Of those who are in this position, I'm sure you will agree that parenting is the scariest thing in the world...mostly wonderful, but like a really good thriller, the scary parts literally make your heart stop!
You want the very best for your child/ren , actually, you want better than you had...isn't that what we all aspire to as parents, to give our children the life and the opportunities that we, for whatever reason did not have?
If like me, you are a single parent, the 'terror'o'meter' goes so much higher, struggling not to realise the stigma and societal beliefs attached to single parentdom. Ensuring the day to day absence of the other parent does not impact on your child's life chances and just generally working yourself into the ground to meet the plethora of financial and emotional requirements.
I feel utterly exhausted just writing that!
Moving on, I always reminded myself to allow my children to take calculated risks and make certain decisions (through debate) in order to ensure they flourish into well rounded young adults. This philosophy worked for child number one who, now I look back, was extremely compliant until she reached her late teens; after which she was still willing to listen to my suggestions and have healthy debate about why she wanted to do something different.
Number one is generally a very deep person, exceptionally empathetic and not afraid to display her emotions, very funny, entertaining, intelligent and exceptionally supportive. Some of these traits may have to do with the fact that she was privy and old enough to remember the difficult times between me and their father.
At this point I realised that my contribution was no longer essential but was still wanted in order to provide a different perspective and initiate a healthy, balanced thought process. I was happy to accept this new stage in our relationship and in my parenting journey. I still felt invested and involved in her journey whilst knowing and accepting that it may pan out differently to what I might have done or expected, and that was all fine! We were at a mutual adult level and I have to say I was and am still shown a great deal of respect by my eldest who is now a woman in her own right.
Cue child number two...warning expect things to be different...by that I mean you need to start with a completely clean slate, hold firmly to the belief that each child truly is unique. Having any expectations based on previous experience will come back to bite you in the arse every step of the way, so don't do it. My second and youngest child was totally different from the word go, I put my hands up and admit, I honestly didn't know what had hit me, I wasn't at all prepared for this total antipodal.
As someone who taught diplomas in childcare and supported professionals in behaviour management strategies, I felt a bit of a cheat....what would they think if they could see me now? I quickly shooed that thought out of my mind, it would only serve to make me feel terrible and blur my mind with pointless worry...I was after all only human right?
It did not matter whether I was prepared or not, I had to deal with it and learn how this particular model worked and what she would better respond to. It was time for different and possibly new approaches and strategies.
A little insight into the first few years of number two's life; by the time I was expecting her, my marriage was pretty much over in reality; just not quite on paper, their father was increasingly absent and disengaged. Practically alone by the time I was three months pregnant...that particular time of my life felt like the worst kind of shit at the time, but in hindsight, it was most certainly for the best.
As time went by I actually got it, I knew the approach, I had studied this wilder, more stubborn personality, I also loathingly admit that I could see elements of me in some of the difficult traits, yep this was definitely my child!
Unlike her older sister, there was very little compliance and threats did not work, taking things away for a while worked....but only for a while; I was constantly having to change my approaches and strategies in order to maintain what were very clear and, in my opinion, very fair, boundaries.
Now almost 17 years of age it has not become any easier, still the same strong personality and on occasion very challenging. In addition to the challenges and keeping me on my toes (very taxing indeed), she is a joy, she's funny, entertaining, caring, strong and intelligent.
Life at this particular stage in our journey together is somewhat difficult, for me particularly, it can be rather frustrating and sometimes extremely painful as number two is very demanding and can be quite egocentric when it comes to her own needs. From number two's perspective I know she feels got at if I make any suggestions or feels misunderstood if I question the reasons for some of the decisions...this is her personality, this is my number two, all mine and I wouldn't have her any other way.
This is 'A level' phase and it seems number two is suddenly a different human being altogether I thought she may well still need me in the shadows but it seems I was wrong. Number two will do what she feels is best for her, even if I disagree and give justification for the disagreement.
I now realise that there is a huge difference between no longer being essential and no longer being needed. When you are no longer essential, you still get a platform to voice your views, when you are no longer needed, that platform does not exist. So what do you do? It's quite tricky as what I mentioned at the beginning about wanting better for your children still applies at this stage in number two's life.
I have pondered on this and have come to the conclusion that I will have to firstly accept not being needed, stop putting myself too close in the shadows. I will need to review my approach thus far, which means, let go completely and wait outside the furthest of side lines; ready to come to the rescue when that situation arises, I sincerely hope it doesn't but I need to 'Be There' just in case, because I am after all, a parent.
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