Loving the way I know how

Life as I know It
By Nicole Daughhetee

I love my children dearly, but I am thrilled that school is back in session.
Yes. I said it. Out loud! And I am assured that sharing this feeling does not make me a bad mother, nor am I conveying a feeling that other parents throughout Pickens County aren’t thinking.

I grew up watching The Cosby Show. When I was little, I dreamed of having five children. God absolutely knew what He was doing when He made Ella my last child. The way things have worked out, two is about all I can handle.

My greatest fear in life is that I am going to irreparably damage the two most precious gifts I have ever been given. That 20 years from now they are going to be sitting on some over-priced cushy leather love seat telling a psychiatrist that their mother is the root cause of them having to schedule this appointment.

Where am I going with all of this? Originally my thought was that my mother had it easy, having only one child to raise.

Being an only child equipped me with a great deal of independence. I had little trouble entertaining myself. I was always the center of attention. There wasn’t anyone with whom I had to share the spotlight. There wasn’t anyone to compare with, so I set the standard, if you will. When you have only one child, that child gets 100 percent of everything — time, patience, effort, energy and so on. I’m not placing any kind of value judgment on this — it simply is what it is.

I am an only child, but I have two daughters. As much as I try to be unequivocally fair all the time, it is a difficult task to master — sort of like those people who can spin plates atop sticks and keep them all going at the same time without a single dish crashing to the ground.
Philosophically speaking, what I do for one, I do for the other.

I don’t ever want one or the other of my girls to feel like they are being “left out,” and at ages 7 and 9 these kids take some amazing notes. They compare themselves to one another regardless of the fact that I praise them equally for their strengths and try to teach both of them manners and social mores. No matter how diligently I try, one or the other of them always comes up with “you like her better” or “you love her more than me.”

What I try to do is nurture their individual strengths and aptitudes.
Emerson loves school, and she is incredibly bright. She thinks she’s going to Clemson, but I am still holding out hope for Harvard. This fall she decided she wanted to play volleyball. Em didn’t come from a genetic pool of athleticism, but she wanted to do it, and I was her biggest supporter and loudest cheerleader (there were literally times I thought one of the refs was going to eject me from the game). She has decided that she wants to learn how to bake and be a famous cupcake creator. I’m already designing marketing materials in my head.

Ella hates school, but she is so smart that I find myself getting frustrated with her apathy. She is so smart and creative that, in my opinion, she should not only love school but blaze through it all.

Homework is a daily argument and struggle. Ella is incredibly lithe and athletic. She climbs up the door frames like a monkey, but she is short — vertically challenged — so she wouldn’t play volleyball. She decided on basketball (Huh???) and seems to be enjoying it. Sensitive and artistic, I encourage her creativity with clay and paper and paint — any art supply imaginable.

Obviously I love both of my children, and if I am completely honest, I love them differently. The love in my heart is overabundant and the disbursement of love — in hugs, kisses and I love yous is pretty spot-on equal — but I do love them differently because they are two incredible and unique individuals.

I’m certain my mother had it easi-ER — not easy. Lord knows I provided plenty of challenges for that woman! As an only child, the only person I had to compete with was myself; perhaps this is why I am my own worst critic. On the other hand, I always knew that mom loved me best.
Being an only child, I suppose I won by default.