Some years ago, on meeting my 2 daughters, a friend said “You’re so lucky, you’re girls are lovely. They are so friendly and polite.” I said “Thank you” feeling the pride and joy that goes with such a moment.
Later, on reflection however, I thought to myself, “What did luck have to do with it?” I’m not lucky, it was hard work and I made a lot of sacrifices.
Bringing up children with manners, a high level of communication skills, understanding of the feelings of others, together with love of learning didn’t just happen. Bringing up my children had been hard work, and I made a lot of sacrifices to stay home with them in those critical years of their cognitive (mental) development, especially with a largely absent husband/father figure. Fortunately, I loved it. They were the best years of my life and I have very fond memories of those times.
Recently, my life has been in a time warp since I learned that I am to become a grandmother; my baby is having a baby. My baby, by the way is 31, is happily married, and together with my son-in-law will be fabulous parents I have no doubt. But for me to watch my daughter in her pregnancy has brought back a lot of the emotions and memories of me carrying her over 30 years ago. We talk often of the joys and issues around motherhood and it has been a wonderful time for me. I’ve also gained heightened awareness of other babies.
As I watched a mother and baby on the train the other day I remembered just how much work a 1 year old is. In a 20 minute train ride, the child got out of the stroller, back in the stroller, took off her shoes, sang a song with mum, had a drink, took off the jacket, put the jacket back on, threw the shoe, got back into the stroller, tried very hard to clip the safety catch, back out of the stroller, climb on the seat and look out the window, bounce up and down looking out the window. Suddenly, it went dark outside, the child look at mum with surprise .... mum said “tunnel”, the child’s face softened (all is well), the child then repeated “tunnel”. All the time mum was patiently watching and attending to the clues that often only a mother recognises. The child was confident, inquisitive and curious about everything new, and she knew that mum was near and she was safe to explore.
The child’s mother was patient and observant, vigilant and responsive to the child’s needs and safety in the environment of a moving train, keeping her entertained and happy during the boring train ride. The wave of memories of me doing exactly the same things with my babies was like a warm blanket.
This child was bright, energetic, gorgeous and happy... just as she should be; just as my girls had been all those years ago. I feel so blessed and grateful that I was able to spend those critical years 0-5, at home, helping my girls to learn, investigate and grow in an environment where they knew they were safe.
If you’re fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mum, count your blessings and be thankful. I’m sure all the mums out there will agree with me. It takes time, patience and energy to make it look easy, and to have the perfect child.
Reflecting on Motherhood by Elizabeth Carter, Registered Psychologist. Bravo Coommunication www.bravocommunication.com.au 1300 85 95 83