Parenting, probably the most difficult task we will ever undertake, and yet, we fall into it so easily, not fully knowing how totally life changing having a child can be.
A child is a permanent fixture, a little person that will forever be a part of your life, regardless of what life may throw at you personally, they will still need your love and support. It’s also a job that has no real predictable outcome, it’s not a task that you can assign goals to, you can’t break it down into bite sized, manageable pieces. It’s a minute by minute, day by day, full-time job that has no foreseeable ending.
If only parenting was a job that we could neatly process in our planners, with a measurable end goal and a system for seeing how much progress we’re making. It’s not, it’s a constant, evolving roller coaster of emotion and practical tasks that have to be addressed, procrastination isn’t something we can easily employ when it comes to our offspring.
And yet, we have one, then we often have another one, in my case ending up with seven! Do we have more children because we already have one to look after, life has changed unrecognisably anyway, so we may as well add to the family? How much harder can two be compared to one?
Not wishing the above to sound negative, I couldn’t be happier that I had all of my children, I wouldn’t change a thing with regard to them and I know every parent feels the same way. The biggest challenge, I believe, is that you have no idea whether you’ve done a good job or not until they’re adults and start to tell you where you went wrong!
I remember someone telling me when I was pregnant with my first child Jamie that, as a parent, I had to be ‘good enough’. I also remember my hackles going up at the time and thinking, “I don’t want to be ‘good enough’, I want to be the best parent I can be”, and then being determined to do just that.
Some great advice I was given 24 years ago and I’ve tried to remember
And over the last 26 years that’s exactly what I’ve tried to do, knowing all the time that I wouldn’t know if my ‘best’ was enough for many years to come, all I can say is that I’m at peace knowing that I sincerely did try to do my ‘best’ at all times in spite of the curved balls that have been thrown at me over the years.
I’ve been very conscious of everything I’ve done and everything I’ve said, always trying to not say something that would have a lasting negative impact on my beautiful children. I’ve tried to be strict enough without stifling their emotions and crushing them into becoming the empty shells of the person they should have been. I can put my hand on my heart and swear that I’ve only ever wanted the best for them, whatever that may be. I’ve always tried to encourage them in whatever they want to do and taught them to reach for the stars and believe in themselves, because it’s likely that very few other people will believe in them.
And now they’re mostly all adults and preparing to spread their wings, I hope and pray that I’ve managed to give them the tools they need to be whoever they wish to be, to be able to aspire to being whatever they want to be and strong enough to pursue their dreams in the way they want to pursue them.
I’m not perfect, I have made mistakes and I hope my children will forgive those mistakes and understand that parents don’t always ‘get it right’. Maybe when they have children of their own they will fully understand that parenting isn’t a perfect science and is fraught with ‘danger’ and then they’ll understand that every parent is, effectively, ‘winging it’. Babies don’t come with a manual, no troubleshooting tips in the back, no error codes to check, no virus software to upload, just a miniature person that is handed to you at birth that you then have to try to work out all by yourself, and there’s no other model exactly the same to compare their performance with!
So, to every parent out there, you’re not alone in wondering whether you’re getting it right, and you won’t know until they’re old enough to tell you the error of your ways. In hindsight you’ll see their point and wish you could turn the clock back, but having regrets is pointless, as long as you know you did your best, you have to forgive yourself. One day they’ll understand how difficult parenting is and they’ll understand those ‘mistakes’ you made because they’ll be making their own mistakes without even realising it.
Being a parent is the most rewarding and frustrating task I’ve ever undertaken and I feel honoured and privileged to have had the opportunity to be a mother to my children. I love them all so much, I would die for them without a second thought, but above all, I respect them all as people, things could have been so very different.
Thank you Jamie, Kacie, Lorie, Mirie, Nikita, Osborn and Pippa. I feel humbled to have been able to spend a large part of my life with you all, you bring me the most intense and immense joy every single day. As I say in ‘Kingdom of Us‘, I don’t who I would be without you……
An important final word…