What does being a parent mean to you?
I always heard about parents loving their children unconditionally, and I’m happy to say I was fortunate enough to be a child who was shown endless love from both my parents.
Things were different when I was growing up, it wasn’t about having the latest iPads or PSPs, but more about the quality time with other people. Simple games like snap and hide and seek (to name just two of hundreds) gave us the opportunity to make connections, learn to get on with other children and interact through games with our parents. I used to love to sit and listen to my Dad’s childhood stories and learning about the things he got up to (like skipping school to go to the cinema!) I was so glad to hear these things about him because it helped me relate to him.
Sadly I lost my Dad to Cancer 13 years ago. That day my whole world collapsed.
Being an only child, my mum became my most precious possession. Looking after her, being a friend and keeping our relationship healthy was (and has been) my prerogative since. I have learnt several things from my mum, from small things like learning how to cook to bigger things like working hard to achieve the goals I set myself. I have gained strength and determination from her over the years, its meant a lot to me and in turn it is something I will encourage my children; to be ambitious and aim high.
Now, I am a mother of a cheeky and adorable 3 year old boy who is my world. Being a parent is an evolving experience day by day. Almost as if my husband and I are a protective shadow around him, ensuring no harm comes to him whilst allowing him to freely enjoy his life. I love the sense of responsibility, knowing that he is my son and he needs me. He fills our hearts with joy and happiness, and has taught us the practical meaning of love, care and affection.
Being parent allows me to value the things I wouldn’t normally notice in other people – like his infectious little giggle, his inquisitive mind and questioning which surprises me daily. Every minute I spend with him is so precious to me and I never want to take that for granted. When my father passed away I decided I would share all my fond memories of him with my children. I want to share his stories and carry on his legacy, the little things which mean a lot to me as his only daughter. I remember, he used to ask me to close my eyes and hold my hand out, then he would place a sweet in my hands and tell me to open my eyes – I loved those moments. I now do the very same with my son and every time he’s surprised and smiles it brings me great pleasure knowing that my Dad would have loved to see him react in the same way I used to with him.
Having a child of your own creates a natural bond between yourselves and other parents. There’s this knowingness and willingness to share experiences, children’s behaviour, health, places for days out. As parents you are changed from the inside out and the desire to want to learn more grows more and more. Even if it is carrying out some research on best practices and techniques for potty training!
I don’t think I was ready for how much my life was going to change. It changed instantly as soon as I set eyes on my baby, he became my world. The sleepless nights, long baths replaced by quick showers, living in t-shirts and jogging bottoms, no time for make up and eye liner all that mattered to me was my little boy’s well being. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
What advice would you give to another parent?
The most valuable lesson I have learnt from my parents is to make time for your children. It is imperative. Simple gestures matter and have an impact on their lives, especially after you are gone.
As parents, my husband and I love taking our son out to experience new things; visiting the local farm, theme parks, local parks, cinema and we have even managed a trip to Disneyland Paris. But spending time together doesn’t need to be expensive, don’t let that be an excuse. At times the most enjoyable part is when you explore your own imagination and let them do the same; I love his little face light up when we crawl around the living room pretending to be an animals. Again, there is so much you can do without spending much; games in the garden, having an ‘art attack’ moment (with the paints, brushes, glue stick, googly eyes?!), imaginative play, reading even just having dinner together around the table instead of in front of the television.
So my advice to other parents is to do whatever it takes to make time for your child, it is so precious.