Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Wild Child!

Once upon a time, I thought I was a practically perfect mother. My evidence for this belief was the quiet, sweet, well-behaved little girl who regularly brought me compliments from other parents. I was foolish enough to believe that she was so good because I was a fine mother.

Even before Child #2 made his way into the world, that theory began to crack. My first pregnancy had been remarkably easy, and I decided that pregnant women who complained were just whiners. With the second pregnancy, I gained new experiences along with the weight: morning sickness, backaches, swollen ankles, and incredible fatigue.

From the beginning, nothing about Wild Child was easy. Impatient little person that he was, he arrived a week before due date and half an hour ahead of the doctor.

He was a fussy baby who ate nearly ’round the clock, between bouts of projectile vomiting. (Thanks to all those calories I used to produce milk for him, though, I was the skinniest I’ve ever been, so I have to admit that was an advantage.)

Each year brought challenges. I quickly adopted a new slogan: “I used to have child rearing theories, but now I have Ben.” He was brilliant, creative, highly verbal, intense, and above all, ACTIVE. Everything I swore my child would never do, Wild Child did.

I made the vast majority of my parenting mistakes with him. His activity level exhausted me, and I tried too hard to make him “settle down.” His impulsivity and stubborn nature confused and challenged me. He pushed all the buttons that sent me into instant insanity.

Somehow, he turned out to be an incredible human being, in spite of me. (Maybe it was the fact that we sent him to Alaska to live with my sister’s family the year he was thirteen. That probably saved him from death at the hands of his parents. We strongly recommend that strategy for surviving that first teen year.)

Now I know how blessed I was to have this amazing kid. He humbled me, taught me to question assumptions, and helped me learn to assert myself, thanks to some interesting parent-teacher conferences where I felt forced to defend him. I became more compassionate toward other parents and more accepting of children who were different. Because of him, I became a better teacher and a better parent to all of my children. The bottom line: Loving him made me a better person, and I am grateful.

Happy Birthday, Wild Child. I am so glad you are my son.


teadrinker said...

jeannie - This is one of the best blogs I have ever seen

Dolly D

Okie Book Woman said...

Thanks, teadrinker! I appreciate that.