Thursday, March 15, 2012

the perpetual learning parent

I feel like I wear a learners plate. Everyday I feel like I am still learning how to be a parent. With each milestone I am being tested in some way. Even with having a second child, I am still being tested. Just because you have done it once, does not make you an expert. Well, maybe that is just me. I am learning all over again.

I have heard teenagers are meant to be hard work. I remember being one. I was a little bit of a rebel. I wagged school once. I was in primary school, and remember hiding in the bushes near the shops until the bell rang with a couple of friends. I also remember being 15, sitting up the back oval in high school, with a bunch of friends that smoked. I took one puff, my first ever puff, and my girlfriend told me it didn't suit me. I put it out.

There are things I did that I may regret a little, but I was only young. I was a child. Even though I believed I was so much more! The regrets I feel now are the heartaches I know I would have given my mum. Looking back at the things I did. Simple things. Not eating all of my dinner. Being a picky eater. Talking back. Not listening. The simple things that now I face.

I don't have a teenager yet, but I sure am having the mother and daughter clashing moments. The kindy student went into grade one. Apparently that is super cool, as they are no longer the little people of the school. They become better at the monkey bars, they become faster on their feet, they have more friends, and they have more knowledge.

My girl comes home with a full lunch box most days. Full of the food I packed. Sometimes it is empty, and sometimes there are holes where she has had a nibble. Sometimes there is money missing from my table that I knew I put there the night before. Gold coins. Or sometimes it can be a few silver coins. Not much. But enough to buy a frozen fruit cup. {I may have mentioned this sneaky thief before}.

Apparently the money missing is a normal thing. Apparently all the little people are doing it. I remember a stash of 50 cent pieces my mum had, and helping myself to them when I felt like something yummy at the canteen.

I am trying hard to be a great mother to my girl. I had the best relationship with my mum. I had a lot of respect for her. She allowed me to be a child, and she also taught me how to respect those older than me. I feel like I talk to a brick wall most days, and then out of the blue a moment happens, and Keely hears me from days, or even months before.

A simple moment shared, as I stood at the sink about to do the dishes, Keely took the brush from out of the bottom of the sink, and she asked if she could do them tonight. A simple thing turned into two little people perched up on the step ladder with a brush in each of their hands washing the dishes together.

I am not sure how you do this. How you parent. Sometimes I think I am getting it all wrong. And there are moments I share with Keely that allow me to realise there is no right or wrong way. We are both finding our way together.

I guess in a way all ages are the same. You have your little baby that you interact with, and then one day out of the blue, you get that first smile. That first moment where you know every word you have said to them, and every time you have held them, they have been hearing you. Now I am at the 6 year old stage. Where she is not hearing me, but there will be a moment where every word I have said to her will be heard. For now I just need to keep being that broken record.

Keely is a beautiful girl. She truly has a big heart, and really caring to others. I know she will grow up to be a whole lot more. I just need to be patient and understand that sometimes it is not easy to be a parent, as it is not easy to be a child.

I feel Keely had to grow up a lot in the last 2 years. Her whole family life turned up side down. Now it turns around again with another woman in her life, and another man in her life. It is hard to know how to do this all right. How you introduce the others in her life. How you make sure that she is ok. I am not sure how you do this. How you have a broken family, that all of a sudden grows into being two families. I don't know if there is a right way or a wrong way.

As parents we lead the way for our children. We sometimes stand there at each fork in the road and gently push them in the direcetion we believe they should go. Sometimes we need to stand back, let them lead the way, and be there if they need us. I am letting Keely lead the way in this aspect of her life. Sometimes I am right there with her. Sometimes I am leading her when I feel she needs the reassurance.

There have been changes. I need to understand as a parent that these changes are no reflection on the mother I am to my little people. All of these aspects of our lives, the changes, the milestones, the grade one student, the age clashing with her brother, the moving house, the other woman, the other man, the custody arrangements, and above all the little person finding her way in life, are all the reasons why I feel like I am still learning how to be a parent.

This blog post is all over the place. I have a lot of thoughts going through my head, maybe too many! I am above all really happy. I am just a person that can be rather hard on myself. I am finding it hard with a few aspects of parenting with Keely. This is no reflection on her as a person or as a child. It is more the fact I am trying to be respectful of all the things she has had to face, and is still facing. I know little people are resilient. I also know they have feelings like adults do. And we need to be nurturing and help them understand that life is still beautiful, even when we might be different to another family, or it is still alright that you learn at a different level to the other children; it doesn't make you less smart. I am just finding it hard on how to be the best mum I can be for her. Sometimes I feel what I am already doing is not enough. And sometimes I feel just letting her be a child, and letting her lead the way more, is all I need to do.

Am I being too hard on myself, or is this just a natural feeling of parenting? Will we be forever learning. Is it something you are never an expert at. Or are there truly women out there that do wear the mother of the year badges?


  1. Oh man! I am always feeling like this and sometimes I think I need to cut myself some slack. I have three kids (5, 3 and 9 months) and always feel like i'm neglecting one of them because I'm focusing on the baby, or on helping one with something else. But then I remind myself that they are lucky to have siblings and I can only stretch myself so far. I think if as parents we set our boundaries and stick to them, guide them from a warm heart and have the best of intentions we can't go too wrong! I think? Who really knows!

  2. So much of this post resonated with me - bringing up my little girl on my own I am constantly questioning myself, and have no one to bounce ideas off. I mother on a wing and prayer and I just hope we will make it through to the other side relatively unscathed and most laughing.

  3. why not merging your two families into one big one? there will be still mom and daddy, 2 new friends for your children and most important a new female friend for you. It is as you write very
    complicated to raise your children, doing that in 2 or a broken families is tricky. it all depends on how much you can trust and befriend this other woman, so you can work together, struggle together, discuss together. do things together. showing children how this can work. i don't know your situation. i don't know what happened.just my thoughts and my own experience living "patchwork" spoken out loud. you have a beautiful family! xoxo,suse.

    1. Hi Suse, I completely agree with you! I think that to have a bigger family for my children will teach them more than just about family. It will teach them that people can get along when they fall apart. It is a life lesson.

      It is tricky, not as easy as saying that, but I will work hard on making their life comfortable, and I know their dad feels the same. I am not sure if his new girlfriend will ever be a friend for me away from the family unit, but I sure hope she will be a friend enough to hang out all together. x



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