This isn't a post asking for you all to say, "Yes, Helen, you are enough!" Well, that's not my intention. It's more a question I'm asking myself. This is definitely an inward looking post. With one daughter having finished school this summer, it's got me a little reflective. OK, not a little, a whole big lot of reflective.
So yesterday Georgia was at school and today she isn't. There's no change really to who she is. I know that. But, with the finishing of education, comes the realisation that childhood has come to an end and with that all the thoughts of the childhood I've given her. Suddenly the responsibility of being a parent leers out in front of me, almost too late. There is no time to go back to alter mistakes, to reclaim time, to be the best parent I can be. My chance has been and gone. Any warning of this juncture missed. Right there, childhood over.
Has there been enough fun? Has there been enough time? Have there been enough good memories? Will she have stories to share with her children of her own childhood that will stand the test of time? Will she look back fondly? Will there be grips of nostalgia of moments that can't be relived? Will she reflect happily?
What are my memories of her childhood? Did I enjoy her enough? Was I there for her enough? Did I listen enough? Was I her mother enough?
My heart aches for lost time. This is my own fault. I should have known that childhood was only fleeting. Didn't I have my own? Surely that was my one chance to grab my own parenting of childhood, to make it everything it should be. Did I choose not to listen to my elders who told me? Did I think my own children would be immune to time? Oh, the message I'm sending to those of you with younger children is screaming off of the page here!
Yes, of course, there's pride. That goes without saying. But my words aren't about what my daughter has achieved. I'm worried more about have I been the role model that will carry her through life? Was I patient enough? Have I raised her to go forward with confidence and make the world her own? Are there traits of mine that she has mimicked that will hinder her? To have let her down in any way is not something that rests easy.
Raising a daughter, with the known pressure that they look to their mother constantly for guidance, for reassurance, a role model, I'm questioning my work. I want it to have been enough and whilst reflection can leave one fearful that time has run out, I want her to know that throughout her childhood I tried my best.
We think we have all the time in the world to raise them, that childhood will last forever. We are fooled into thinking that we will have all the moments to be the perfect parent to go back and correct the mistakes to create the perfect childhood, whatever that may be. I think you know where I'm going with this. It comes to an end. That glorious seemingly never-ending stretch of childhood years, like the summer holidays, it ends. And, whilst the child embraces adulthood with sheer joy, as they should, the parent is left somewhat in this reflective state!
So, what now? Well, I can't go back. I know that. But, for now, I am looking forward to sharing adulthood with her. I can still try to make enough memories. I can still try to listen enough. I can still try to be there enough. I can still try to give her the moments that she will hopefully grab onto and take with her. There is still time. Childhood may have ended but we most definitely haven't ... just saying.