I’ve started writing many posts which have remained unfinished. I write posts in my head as I’m driving, doing the dishes, brushing my teeth and tucking the children in bed but they never make it onto paper or this space. There is, however, one thing I need to get out of my system right now. I just don’t know how to do it.
It’s my first daughter. The first big love of my life. She’s turning eight in a few weeks and I’m having the hardest time coming to terms with it. I don’t want to be the mother who mourns the babies who are now growing into little ladies (well, one of them is but the other one is pretty sure she’s turning eight too). I want to enjoy each stage of their life, like I want to enjoy mine. I want to be grateful for the fact that they are healthy and growing, acquiring new skills and their own personality as they do so. But there are a few issues I need to resolve before I can honestly enjoy the age Maia is at.
I have thought long and hard about why I am so upset all the time. Most of the time, I am upset with her. I don’t like saying it out loud, but it’s a fact that I cannot deny. I’m giving her a hard time right now, as she is giving me. We’ve been struggling with what I can only call a shift in our roles for the past year or so. She is no longer a baby or a small child. At the same time, she’s not old enough to be as independent as she thinks she should be. She goes from wanting to walk to the grocery on her own to wanting help with getting dressed in the space of one morning. She wants to cook a meal on her own but needs me to cut her meat in small pieces at dinnertime. I want her to be responsible for her own things and to clean up after herself but expect her to prefer my company to that of her friends. We cannot yet let go of how things have been so far, but we’re both eager for the change that’s heading our way.
I’ve come to realise that babies and toddlers are no work at all. You keep them clean and fed, you entertain them and enjoy their milestones, you kiss and hug them as much as you want and that is pretty much all there is to it. When those toddlers are old enough to have their own likes and dislikes, opinions about every topic under the sun (most of the time opposing yours) and feelings that run as deep as yours do, that’s when parenting gets hard. It might be that our personalities are too similar or that we are both very sensitive, but our relationship has become a very complex one. I look at her friends and the way they interact with their parents and wonder whether any of them are struggling behind the happy facades. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m learning how to parent my daughter every single day. I don’t think I will ever stop learning. Just when you think that the sleepless nights are a thing of the past, there comes another type of exhaustion and it has little to do with the physical kind that babies bring with them.
I don’t know if anyone will make sense of this rambling post, but if you do, if you’ve been there and know what I’m talking about, please be in touch. Your comments and messages have been invaluable in helping me through some tough times in the past and I’m hoping some of you might have already been through all this and can offer some advice.
PS – In case I didn’t make it very clear, I love my daughter more than my own life and that is precisely why I’m struggling so much right now.