Raising Her, raising me…the journey of parenting

Back in 2004 when the Spousal Unit and I sat down and got serious about having a kid, I had all sorts of ideas about how I would raise my child. I admit looking back; a lot of what was driving me was guilt, guilt over feeling that I had failed my firstborn. Having had my son at 19, I was legally an adult but woefully unprepared to be a parent. I was still finding myself and while I do believe my son has thrived despite the relative youth of both me and his dad (former Spousal Unit) it was a rocky journey.
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No, back in 2004 I figured if I was fortunate enough to have another child, this time I would do it “right”. Looking back, it boggles my mind how I thought it was even possible to raise a child “right”. Sure certain things are a given, but the truth is every child is their own person and we learn from them, what works with one child, does not work for every child, etc.
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When we got the good news a few days after Thanksgiving 2004 that I was expecting, I threw myself into learning how to be a better parent. I am a researcher and believe me 9 months gives you a long time to research how you will raise a child. Granted I should have relied on the fact that I already had a 13 year old and trusted myself more, but at times I didn’t. Instead I threw out everything I knew about parenting and launched us head first into attachment parenting. In many ways choosing this method of raising a child has been good, but it’s also been intense. Over the years since the girl child’s birth it’s been a struggle, to balance all of our family’s needs; while I won’t blame a child rearing method for nearly destroying my marriage I will say that the intense focus with which I parented for almost the first 5 years of her life didn’t help.
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I will say though that as time goes on, I find myself struggling with the foundation that we have given her and how it fits into the world we live in. My girl is sweet, intense, headstrong and passionate. We have always encouraged her to speak up and be herself and now at 6, she is the type of child that I often wish I could have been. My girl holds nothing back, if her feelings are hurt, she tells you, she questions things. In fact a few weeks ago, I made a parenting blunder, in a tired moment I admit I used deception to get her compliance and it backfired and she called me on it…that was one of the most painful moments I have ever encountered especially when she looked at me with big chocolate eyes, a mirror of my own and asked me “Mama, why did you say that to me.” Thankfully the Spousal Unit was able to better explain why I did what I did, but I could see the hurt, and I knew I had fucked up.
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Lately I find myself wondering how raising a child who is fearless and speaks her truth fits into a world where compliance and following the rules is prized among children. Already at 6, I see her peers starting to evolve into good compliant kids, who have started to put down childish ways while my girl is carefree and skips through the world, sometimes in her own fantasy land. Just yesterday she shared that sometimes kids at school don’t like her, she sings too much, she plays fantasy games, in my opinion she is all that a 6 year old child should be. Just the other day the Spousal Unit told her to never fear being herself and living her truth and she seems to have taken that to heart. But as a momma it hurts a little knowing that she is slowly becoming the “weird” kid to some, I don’t want her to be an outcast. I cherish the moments now that she plays with friends kids who are home-schooled because those kids I have noticed seem to have less of an opinion of how girl child should act.
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I know that her road may be rocky, and while sometimes I lament the choices we have made with her, I still believe in my heart and soul that a girl who is unafraid to speak her truth will be a powerful woman when she grows up. That said, she will continue to challenge her parents and at times it will be hard on all of us but we will be the better for it.
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I am raising her but the act of raising her is healing me and raising me as well!

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