I am eternally grateful for Aurelia. She was the catalyst for the growth I’ve had as a mother. She’s also been my experiment child. You know, the one you try on all of your hypothesis about parenting and then decide what to keep or change for the next children and inevitably screwing them up in the process.
I had no clue what I was getting myself into when Sal and I decided we wanted to become parents. I learned quickly that maternal instinct was the tool I’d base so many of my decisions on. I also learned that so so many things in parenting were and still are beyond my control.
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted for my life until Aurelia was born. Never ever did I think I’d be that would have a natural birth, cloth diaper, nurse into toddlerhood, and most definitely NEVER thought I’d quit a career I worked so hard to get and passionately wanted to do for as long as I can remember. Not having a job was for moms who just didn’t want to work or never found a job they were passionate enough about or skilled enough, or were moms who were not feminists and allowed their husbands to tell them what to do or were for people who wanted to live vicariously through their children. NONE of those stereotypes described me. Hmph! I would not quit working…EVER!!
I ate those words. I learned feminism isn’t about denying all the ways in which being a woman and mother can change us. It’s about embracing those changes and making decisions not based on what religious leaders and/or society seems to think women should be doing. It’s what I know in my gut to be true for me. I couldn’t ignore that pull to change up my place in our family as Aurelia was about to enter school. I also said I’d never be that silly homeschooling parent. I mocked, rolled my eyes, and laughed at those people. I mean who does that?!?! Polygamists, The Amish, and crazy extremist people. They end up screwing up their kids, right???
There are a few ways in which Aurelia is similar to me as there are ways in which she is the polar opposite. She is the first born and as much as I’d like to deny birth order there are things about her that are classic first born. I have a hard time relating to that because I am the middle child. Aurelia’s thought processes are much different than mine. She comes to conclusions about situations differently than I do.
She’s messy but knows where everything is. She wants to do things her way and I want her to do them my way. She’s teaching me that I’m not always right and the things that work for me may not work for her. She’s my mirror in my anger and frustration. I see her get irritated about a situation like someone moved her cheese and I stop in my tracks and realize I’ve gone ballistic like that at times too. She can focus on a task for hours and still find it fascinating. I wanted to quickly move on to the next thing. She likes to stay home. I like to get out.
I’m pretty sure I’m fucking her up. That statement isn’t a ploy to get people to reassure me I’m not. I’m learned as I go. I make mistakes. Weekly. Daily. Hourly. She tells me when I hurt her feelings, when I’m mean, when I upset her, and when I’m wrong. Society seems to think children shouldn’t do this. I’m so glad she does. I apologize to her. Over and over again, I tell her I’m sorry, that I’m learning, and I’ll do better. She’s forgiving, loving, compassionate, and still crawls into my lap to cuddle.
This past year we’ve butted heads more times than I care to openly admit. I am very thankful for these bumps in the road because I’m learning. I’m becoming a better parent and she is teaching me and forgiving me.
She has such passion for studying nature intensely. What looks to me like she’s staring at the dirt for hours is her brain hard at work observing things the ants marching in a line and carrying things back to their den. She seems to love anything that is along the lines of science, math, mystery, and creative thinking. She has a lot to offer me, our family, and the universe. When I am able to get past my ego and busy day I see it clearly. She’s intelligent as hell. It shocks me sometimes at what she knows and how she derived her answer.
I love this girl! She is blossoming leaps and bounds as we enter her eighth year. I hope that through all of the disagreements we have she knows how much I love and admire her. Parenting isn’t getting easier as she grows. The challenges morph into something different than we faced during infancy and early childhood. She is becoming her own person with definite opinions and ideas about the way things should be. I’m learning to honor and trust her. I’m learning to respect her. I’m learning to be a more humbled mother.
Happy 8th Birthday, Aurelia!