I have just waived goodbye to my four year old, George, for a whole week. He is going to stay with his grandparents in York with his two other little boy cousins. He is going to have the best time ever, but I am already missing him and feeling sad without him being here. It’s incredible how emotionally attached I feel to my children, it’s like no other feeling in the world. I worry about them all of the time, and I don’t think that will ever change.
I have been reflecting lately on why I had children, why I always wanted to have them. This thought has particularly struck me twice this past week through a couple of observations I’ve made. Firstly, I saw a lovely lady walking along with her screaming toddler and her teeny tiny baby attached to her in a sling. She was also carrying bags and it was evening time so she was probably tired out too. She was calm and totally had it all under control, but I knew how she felt inside. I knew she felt anxious to get home. I knew she wanted her toddler to stop crying and hold her hand nicely. I knew she would be calculating her baby’s next feed time in her head. It just made me stop and think ‘why.?’ Why do we do these hard, hard things?
Another pensive moment I had (I don’t usually have many) was when I was walking past a cafe the other afternoon. I was with my two scooting children who were refusing to scoot and we were trying to make our way home before it was too late to cook and the inevitable cereal dinner would make an appearance. The sun was shining, and the cafe had outdoor tables filled with people idly sipping their smoothies and reading books. I gazed so longingly at these people that I almost tripped over my non scooting children. I was wishing it was me sitting there enjoying some peace by myself. I was wishing I could eat cake and do what the heck I wanted for a few hours. Then I asked myself, why do I feel like this? Why am I so often wishing that I could have some ‘me’ time and that I wasn’t looking after my children? Why do I want to be somewhere else? Why do I clock watch until bed time some days? I know all parents do this sometimes and that it’s normal, but I want to do less of it.
These feelings don’t mean we are bad parents, I know that, it has just made me reflect on why I am a mother. I have been spending way too much energy on these thoughts recently and I need to shift my focus. When I really look at my children, I see these incredible little people. They have feelings, they hurt, they rejoice, just like I do. They are intelligent and curious and innocent, they are beautiful. They deserve my time, my whole heart and soul. I have also been thinking about the kinds of childhood memories they are forming already. What will they say when people ask them about their upbringing and what their parents were like? Will they say ‘my mum was really grumpy and not much fun?’ ‘My mum took care of me but she didn’t seem to enjoy it.’ ‘My mum always seemed like she would rather be somewhere else.’ Doesn’t it just hit you when you consider it like that? I am impacting their little minds so massively with experiences that will stay with them forever. Pretty full on, huh.
I see so many people having a hard time with their kids, just like the lady I saw making her way home. Some days are so incredibly hard, but we do it anyway, and we have more children! Aren’t there those moments, though, when you just feel so much happiness you might burst? When my children tell me they love me and they hug me and kiss me, I feel so much joy. Pure joy.
Yesterday, I was particularly snappy and wishing the day away. I really wan’t a nice mummy and I felt it. Once the kids were asleep, I went and laid next to George and just held onto him for a while as he slept. I told him how special he is and how much I love him and just cuddled him for ages, tears streaming down my face. These moments really do make everything else melt away, as cliche as that sounds. My children are a part of me, they grew in my body and I see my face in theirs. I want to be better for them and for us all to be happy and enjoy this incredible gift of family life we have been given.