When we are born, we are like a bud, brimful of potential, primed and ready to unfold. From the day we are born, we are learning, developing, witnessing our world and responding to the environment we find ourselves in. Even in our earliest weeks, months and years, we are being shaped by our world, our very brains being wired by our surroundings, by the activities and relationships we experience. And, primarily, by the care we receive from our parents.
A humbling thought, as parents. The enormity of the task of raising – shaping – this little human being! How can we ever do it well enough?
None of us are perfect, but we continue to try our very best. There are days we are tired, exhausted and feel we cannot carry on. That’s normal – yet we feel guilty. Parents are particularly prone to guilt. We are, after all, doing the most important job in the world. Many of us are juggling so many other things – our jobs, our relationships, our roles as children to our own parents. It is inevitable that there will be days any one – or several! – of these things may suffer. And, often, we feel we haven’t been there enough for our children. We may have missed a milestone while they have been cared for by others – their first word, their first step – and feel we should have been the one to witness that moment in our child’s life. We feel we should be there all the time. When our child starts nursery or school, we feel the separation keenly – we may be working, doing the food shopping, or the housework, but we are thinking of our child. We would – if we could – take those difficult steps for them. If our child is upset, we would gladly take those feelings from them, feel them for them.
But here’s the thing….our children not only grow up, they grow away. We want our children to become rounded, mature adults, just as we have had to do. They have to unfold, like a bud, into maturity. And it can be painful. Both for them, and for us. Every step our child takes is a step away from us. They have to take each step, so that they can function in the world without us one day. That first day at school, that can hurt so much? It will come again, as a first day at secondary, first night away, first week away – and eventually leaving home altogether. We have done it, and survived. They will too. It’s just very hard as a parent to watch them go.