I often wonder, as most parents do, if The Husband and I are doing a good enough job at this parenting thing. Do we set enough boundaries? Do we set too many boundaries? Do we listen enough? Do we provide enough choice? Too much choice? Do our children know we are absolutely and utterly there for them no matter what? Do they know we love them? Are we ok as a family? How do we know when we are getting it right?
As my sister’s boyfriend says, all parents fuck up their kids to some extent. No-one tells you how to do this job, there’s no definitive right answer, there’s no real way of preparing for it, we just dive in and learn as we go. It’s inevitable there will be many times we get it wrong. But hopefully when we do get it wrong we can put it right again, somehow, or at least apologise, acknowledge we got it wrong and try to do better next time.
Occasionally, I get a glimpse that we are (hopefully) doing ok. On Sunday morning, The Princess, The Pea and I were snuggled up in bed together. The Princess was pretending to be a crying baby, The Pea was singing a rather tuneless song all about milk. It consisted of one word and one note. It was the aural equivalent of being beaten on the head with a large heavy object. When my pleas to stop failed, I put my hands over my ears. This is a gesture usually employed by The Princess when she hears a loud noise – a hand dryer in public toilets, the Hoover, my hair dryer, a passing van or motorbike. She’s not a fan of loud or sudden noises, she’s not a fan of the thought of loud or sudden noises. Her hands clamp over her ears, and she needs reassurance, a tight cuddle, gentle words, the knowledge she is with mummy or daddy and she is safe.
Little Pea saw me with my hands over my ears and he stopped singing. He turned to me and put his soft toddler arms round my neck. He looked me in the eye and said “Safe, Mummy”. He kissed me, hugged me tight and nodded.
Sometimes, the actions of our children are all we need to know that we are doing ok.

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9 Responses to Safe

  1. This is so gorgeous. Brought a tear to my eye. You are definitely doing something right!

  2. Philip

    Lovely post that I have only just seen, but not just your sister’s boyfriend that thinks that – you should read some Larkin:

    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

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