I am going to say it. Motherhood is challenging, regardless of the kids’ ages. I guess Mother’s Day brought on all kinds of conversation about the stages of motherhood. One of the blogs I follow was about that challenging time of early motherhood with its dirty diapers and sleep deprivation. It is difficult. I only made the mistake of wishing those days away with my first. Having Karissa taught me how fast time flies. I never wished those days away again.
When those sleepless nights end there is the busyness of school-age kids with activities and playdates. There are parent-teacher interviews and homework. I may have some quiet during the day but the noise in the evening gets louder and longer with bigger lungs and later bedtimes. There is a lot more activity at home when my kids are joined by the neighbourhood kids. Not that I’m complaining. At least I know what they are up to when they are here. And they are still small enough to want to bring their friends home. They aren’t ashamed of their parents yet.
Then, when I think I have everything under control, adolescence hits with raging hormones and a need for independence. Bedtimes become a thing of the past as I hit the hay long before them and instead of loud evenings filled with kids playing, there are the silent vigils beside a phone or front door waiting for a sign that they are okay. They are home. They are safe. I can momentarily stop praying.
But not for long.
I won’t even start discussing the kids who have left the nest. No matter how old my baby is, she is still my baby. I hold worrying rights.
Let’s face it, motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The challenges will be there as long as I am a mom. They just look different. They grow up and change but they don’t go away.
Having 6 kids over 14 years means that we have been through all these stages at various times. It also means that we had to survive different stages at the same time. Life definitely has not been dull at our house.
During the summer of 2008, we moved from our 3 bedroom wartime home to a larger bungalow in the same city. It wasn’t a huge move. We only re-located 10 minutes away from our old house but Arlynne, Josiah and Eden had to change schools. Arlynne was devastated. It was the summer between grades 7 and 8 and she only had one more year at the school she had been attending. She begged us to let her stay in the same school but we were just as determined that she would have to switch. She argued that she would walk there. We wouldn’t have to drive her. Ever. But we dug our heels in.
We also lost.
Arlynne started into a spiral of rebellion. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as some kids. But it was bad. She made all of our lives miserable. She was foul-mouthed and disrespectful. She started drinking. Not every day but enough. She was only 13. What made it even more complicated was the fact that she was introduced to alcohol at a relative’s home. It hurt.
Pete had made a commitment when we had started dating. He knew that it wasn’t about just us. There were 2 little girls in the mix. He thought about the possibility of investing in them and not getting any credit because they weren’t his flesh and blood. He decided he could. He was willing to help them learn to ride a bike, to sit with them when they were sick, and drive them where they needed to go. This time in Arlynne’s life made him question that commitment. He wanted Arlynne gone. He felt that she was destroying our family. The younger kids were afraid of her and we never knew when she would explode. He had had enough.
As a Christian woman, I have been taught that my life priorities should be God first then my husband followed by my kids. In a perfect world, that would be the way it was but my daughters had to come first. They only had me and I needed to stand up for them. So I did. In the mess, I chose Arlynne. Against my husband’s wishes, I chose Arlynne. Even against counsel we were getting from family members who loved all of us, I chose Arlynne.