Yes, They Are All Mine

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Yes, They Are All Mine

by Bonnie Small,
Family Parenting

I am a mother of 4. I have been a mother of 6, but currently I have 4 children.

This statement can sometimes confuse people, especially when they find out that I have only carried 3 babies. When I met my husband, he came with 3 ‘pink’ bonuses. When I have all 6 of them and I’m out in public, I frequently get asked “goodness, are they all yours?” I always reply with a solid “yes”. Once I did have an older gentleman congratulate me on doing my best to keep Australia ‘Australian’, which – although quite racist – did make me chuckle. For the most part though, people pale slightly, break out in a cold sweat and ask how I manage. So far as I can tell, the key is to never let yourself think about the big picture of what you’re doing, until you’ve done it. Otherwise it can get very overwhelming.

I had a calendar notification flash up on my phone this morning. It said “Girls’ Gotcha Day”, meaning that today should have been the two year anniversary since the younger 2 girls came to live with us. The alert saddened me slightly, as they have gone back to live with their mother. Unfortunately she managed to tell them something – no one in the family knows what – that made them want to leave a stable home, food on the table every night, full lunchboxes each day for school and no one doing or selling drugs around them, and go back to exactly the opposite.

The eldest still lives with us, and avoids anything to do with her mother wherever she can. I’m sure this makes things slightly easier on me, however it has been a rather bumpy road at times.

People ask how I could take on another child as my own, without flinching. I think it is partially due to the fact that I was adopted myself, and have always been used to the idea that sometimes your children were born before you met them. The rest I think is something to do with my individual mindset.

I have chosen to treat my eldest as exactly that.. MY ELDEST.

Yes, I am hard on her. Yes, I expect a lot from her. But I treat the other 3 younger ones with the exact same standards. Initially I struggled a little, as everyone told me ‘oh, you can’t discipline your step-kids like you would your own’ and ‘you need to be nicer to them or they’ll run back to their mum’. But after thinking about this for 1.2 seconds, I realised that I was going to do things my own way. If I was to be a parent to these girls (whichever one(s) I had at the time), then I was not doing myself or them any favours by giving them special treatment. There was one time when she had gone back to her mother’s for the weekend and she came back with ‘oh, Mum lets me stay up until 10pm’. My reply..? “That’s nice honey, the rules don’t change here. Bed time is still 7:30, you can still tidy your room on Saturdays after netball, and you still need to put your washing out.”

Initially, she was slightly taken aback, but over the years not moving the goal posts has paid off. The rules and expectations stay the same and she knows what is expected of her. She also knows that if she does not obey the rules, then we’re going to have problems. We have a pretty good relationship, even with the usual ‘15-year-old-girl’ problems that crop up. But for the most part, she is a respectful, well-mannered child that people (including myself!) enjoy having around.