(Today’s Author is Lou from MWM Kingsteignton)
I have recently had the pleasure of a trip to London to help celebrate my cousin’s wedding. It was only one night away from home but it felt like a mini holiday and I had a fantastic time. It was super to get the chance to spend some extended time with my sister, also a Mum to two small people, an opportunity we seldom have had since both having children as she doesn’t live in Devon.
Settling down at the station cafe with coffee and bacon butty in hand, waiting for my train, I felt a huge feeling of wellbeing. I was embarking on an exciting adventure ON MY OWN! No demands would be made of me today, I would not have to constantly be ‘on duty’, I could enjoy the luxury of letting my mind wander whilst I watched the world go by and listened to music, uninterrupted. Bliss! I felt like a guide dog from whom harness and lead have just been removed, rushing round wagging my tail, removed of the burden of responsibility momentarily.
I am not a frequent traveller to London and so relished the forthcoming challenge of negotiating the Underground across the city to meet my sister at Waterloo. It felt delicious to act like an independent adult once more instead of my usual role of Mummy. My sister and I enjoyed an indulgent lunch of Chinese dumplings on the Southbank, grinning like idiots at the delicious bounty of food (and the opportunity to enjoy it without having several trips to the WC to accompany said small people), catching up gradually and, of course, spent plenty of time talking about our children and the recent parenting trials and challenges we have faced.
Our discussions reminded me how valuable peer support is on this parenting journey. Sharing well intentioned tips and tactics and even commiserations is uplifting and reassuring. My husband and I were fortunate enough to meet a small group of parents-to-be on the NCT antenatal course we attended prior to the birth of our son five and a half years ago. The relationships we made then have developed into firm friendships and now, the support, love and encouragement given and received when we meet with these parents is priceless. In fact, us Mummys discussed just that only last week when we met over lunch.
We frequently discuss the trials and tribulations of the specific development phase our children are working though. It’s this moving goal-post that makes parenting so tricky at times! Just when you think you’ve cracked it, they take a development step forward and their needs change, you have to catch up. You are constantly learning, considering, thinking, muddling through. I’m not a Mum who reads books on parenting styles. I did try one, but it left me feeling inadequate and constantly judging myself so it went back to the library unfinished!
It can be dangerous however to constantly compare yourself to other mums. What works for them, their children, their families, won’t necessarily work for your situation, your children. This is a lesson I’ve learnt myself. That’s part of the fascination of raising small people, just like adults, they are all different, all have their own preferences, characters and dispositions, so why do we expect there to be a ‘right’ way of doing things? I suppose the trick is to have the confidence to do things in the way that works for you and yours. Take advice sometimes but also be prepared to disregard it when your gut instinct tells you that’s not right for you.
Let’s face it, child development is an enthralling and hugely complicated process. The acquisition of language; fascinating. How a tiny child gets to grips with its cultural setting, expectations and starts to understand the world; amazing. Is it any wonder then that parenting isn’t an easy task? As a hardworking parent I was keen to take a well earnt break from.
Now my children are old enough, it’s heathy for them and for me to have the odd night away from each other. I’m always amazed how much I notice how they’ve changed and developed even after such a short separation. It reminds me of how quickly they are developing and how fleeting their childhood will seem once they are grown. It’s tough day to day at times but I’m sure I’ll miss it once they have fledged and no longer need me in the intensity they do now. Then again, they may well still be living at home aged 35…I’ve got to be prepared for that possible circumstance too!
Thinking back to that ‘guide dog’s feeling’ I mentioned at the start, I suppose the trick is to obtain a daily moment of peace in the same way to help stay sane…I’m still working on how to achieve that regularly! Perhaps I should drink more tea… Cuppa anyone?
Lou x x x