When I got pregnant with the small boy, I naturally had hopes and dreams for a bright future for him. In the first instance I hoped for a healthy baby delivered safely, something which didn’t really go according to plan, but he did arrive and he was eventually pronounced healthy. The old cliche is correct, nothing ever really prepares you for bringing your own tiny human home. No amount of books, pre-natal classes or expert TV nannies can prepare you. You’re pretty much winging it.
When you are pregnant, people say things to you about sleepless nights and explosive nappies, and you just sort of nod. You nod like you know what it feels like to have broken sleep. Lack of sleep isn’t how you imagine it to be, having broken sleep, snatches of naps, dealing with constant demands from a tiny human who can’t communicate with you what they want or need night after night, it’s hell. No wonder it’s a form of torture. The SAS play recruits tapes of screaming babies whilst keeping them awake to see if they can break them. Ladies, we are tougher than the SAS. Sort of.
I remember sitting down with a good friend over a brew. Our two toddlers sat on the floor playing together. She turned to me and wondered if she was a good parent and I replied, “well we’ve not managed to accidentally kill them yet and they’re both clean, clothed and well fed”. I doubt anyone is the perfect parent, but all you can do is your best.
No one prepares you for lots of things, the amount of washing for a start. Previously my husband and I would do 2-3 loads of washing a week. When the small boy arrived that increased to at least one wash a day. I used to joke that he had more costume changes than Elton John, he still does come to think of it.
Having a child makes you worry for the future, but it also gives you someone who holds you in check. You may think you recycle as much as you can, then they learn about recycling at school and you find yourself being instructed by a five year old to scrape the labels off jam jars and recycle separately both the jar and the label. He’s a stickler for standards!
Being a parent influences most of your decision making, right from the day you pee on a stick and find that blue line. From where you holiday, what you eat, when you eat, how much you recycle, the cleaning products you use, what car you drive, where you live and who you are friends with. It’s all encompassing, and finding yourself going from strong independent career woman, to that lady with the screaming kids who always smells like baby wipes, can take some getting used to.
Everything I do as a parent, the choices I make and the things I buy are all small acts of love (stick with me on this). I buy him the pasta shapes he likes because he enjoys them and it’s good to see him clear his plate without complaint. We go on holiday to places near a good sandy beach, because nothing makes him happier than digging a big hole and filling it with water.
Everything we do, we do with him and his bright future at the forefront of our minds, not because he is a little prince and we pander to him, but because he is one third of our family unit and we’re busy helping to shape him into a useful and productive member of society.
I recycle with him, because he likes doing that with me, and doing that helps to create a better future for him. I wash his clothes in Persil because it makes his clothes smell nice and gets the grass, paint and pasta sauce stains out of his clothes. I wash at 30° because it saves energy for us, and I know that the little changes we make ourselves can make a difference.
I teach him to turn lights off when he leaves a room, to shut the door to stop the draught, to put a jumper on when he’s cold, to tidy up after himself, to turn the tap off when he brushes his teeth and to be kind to people, because kindness is everything.
Creating a bright future is about so many things; cementing good habits in childhood, learning that good manners cost nothing, understanding that small changes can make a big difference. It all adds up and hopefully, hopefully, my small boy will grow up to be kind, considerate, loving, funny, wise and capable.