Thursday, February 4, 2016

Raising a Daughter has its Challenges!

Raising a daughter was nothing like I thought it would be. When we found out our first born was a girl I was over the moon excited. A girl was just the best news. She was a gorgeous baby with big blue eyes and red angelic lips. Everyone wanted to hold her and cuddle her. I recall the first outing hubby and I took without her though. She was about 5 months old and we were invited to an engagement party. Free food and entertainment, we scored!! Claire was left with my mum and she screamed non stop! My mum called me an hour  after we left and reluctantly asked me to come back. That was really the beginning of our hardships mixed with joys.

As I said, Claire was a such a gorgeous baby and we would get so many complements on her big blue eyes and how well she developed from a baby into a toddler. She crawled for about a week then realised it wasn't so fun and so decided to walk. She was walking just at the end of nine months. Which was amazing and fun for about a week. Having a baby who is walking around at 10 months isn't what its cracked up to be and when you aren't prepared it's even harder!!

I remember at about 12-15 months I was recording Claire's words in my journal ( I don't think blogs existed back then, or at least I had never heard of them). I was filling up the pages fast. At her 18 month update appointment, the nurse asked me what kind of words Claire was saying. I listed some and she looked at me like I was joking. I bet she was thinking, " Oh no, one of these parents who think their kid is saying these things when they aren't". I wasn't bragging, Claire was my first and I thought it was "normal". But now the nurse was giving me that look, so I asked if that was normal or was she behind? The nurse looked at Claire and said, " How are you Claire?" Now I can't remember exactly what Claire said, I do have it written down in my journal, which is somewhere. But the look of shock and surprise on the nurse's face was priceless when she answered her. I wasn't lying, she really could talk your socks off and express herself very well, even at that age. I felt like saying, "Told you"! But again, I wasn't bragging it just was what it was.

Now, I could say all this is amazing stuff continued on, however, as Claire grew up life got more challenging for me. Leaving her at preschool was an event! It was so heart breaking because she would run to the gate and scream like she was being chased by a murderer! It took about 6 weeks for her to chill out when I left and a couple months before she just walked in and didn't run back out again. I would often call when I got home (about 30mins later) and the teacher would say she was fine and one wouldn't know it was the same girl who had put the performance on earlier.  That was how it seemed to work for Claire, put the performance on for mum and see what it took to make her crack. She was a smart little girl. She was keen to argue and question our rules, a lot! Like a real lot! Putting her in time out was a horrendous experience. Disciplining her was a challenge and I had to get really creative. I would always tell myself it will get better when she gets older, but it just got harder, and harder, and heart breaking. She did very well in her school work and she excelled in creative writing, but home life was not all hearts and roses. I went through periods where I didn't like being in the same room as her because of the challenges she put me through. As I had more children, she would go through moments of joy and helpfulness to the complete opposite.

My mum encouraged us to take her to a child psychologist when she was about 10. I was in denial a bit because I justified her behaviour as a creative mind, when really she was manipulating and over powering. How did things get to here? Counselling worked for a little while, but then things fell back into challenge zone again.

Things came to an over powering peak when she was 12. She hated the first high school she attended. She refused to get out of bed, and she hated me. I was to blame for everything and if anything went wrong in her life, I was blamed even if I wasn't in the room or near her when it happened. It was emotionally and physically exhausting. She was no longer a child and I couldn't physically pick her up and move her to her room, or hold onto the door. She was becoming physically stronger than me and the psychological manipulation was harsh and hard to keep up with her. I was told by a counsellor, you have to be several steps ahead, which I could potentially do if I didn't have 3 other children to tend to. Motherhood at that time was hard. Really hard. We decided to changed her schools, hoping this would help her enjoy school. She was actively involved in choosing the new school and her cousin attended and they were in the same year, so we thought this would work out well.  But at this new school she met a friend who was toxic. Well, I should say this toxic friend sort her out. Claire was well accepted at this new school and climbed the social ladder rather quickly. This girl was keen to hang with Claire on top of this social hierarchy. This girl was a nice natured girl to anyones face, but had a taste for adventures with no boundaries nor respect for adults, even her mother. Though we did what I figured most parents did. Have all the sleep overs at our house. Have the girl and the other friends at our house so I could monitor things as much as possible. But I can't monitor them at school, or places they would lie to me about going. Claire's behaviour got worse. So we decided to have Claire see another counsellor and things got better for a couple of months, but then Claire was a victim of cyber bullying at the hands of this "so-called" friend. This cyber bullying was not just a run of the mill situation. We  had to get police involvement along with the school and the toxic friend was suspended. All this drama  turned things south again. She still somehow thought it was a social requirement to remain friends with this girl. Even though she had done this horrible thing (amongst other things).The toxic friend also couldn't leave Claire alone, not necessarily to continue to be nasty but because of this stupid social hierarchy thing! Something had to be done, so we got her to see another psychologist (the one she saw before had moved on to a different clinic). This psychologist was amazing. She had Claire really understand accountability. It was hard on me because I wondered what was wrong with me and my relationship with my daughter, that she couldn't learn those things from me? How did things get this bad? Thankfully, Claire cut herself from this toxic friend and has learnt strategies on self worth and knowing how to determine good qualities in friends and people in general. The psychologist  also helped her see that I am out to help her not hinder. That while she has treated me badly in the past, I won't hold it against her and that Claire is first and foremost my daughter, whom I love and will love forever.

While all these challenges were taking place I had plenty of mums telling me how raising teen girls is so hard. Though most told me that life gets better around 15 or 16 onwards. For me personally, I couldn't see that potential. I always thought life with Claire would be challenging,  for the rest of my life, even if she moved away from home when she got older!!

However, the past 12 months I am happy report have been great. The past 6 months though have been the best. In fact, today was a day I never thought would happen. Claire and her friends spent the day with me. We didn't do anything amazing, I had to go to Costco so they came a long. We chatted and laughed about silly things. It was a girls day out, and it felt so nice. I'm sure this sounds cheesy, but Claire took a photo of us and captioned, "Out with the Squad". Two years ago, that just wouldn't have taken place. I would have been told off for sitting near her and her friends and mocked for trying to be in the photo! She would have demanded things instead of asking then we would embarrass ourselves by arguing because I wouldn't be treated like that. I may not have even got into Costco, I might have left because I couldn't cope with her nasty attitude. Anyway, it seems it is not like that anymore. It seems that we really are progressing forward. We do actually enjoy each other's company and share personal space. It's a really nice feeling, and I like it and I want to hold onto that forever.


shannon said...

I'm so glad to hear you're in a good place now. I have a very strong willed miss 6 and can see some of this type of stuff in our future. I'm bracing for it now! Thanks for linking up to the ultimate rabbit hole xx

Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid said...

I'm pleased you're in a good place now - I think being a parent of any child, regardless of their gender is one huge learning curve!

Bronnie Marquardt said...

So glad you have worked it out and are closer for it. I'm with Sammie. I think parenting is tough, regardless of gender and age. It's all a learning curve and every child and family has different challenges. Most of us just love our kids and want the best for them. Sounds like you are doing an amazing job.

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