Thursday, January 17, 2013

This Parenting Gig.....

It may be tempting fate to say it, but I often think that I've had a fairly straightforward ride as a parent. 
My daughter (my first-born) wasn't a great sleeper but apart from that I've had two very easy children who reached & passed each milestone just like that, they grew & moved on seamlessly.

They have no allergies, they are not fussy eaters & in almost 12 years, we've only visited the hospital once.

That's not to say that it's always felt easy....
even though my youngest is now 7, I still yearn for a really good night's sleep 
(I still sleep with one ear open, I wonder if all mothers do that....).
And, like many mothers I suspect, I always feel like I could do a better job of parenting.

I absolutely know that there is no such thing as the perfect parent & I am not in the business of comparing myself to friends or other mothers at school....
we all have our own journeys & stories.

I guess it's all about wanting to be the best at the job not just for your own children but also for yourself....as a mother you tend to have to pat yourself on the back, no one else really does it for you. We have to carry out self-assessments, there are no appraisals for us.

I'm not saying for one minute I haven't felt the day to day challenges of lack of sleep & the sheer exhaustion, the ringing ears brought on by a child who just will not stop talking & the sheer challenge of never having enough minutes in the day.

But on the other hand, I appreciate there are many who face greater battles & challenges than me.

Recently, however, I have felt things starting to change.
These last few months have been the most challenging of my parenting career!
So much is new, so much is different.   

My daughter began  secondary school at the age of 11 last September.
Almost all of her class moved up to the same school.
She loves the school, she appears to have settled very well.

I knew that just as she would be dealing with many changes, we too would be facing a steep learning curve as secondary school parents for the first time.

She now walks to school by herself, she has (many) friends who I have never met & instead of one teacher, she now has 12 or more teachers, it really is a whole new world.

Back in September, I tried to stop myself from asking 1,000,001 questions every time she arrived home.
I stepped back....a little.

Suddenly though I have felt almost overwhelmed by the responsibility of having an almost 12 year old young woman in my care. 
I feel as though everything I say to her must be words of wisdom, full of advice & meaning.
I want to give her more space & a little more independence....but still retain our closeness.

I don't know why I feel this exactly since this has always been my general approach....
maybe though it's because suddenly she seems much closer to the Big Wide World.

She now has a mobile phone, she listens to music she has bought herself, she no longer likes to eat things that last week were her-absolute-favourite-things-ever.
Her room is now strictly off limits to her brother....and, imagine this, she doesn't even want to play Monopoly with us ;)

She's making more of her own decisions. And she doesn't always agree with mine.

And....wait for it....when I commented on something she was wearing the other day, she responded  (albeit in the nicest possible way) with "this is how everyone wears it, this is style".
(said in the way that only an 11 year old girl can say it)
Seriously. I know ;)

Childhood passes so quickly and now I feel as though I am on a new roller-coaster ride....
The ride will stop & suddenly she will be 18 and off to University.

I think I still thought she'd be my "little girl" for a while longer.
Sometimes she appears to be almost 12 but going on 15.
She's also grown almost overnight & is now an inch taller than me.

She bright, she's happy, she's kind, she's made new friends really easily & she has a confidence that I never had at her age....it's all good as they say.

But sometimes as a parent, it's bitter-sweet....and that's definitely how I am feeling.
It's a strange time.
Parenting is always an adventure....not for the faint-hearted!!

You move from phase to phase when they are younger & almost don't realise it....
this has been our biggest change yet.
I should feel completely happy with how her start at the new school has gone, yet a part of me feels unsettled.
And a little bit sad too.
There are parts of her life now that I am not a part of at all. And that is an odd feeling.
Before I knew everyone in her life & now I don't.

When they grow up, I hope my children will travel the world, have wonderful adventures, live and maybe work abroad just like I've done....
on the other hand, I can't imagine not seeing them every day.
You want so much for them yet when those dreams are fulfilled, you cannot always predict how you will feel.

It's just different that's all. Good-different, not bad-different.
The rhythm has altered. 

The threads that bind us together....
sometimes they may loosen but the connection is always there.
Some days you just need to remind yourself of that.


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