Audrey and Me, Then and Now

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Ten years ago this little peanut ruled my world.  She was the lifeline God gave me to finally pull myself out of the darkness that had enveloped me since Barrett’s autism diagnosis.  She was the child who was not planned, but was wanted more than anything in the world.  She was my miracle.

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I got to hold Audrey right after she was born, something I was not able to do with her brothers.  I held on to her and didn’t let go – for months.  It was a mad love.  I was obsessed.  She rarely let me put her down, which was fine with me, because I didn’t ever want to let her go.  I obsessively took her picture.  So much so that it’s hard to find a picture of me from that time that did not include her.

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We would book a sitter for the boys and take her with us when we went out to dinner.  I could not bear to be away from her.  See!?  Obsessed.  The obsession was mutual.  Her daddy used to joke that as soon as I entered a room, she bird dogged me.  She’d pop her head up and lock on to me.

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I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that Audrey was the best drug in the world.  Seriously, I’d probably commit a crime to get hit of that feeling again.  I couldn’t get enough – and was literally delirious for about a year.  The love and gratitude I felt to be blessed with this child is like nothing I had ever experienced.  She truly saved me.

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Imagine my surprise when she turned out to be my parenting challenge, with no medical diagnosis to justify my frustration.  The girl can send me into a tizzy, the likes of which I never knew I was capable.  Yes, as embarrassing as it is to type that sentence, it’s true.  She pushes my button like no one ever has  – including my brother – and that is saying something.  It baffles the you-know-what out of me, because she is the whole package – beauty, brains and charm.  I wrote in a Christmas letter one year that she is everything I ever wanted to be.  There is no jealousy when I say that, just humbling gratitude that she’s MINE.  Yet, I don’t parent her well.  She is headstrong, stubborn, clever and often fearless.  She’s ten, and I tell her all the time that I have decades of knowledge and experience on her – and I know things she doesn’t.  For the time being, I’m still smarter than her.  And by the way, the parent.  This rarely impresses.

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Ten years later, I don’t have the relationship with her I thought I’d have.  We fight more than we don’t.  I’m told that we’re too much alike.  I don’t like that suggestion, but I have considered it – traces of me, perhaps. I just know that I don’t want the current dynamic to continue, because the teen years are looming – and we all know what that means.  Batten down the hatches!

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(BTW, all these picture were taken in the same week of January 2005 – couldn’t get enough).

Aud and her dad are still close.  I love the relationship they have and I know it will serve her well.  She will not choose the types of boys I did.  She will not tolerate anyone who doesn’t treat her as well as Dad does.  A tiny part of me is sad though, because, well – I’m not her favorite.  Her dad and I have talked about it and he has gently suggested that she wants more time with me.  How did I react?  Well, like Audrey would have.  I cried and insisted he was wrong and I was right.  I explained (complained) that I spend more time with her than anyone else.  She demands it.  All I do is spend time with her, albeit usually reprimanding her or telling what she should be doing.

Hello?  Yes, I was an ass.  And he was right.  How I didn’t see it– that most of the time I spend with her was negative in nature- is beyond me.  But that’s how it was, and of course my ego prevented me from admitting it.

The last few months of last year were crazy.  (Yes I know, I’ve  said it all before). I was taking a coaching class to seek professional guidance to help me figure out what I’m doing with all this blogging.   When December came, I just put my hands up in the air and said **** it.   Seriously, I shut it down and concentrated on the family.  Audrey and I shopped together and we baked cookies and we had a girls’ day at The Nutcracker and played an epic game of Monopoly.

Well guess what?  It was really cool.  As much as I’m capable of these days, I chilled.  I also read a lot and a couple of the books made me really consider the choices I’ve made as a mom.  I also worked on my assignments for the Skinny Dip Immersion and slowly it started to dawn on me that I’m the problem in my relationship with my daughter.  My choices as to how I spend my time have directly affected our relationship.  And what I truly desire (admittedly, among other things) is to be a good mother.

I’ve made some changes and I think they’re already making a difference.  As Gretchen Rubin says (many times) in her book, The Happiness Project, “The days are long, but the years are short.”  And I’m running out of time.  These are the days that I need to be fully present – and y’all know how I hate that phrase, but now I know why.  Because I’m rarely present.  I am always off in my head somewhere.

I haven’t officially document my New Year’s resolutions – and they are coming, but you may not see them till February!  And you know what?  That’s okay.  That’s part of the new me I’m working on.  This blog is just a blog and I only really have to answer to me.  I don’t have to kill myself to get things up on time (unless it’s for someone else or in fact a real deadline or I’m being paid).  Screw the posting schedule.  It’s my family who I’m accountable to.

This year I will be a better mom.

One of the promises I made as a young mother was to read to my kids every night.  I let that go.  How sad is that?  I have a laundry list of excuses that I have no intention of sharing, because it is beyond embarrassing.

Since January 3rd, I’ve read to Barrett, Audrey & Cammy every night – unless they fell asleep before I got to them.  On average, if all three are in, it takes about forty-five minutes.  With Barrett, we read books I could recite with my eyes closed, we’ve read them so many times.  But he loves it.  With Cammy, it can be a bit torturous.  I confess – I read the Ninjago chapter books out loud, but I don’t really listen. When we’re finished I get to listen to him explain what has happened, and that is so much better than what was written.

With Audrey, I read and we each comment together about the actions of Rebel (the main character in our current book).  When we’re done, she tells me about her day and we play her favorite game of “Would You Rather?” (No, not the Tina and Amy version!).  Occasionally, she asks me to sleep with her, but I don’t, because I usually need to make sure Hunter has completed his homework.  One of these nights I’ll stay.  For now though, it’s enough that she once again wants me there, all night long.   I just wish I could still walk around with her in my arms.

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This post is a Mama Kat link up: “Find a photo of yourself taken 10 years ago and display it on your blog along with a current photo. How have you changed since the day that photo was taken?”

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What were you doing ten years ago?  How have you changed?  Do you have parenting regrets?  Are you ever surprised by how you parent?

32 thoughts on “Audrey and Me, Then and Now”

  1. Why, oh the freak why, can they not get that we are the parent? When did we lose them seeing us as someone who knows everything to the person who they think they can order around? Sadly, I’m not sure how, but I’ve let that happen as well. I’m not sure when, or exactly what I did…but I know it happened. I swear to you, other than the part of being so in love that first year (um, failure to bond in my medical chart!) I could have written this post. Verbatim my friend. The arguments, the feeling of being so freaking proud of the girl Abby has become at 11 yet so frustrated by the eye roll, the sigh and the arguments. That even the littlest thing you ask them to do ends up in a debate. The feeling that you spend so much time with her how could she possibly want more of you time? There is none left….

    I applaud you for listening to your husband and realizing that how you spend the time with your children matters than the amount of time.

    I have to remember that as I continue to juggle way too many “responsibilities” that impair that time.

    1. I don’t know Kerri – and more than we’re the parents so the fact that they think we’re sooooo dumb! And do not get me started on the eye rolls – or the debates. Just please, brush your teeth!

  2. I have to keep reminding myself that I gave my Mother the same “hell” Kiersten is giving me and we survived and have an awesome relationship now! We will overcome this! By the way Alli, you have not aged one bit from those pictures 10 years ago.

    1. Amy – you have your mom around to remind you. With mine gone, I have (I think) rewritten history. I do not remember being so sassy at ten! Bitchy at 14 yes, but at least I knew to be scared of mom. Aud, not so much. And thank you for the compliment. If you notice though, the 2015 picture is not a close up:)!

  3. What a journey, Allie! Love your post today.
    I completely understand what a little girl can do to (and for) her mom. When our Kidzilla was born, we were shocked – we were hoping for and anticipating a boy. But there she was, all pink and oh so girly. I have loved absolutely every second of it.
    We had a girls day at the Nutcracker this year – our first together and an overnight to a “fancy” hotel nearby. Such great things we’re doing together and I could never have imagined loving it this much.
    That nighttime reading…love it and…yawn sometimes! I love many things we read together, but some of Zilla’s choices, well, I just have to rely on her summary!
    Thanks for sharing your story. 😀

    1. Thanks Lisa! It’s so nice to see you comment. How are you? Most of the books I’ve read with Aud I’ve loved (especially the American Girl books), except for the Rainbow Fairy period. More than one – she had to wake me up:)!

      1. I’ve been behind on reading and even when I do read, I’ve been sparse with commenting since before the holidays. Back in the groove now!
        We have not dipped into American Girl waters yet. I suspect Zilla will love those, though. We love the Whatever After series – basically fractured fairy tales with sort of a mystery twist. She’s starting on Roald Dahl’s books and loves Junie B. Jones because the character is just her age. I find the Disney Palace Pets ones pretty uninteresting. Zilla does love the Rainbow Magic Fairies and I don’t mind those too much. She also likes the Rescue Princess books and Rainbow Street Shelter.
        OK, wow, that’s a lot.

  4. I have a miracle baby–a boy who was the only one of my three I got to hold when he was born. We are attached at the hip. He is just two. I loved reading your look ahead. . .

  5. Wow, she really is so beautiful!
    And I love hearing about this because my girl is five and boy do we butt heads! Cassidy is totally he favorite but sometimes it turns back around. If she’s sick, she generally only wants me. Who knew??

  6. My daughter and I butt heads all the time. Or at least we used to – it has actually gotten better over the past few years. Once she started high school, I think. And yes, I have parenting regrets, but they are small. I just hope my kids won’t remember them!

    1. I’m counting on faulty memories too. Maybe that’s why I’m making an extra effort – I pretty much remember everything after ten – so it’s time to get my act together. High school, huh? I guess I have that to look forward to – if I make it through the middle school years!

  7. Oh my gosh, Allie, I needed this. I devoured every word, because I could really relate. I feel this way sometimes with my oldest, but ironically, it was her three-year-old sister whose babyhood sounded similar to your experience with Audrey. I couldn’t get enough of Sophie. We were inextricably linked and inseparable. At 3, she’s still a mama’s girl. But what does the future hold? I have no idea. Thanks for the much-needed reminder to focus on what’s important– this time with our kids doesn’t last forever.

    1. Thanks Stephanie, and you’re welcome! I know it’s hard, when you have so much going on (and you do!), to remember how fast the time is going. As for the future – fingers crossed.

  8. I keep saying that I am in for it in spades, especially my younger daughter as she is a spite fire and definitely my shadow though now, but I am guessing in the teen years, I will be anything but. Still, I hope that like you I will try my best to make more of effort to be more understanding if and when that day does come. Beautiful photos and yes I still very much don’t do much without either of my girls there, too 😉

    1. Thanks Janine. You have two, bless you. Oh boy. I prayed my last one would be a girl (so I’d have two each), but got another boy (who I ADORE). I think there was a good reason – two girls would have done me in.

  9. Oh, Allie, mothering girls is tough, especially when they’re strong. My Natassja has been the center of my world from day one, but I made so many mistakes that are glaringly obvious in hindsight. I was so focused on my career and my social life when she was young…so not present as much as I should have been. We had a rocky relationship during her ages 12-17. Try as I might to take the high road, I would regularly get sucked into arguments with her. One thing I got right – laying down with her every night to read, chat and give her head rubs. That was the one time when she would open up to me about what was happening in her life, in her mind. Not always, but often. At the time it was hard because I always had a long list of things to do after she went to sleep, but I’m so glad I made the investment.

    1. Diane, I had no idea. But honey, you were so young when you had Natasha – you were a baby. And I know you were on your own, for the most part. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  10. Love love love this. The insight, the honestly, and the bravery in sharing your heart and the ability to say **** blogging schedules. Because you’re right – and I do the same thing. There are days when I let Tucker have more milk, even before dinner, and give him his iPad so that I can read/write/mememememe. UGH. Then I feel guilty about it.
    I don’t have a daughter but yeah, I still can’t get enough of my son and yet??? I don’t read to him each night – often his dad does. I have also taken a bit of a break from blogging and it’s been nice. I feel guilty but a lot less guilty than I do when Tucker says “PLEASE PLAY WITH ME” and I don’t say OK! Let’s go (even when the games suck).
    Oh and he’s been asking to sleep with me recently and I sneak out of his room – which I also feel guilty about. Anyway sorry for the long comment but I love this post and you rock for sharing your heart.

    1. Girl, I love your long comments. I miss you, but I’m glad you’ve been taking a break (I kind of have too) – you deserve it. I also hate mommy guilt. Ugh. I would sneak out, too. I don’t know why, but I never get a good night’s sleep when I’m in one of the kids’ beds.

  11. I love this so so so so SO much Allie. I love your honesty, and the passionate story of your love for your baby and how it has developed and now charging forward with more intention and awareness and insight. WOW. Oh, how I just adore how real and raw and beautiful in every single way, you are.

    Thank you for this- for your transparent heart. I just adore you.

    (How do I find you on fb? Want to be friends? I DO!!!)

  12. Loved this post Allie! You are such an inspiration for this aspring blogger, both as a writer and mom. Not to be superficial, but can you please bottle and share with me your secret for looking the same in the current and 10-year-old photos? So glad you took that blogging class so we connected. Keep on keeping on…

  13. Allie, don’t despair. I can honestly tell you when Liz was the age of Audrey now we fought non-stop. I didn’t even realize it. It was her Dad that pointed it out to me. As much as I wanted to deny it, it was a real eye opener. I wish I could say our relationship turned around right that minute, but it didn’t. It was rocky, full of emotion…a real roller coaster. I’m convinced it’s just the way of Mothers and Daughters. But I was bound and determined she and I would survive and come out with the kind of relationship I dreamed of. It worked! So just hang in there. Ride the ups and downs and just know that all that love will get you thru. Someday, you’ll look at her on her wedding day and know that you raised a wonderful young lady who loves you dearly.

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