Three kids and a single mother
Middle Child told me at bathtime last night that he wanted to stay living with me until he was 40 years old (his equivalent of old age). This was in response to my lament that he was growing up too quickly. With tears in his eyes, he told me he didn't want to become a big boy. We are both afraid of his increasing independence and what it spells for our relationship.
This is the central contradiction of parenting: on the one hand we want our children to progress and meet all their milestones, but on the other we can't bear the idea of our babies growing up and living beyond our influence.
|Don't grow up too fast, baby!|
© Photographer: Rebecca Abell | Agency: Dreamstime.com
When my two eldest children were babies, I thought it would last forever. Now I see how quickly those years pass. I watch Non-Walking Toddler's progression with a crushing sense of nostalgia. And yet I am desperate for her to start walking! When she took a few tentative steps between the sofa and the coffee table the other day, I cheered her on like she was running 100 metres in the Olympic finals. We are hardwired to push our children onwards, even if our hearts protest.
Quiet One brought some friends home this week. Over sausages and chips they discussed which of the boys they liked most in the class. "Girls," I said, "don't grow up too quickly. You can always go forwards, but you can never go back to the past." They looked at me like I was talking nonsense. They were right. How can we expect them to resist the culture we impose upon them? Their budding minds are designed to absorb these formative influences. The challenge lies with us - we need to give them less screen-time, more adventures, more time outdoors and some immunity from everyday pressures.
Parents will always have an eye to the past and an eye to the future. The trick is striking a healthy balance. When I was putting Middle Child to bed, he amended his earlier statement. "Actually Mummy, I think I will only live with you until I find a wife and build my first house." Yes, very wise, little man.
Hermaphrodite Mum is a fictional creation of Emma Clark Lam
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