I survived preeclampsia and my daughter coming into the world two and a half months prematurely.
A haze of hourly nursing, post partum depression, and sleep deprivation clouds my memories of being a parent at that time. In contrast, my son, now nearly 15, was overdue by 2 weeks. The biggest baby in the hospital nursery, he was urged out by pitocin. On the contrary, his perfectly round melon head lodged in my birth canal. When his heart rate plunged, and after crowning him, my failed vbac evolved into an unplanned second cesarian section.
I’ve been through the terrible twos, twice. (Rather, I found it to be the defiant threes.) Amazingly different in temperament, my children never ceased to stun me. Wildly assertive and equally clever, my daughter would at times tantrum for 45 minutes while I held her, calmly asserting I would let go when she would stop throwing her body around and screaming. By the time Cassondra was ready for kindergarten screening, I had been a single parent for two months. Her younger brother was only 16 months old when I filed for an order of protection from my husband. I cried on my daughter’s first day because I am an art teacher and couldn’t be with her on her first day ever in public school.
At this time I was not only teaching full time and a full time single parent. I was also pursuing a web design and management certificate from Broome Community College part time, six credits a semester.
THEN, BEFORE YOU NOTICE YOUR HAIR TURNING GRAY….
The kids’ elementary years were an absolute blur. I somehow managed to winnow by and keep us afloat.
Now, at the end of the summer, my daughter leaves for College and my son is turning 15 and ready to enter high school. Yet again, I find myself letting go. In letting go, I mean giving them the space to evolve into who they want to be, while guiding them to their best selves. While this stage of parenting seems like the end of the finish line for a lot of folks, there’s still learning curve on the parental end.
I tell my kids that my role now in their life as their parent is not so much disciplinarian as advisor. At times those words are easier to say than live by. Despite this, experience is the best teacher for a young man or woman, and sometimes we have to let go enough for our children to experience failure. Riding the tide of success beside them is invigorating! However, NOT saying “I told you so” at the finish line is much more important !
TRUST ME, THIS DOESN’T GO ON FOREVER…..
In summary, exhausted nights are our calling card. Countless times, I didn’t think I had the strength to pull it off. ALL of us parents have those times. YOU can and YOU WILL overcome because of your love for your kids. When my daughter graduated, she was the only kid in her class to receive 11 scholarships. That wildly determined, temper tantruming three year old learned to harness her fire and direct it at her goals. When you’ve witnessed that alchemy in your own child, you know you’ve begun to understand letting go.