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~ * ~ Raising Kids ~ * ~

When I was young, I never really wanted to have any kids. I had spent much of my life helping my mother raise my younger brother and sister. When I *finally* became an adult, all I wanted to do was have fun. I didn't date often, but I went out with friends and partied as much as any other young adult.

I was living on my own in 1981 when I met *J*. He was nine years older than I, but he was very fun to be around. I went more places and did more things in the first few months I was with him than at any other point in my life. Then I started not feeling well. I wasn't *sick* exactly. I just didn't feel well. I was tired all the time, nauseated sometimes, and I... My sister took one look at me and said, "You're pregnant!" No way, I told her, I was on the pill.

Well sis dragged me down to the free women's clinic nearby and I had *the test*. It was positive. My sister was ecstatic. I was stunned. *J* was less than thrilled to say the least and suggested that I "take care of it". While the idea had passed through my mind...briefly...I just wasn't able to seriously consider it.

Needless to say, *J* was not very supportive. Fortunately, I had my sis and mom. They were wonderful. Both were there during a frightening delivery (another story) and both were very helpful after I brought my beautiful daughter home. *J* did not help with his daughter. He pretty much ignored her. I broke up with *J* when Steph was about six months old and he moved out.

When I brought Steph home, the immensity of my responsibility floored me. I literally stood in the doorway of my home, my one-day-old daughter in my arms, and said out loud, "Now what?" I guess I just let my instincts take over because Steph grew and thrived. She was so tiny and sweet.

Parenting methods? Tips? LOL I'm just winging it. I just take care of problems as they come up. I try to listen to my kids, as I was not listened to. I try to touch my children, as I was not touched. I try to understand my children, as I was not understood. I try to talk to my children...that was one thing my mom did, but I wish we had done it more often. I try to have fun with my children...even in the war zone we lived in, mom would take us out to the beach, or shopping with lunch...a short freedom from the stress at home. I wonder if she knew how much it meant to us. I hope so. I guess I just try to be the best mom I can be.

It isn't always easy. As the kids are getting older, they are making dumb decisions. Some of these decisions hold harsh consequences. I try to be there for them as they take responsibility for their actions. I let them know...out loud...that even when I don't love *what they do* I will always love *them*.

I've changed from someone who never wanted kids to someone who wishes I could have had more back then. We stopped having children because we didn't want to deprive them of things we wouldn't be able to buy if we had more kids. In other words, we couldn't afford to have more. How rich we would have been if we had more children like the four that we have. They are wonderful, talented, funny, loving people, each unique in their own way.

Okay, I have one *tip*. Love your children. No matter what "method" you use in raising them, let them know they are loved. Stephanie, Carrie, CJ, Mike...I love you.


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