Monday, 12 December 2011
Today is a special day. It is my oldest son's 22nd birthday. Time has gone by fast. I still remember his 'birth' day well. It was a cold and early morning when Pete and I set out for the hospital in Scarborough from our home in Uxbridge. On the way the car stalled at a deserted intersection. I had visions of the two of us at the side of the road trying to flag down a semi to take us to the hospital but thankfully Pete got the car going. We arrived at the hospital and were admitted. I tried walking some as was my usual habit during labour but started to feel the pressure to push coming on. I got into the bed and told Pete to call the nurse, which he did. After the nurse looked at the situation she informed me that I would have at least 2 hours to go and asked if I would like something to help me. At that point I couldn't imagine 2 more hours of labour so I said yes. As soon as the nurse administered the medication I felt an overwhelming urge to push. The nurse yelled at me not to push but it was too late my body had taken control. She physically tried to stop the baby from coming and in a panic asked Pete to pull the call bell out of the wall to signal an emergency. Things progressed very quickly after that till the doctor told me to hold on and not push. The umbilical cord had become wrapped around the baby's neck. I stopped everything held my breath and prayed. The doctor finally had to cut the cord away from the baby's neck and I continued pushing till my little one made his first appearance. I was instantly elated and then sobered as I realized he was not crying, not breathing, he was blue. I held my breath again, prayed again as the medical staff shook him, prodded him, suctioned him and finally got him breathing with a wail that was like music to both Pete and me.
Being a mother has been one of the greatest joys of my life but it has not always been easy. There were times when I was tested and failed ,when words came out of my mouth that shouldn't have. There were times spent in emergency wards and hospital rooms. Times when having a gracious loving mother was a comfort because all I had to do was make a phone call and she would be there.
When I was 19 I became a mother for the first time. I was young and impressionable. I knew nothing about parenting beyond my own experience. One day some one gave me the book "Dare to Discipline." This book advocated the use of corporal punishment, it made it sound reasonable. It also made it sound as though the parents' job was to break their children's will. That if parents did not break their child's will (without breaking their spirit) disaster would ensue. Aside from the model I'd grown up with this was all I had to go on. I used corporal punishment. I always tried to be sure that I never hit out in anger but only as a means to discipline. I continued on in this way until my oldest son was three. This son is a wonderful guy. As a child he was not much of a talker but rather a person of action. He rarely sat still, he ran, jumped, hopped, leaped and made really loud sound effects while playing, he was full of pep. He loved to push boundaries. If I said to him "stay off the road, he'd go and stand at the end of the driveway with one foot just touching the edge." I tried to discipline this boy to make him mind. One day after a battle, I broke. I saw that I was losing and so was he. I prayed and then went in search of a new way. I found it. I started reading. The first thing I read that made a huge impression was; "there are no perfect parents, no perfect children and no perfect families." This gave me a huge sense of freedom. I began to see that what I'd been doing was trying to control my children to make them what I wanted them to be. I wasn't accepting them for who they were. I started to take a look at them differently. My oldest son changed in my eyes from a difficult child to a child with spirit. I started listening to people like Barbara Colorosa, and I read a book called "Raising your spirited child"
I also sought out counselors. It was not easy but I made the transition from a mother seeking to control her children to one trying to give them respect and train them for life. I also learned to appreciate and enjoy my children. About the same time that my oldest son turned 3 my oldest child became a teenager. This approach I believe saved my relationship with her. I realized that I was talking at her and to her but rarely with her. I also was guilty of not listening, really listening.
Things did not always go smoothly. You may laugh but I kept a broom handle in my room to beat my bed with when I needed to let off steam. I prayed, recited the twenty third psalm, counted to ten and started asking others for help when I needed it. My kids are great people, each one an individual. When I look at them I am amazed at who they have grown into being. The best times for me are when they are all together. They are times of intelligent conversation and lots of fun and laughter.
Being a parent has been a journey of discovery for me. I found out that there are others out there willing to listen and help. I've also become someone who rarely judges other parents. Except those unwilling to listen, grow and change. I'm still working on that one. I've grown to realize that people are unique and have unique places to fill in this world. It has been such a joy and blessing to watch my children grow and discover who they are.
My son who is turning 22 today. Is an intelligent, responsible, hard working person who is always willing to help others when they ask. He is still a man of few words, he thinks before he speaks, he can crack up a room of people with one line and a barely discernible smile. He has not figured out his chosen career yet but I have no doubt that he will find his way In the mean time he is discovering who he is and what his place is in this world. I am glad I have the privilege of being his mother.
I have 5 children and will probably take the time to write about each one in their turn.