Saturday, May 12, 2007

The TMI Files. Motherload.

While I like to deal with personal stuff in the TMI Files, there are some places I prefer not to go. Like Magilla's other parent. She does actually have a dad, and she has an excellent relationship with his side, which is as it should be.

However, she has always lived with me. She does spend time away from me. Again, this is for her rather than for me. I'm happy with her away one night of the week, as that is the current routine, but sometimes she does spend longer.

By the second night, I start to feel the pangs of separation. I know that she feels them too, because I get extra cuddles and lots of huge smiles and she chatters away even more than usual.

Tonight she came home after a couple of nights away, and brought home a nasty headcold. I think she caught the one that's been giving me the gyp for the last few days.

Since she was near enough to asleep as made no difference, we put her into my bed. It was nearer, and it would save her waking up in the middle of the night and crawling in with me anyway.

In any case, it's not like she's kicking anyone off the other side of the bed.

So I lay down with her and snuggled up while she woke up enough to tell me about her trip down the beach, and visiting with Nana and Pa, and cousins and the rest, and I got to thinking about myself as mother and the feelings I get when I think about my girl.

Years and years ago, I had various girlfriends with children tell me the same thing in different words.

You will fall in love for real for the first time in your life.

You will begin the greatest love affair you will ever know.

You will know complete unconditional love.

Your life will change forever.

Your life will start over.

You won't know yourself.

All variations on a theme, and all of them completely true.

I was never going to have children. Not that I didn't want them, just that I didn't see my having them.

Obviously, something changed somewhere, and Magilla is almost five.

Sometimes, when we snuggle under the covers, sing songs or just joke around, the love I feel for her overwhelms me and my eyes start to water. Not enough for me to cry, but close enough for me to feel like I want to.

I feel her body cuddling in close, and I never want her to grow out of the stage she's at. (Of course, all parents think that, and we think it at every stage our kids go through. And every stage is better than the last.)

When she was first born, and laid at my breast, I was still groggy from the anaesthetic. I looked at her, and while I felt a tear leak out, I didn't feel much of anything.

Thank God for drugs and caesarians, is all I can say to that.

Afterwards, I felt a bit more, and a bit more, and the feelings, the bonding, grew until it became almost unbearable.

I would look at her, my funny little new human, and marvel at what came out from my body.

Sometimes I would try and find myself in her, or her father in her, and see my father, for example.

Or I would look at her until she seemed to be an alien. I studied her so intently that I would forget she was "just" a baby.

And then there would be the times when I would feel a fierce, protective, passionate love which frightened me.

The passion you feel for your baby is very scary. It's unexpected; particularly when in our society we tend to attribute such passion (and I do use this word deliberately), to the men or women in our lives.

We can talk about the protective instinct, or discuss how getting in the way of a parent and a child is a truly stupid thing to do, but the reality of it is something else again.

I read up on parenting styles, early childhood development, sociological studies into likely outcomes for children based on role modelling. You name it, I've probably looked into it.

I've made decisions that near everyone around me has disagreed with, but I stood my ground. I made them with an eye to Magilla 10, 15, 20 years down the track.

People would ride me about a particular choice made, but as I pointed out to them - it's not for me.

My job as a parent is to raise a successful member of our society.

It's not about me doing what everyone else thinks I should. It's about what is best for her.

Believe me, if it was all about me, I'd have been out of the country years ago. I have no idea exactly what I'd be doing, but it certainly wouldn't be living in penury and about to enter 'family mediation.'

But back to Magilla.

I carry the same guilt every other parent does:

Am I too strict, too lax, too disrespectful?
Do I feed her enough/properly?
Do we have the tv on too much or should I just turf it?
Is Dodgeball really appropriate for a four year old?
IS my disciplining suitable?

The usual things. Every parent who reads this will be nodding their head, I'll wager.

How do I respond when she tells me she's not my friend or I'm not her friend anymore?

Actually, that's an easy one.

I just tell her that's okay, I don't have to be friends with her because I'm her mum, and that's the important thing. She has other friends.

Same thing when she tells me she doesn't like me.

From what I've seen, all parents seem to hear that at least once in their parenting lives!

Again, it's not about the now, which is where children tend to live, but about the future.

Next year, she is starting school. I've already enrolled her. Not at my first preference of the local Christian school, primarily because of financial reasons, but at one of the local state school.

I'm reassured with this school, because my sister's daughter started there last year, so Magilla will have a cousin in the school.

I've spent time there, and there was an open night last week which the other side also got to come along and check out.

I have never seen a child so ready for schooling. She's been ready for nearly two years, but due to the education laws, no school would take her this year.

There are now age-specific enrolment regulations.

I am excited about her starting school, but it's also nerve-wracking - I'm jobhunting at the moment, and the idea of leaving her in before and after school care while I'm travelling to and from work is unsettling.

She won't have a problem, of course.

My girl is supremely confident and secure in herself. She is forthright, and outgoing, and exudes charm and charisma.

I can say this because I'm her mother and it's expected of me.

Mind you, I do worry that she might be over-confident. If she is, she will get a rude wakeup at school, but I will have to let her deal with that.

So long as she's got that initial core of self-confidence.

She knows who she is, she knows that she is well-loved on all sides of the family and she knows she's going to school next year.

And tomorrow at church, she's going to be a butterfly.

It's all good.


At 6:25 PM, Blogger LYL said...

The usual things. Every parent who reads this will be nodding their head, I'll wager.


Lovely reflection.

Happy Mothers Day, Nilk, and God bless you both.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is all good when I read things like this. Thank you

At 9:32 PM, Blogger Nilk said...

Thank you and you're welcome, Louise and anon.

I'm not a big one for Mothers' Day, but a bit of acknowledgement is always appreciated.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger MK said...

You write really well Nilk.

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous TimH said...

Yes, well written Nilk. From the other side, as a father who was with my family until my lovely daughter was 10 years old, I can attest to all that you wrote. Magilla is growing up with a loving mother and she'll be fine, children are quite robust.
My girl is now 17 and we spent the morning together,we went into town and she bought a new mobile phone, (it had to be pink, lol), afterwards she said thanks for being with her and that just warmed my heart. I saw her off to work from the train station afterwards, it was a lovely time.
Happy Mothers Day to you for yesterday.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Nilk said...

Thanks, guys. :) All I need to do now is translate that into a legible resume and a new job.

TimH, the way I look at it is that children are not morons. Some may grow into morons, but on the whole they are a lot sharper than many adults realise.

I just look at decisions made by friends and family members and how the children have dealt with those as they've grown up.

Particularly in separated households.

What I see over and over again is that it doesn't matter how young the child is, eventually he or she will grow up, and with maturity and a bit of life experience will see through the bulldust that was sprinkled over them in childhood.

So many times, the father stays away, or gets himself a girlfriend/wife who is jealous of the child or of the ex. (note to the new woman. There is a reason she is called an "ex." Well, duh!)

He takes his orders from the new woman about dealing with the child or the ex, and of course it gets nasty.

The child gets confused, gets resentful and it makes life difficult for all concerned.

Then the child grows up, develops the faculties to interpret exactly what was going on through their childhood and adolescence, and acts accordingly.

I can name so many young men and women who have been disappointed by one parent or the other because of point-scoring with them, and I work damned hard to make sure it doesn't come to that with Magilla.

Not for my sake, but for hers.

I'd rather she spoke to her dad like your girl said to you,TimH. That's so lovely to hear, when so often I hear kids tell me that their dad is an arsehole, or he's a loser, or he's an idiot, because his new wife won't let him call, or he decides to be a parent after 14 years and after 5 months it's too hard and he wants to send them home again.

Or his daughter hits 18, and he's not going to help pay for her university tuition.

Or on christmas day the wife has a hissy fit at the kids, because it's "not all about you, you know".

(That one got me - christmas day, 14year old lad and 12 year old girl. It most certainly is about them).

That last one, the kids don't have anything to do with their dad anymore.

I've got plenty more of these, and these stories drive me wild. I don't want my girl to be disappointed, but I can see that happening.

The bottom line is that she has a strong foundation, and that's the best start she can have so far.

/rant off.

Grown ups tend to forget that there are no secrets. They all come out in the end. Doesn't matter how long it takes; it might not be until after someone dies.

Family secrets have a way of coming to light after funerals, I've found.

Wakes make for very interesting occasions, and they help round out your personal history.

At 10:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nilk, I wrote a long rant but couldn't post, not sure if comments are down/disabled, maybe I should have tried posting under Tim instead of TimH.
Anyway, if this posts I'll try again.

At 10:17 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Okay, my bad.

At 11:35 AM, Blogger Nilk said...

No worries, Tim :)

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Thanks :)
Too embarassed now as I felt like I was writing an email and I screwed up and it's public!
I'm still getting the hang of publishing, it doesn't always work, thought I'd got it last night but not working tonight ( and another worthy rant bites the dust, lol)

At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Damn, worked this time....

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Okay, got it now, gotta put in the word verification and my identity plus my name before I write my comment, seems to work then :)

At 9:30 PM, Blogger Nilk said...

Still waiting for your rant, Tim. :)

At 11:28 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

Okay, rant on :)
Too many points on which to comment.
I agree it's hard when they are young, with Em, I (we) were first time parents and went through all the things you are going through now. Children are tough and will adapt when necessary, we all cope with childhood (most of us anyway), there is no alternative.
Magilla sounds like she is in good hands, mediation sounds like not such good stuff but best of luck, be strong.
Luckily for us all with respect to my family, things worked out fairly well and Em has grown up well balanced and with a sensible head on her shoulders, I like to think that I 'influenced' her (not in a bad way), but her Mum is a bit, well, eccentric, Em and I agree on that. (I'm not being sexist, could have been me.)
I dislike that I don't see her as much as I would like but she's a teen and, hell, when I was 17 I spent as much time away from home as I could (but it was always lovely to come home, even if I didn't realise it then).
Re your parental guilt, nah, just do what you feel is right. If she watches heaps of kids programmes on TV now doesn't mean she will do it forever, she will make her own mind up later. And feed her enough, goodness, kids love food though Em still won't touch veggies, she's a meat girl but is very healthy.
Disciplining, that's up to the individual, I used to spank her when she was really naughty but she says she can't remember it so maybe no harm done
Maybe it is about now (at least partly) as that is our collective now, trust me, the future will take care of itself.

Heck I think that's all I've got to say for the moment ( but it's not the same rant I wrote the other night, lol)

/rant off.


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