It’s a tough gig. One that I didn’t really understand until I was almost up to my neck in it. Which I’m sure is absolutely the way parenting usually is.
There’s so many things to worry about, and grapple with, and wrestle each other about how to give our precious little ones … well … the lives that we dream of them having.
As an obvious overthinker of all things human and connection (you have read some of my previous posts, haven’t you?) I have spent the last 14 years trying to do my best. But secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, I have feared that I have been doing it all wrong.
After all, I have worked and left my babies in long term day care, used disposable nappies, often supplied my children a questionable diet, and have possibly on occasion dropped off a sick (but not too sick) child to daycare & school, and hoped against hope that no one would look at them too closely.
We’ve had far too few holidays and our children spend way too much time in front of screens, big and small. Our children didn’t do any extra curricular activities until last year, and we seem to do a completely hopeless job of following through on homework or daily readers.
I could, I promise you, go on. And on. About all the things that I look back on, and wonder whether we have already ruined things for the childhood of our children.
If you’re a parent, you probably have your own list of “oh no” things.
Often, school holidays bring a lot of these things into focus for me, as our past has involved a whole lot of full time work for both Dean and I. Which has meant that our children have usually had school holidays that are really not that far removed from school term. Monday to Friday, delivered to school, for vacation care, weekends recovering and preparing for the next week.
Over the last year or so though, things have been shifting.
Bayley is now well and truly old enough to stay at home on his own, and he is even old enough to be at home with some of the younger ones for short stretches of time. Our work has become more and more flexible, giving us, and mainly Dean, more time to be at home with the children.
Then, the other day, it hit me. Maybe, just maybe, we might be kind of doing OK.
I felt like, for the first time, that our children had something like a proper school holiday.
There were some days at vacation care for the younger ones, but it was only a couple of days a week. There were play dates at the park, heading over to friends’ places for visits and sleepovers, and children coming and going from our house.
On Monday afternoon, I took Sabrina to work with me for the morning. Then around lunch time we headed out, grabbed a smoothie together, before I dropped her to her friend’s home for Sabrina’s very first sleepover. I then went back to work for a couple of hours, before going home and picking up Tyben from a sleepover at his friend’s place from the night before.
When I pulled into our driveway after collecting Tyben, Bayley’s friend had just arrived on his pushbike and said “Would it be OK if Bayley came home with me and stayed over”.
In that moment, I saw it.
We’re not completely failing our children. They have friends. They are making their way in the world, and are just as happy bringing their friends here.
Here to our home. To our modest little house that we spent years hiding from the world, worrying about our one bathroom, the kids’ shared bedrooms and our yet to be sorted out back yard.
I’m liking the idea that things aren’t really that bad. That even though things didn’t turn out exactly as I pictured, that maybe they are really OK anyway.
And this has been one of the hardest posts to hit publish on.
Isn’t that interesting!
I wonder if there are things in your life, that maybe just might kind of be OK too?