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LEIGH CAMPBELL: The joy and the heartbreak of having one child.

Listen to this story being read by Leigh Campbell, here. 

I see you.

The mum at the park. 

Hovering maybe a little too close to her child, a hand gingerly ready to reach out and break a fall, should her little one topple from the second rung of the ladder.

She borders on a helicopter parent. She knows she’s not supposed to - she follows enough of those parenting accounts on Instagram to know better. 

She’s supposed to let her child trip, stumble, learn. She’s supposed to let them grow. 

And she does. She tries to. She’s just a little more cautious than some of the other parents at the park - they have their eyes on multiple kids, their concentration fragmented.

She only needs to keep watch on one. One tiny body of legs and arms and adventurous energy. Her everything in one.

I see you.

The working mum.

She’s got a to-do list longer than her grocery receipt. 

Her work is due. And overdue. 

Her phone buzzes, and immediately she knows the number. 


She uses the drive to make calls to reschedule the rest of her day. And tomorrow, too.  

She mentally takes a tally of the Panadol and Nurofen in the medicine cabinet back home while she wonders how parents with two or three children ever get anything done.

She’s stressed, but also thankful she can manage one sick little person and her urgent tasks for the next few days. 

She’s not a brand new mum anymore and yet the juggle still takes her by surprise at times. 

She’s thankful for her lot.

I see you. 

Image: Supplied. 

The mother standing before a wardrobe, overflowing with teeny tiny onesies. 

They've not been worn for a few years now, pushed to the back to make room for pants and t-shirts and even little jeans. 

And then for little underpants. 

She’s not sure what to do. 

Does she keep the size 0000s and 000s? She’s running out of room. Her little one is growing. They're not so little anymore. Does she hold on and hope? Does she keep the baby stuff? 

Does she sort through it and donate it, handing over her hope along with the garbage bags of bibs and rompers?

She closes the wardrobe door and shuts away her hope with it, but she doesn't get rid of the baby stuff just yet.

I see you.

The mother who thought she'd never get to be a mother.

She never really even wanted kids. 

Image: Supplied. 

Until she did. Then she wanted it desperately. 

She fought so hard. She gave up and then tried again. More times than she could count.

And just when she gave up again came the exciting, terrifying, heart-in-your-throat news.

She held her breath for nine months. She held it until she could let it go and inhale the sweetest smelling head, the best smell she’d ever known.

She still can't quite believe that after it all, she’s a mother. 

A tiny squeaky voice calls her 'mummy'. She did it. 

I see you.

I am you.

I smile at you when I notice you. At the shops. At the park. At daycare pickup. 

And you smile back, because you see me too.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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