as SHE wants to. No one will control her direction. Not even me.
My kids. They had two very different mama’s. I've read that each child of a family is born into a different family than their sibling before. Parents change, mindsets change. There are more family members each time. But what I've found is that if you lace it with love on any day and every day, they will be fine. Even through our mistakes and through our experimental behavior as parents and lack of experience. They’ll be fine as long as they know that love is full and forth coming and available day and night. As long as they know that they don’t have to be perfect and that mom and dad will always love them and be there no matter what their mood is and what kind of day anyone has had. They will be okay. And the more human and genuine we are with ourselves around them, the more okay they will be. Okay? 🙂
I'm currently doing my #DailyChallenge tweets that are brief excerpts from my book at www.Twitter.com/BeingAWoman. Thanks for visiting here or there ~ Katherine A. Rayne