I was in my mid-twenties when my baby was born, thousands of miles away from my family with only my husband and a handful of friends to support me. There were some challenges but it’s okay.
I’ve always looked back to my life experiences to help me face whatever life threw at me. I was in my pre-teens when my baby brother was born, a “forgotten child”, so I learnt to change nappies, prepare milk and comfort a crying baby. Like riding a bike, you never really forget how to ride even after so many years. So yes, I knew more or less what to do.
My firstborn will become an adult soon, oh how time flies! To tell the truth, I can only remember fond memories when he was little… him climbing over me for a cuddle while drinking from his milk bottle, running around the playground laughing to name a few. My favourite is when we were invited to a wedding, he whacked many guests bums and hid. I think the hardships only came when he started going to school, balancing life with a new baby and the social calendar of a toddler.
Then when he was a bit older and we moved to London, here he was bullied. That was hard. I never told him to fight back, he was tiny. I went to the school and fought for him. Having experienced it as a child, I knew that I had to show him I am there for him, I have his back. I am not an over protective mother but I did not want them to doubt that I am here. I documented every single thing my son told me, the bruises and others and confronted the school, the parent of the bully and demanded they fix it. And fix it they did, the bully was gone from the school. My boy became wary of other kids but it’s okay, at least he is safe. I think the fears and worries that developped after the bullying can be fixed with a lot of support and guidance. I used stories mostly of my childhood, made them into adventure, added some pranking to teach him to pay attention, to notice every detail, with games, constant reminder of what to do if. There were times when he showed some pent up negative energy – anger, frustration, extreme dislike… Never, ever, let it take hold. As soon as you see it, distract via physical game, prank or chores (even if you have to pretend to be mad). Once distracted, talk it through.
I can teach him to socialise later on. But first, I taught him to fight back, to defend and how to outsmart other kids.
So did this parenthood thing did ever get better? Actually no, the challenges I faced as a parent just evolved. Instead of just providing them with nourishment, clothing and love, I now have to add some “tough love”. Guidance, discipline, manners and everything else he will need to learn for when he flies the nest. I want him to be able to thrive on his own. It’s easier said than done, I remember being stubborn and hardheaded when I was a teenager so I sort of know what to expect.
The lazy option is to do all the chores yourself because you can do it quicker and better. That doesn’t help your kids, only yourself.
Be a mother, you’re not their friend.
I know that if I persevere, he will be ready. I think, only then, I will be able to say, it gets easier.