In 2001, my life changed forever, an amazing ride of highs, lows, and the in-betweens…….I became a mother. At 11:36 am, I saw the face of my daughter (boog 1) for the very first time. I immediately fell in love with her, and realized instantaneously that I had no idea what I was doing. The excitement of the past 37 weeks was history, and as they sewed me up, I had a long, long time to focus on my next role in life as a mum…..and it was crystal clear to me, that this was going to be a learning process for the both of us.
In 2003, I found myself in the same OR, and at 10:38 am, I held boog 2 for the first time. I thought I had this parenting thing all figured out, this would be a piece of cake! I should have taken the time to reflect back onto boog 1`s entrance into the world……once again, I knew nothing, it would only be within the next few weeks that I would come to realize this.
Parenting, there are thousands of books on how to do it, the best way to do it, how to be the best parents……the titles go on and on, ad nauseum. I personally have never read one, I figure if you are writing a book when you have a child….you are not parenting, you are writing a book. Second, and this is the most important one, while you are telling us fine readers that every child is different, to also use these methods on your child, they worked with mine!!! Does anyone other than me find this logic, well, quite illogical!!!
I will preface this whole story with a couple of facts…… I breastfed both of my children (probably the only thing I did right, according to the books) ,my children both ate eggs, yolks and all before they were four months, and the first cookie they ever ate was a peanut butter one (approximately age 5 months), peanut butter melts nicely in a child`s mouth and will not choke them, and finally they are vaccinated against everything…..those are the parenting choices I made. Now according to literature, and other parents, I should probably be locked up for child abuse, but since these children are my responsibility, I did, what in my opinion, was best for my children.
I do not free range parent my children. I know a lot of people enjoy letting their children discover their own universe, with their own set of rules, I am not one of those parents. I let my children discover the world around them, but with definite rules and boundaries, set down by mummy. I discipline my children, yes dear readers, that means I have spanked my boogs!!! I have used it as the “reset” button, and by “reset” I mean, when everything else written in the books and tried and trued measures hadn’t worked, they got a tap on the bum. Between my two boogs, they have been spanked 6 times….and I can remember every single one of them. My children are no worse the wear for a tap on the bum, but then they are my children, and it was my decision on discipline. I don’t expect everyone or anyone to agree with me, I may even get some “boos”, but I will say, I felt terrible each time I spanked a boog, and they definitely learned a lesson regarding behaviour. I am of the mind that if definite boundaries and rules are set down (at an age when this can be understood), that it will save both my children and I thousands in therapy and prescription medication when it comes to the teen years! I also want my boogs to have a healthy fear of duct tape, rather than be duct taped to the wall by my children, who are `finding themselves`
I have been at this parenting thing for almost twelve years now, and find myself as apprehensive each morning, as I was the first time I held my boogs. To me parenting is the most enormous and rewarding responsibility I have ever had the honour of being bestowed on me. I don`t take the responsibility lightly, and most days over-think the implications of one wrong move on my part on the future of my children. I have been told, by well meaning individuals, that I am too strict with my children, `let your kids be kids`, don`t feed them this, don`t let them do that, and my personal favourite, ìf that was my child!` I have, taken in little pieces of advice from the well meaning individuals, actually I have written some of the down, and in a moment of silence contemplated whether this would work for me…there were two. Number one, crying babies don’t always need to be picked up. I would always check on the boogs to see if there was an actual problem, but finally I decided, that the sweet little face staring up at me at 1:40 am just wanted to see mummy, and if we ever wanted a pattern of sleeping through the night, I would endure a couple (and it was only a couple) of nights of the sweet boogs crying themselves back to sleep. Once again it was the hardest thing on me, to listen to the whimpering, but soon I had children that could wake up, soothe themselves, and go back to bed! The second was the time out chair……If you are a parent who uses it, you know the beauty of it. If you don’t, it is your child, not mine, so I won’t give you any advice.
Being a military wife, I realized also that there were many times that I was going to have to be mummy and daddy, maybe this is why I am so hard over on respect and rules. It is difficult enough raising children when both mum and dad are around, but when daddy gets deployed, or like in most military lives, travel is abundant…..the free range thing, definitely doesn’t work for me!!! I have high expectations of my children, because when daddy is away, everyone needs to pitch in to make the “Patrick” machine run smoothly. I don’t feel I ask more than would be expected of any child their ages, but there has never been any question we are a team, and we all have to make sacrifices and sometimes work harder to make the team a winning combination. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of time for hugs and kisses (boog #2, still blows me a kiss when he gets out of the car to go to school…not bad for a 9 1/2 year old boy!), cuddles and laughter; it means I want my children to become responsible, respectful, productive citizens of this crazy world we live in, and with that comes “mum’s rules”. Like it or lump it, I am your mother, and do it because I said so.
I am not friends with my children, nor do I want to be at this point. I remember the terrible capers I got into with my friends, and these are not things that I want to share with my children. I want my children to be able to come to me with any problem or issue they are having without hesitation (and we do have an open line of communication about everything), but I am not going to give them friendly advice. I am going to tell it to them like it is, no sugar coating, remember, you are talking to mum! When boog #1 and boog #2, become parents themselves, I am sure our relationship will morph, and a friendship will develop….until that point, I am mum, do it because I said so!!!
I have survived babyhood, toddlerhood, the first years of school, and now we are entering the teen years, or as boog#2 calls it……”the puberty.” Oh how that word terrifies me!!! My boogs are growing up, and with that will come a whole new set of problems, that I am not sure I am old enough to be dealing with. I find myself taking a lot of deep breaths, wondering where all the time has gone, and how much all the hair dye and wrinkle cream is going to cost me!!!
In a strange way, I look forward to this next chapter in my parenting book……the years I have spent with my children, and the values I have instilled in them, how will they unfold? In a perfect world, I could say that I have laid a solid foundation down for them, and they will blossom into the most amazing citizens this world has ever been witness too; realistically, I understand that this will probably be the most challenging and “even more rules” portion of their young lives. Once again, I believe, there will be a LOT of “because I am your mum, and I said so!”
Am I a great mum….no, am I even a good mum…..probably not……I have no super hero cape (dad wears the uniform in this family), and on my best days, I still have misgivings about my abilities. All I do know for sure, is that parenting is a privilege, not a right. I give my all for my children……I am their biggest cheerleaders, their fiercest advocate and the first one who ever loved them….from the very first fluttering kick. Will I yell, when the need arises, you bet I will; will I be disappointed in them at times, of course…..but as I have always told boog #1 and boog #2, “I may not always like you, but I will always love you.”
Parenting……the job that will never end and responsibility of a lifetime, the gift I was given, that for all my grey hairs, and sleepless nights, would never trade for any other experience in the world. To watch my children blossom into young adults, and god willing parents of their own one day, is a blessing that can never be measured. While my children grow, so do I. While they learn, so do I…..we are in this together, forever……24 hours at a time.
This is written for the two greatest kids that I know, with love forever, always plus one day ❤