The Thing About Parenting

I love being a parent. It is by far the best thing I have ever done, the most challenging role I have ever played, and the most heart-filling, joyful experience I’ve ever known. It is true what they say, there is absolutely NO love, like a mother’s love.

But I also think there is no fear, like a mother’s fear. They don’t tell you that one and I can see why. It doesn’t necessarily have that greeting-card-ring to it, does it?

In some ways I admire people who make the conscious decision to not have children. Some call it selfish, I call it smart. Being a parent is not for everyone. And knowing that it is not for you must require incredible foresight. In fact, I’d say not having children, when you know you don’t particularly want them, is the most selfless thing you can do!

I am a worrier. It is not my finest trait, but it is one I inherited from my paternal grandmother. I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, a mother’s greatest fear is being separated from her child. Or something happening to her child, and she’s not there to do anything about it. Or something happening to her, and she’s not around for her child/ren. When I think about the Morcombes, or hear about other kids who have gone missing, or think about the kids in the Newton shooting before Christmas, I think about their parents, and how they are living every parents worst nightmare. And while I know I can’t live my life, worrying that something will happen to us, I think it’s foolish to think something like that couldn’t happen to you.

I’ve been a right cranky cow the last couple of months. It coincides with my break from personal training, Christmas eating, gaining weight. I have been short-fused with everyone, most especially my husband and son. I have snapped, got angry, said things I shouldn’t say to my child and as soon as the words are out of my mouth, my heart dies a little. This is not the parent I am or want to be. But it’s the parent I am when I start taking my life for granted. When I start taking my family, our health, our blessings for granted.

My life is pretty perfect right now, and I wish I could freeze time. I wish this could last forever and that the fear could be diminished for good. But next week, my son starts school. Next week I will lose him to the system forever and our lives will be dictated by school term dates, homework, and everything else that comes with kids starting school. It is a new phase for us as parents, a new and exciting phase for Nick as a kid. But it terrifies me, too. What if he gets bullied? What if he IS a bully? What if he doesn’t make friends, doesn’t settle in, doesn’t like it?

The joys of parenting. Of course I wouldn’t change it for the world. Nothing in my life has brought me the same happiness he has. It’s just another thing they don’t tell you about when you’re having a baby. It’s no wonder my husband and I have both gone grey in the last few years. I have a feeling the worrying never goes away.

Are you a worry-wart? How do you combat it? 

Flogging my blog with Mama Grace,

who has some cute pics of bloggers as babies on her post today. Do you know who they are?

Chapters of Our Life

A Bon Jovi song keeps popping in my head.

This is the story of my life
And I write it every day
I know it isn’t black and white
And it’s anything but grey
I know, no I’m not alright, but I’ll be ok
Cause anything and everything can happen
That’s the story of my life.

Life really is like a story. A book. There’s the childhood. High school. College. Weddings. Babies. All these chapters of our lives we go through. We close one door, open another, new characters are introduced. Some become permanent characters, some stay for a chapter or two then leave. Sometimes it feels like life is a choose your own adventure book, like we have complete control over what happens next, other times it’s clear our author already has everything planned out for us and we just have to keep reading to see how it ends.

Sometimes, when I’m reading books, I go straight to the last chapter to make sure I like the ending before I invest time in the whole book. I wish I could do that with life. I wish I could flick to the end of our “trying to conceive” chapter and see how it ends, so I can decide if it’s worth continuing the fight, or if we should just concede now.

I’ve been apprehensive, but am now getting excited, about the next chapter in our book – the sending-our-son-off-to-school chapter. There’s the first day, the uniform (complete with hat), the bag, the lunch, finding out which class he’s in and if any of his friends are in it too. I can’t wait to pick him up on his first day and hear all about it, hopefully getting more than a “good” or “nothing” in response to my questions. In thinking about and writing this blog post, it’s occurred to me that we, his parents, have very much been the authors of these formative chapters in his life. But sending him off to school is almost like handing him the book and asking him to start writing his story (with some guidance of course!) Maybe I’ve gotten a little carried away with this analogy.

There’s only 7 days of kindy left before he starts big school. He is so bright-eyed and excited about it, I can’t help but wonder how long that will last.  Like that story about the little boy, who on the second day of school is told, “It’s time to get ready for school!” and he says, “But I just went yesterday!?” I hope school is everything his little heart thinks and hopes it will be. I know we’ll do everything in our power as his parents to help guide him through it so that these chapters of his life are filled with laughter, joy and great memories.

Linking up with the lovely Jess for IBOT.

On Day Care and Vacation Care

In an ideal world, we would all have partners who made enough money to support the family and it’s growing list of necessities luxuries. In an ideal world the dads would go to work at 8:30am, come home at 5:30pm, dinner would be on the table, the kids would all be bathed and put to bed by 7:00pm. In an ideal world mums would stay home with their kids until they started school, at which time they would drop them to school, do the grocery shopping, go home and prepare dinner, do the laundry and clean the bathrooms before picking the kids up from school and coming home to cook said dinner. In an ideal world no child would have to be “dumped” in daycare.

But guess what? It’s not an ideal world. It’s far from it, in fact. Wages don’t keep up with inflation. Families struggle to get by on 2 incomes, let alone 1. There is a very real need for daycare, and from my perspective, we’re fortunate to live in a country that tries to make it affordable.

I just read a blog on the New South Wales Association for Gifted and Talented Children that says mums should stay at home with their children until they are 4, as that is what is best for them. It also says: “Rule 2: Send your child to a community preschool (not day care) when he or she turns 3. With all the talk about early childhood teacher shortages, you will find that there is no shortage of early childhood teachers at preschools. Why? Because teachers love the short hours and the exciting atmosphere created by the fact that preschools are for the children. There are hardly any unhappy children at preschool, it’s a treat, and they love it. Day care, on the other hand, is there to support working parents. The kids know it and the staff knows it. For teachers, day care is hard work, and for kids it is compulsory, with the result that someone is crying somewhere in the centre on most days.”

This statement gets my back up for all kinds of reasons. My son started daycare 2 days a week when he was 16 months old and I went back to work part time. I did this because I was going slowly insane (later found out it was post partum depression) and the extra money also helped around the house. We probably could have kept going with me not working, but a $10 bottle of wine was a luxury and something I didn’t have often. We were barely keeping our heads above water. Working part time seemed like a win-win situation all around. I got socialisation, Nick got socialisation, we had a little bit extra money every week to be able to afford some luxuries here and there. The statement above offends me because it insinuates that working parents 1. choose to work rather than stay home (for many people there is no “choice” be it for sanity or financial reasons) and 2. that working parents don’t care who they drop their kids off with and the carers don’t particularly care to do their jobs, either.

The carers at Nick’s first day care centre were outstanding. I’m still in touch with a couple of them on Facebook today and they still show an interest in Nick’s activities/school/etc. The centre Nick currently goes to is Montessori based and he has come on in leaps and bounds since he started there 16 months ago. Both places have been great for Nick, and if they weren’t, I wouldn’t have continued to send him there. They’ve helped him make friends, helped develop motor skills and social skills. And he loves going. It also means I get to work 3 days a week, and again, we can afford things like family holidays, a newer car, little luxuries that make life that little bit easier.

I think an ideal world would be one where our decisions as parents aren’t criticized around every corner. As for what is best for our children, well that is different in every situation, isn’t it? Each child, each parent, each day care worker is different. What’s best for our children is that they feel safe, they are loved and they are cared and provided for. As long as we ensure that is happening, how can we be doing wrong by them?


Linking up with the lovely Jess at Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesdays!