So, Mothering Sunday has been and gone, and my telepathic abilities failed me yet again. When I thought “LIE-IN”, I meant for me. No such luck – I was up with the lark (as we call 8am at a weekend round our house) while OH snoozed on. I was deeply jealous of those mums who updated Facebook statuses with tales of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on toast (my favourite). Although, as one friend said: “When they’re old enough to want to do it themselves, it’s more likely to be something cold, that you wouldn’t dream of eating in bed – like a chocolate spread sandwich.”
It wasn’t all bad. In the kitchen, I found posh chocolates and a card; then we all went to Caerhays Castle on Cornwall’s south coast, where OH’s mum and I were treated by our menfolk and enjoyed a beautiful early spring afternoon surrounded by magnolias in resplendent flower.
Parenthood is, put quite simply, an amazing experience. It may be the hardest job in the world at times, but it’s definitely the most rewarding. Occasionally, OH and I ask ourselves if we are “good parents”, doing “the right thing”. We usually conclude that if Daughter seems happy most of the time (she does), then we’re at least as good at it as anyone else.
Becoming a parent has changed my outlook on many things. I’m not sure I ever appreciated Mother’s Day as much as I do now. I didn’t understand just how much one invests in one’s children – love, hope, ambition, not to mention time. I wonder what Daughter will look when she grows up, what she will choose to do with her life. I hope she’s successful, but most of all, I hope she’ll be happy, and I already find myself making willing sacrifices to this end.
I used to find it extremely patronising when people said: “You don’t have kids, do you?” as though you couldn’t possibly understand what it was like to be a parent, and were therefore not entitled to have an opinion on the subject. Today, I realise that to some degree, they were right, even if they did need a few lessons in the art of diplomacy.
In the wake of some terrible news stories regarding the loss of children (the Belgian coach crash and the murder of Jewish schoolchildren in France being just two), I find that I react to these quite differently as a parent. I always greeted such dreadful news with sadness for a life lost prematurely; these days, my first thoughts are for the parents left with a gaping hole, future hopes dashed, waiting helplessly at the end of a school day for footsteps that will no longer come. Just thinking about it brings a lump to my throat, yet I know this barely touches the enormity of such grief. My biggest fear used to be dying; now, it’s not seeing my daughter grow up, for whatever reason.
So I’d like to thank my mum for being there – and my gran, whose house was like my own while I was growing up. I wish they lived closer, so they could enjoy their (great) granddaughter more. In contrast, OH’s parents live right next door, and offer so much support. In them, I can see much truth in the commonly held idea that, less harried by other pressures in life, grandparents have more time and patience to spend with little ones.
And I’d like to celebrate all parents everywhere because, for the most part, we’re doing a grand job. Cheers.