The experience of suddenly becoming a mother is a transformational event.
It does not require giving birth biologically, but it involves the whole being - body, soul, spirit. It is a new kind of love, not experienced previously. It is not, therefore, like the puppy love that young people often experience many times before marrying. It invokes a brand new feeling.
My daughter was born beautiful, as she remains to this day. My earliest memories of her are looking at her in a little bassinet next to my hospital bed. I was transfixed by how perfect she was and how sad it was that the mother in the next bed had to pretend that her red, wrinkled baby was equally attractive. I still smile when remembering how strong that feeling was and how unfair it was to think the other woman's baby was so unattractive. (Having said that, there is still no doubt in my mind that my Natalie was absolutely the most beautiful baby ever.)
Now when I see her, I am struck by how strong a woman she is, never realizing how her beauty affected others, growing into a determined, hard working and successful woman. Looking back, I know she did not get that from me. Almost from a toddler's age, Natalie seized her own life, followed the drummer she heard, and never stopped marching.
So too my son, Justin. Six years younger than his powerful sister, he would have had a difficult time if he were not such a strong soul. But he is. Who is the stronger? It is not even measurable.
Neither of my children got their strength from me. It is not that I am not strong; I am. But they were independent. And neither was, nor ever became, like the other.
Is it good news to you that our children will develop
into the persons they were born to be,
rather than fit into any mold we have in mind?
Those of us who thought - or think today - that our children will be carbon copies of each other, let alone of us, can relieve themselves of that concept. Children will become who they want to become.
However, if we smoke, they probably will also. If we drink, so will they. Yes, they will emulate what they see and we need to be mindful to model good habits. But good habits are just tools. They will use the tools as they see fit.
Is it good news to you that our children will develop into the persons they were born to be, rather than fit into any mold we have in mind? It's an important question. For me, I have come to focus on their souls, the integrity of my children, and have no more central wish than that they be happy and honorable.
While they will always be my children, the experience of knowing them as adults is every bit as exhilarating as adoring them as children. I did not know it would be so. What a wonderful surprise.
And a note to the parents of teenagers: Hang in there. Not only will they give you grandchildren; they will become some of your best friends as well.
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 38 years.
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