They Never Tell You This About Being a Parent…

Posted: August 28, 2009 in Family and Children, Featured Content
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They Never Tell You This About Being a Parent

They Never Tell You This About Being a Parent

They never tell you becoming a mother changes everything. They do, but you don’t listen. It’s something you have to learn yourself. They never tell you that the child you get may not be the one you expect. You don’t sit around surrounded by baby clothes dreaming of the day your four-year-old tells you she’s sick of you, or having to explain to someone why your child thought it would be okay to give their now-deceased bird a bath at midnight, or that you could sit and cry so hard because whatever you’re doing for your child feels like not enough.

They never tell you that.

To live it day in and day out is exhausting. I have discovered something recently, which I actually always knew, but lately it is much more apparent. My child is not like other children in regards to her temperament and attitude. She is smart, funny, sweet and loving, independent and friendly. But she is also hard-headed, stubborn and increasingly frustrated by the lack of control afforded to a four-year-old in this life. She has been this way since before birth, actually. She was a bright but extremely demanding baby who was never content to sit and observe the world. She wanted to jump into it face first. She learns everything the hard way. It is frustrating for her, and extremely frustrating for me.

I am a quiet person who likes to please people, I avoid confrontation, and when I was little, I always did what I was told. I know, because my mother is constantly telling me, “You never acted like that!” about Sophie’s latest fit, tantrum or episode, and I agree, because I remember being the shy but happy kid.

Sophie is not even in that realm. She fights the world tooth and nail, literally trying to wrestle any control she can with her bare hands. She will fight just to fight, she will defy and push boundaries just because she can. I truly believe it is just her nature. She is a strong-willed, independent person, and has been since the moment she came into being. I have set limits, I have provided structure, the base of the hierarchy is well taken care of, and I have never been afraid to discipline. But still…

I struggle everyday to understand it. I struggle everyday to teach her that right now, I am in charge. Every day, there are a hundred battles waged because she needs to see if I am still in control. She pushes and pushes to see if I will break.

I won’t.

It’s hard, it’s tiring and I feel like a failure sometimes. But I need to be strong for her now, because she won’t just give respect because she’s supposed to. And if I don’t have her respect now, I won’t have it later, when I really need it.

I know I was given the child I was meant to have. We are supposed to learn something important from each other. I can’t change her basic strong will, just as I could never “just be more outgoing,” as countless people have told me throughout my life. That’s like telling a fish to walk on land.

I just hope I’m doing this right. In the hours when all avenues have been exhausted, it feels hopeless. I wonder why anybody thought I could handle this. I have had to be more firm with her than I ever thought possible. I can’t let things slide. When a line is drawn by me, she will try to cross it just because I put it there. She cries and screams and makes me feel like I am the most awful person that ever walked the Earth. But in the end, I have won a small victory, and more likely than not, that line will not be crossed again. And then, without any help from me, she will tell me she’s sorry she did that and she wants to be good. I try to understand her, I try to understand why. And I think the why is just because she is who she is.

I think, just maybe, in these incidents I move up a notch in her mind. In the little game we must play, my token is advancing and I can see that somehow she will turn into a strong person, a smart person and an independent person, and I will have helped her get there. It’s my job, right? I’m not raising a child. I’m raising a person, one that will be different from every other person out there. I want her to be proud of that person, and I want to be proud, too.

So, when everything seems dark, at least I know we’re heading somewhere. There is a place we’re trying to reach. Someday, when her therapist convinces her to forgive me, I hope she realizes that my only purpose was to try to help her become great. That’s really what Moms want for their kids, I think.

But nobody tells you that.

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