I GREW UP IN the seventies. For the longest time, I would have never admitted that I had learned anything from my parents, least of all on bringing up kids. You see, growing up, I harboured the notion that we should always act in ways that would prove worthy of our parents’ love and affections. I have no idea how I came to that conclusion. I just did and as a teenager, I could never really understand why my mum and dad kept ‘closing an eye’ on some serious shortcomings while letting mischief after mischief go unpunished.
What can I say… I was a self-proclaimed ‘good kid’.
Fast-forward to when I gave birth to my first born, I made a vow to myself to be (surprise, surprise…) an exemplary parent. After all, I thought, how hard can it be to mould and shape one’s offspring into a model citizen, especially if you begin from young? Well, while I was quite right about that, it becomes a whole new story when one child becomes two, then three and then four and guess what ….? Kids don’t stay kids forever!
No sweat, I got this!
Bringing up four kids in the nineties, I’d say, was a walk in the park.
Uh-huh… Jurassic Park, that is!
Who on earth would have thought that such a diverse breed of humans could pop out of one same womb? While I wouldn’t call them the devil’s spawns, they certainly weren’t a haloed bunch either. From waking up to diaper wall art when they were toddlers to discovering not-so-innocent love notes in their school bag when they were tweens, I’d say I’ve seen it all. Sometimes I came out of troublesome situations feeling like a champion and at other times there was this place six feet underground, there was rock bottom and then there was I.
Plus… it’s only when you’re a parent of more than one kid that you realize that it isn’t always easy being fair. In fact sometimes, it’s almost impossible to be so without injuring your soul…
In the eyes of any loving parent, there will never be a ‘black sheep’ in the family. I only truly understood this when I had to deal with differences between my own children. (I’m still dealing with it!). When one feels that something isn’t fair, the other would feel otherwise. When one of them wants something which will require me to go out of my way for it, his or her sibling might question why I am willing to go the extra mile for one and not for another…. I realise now, how challenging it was for my parents to try and keep everyone happy – To be downright ‘unfair’ yet still have unconditional love for each one of us.
I see her point. I really do! The lesson I have learned from her and my pops was that as parents we do what we can to bring up our kids while being their friend, protector and nurturer. However, some of our ‘rocks’ may need a little more attention and some extra polishing before they get to shine as bright as the stars.
Doing whatever it takes!
Necessity , more specifically, schooling, has prompted me to surrender guardianship of my youngest, now 16, to my sister in Cheras, where he is now in the company of herself, her husband and two of their own school-going children. I am deeply grateful for this arrangement, for Damien needed a ‘father figure’ in his life and the role has been carried out to perfection by my bro-in-law!
As for me, I am now witness to the daily challenges in the lives of my three adult daughters who share my home. Theirs is a colourful life filled with issues of work, finances, friendship, colleagues…. and of course, romance!
Now here’s the difficult part… I see potholes, traps and some well-played games as they run through their adventures of the day with me. I see agendas everywhere and at times I really do feel that they’re marching right into the arms of trouble, or rather, the company of trouble!
Admittedly, the trickiest part is to let them experience life as I have before, without prejudice! I seem to have forgotten that I never had a friend whom my parents approved of during my twenties! Still, when things got tough, my parents seemed to be my only friends!
I tell myself daily, as I have from the time they were in diapers, that I am going to ace this! Between trying not to jump to conclusions, not to judge books by their covers and not to bore them to death with my personal opinions, I do sometimes get my points across. While I triumph at those moments, at other times, I just take a deep breath and wait till I’m needed. ( read: Fall and I will be there to pick you up! )
Yes, I’ll let them live…. as my parents have done before!
Till next week… God bless!
Cindy Antoinette is a seasoned writer and former editor of BabyTalk Malaysia. She has been active in the writing and publishing scene since the early 90’s and has a passion for all things bright and beautiful in life. She is mother to four children who are between 16 to 24 years of age and insists that motherhood is a lifetime journey of emotions, joy and lessons learned!