A friend of mine recently gave birth to her second child and was slightly overwhelmed by the fact her new child was proving to be a lot less work than her first.
Trying to be supportive, I offered my personal experience and observations and, in a nutshell, said our first born teach us how to be a parent and as such any children after that seem easier to handle. I still think this is a true but am obliged to alter this statement due to the new information, and experience, I now have available. As such, I would now like it noted that my words of wisdom is amended to say our children teach us to be parents, the first one just has the job of giving us a responsibility reality slap.
I have three sons; their parentage, home environment, educational opportunities and financial situation is the same but they are different. They are individuals in their own right and I love them even more for that. I have now realised however they will ensure I will also obey the advice I have been giving them all their lives of; if you don’t learn something new each and every day you have wasted the day. It also appears they are teaching me more than just how to be a parent.
My second son has opened up a completely new world of parenting for me that has put me into a mental tailspin. He has a girlfriend and I don’t know how to behave as the mother-in-friendship. Okay, I made that title up but I’m going to run with it from here on in because I’m in foreign territory with this situation and a new word slash title seems appropriate.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for him as he has someone who makes him feel special and wanted. No one can deny this is a wonderful experience and to see a smile on his face more often than not warms my heart. My aim as a parent is to have happy, healthy children after all and his newfound confidence is wonderful. However, I’m still a bit lost.
The girl in question is lovely, a bit cheeky, a bit strong willed and trying hard to make us, his brothers and I, like her. Heck, she impressed me when she made him clean up his room, something I’ve been unable to force happen for a long time. I was in a hard place at the time as my son begged me to make her stop and I was torn between the awkwardness of a visitor to my house cleaning and the idea of actually being able to see the carpet in the room. The best I could muster was an insincere, “oh please stop “as I rolled the vacuum cleaner towards my son. For her effort I set a place at the table for her that night and we discussed my younger son’s, who shares the room with his brother, awkwardness of having her see his clean underwear. He has, or had, an issue with putting his folded cloths away too.
I live in a male dominated house and it’s wonderful to have female company at home.
So, all is good really but I still feel a bit awkward, and possibly jealous of her because she can make him do things I can’t. Then one evening, just as I was coming to terms with the fact my boy had another female in his life other than me, he snuggled up to me on the lounge and quietly asks why girls can be such bitches. Stunned I find out his best friend of years, another lovely female, was having words with his new girlfriend via social media and it was breaking his heart they didn’t appear to be getting along with each other. What could I say? Again, I was lost for words and decided to shut up and give him a cuddle. Although in my heart and head I knew he was right about females being unkind to each other, somehow agreeing with him would be stabbing my own kind in the back and a borderline confessional to my own jealousy of his changed situation.
I want to be a good mother-in-friendship but maybe, just maybe, it isn’t a parent thing I’m struggling with here. Maybe it’s just a girl thing and we all need to learn when to let go and when just to be there.