“Mother, you have a son..”
A what? A who?
I should have been disappointed, heartbroken, depressed or angry. I thought I would have been, since all throughout my pregnancy, I had been hoping and praying for a girl.
A son! I have a healthy, beautiful baby boy! That was all that mattered in that moment, and that is all that matters even now. (Well, except for those rare moments that only lasts for a few seconds when he misbehaves and I wonder how different things would have been if he was a girl….)
Tai was almost halfway here by the time I confirmed that I was pregnant. He wasn’t planned, but he was loved and accepted from the moment we knew of his existence. He was also the first grandchild, so everyone was all anxiously awaiting his arrival. Secretly, I wondered how I would be able to care for him..I had never ever even changed a diaper! I was seriously completely clueless. But, true to my character, I willingly accepted the challenge. That first diaper change was easier than I expected, and except for a few hiccups, we were off to a good start.
The first years were the easiest. He was the sweetest boy ever. He didn’t cry or fuss or threw tantrums. He was well behaved..and I was so proud, especially when we were out and he was admired for his sweet and calm nature. He was happy and cute and warm and loving and he was all mine!
Then came that exploratory stage. he wanted to go everywhere his little legs could carry him. I can recall terrifying instances where he went off on his own. He was one of those children who had to be held by the hand at all times. If you released him for a second, he would disappear as if by magic. He seemed to have this determination that nothing could stop him from exploring the world around him.
As I mentioned earlier, I had no experience with young children, and even less experience with boys. I tried to keep the balance between allowing him to be a boy and reining in his freedom. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes he stayed within the boundaries I had set, and sometimes he didn’t.
Now all parents, if they are honest with themselves, would admit to failing to maintain the balance at times. For some, it gets easier with the second or third child, while for others, it just never gets easier. Finding the right balance is always hard, and so we often either fall into one of two categories: the strict parent or the ‘loose’ parent.
All children are different. No two are exactly the same. My mother has four girls and we are all different. We have different temperaments, different ways of dealing with conflict, different study habits, different eating habits, different fashion senses, some are introverts, some are extroverts, and yet we were all raised in the same home, by the same mother. Should a ‘one size fit all’ mentality apply to raising children? It shouldn't.
In order for us to be able to determine what works for each child, we have to know that child inside and out. No one should be allowed to stay on the sidelines and dictate how you should raise your child. Of course, there is nothing wrong with general (and genuine) advice, but sometimes only you know how your child responds to each action.
It wasn’t until I had my own experiences with raising a child, that I could empathize with parents who had their struggles with their children. I was guilty of pointing fingers at the parents, thinking it was entirely their fault for how their children behaved. I have come to realize that might not always be the case. Yes, children live what they learn, but they are learning from a variety of sources. And this may come as a shock to many, but children are not robots. By the age of seven or so, most have developed their own personalities and character traits. They are also influenced formally and informally by their socialization outside the homes.
I now see how heartbreaking and discouraging it is to be trying the best you know how, and have people criticizing your parenting skills quite vocally. My son is now a teenager, and so I am going through the ‘Terrible Teens’. He is lazy, disrespectful, and wants to do his own thing. What parents have to realize is that while teenagers are going through changes in their bodies, they also become emotionally unstable as they navigate their way from childhood to adulthood. Insecurities about their bodies, and where they fit in society, and all those hormones jumping around are enough to send their minds spinning. A mind that is already infiltrated by the mess of society though social media and video games and the devil himself.
I would never intentionally try to be a bad parent to my child, but each stage of life is a learning process for me. Sometimes, unexpected things happen, and we can do nothing about it until after. We try as parents to be proactive, but there are many times when we have no choice but to be reactive. We have to deal with each crisis as it occurs.
Why then am I made to feel like a bad parent if my son acts up? Why am I being blamed for his every wrong step? He is learning how to be a person in the same way I am learning how to be his parent. There was not a course called ‘100 Steps to Raising Tai Brown the Right Way.’ And that’s because there was never another Tai Brown before him.
The many tears I have cried. The many times I felt alone in my struggles with him. There were times when we hit rock bottom in our struggles. There were times when I felt he crossed the line. There were a few times when I felt like giving up on him. There were many times when others told me to give up on him. But, there were also times when I think I could have done more.
I am not perfect. He isn’t perfect. But I see his potential. I know him better than anyone else. I know him better than he knows himself. He is still my handsome, brilliant, talented and tender-hearted boy. He still makes me proud in spite of the challenges. One day we will look back and these will only be memories. The funny thing is, he might not appreciate me until he has had children of his own. I never fully appreciated my parents until I had my son, so I guess that’s the way of life for some of us.
Until then, I will continue to do my best, the way I know how. With prayer, love and discipline, he will become a great and successful leader, father and husband. After all, he is already a wonderful son!
With all my love.