When our children are young, some of us, sensibly, enjoy and cherish each and every moment…and some can’t “wait for them to grow up”. I have met mothers in both categories. One thing I have noticed is that the younger mothers of today (well, the next generation) are more prone to invest all their time and energy in their children……and they do it happily…well that goes for fathers too. That is not to say that parents of my generation were not in the same category….there are all sorts in every generation……but I still think that motherhood / fatherhood plays a very significant role in the lives of youngsters today…well in simple words…the mums and dads of today are very hands-on. That could be due to various reasons but that is not my topic today. Maybe I will talk about it another time…..
Getting back to “can’t wait for them to grow up”, a very dear friend’s mum once said “wait till they grow up”. Now that was a very ominous warning and I often wondered what she meant…..
Let’s begin at the beginning. It is usually said that childbirth is the most difficult experience for a mother. I would disagree with that but that is my opinion. Childbirth seems a dawdle compared to the challenges that lie ahead. How a parent deals with it is another matter. The birth of your child is a very happy event in your life but if you do not plan well, you are soon exhausted due to sleepless nights and giving the baby constant attention. This is a crucial stage in your relationship as well. If you have well defined roles at this early stage, it sets the parameters for the rest of your life, well sort of……..
As my dear uncle would say, I am not trying to “evangelise”. Rather, I am just sharing my experience and if in the process I help somebody, that would be satisfying. We all encounter varied situations in life and what matters is how we deal with each situation, When you look back at your life (or even think about the present) I am sure the people who matter most are your parents. There is no way you can pay back your parents. You can only love and respect them and serve them in a very small way (given the opportunity)……
If you would like your children to look back and feel the same, you have to invest in them, for their present and their future, emotionally, physically and in every way you can. Your role as a parent changes and evolves all along. The only thing that remains unchanged is that once you are a parent, you remain one until your grave. Well, we do not know beyond that, so, I cannot comment on that.
Different stages in your child’s life present you with a choice of challenges and pleasures. When your child is happy and healthy, you are over the moon and when he falls over, even that tiny little step, your whole world crashes around you. It is very important, in fact, essential, to maintain a balance, both for the sake of your child and yourself. Once again your support (for your child) when he has that fall has to be measured according to the stage in your child’s life.
Let me explain that very briefly with an example: if your child comes home with a bad report from school, it becomes your duty to deal with it hands on and make sure he gets back on track. When he moves on to university it is best to advice him / her and give extra support if you child requests it. At the next stage, if your child is struggling with finding a good job, you have to handle the situation with a lot of tact and sensitivity. You have to realise your child is an adult now and if he / she needs your help, they are going to let you know in their own way. You have to look out for feelers. Let them know you are there for them but interfering too much and demanding minute details might upset the balance. From this stage on, the balance and depth of your relationship has got to be adjusted on a mutual basis. There are no fixed rules or conditions. Each situation is unique. Also this is the stage where you begin to reap the results of your earlier “investment”.
On the positive side, you have a treasure chest full of goodies from your child. Here I mean the virtual “treasure chest” of lovely memories; a hug, a smile, a thank you, a good report or in later years a whatsApp, a call, a surprise visit or “I have got the job, mum!!!!”…the list is endless….. your child is capable of taking you to the moon and back….However, is best not to have expectations, then, all these beautiful moments are a bonus and bring you greater pleasure.
Here I go again….. but… it has to be said…never ever try to live your life through your child. You have to remember that your child is definitely a “part of your being” but he is his own individual with a right to his own dreams and aspirations….. encourage him to think for himself / herself and wish him / her well on his / her journey….you have played your part….now, let him / her go and explore……I am the first to admit, it is hard…but….it is absolutely essential……you have given him / her wings but he / she has to learn to fly…….they know they always have a safe haven to return to…….either for a visit…or to settle down…..