If you’re anything like me, having a baby, or many, is a dream come true.
You played “house” when you were little, you carried your baby doll around with you, or insisted on bringing him or her with you wherever you went. I had one special doll, her name was Alice. My grandparents gave me a Strawberry Shortcake carriage for Christmas one year and it was my favorite present. Possibly ever. I pushed Alice around in that thing until the wheels should have fallen off, but they didn’t. She was my baby. I had names picked out for my future children by the time I was twelve. I wrote them down. It was serious business. Even though I have 4 daughters, I never did use the name ‘Brittany’, as I thought for sure I would. I guess time changes things, but it never changed the fact that I’d always known I wanted to have a baby someday.
I’m not sure how many people have that same longing to have a teenager.
Have you ever actually thought about that? “Oh, I can’t wait to rock a sleeping baby”, should be followed by “Oh, I can’t wait to hand over the keys to my car and let my kid (who has never been behind the wheel) drive me to the grocery store!” Or, even better, “I can’t wait to hear my baby say ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’. That will be so special.” and immediately after, “I am so looking forward to having my child say, “You are SO embarrassing, Mom!”. Won’t that be fun?
No, I’m not sure many of us ever dreamed of having teenagers even though we all know that’s what happens to babies when they grow up. That sometimes awkward phase of braces and acne. The developing independence and attitude. While the years that follow breastfeeding and bubble baths may not be as endearing or tender, they can still be wonderful and a whole lot of fun. I have 2 teenagers at the moment. They are both girls, 13 and 15 years old. I like to refer to them as my ‘big kids’, as my younger daughters are 10 and 8.
My older girls are pretty cool kids. They’re responsible and helpful. They can be sweet and funny. They actually listen to me when I ask them to do something, unlike their younger sisters, who both tend to give me a hard time. I often say my big kids are the easy ones. Believe it or not, it’s completely true. My youngest daughter’s second grade teacher once asked me if all of my kids were as well behaved as she is. “HA!” Once I’d finished laughing, I told her that they were much more well-behaved than she is. She is the victim of being the spoiled baby, expecting everything to go her way and being the loudest in protest when it doesn’t always. My big kids just look at her and want to roll their eyes.
When I began my journey as a parent, I did everything my instincts guided me to do. I was constantly teaching my little ones how to navigate in this world with kindness and manners. If a kid took something from them, I never jumped up in protest-I taught my kids how to adapt to an unfair world from the start. My girls were great at sharing. They walked away from conflict. They gave a toy to someone who didn’t have one. All things I encouraged. I wanted to bring up selfless kids.
I have to say that I was a strict Mom from the start.
I expected manners and cooperation. I wanted my girls to rise to the occasion and learn that the world is not all about them. I feel that the expectations we had from the beginning are what helped them become the caring young ladies they are growing up to be. Of course life with them is normal. They have emotional days, they have lazy days, and they have days when I have to give them that look that means maybe they should start that sentence over again. They are still kids and I expect some difficulties along the way to being a grown up.
These days we have so much fun together though. We sing in the car-not ‘Wheels on the Bus’ anymore, but we sing…good songs. We share stories, have inside jokes, and do fun things together. As much as I have enjoyed bringing up my little girls, I am thoroughly loving the friendships we are developing now. I want to have the same kind of loving feelings for my younger daughters when they’re teens. As it stands now, I’ve got a bit of work to do. They are strong, stubborn, and persistent. Great qualities to have as future women of the world. Challenging qualities if you’re their mother. There is hope for them. This much I know. I just have to be every bit as persistent as they are.