At this point I’ve been a mother for well over half my life and am blessed to have seen three of my four children on into adulthood. Since I started when I was sixteen, I’ve had the bittersweet joy of growing up with those three, playing equal roles of parent and child depending on the circumstances. By the time my youngest was born I thought I pretty much had the whole motherhood thing to a science inasmuch as I knew I was merely the guidance counselor to my children’s ambitions, put in a position of assumed authority to make sure eyes weren’t put out and limbs remained attached.
I’ve often been asked how I managed to parent multiples with age spans of two years between them and remain sane. My first answer is always, “What makes you think I was sane to begin with?” My subsequent explanations detail how the closeness of the oldest members of The E-Quad provided a sort of “each one teach one” environment; the youngest always mimicking the development/behaviour of the closest oldest and each keeping the other company. So in that respect, parenting multiples is easy, and when child number four comes along the groundwork should pretty much be set for him or her to simply fall in line. Suffice it to say, parenting as a teen and parenting at twenty-eight are two totally different animals, so where my oldest three got the “fun”/toe the line type of mom, my youngest got the more rounded/”Oh just give him whatever he wants so he’ll be quiet” type of mom. But still the multiple dynamic worked on his favour because there was more than enough attention and “parenting” to go around.
Fast forward eleven years. The youngest of my oldest three has turned eighteen and flew the coop, leaving me with just one baby bird to actively raise. Most think this would make my job that much easier since my youngest has reached his independent years and doesn’t “need” me as much. But honestly, the prospect of devoting all my time, attention, compassion, appreciation, and energy to one child is proving to be much more difficult than one would expect. There’s no one to deflect the child’s attention when you need a break, you get tantrums and challenges full on, you get deluged with every thought that pops onto their head and out of their mouth… And when you throw in the fact that the child is at that preteen state between tugging your heart strings and working your last nerve, that ups the ante.There’s just not enough shiny things available to distract them.
This is a learning experience to say the least, especially with being on a truck, but we’re making it through. Junior Woodchuck is becoming aware of his abilities and my humanity in ways not afforded to him before when he was one of four, and I am learning his individuality as he tests his boundaries. It’s humbling yet frightening at the sane time because I’m not just discovering my son, I am also discovering new facets of myself in the process.
It can only get better from here, right?