Teenagers can be so exasperating! I have one child and you’d think that my life would be easy, but no; God has seen fit to bless me with a child who is as stubborn as I was growing up. As a matter of fact – she’s worse than I ever was. My grandmother always used to say that she hoped I never had children, because if I ever did, I would feel double the pangs of child-rearing that she endured raising the daughter of her last child.
Sometimes, I have to sit and wonder what it is that goes through the mind of our children, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to coming in from a hard day’s work when she’s been home all day and there’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Even though she knows how particular I am about my kitchen being clean and tidy – and that dirty dishes will just set me off huffing and puffing. I’m not too worried about what the rest of the house looks like, but I’ve got this thing about kitchens and bathrooms – in appearance - they must present as beyond reproach.
Is it the role of the teenager to give you grey hairs, raise your blood pressure and make you honestly want to commit murder? I daydream sometimes about what it would be like doing time after I’ve thrown her out the window (joke). On the other hand, it really is true, when she smiles that engaging smile of hers and her face looks the picture of innocence as she says ‘mum can I have a hug’ – well it tugs at my heart strings and makes me realize that one of the best rewards of being a mother is in the giving and receiving of love.
Twenty years ago, I was classed a geriatric mum when I gave birth to her. I’d been childless for so long that I’d given up hope, but then one night after baring my soul to one of my closest friends who saw that behind the bravado, I really wanted to become a mother, she advised me to pray. I started praying and asking God to fulfill my heart’s desire. You can imagine my surprise and joy when shortly afterwards I found out that I was pregnant! I would jokingly tell my friends that I hoped for a boy, because everybody knew I couldn’t braid hair to save my life. Well, wouldn’t you know it – “well done mum, you have a beautiful baby girl’. She was the most beautiful baby, always smiling, hardly crying, just a joy. Of course I spoiled the heck out of her, but I believe that children should have a charmed childhood – I know I did. She remembers the doll house I gave her for Christmas when she was 3 years old. I too have fond memories of working on the project after she’d gone to bed so that the surprise wouldn’t be spoiled. Wallpapering and painting the tiny rooms and searching for furniture, cutting small squares of carpet so that it looked just like the house in which we lived. We went everywhere together, my pride and joy. I promised that I’d never leave her and no matter what the circumstances, no matter how tough life got – it would be the two of us against the world. That promise held up for almost 15 years, so much so that friends and family thought that I’d changed my sexual preferences, since I never seemed to have a man. How could they know I was protecting this child that had been given to me and that no man was going to harm her, especially not one that was sleeping in my bed! I have a particular hatred for sexual predators and I knew that I would have serious issues justifying not killing any boyfriend who even looked askance in her direction.
Even though she’s now passed from teen years to womanhood, she’s still my baby girl and I know I’m guilty of treating her that way. Many times I wish she’d move out and find a place of her own, especially when she’s moved something and not put it back, which throws me into a small state of panic – I know when the time comes for her to leave, I’ll not want to see her go. Her friends all think I’m a bundle of fun and they all want to move in – but thank you very much – the one child I have is more than enough. It really is true that God never gives us more than we can handle and he knew what he was doing when he gave me my daughter. Jamaicans have a saying that one child does not a family make, but I know that my one child is more than enough family for me.