June 22, 2012

It All Started With the Practice Child...

Shannon with her dad, Cameron and Jordyn
Today is Shannon's 36th birthday. I refer to her as "the practice child". I was a young and foolish mother, and Shannon was my guinea pig for my adventures in parenting. When I made parenting mistakes, I first made them with her, poor child.


I spoiled her rotten, yet I felt that I wasn't doing enough. When she was unhappy, I felt that I had failed her. Maternal guilt filled my mind just as maternal love expanded my heart.


She came out of the womb moody and inconsolable...and I had no bag of tricks to figure out how to make her happy. There were times when we cried together as I rocked her in a darkened living room. 


Sleeping was not her forte - I tried many different approaches to get her to settle into sleep. When desperation was high, I'd strap her into her car seat and drive to Ohio and back, just so I'd have four hours of silence...which ended as soon as I pulled into the driveway.


As a toddler, Shannon was talkative and bossy (I don't know where she gets that from, honestly). Ever curious about the world, I bet she said "What's that?" one thousand times a day; I did my best to answer her questions and honor her requests. I read to her obsessively and recited nursery rhymes and fairy tales with abandon. I was her entertainment, her first playmate, her first teacher (though Chuck Woolery and Wheel of Fortune helped her learn the alphabet).


Shannon enjoyed being an only child - maybe a little too much. When her grandma told her that she had a new sister, Shannon responded, with as much disgust as a two-and-a-half year old can muster, "I don't want to hear it." Thus began her stint as big sister. There were times when I thought none of us would survive the conflicts, especially during her turbulent adolescent years. If I had a nickel for every door that was slammed, I'd be a rich woman now.
Shannon and Erin


She did well in school, though in the beginning, she thought she was never good enough. As her confidence increased, school became more appealing.


Shannon was shy and I was her mediator, easing her into conversations and encouraging her to make friends. When she was in college, she sent me a tape of Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" because she said I was her voice when she could not speak.


Shannon bloomed in college, and threw off her adolescent angst (and Erin picked up the mantle and ran with it). When The Boy was born, Shannon came home on weekends with onesies, and she was a great help after we brought her brother home from the hospital.


Now Shannon is a wife and mother of two of the bestest grandchildren ever. She's still kind of shy, it's just her nature (if only I had recognized that when she was a toddler). I am proud of the woman she is, and so glad that she let me experience motherhood for the first time. I couldn't have done it without you.


Shannon making the "mom face"


Thank you, Shannon, for being you. I love you. Happy Birthday!

6 comments:

  1. Awww this is a wonderful reminder to her and for her. I have to say I may have made the mom face a few times. ok a lot of times. Happy Birthday Shannon..

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  2. You have a daughter my age?! For some reason I kept thinking YOU are my age.

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  3. Such a wonderful post! And I feel bad for my son -- he is my only child so it is all practice and I'll never perfect anything!

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  4. Happy birthday to Shannon. I love the things that kids come up with.

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  5. Very sweet post, Kim! Happy Birthday to your Practice Child!

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  6. Wonderful post! I'm pretty sure I've made that "mom face" at a least a thousand times over the years. Happy Birthday to Shannon.

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