A beautiful look at just how much parenting has changed over the years.
You only had the chance to meet one of my babies. You held him and kissed him and fussed over his eyes. You laughed as you said he had a ‘dog’s name and did I want to change it’ and you scolded me as he was cold.
“He’d be better off here with me,” you said in your lilting Irish accent before I took my little Aussie boy out into the Dublin streets.
You didn’t meet my other two, you passed on before they grew into people, but I know you watch from wherever you are.
You’d like to think it was heaven.
I know you see me and wonder.
I know you question the way us ‘modern mums’ do things.
I know the paper-thin skin on your face that I remember as being soft and floury wrinkles as you puzzle over the struggles we seem to have.
And I know you would smile, bemused as you saw how difficult we make it for ourselves.
I can feel you with me at times watching over us, and at other times I can see you would be a little cross with me.
You would watch the way we rush from minute to minute. The way we schedule in every last fragment of our children’s lives. The way we load them with activities and outings and stimulation. You would see them on the go from early morning till dinnertime and you would cry out for us to stop.
You would watch the tantrum brewing from lack of rest and be left unsure as to why we can’t see what you can.
You would watch the way we strive to give them everything, to make sure they lack nothing. The sleepless nights where we have been unable to let go of thoughts that we aren’t providing it all, that they are missing out.
You would watch the way we judge and line ourselves up against others and feel we fall short. You would see our unrelenting focus on the minutiae, the tiny details of others lives. How we roll our eyes at other mums and how we gossip about it on our phones and iPads, snitching and bitching and tutting at each other on social media.
You would look at the mummy-wars and roll your eyes, yearning to tell me tales of bringing up six children in a two-bedroom house with no running water and no electricity.
You would wonder what happened to our friends, how we seem to try to do it all for ourselves and how we shun our actual community and throw ourselves instead into our virtual ones.
And you see us cry, as we feel overawed, over stretched and out of control.
I know you are watching and I know what you would say.
Stop. Slow down. Back off.
You would tell us to take our eyes off our screens and our hands off our kids and to let go.
You would tell us to let our babies cry a little more, and eat a little less.
You would tell us to make our children wash their hands more, ride their bikes more and take on more responsibilities around their homes.
You would tell us to trust our gut more and Google less.
You would smile at the inane way we over scrutinise each and every action we make as a parent and you would tell us to simply love more and think less.
I would try and explain why we do it. How busy we are, and how desperate we are to give the very best to our children and provide them with happiness and a future filled with success and love.
And you would smile one of those twinkly eyed smiles and take my hands in your tiny ones and tell me how that was exactly how you and your fellow mothers felt too.
How do you feel parenting has changed over the years?
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