This post is prompted by a wonderful post I read a while back by Mr & Mrs T Plus 3 which set the old thinking wheels in motion. It’s also a little bit triggererd by the post I wrote yesterday about parent blogging. Whilst this site isn’t meant to be dominated by parenting stuff, I guess its a pretty natural and easy subject for me to touch upon.
I put ‘According to me’ in the title, simply because it is, according to me. I am not the parenting oracle or anything, but I can happily let my fingers type up an absolute storm on this blog about my own experiences. So, here goes – Fingers, off you go!
I have 4 children. Ages 3, 8, (almost) 12 and (almost) 16. For my Husband and I, its very much like having 2 clear, separate sets: the older ones, and the younger ones. Although we are lucky that they all genuinely adore each other and actually choose to be with each other as much as possible, they are still, for all intents and purposes, 2 sets of kids at different stages of life.
This in itself can make for quite a, er … colourful home life! often featuring juxtapositions such as GCSE trigonometry with In The Night Garden on in the back ground.
It’s quite tricky for us to keep everyone happy and satisfied at times, always trying to ensure that we meet the ‘push me on the swings’ at the park needs with the ‘going to watch Avengers Assemble and late night pizza at the weekend’ needs. Sometimes, it’s pretty exhausting too; just when the younger ones have gone to sleep and you feel like crashing out on the sofa into a NetFlix coma, the older ones still need you to help them with homework, or just want to chat and catch up without the unreasonableness of a toddler dominating the room. It’s all cool though, and I think that with the help of my amazing and genuinely awesome wingman, we just about pull it off, and mostly, everyone is satisfied(ish!).
We always say that it’s like spinning plates. As a result, I think that I have become more of a multitasker than I ever thought possible (I am naturally, a bit of a scatterbrain so this is quite a statement for me) and I have a ridiculous amount of everyone else’s information in my head at any given time. But I have to say, I really do love and enjoy being joint-captain of the ship that we call home. For all its craziness, busyness and sometimes utter, utter disarray – It’s a pretty happy place to be. (For 90% of the time that is. The other 10% is usually made up of tantrums, strops, door slamming, PMT and the kind of bickering that could make your ears bleed)
Amongst all the things that I have learnt on this so-far 16 year journey, one of the things which is something that I suppose I am keen want to write about and to pass on, is this (for what its worth) –
When I had my first daughter at age 19, I thought that the life I had with her at her (and mine) then super young age, was me : ‘This is me now’ I would conclude to myself, the way you do when you go from being alone, to being a mother. You think – ‘This is my life now, with a baby’ and then soon, a toddler. I couldn’t really imagine things moving on much further from there at that age and stage. I think probably because even to imagine her as a 5 year old would seem unthinkable – no doubt because when you are still so young yourself, the thought of them reaching an age which is essentially a quarter of your life thus far, it all seems pretty unimaginable …
… But then the years do start to fly. They do. They begin to take momentum … and then … bam – before you know it, she is 5: a very different person. You blink again, and she is 10. Different still, and so on and so on until pretty soon – they are at secondary school.
And here, HERE my friend, is where the interesting and slightly surprising thing starts to occur in your life which you once assumed to be set in stone. To be your new constant –
They become less like a part of your life; an ingredient in your existence; a representative of your choice and journey; a part of your identity. And more the other way around.
They all of a sudden become their own person. Of course they do. You expect them to – but at 11? 12 even? Do you really imagine it will happen that soon? well, it does. It actually does.
You are someone still very important to them, of course you are. But you are very much in the background of their life. And their life is now an entirely separate entity to yours. I did. Not. See. That. Coming!
You become just so-and-so’s mum.
You’re the string puller in the background.
The one who’s ‘just there’.
Reliable? Yes. An integral part of the things which rock their world? Not so much.
The focus and balance starts to change and there is nothing you can do about it.
You lose them a little bit.
It’s a little bit sad, but a little bit brilliant also.
You can let go a bit. Its okay.
(Hmmm, perhaps you can reacquaint yourself with an old friend. ‘Who’ you ask? ….. YOU. I mean YOU! silver lining and all that!)
Now, I’ve seen this happen twice now, so I know for a fact it’s coming up with the others too. And in a way, it’s made me feel a bit like there is a ticking clock on in the background. Its made me totally aware of time – Of the school terms passing at a horrendously fast rate of knots. Of Birthdays. And of yet more Christmases under our belt.
Its ok. I don’t mind. Mostly. This is just the way it is.
But even though I manage to get my head around this seemingly accelerated life of ours, MY GOD, do I treasure this remaining part of the chapter.
And so I guess in answer to some of the folks who asked me yesterday, why don’t I like to blog about the negative stuff in parenting, its simply because I don’t want to look back to see a legacy of moaning. That’s all.
So in the words of Forrest Gump – that’s all I have to say about that.