When I was a teenager and my father was feeling particularly exasperated with me, he would say, “Jennifer, I hope someday you have a daughter just like you!”

And I, ever the smarty-pants, would reply, “I hope I do, too!”

Twenty-five years later, I am sure my father spends much of his time in heaven looking down and snickering. I can even hear him in my head.You see, I have a daughter who is much like me. And two sons with some strongly similar characteristics, too. The curse was applied quite effectively it seems.It’s kind of like the “may you live in interesting times curse.” At first it sounds not so bad, but then when you think about it suddenly an uneventful quiet life sounds really lovely. More than once I’ve sat in deflated heap and thought, “Please, God, let me prove I can be happy and content living a really boring and predictable life.”But life — and child-rearing — is never boring and never predictable. Just when you think you’ve got something figured out, it turns around and bites you. Often in the hind quarters when you weren’t looking. Some of the rules and strategies that worked so well for my oldest (hereafter known as Alfs, 11) didn’t and don’t work at all for my middle (Woody, 8) and youngest (Sunshine, 3). And things I figured out for Woody or Sunshine I wish I’d known for Alfs at the same age. Take into account the personalities of each and it’s a wonder we don’t have chaos every moment of every day. Only half the day, on average. Alfs is thoughtful and funny and kind and sensitive — and seriously pre-adolescent. Grunts and all. As I have heard other moms talk with disdain about coming adolescence, they never mention how much fun a part of it is. Alfs is coming into his own, and it’s really cool to watch.Woody is stubborn and mischievous. He’s a spark. From day one we called him “Mr Instant Gratification.” He’s also funny and exuberant. He’s comfortably social in a way I never was. He knows more people in town than I do, by far. Sunshine has mastered the art of batting her big blue eyes and smiling sweetly to try to get something she wants. She adores her big brothers, but has no qualms about getting in their faces if the situation demands. She’s sensitive like Alfs and stubborn like Woody, and she’s a totally her own person, too.Me? I’m a mom who loves her kids very much even though I sometimes have that line from the Talking Heads song “Once in a Lifetime” running through my head: Well, how did I get here? I’m stubborn and sensitive and I’m the youngest of three. Just like my daughter.There are days with my kids that are truly fabulous and fun. And there are moments I am frustrated and flummoxed to the core by them. There are nights I go to bed in tears. But every morning I get up determined to keep trying.The jury is still out on today, but it’s looking good.


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