Getting it wrong...getting it right...

posted on: Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I have two children; a boy and a girl. I always felt blessed that we were bestowed this family of both genders, the chance to bring up one of each. Having a daughter is a gift; a slightly surreal experience in seeing your younger self but in a whole new generation, with a whole new persona. Daily, I have to remind myself that she is not me. I have always considered her an extension of myself - when she was a baby, if I felt cold, I was convinced that she would feel cold too.

There is something about your firstborn; you produce this little human and sometimes it's hard to see where you end and they begin. I also read that as a mother, you have the most complex relationship with your firstborn child, irrespective of gender, because they take you to a place you never imagined you could go. Certainly in some of those sleep-deprived, early days (nights) I did wonder how this little bundle could have caused my life to free-fall so dramatically. I know categorically now that the baby stage was not my finest hour! Nowadays I am a much more well-adjusted mother; but it did take years to get here.

As for my son; the sheer simplicity of having a boy is also a gift. Sons love their mothers - and seven year old sons are full of sticky hugs and questions about outer space and what seems like endless love. Of course as the time ticks by he grows and I see that he is becoming his own person, developing charming quirks that his sister never would have. She is like the trailblazer, being the eldest she forges ahead and on the whole, life has been easy for her. She has her moments, but under that 11 year old exterior (blonde ponytail, super-fit, skinny-jean'd, converse-shoe'd) she is deceptively strong and competent. He is too but his need to keep up with her has shaped him and he strives much harder than she did and equally, feels disappointment much more keenly than her.

I make decisions for them every day and as a mother there are times where I think I am so adept at these choices that I no longer question if they are right or wrong. Unlike the baby stage: has he had enough milk? 7 ounces, 9 ounces? Is there a draft near the cot? Should she wear a vest under her baby-grow? Shouldn't he be crawling/talking/eating finger-food by now? The decisions now are so much wider (reminding me again that babyhood is frankly, a drop in the ocean of parenthood). Now it's all about experiences, making sure they get exposed to enough of life for them to grow up happy and robust, with a worldliness that will equip them for later on.

What I feel so keenly is the desire not to mess it up. It can feel overwhelming, trying to navigate through things. We try to give them the best we can, as everyone does, but I admit I get a creep of doubt when I wonder why I want what we consider to be 'best' for them. Why do I want them to be selected for school teams? Why do I want them to excel academically? Why does it matter to me that they get on well with their friends? Why am I so proud when they show gratitude or empathy or charity? I have to catch myself and wonder the extent to which I project forward my own values and my own missed chances onto their childhood?

How do I know if it's right or wrong?!


  1. Your children Lou are younger than my daughter, but I still feel the dilemmas and concerns that you write about. Once a Mother, always a Mother.
    I know that often my anxieties and worries for my daughter have been greater than how she is feeling. We have a deep seated natural desire to protect, nurture and encourage our children. Now my daughter is older she has said to me that often my worries and fears for her are not felt so keenly by her. Her needs, stress triggers and concerns are not the same as mine. As Mothers though we have a longing to take away any pain, doubts and unhappiness that our children encounter, this is of course impossible! But such a natural part of being a Mother. We have to let them discover both the good and bad elements of life for themselves. It is probably the hardest part of being a parent

  2. If what you do/decide is done out of unconditional love for your child and they know that then it must be right?

  3. I have a boy and a girl too. In the Netherlands they call this "A King's Wish'.

    Age 10 and 4. So alike and yet so different in many ways. I want them to make the best of their lives and steer them in the right direction to do so. I want them to have opportunities and adventures, be kind, caring and thoughtful. To try their best. All things a parent wants for their children. It's the hardest job in the world, but the most loving and rewarding seeing them florish, grow and embrace life.

  4. They're all so different, aren't they? I find it fascinating to talk to other mothers about their children. How much can we explain about their personalities by evaluating their gender, birth order, and other factors. My boys are so very different already, even at their young age. I absolutely understand that pressure, that desire to not mess up. And I stress about whether I've gotten them involved in enough, and I'm sure I'd stress if I felt I had them involved in too much. I try to remind myself that feeling this stress and trying so hard to get it just right means that I'm doing the best I can, giving them the best I've got. That's all we can do, right?

  5. I have a boy and girl also they are older than your own. They have very different personalities likes and dislikes. But I suppose the most important thing is that they are happy and if thy are you will have made the right choices. Sometimes we will get it wrong but it is from these lessons we learn so much about life and ourselves and that's what makes us the people we are. Have a fun weekend

  6. My 2 nieces are so different yet in some ways they are so alike. Some things they do have to learn on their own ~ I know it's hard to sit back and just watch some of the journeys they take off on but 99% of the time they are like cats ~ they land on their feet. xo

  7. Anyone giving it as much thought as you clearly do cant go too far wrong! lovely post!