“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”
From the minute that you learn about their existence you are never the same again. Your life changes in that one single moment. It is no longer just about you anymore, it is now about them also. For the months that follows you are one person. Everything you feel, eat and experience, they do too. This little thing hears your heart beating from within.
Very quickly you become besotted with something that starts off smaller than a bean. As they grow, you do too and before you know it, you waddle like an overweight duck and you have this small alien living and moving within you. Their arrival in the world changes everything, all you had imagined and so much more now becomes a reality. No longer part of you physically, but now mentally their existence consumes and overwhelms yours.
All of a sudden, you have this tiny thing that cries, eats, poops and sleeps, on repeat. The first days, months pass in a sleepless blur and before you know it, they start growing into a little person who starts to talk and walk. Months then quickly turn into years and before you know it, you are watching them walk out the door on their first day to school.
A little while we moved and our son changed schools. He found it hard to settle in and would come home upset. Witnessing his pain almost broke me. My body and soul became awash with a torrent of intensive emotions that I had never felt before. My heart shattered into a million pieces and then felt like the remaining bits were being jumped on by a 10 ft giant. A tornado tore through my tummy at the very though of him in pain.
I was in this situation, almost completely useless. I couldn’t take away his pain or do anymore than I had possibility done. Despite it breaking my heart, I had to ignore his pleas to let him stay at home. The only thing I could do was console his tears, gives him ideas on how to meet other kids and tell him it was going to be ok while having the confidence that it would eventually turn out to be. It was of course and as we came out on the other side of it, he has built up more resilience and is a stronger character for it. We both did.
I learnt that I can’t shelter my children forever or live their lives for them, nor can I always control what they exposed to. They will at some point of their lives experience pain, tears or witness/experience some awful. It is inevitable as much as it almost necessary. Life is not always kind, nor are some of the people in it. You only have to look at the recent hoax in the media of Momo to see a glimpse of that. My son came home talking about it, not because he saw it on a screen but because kids were talking about it in the playground.
As a parent, I can only try and give my children the tools, knowledge and confidence to deal with these situations when they arise and be there to support them when they do eventually go through them. But damn, that is a hard thing to accept and practice.
Children don’t come with manuals but at so many times I wish they did for all of “what do I do now?” moments. However there are so many things you could never learn through a book (although the internet can be handy sometimes). How much your heart swells when they tell you they love you or how much it can also break when they tell you they hate you. How to answer their many queries about life or death (or what a worm eats, who made God etc). Nothing ever written down can prepare you for the many highs and lows that being a parent brings.
There are some days that I feel like the biggest failure as a parent. Those days when I’ve inevitability dropped the ball because I am trying to juggle too many. Those days where I haven’t slept because they haven’t…. Those days when I just don’t have all of the answers on how to be a parent. It is those days where I reverse the roles, turn into the child asking the random questions and pick up the phone and call my mum to ask for advice.
A little while back I was at the zoo and I overheard a conversation between a toddler and his mum. He told his mum that the animals looked sad to be locked up to which his mum queried out loud how was it possible for a 2 year old could understand so much so young? But the truth is, they do comprehend a lot more than we give them credit for. Their simplistic and untainted understanding of life sometimes yield answers for questions that as adults we have over analysed and over complicated. We know as parents that children learn so much from us but often we forget they much they teach us too. The role of a parent is not always an easy one but the only thing we can do is our best and learn the rest along the way.