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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am raising her but the act of raising her is healing me and raising me as well!

6 thoughts on “Raising Her, raising me…the journey of parenting”

  1. I loved this post. One of the reasons I made the decision to homeschool is because I wanted my children to feel free to be themselves and not have to conform to anyone else’s idea of what they should be. But even at that, it’s hard for me to step out of the way and let them be and so like you, I get little reminders that humble me and teach me.

  2. Best line ever: “I am raising her but the act of raising her is healing me and raising me as well!”

    Part of the reason why I’ve always wanted to be a mother–besides the fact that I genuinely love children–is because I do feel that there is an element of self-healing involved. Maybe that’s totally wrong-sighted on my part, and not a reason to have children because you set yourself up for failure when they don’t turn out the way you hoped and imagined. I don’t want to live vicariously through my children; at the same time, I want to give them a sense of self that I didn’t have growing up as a black child.

    I’ve never met your daughter but, as a very intuitive person, I can see and sense her fierceness in the pictures you post. She is intense and special; she radiates these qualities.

    You are an amazing example of black motherhood, girl. And you have raised two wonderful children. You really should be proud of what you have accomplished, because it is very rare.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful. I almost (and that’s saying a lot) cried.

    I never could have practiced attachment parenting because I love my space. And it would have felt like an intense version of my own personal hell. Nine months was attachment enough.

    I worry for my kid. She’s a Toe the Line kind of person in a lot of ways. But then at school I hear she breaks down in tears or speaks her mind. Mine is incredibly sensitive and caring. I worry that the world may break her.

    The other day I was thinking about how, as a young parent, the Kid has grown up with her father and I. We weren’t settled (shit, we still aren’t) and how she has to roll with the punches. Would anything have been different if we were older? In their 30’s moms — at least the ones I have met — are insane. Sure, there are a few down to earth folks, but whoa. I had it more together at 21. Age CAN be just a number.

  4. What I find so crazy is that I think all that stuff should come naturally but I know it doesn’t. I don’t know if I was an intense parent or not. Looking back I think I was and also my ex didn’t step in and do it with me. So all mt focus went on the kids. But not only does that separate from your spouse, it also takes the focus off of the parents needs. We lost get lost in the shuffle and while I know that we are the caregivers and we have this massive responsibility we can’t forget to give ourselves selfcare. I have finally started doing my some selfcare. But sometimes I still feel guilty about it.

    When I you talk about your daughter, I think about my son who’s the same as she is and my daughter which is her sign. You have a double whammy. You got drama/baby/almost only child syndrome. It’s terrible.

    I have been harder on my six year old and when I hurt his feelings and he points it out, I use that moment as a learning experience for him. Sometimes I apologize but then I add if you didn’t xyz then maybe this wouldn’t have happened. Let this be a reminder of what will happen the next time. I’m not your friend, I am your mother. And you will listen to me or pay the consequences. There will be so many influences in life as my kids grow up and I want to make sure that I am always in the back of their minds when they are off about to commit so tomfoolery. lol

  5. I’m always interested in hearing other women of color esp black womens “take” on AP. My black mom marched to her own drummer during the ’70’s and as a result I found out that a lot of things that I thought were normal were in fact radical : )

    I feel very fortunate that my children’s personalities responded well to my parenting instincts.

    Raising the child you wish you had been seems like a really wonderful experience-thanks for sharing!

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