Raising children produces a whole host of new fears and vulnerability you have never previously experienced, it's a roller coaster of emotions, good and bad. You worry for your child's safety, for their future and for their well being. You strive endlessly to give them a nurturing, happy environment in which to grow and to give them the tools to shape their own future and it's exhausting! But along with all those perfectly heathy and rational fears, I have another that sneaks up on me when I'm at my weakest. When I'm having a bad day and I lose my temper or I lack the energy for play time or 'one more story'. When I snap or I ignore yet another rambling story about Thomas the Tank engine's exploits, when I turn on the TV so I can get a minute's peace, I fear I will regret. I'm scared I will look back on these times in 20 years and wish I had done more. When my boys are grown and no longer wish for my company, when instead it's me desperate to spend a little one on one time with them will I look back and wish I had cherished those moments when my babies were mine and mine alone? Will I berate myself for not appreciating what I had? Will I be angry at myself for not getting down off the sofa, regardless of how exhausted I was, and engaging with my children?
I regret many things in my life (mostly drunken exploits) and some of the larger errors still haunt me to this day. I regret that I didn't work harder at University, I spent faaaar too much time partying and forgot the reason for being there and my overall result reflected that. I wish I'd put in more effort so I could have achieved the degree I knew myself capable of and I will forever regret my lack of focus. So if I feel that way about a degree... How on earth am I going to be able to reconcile with all the days of parenthood where I didn't put in my best?
As I'm sure is the same with most parents, I begin the day with great ideas and expectations but as I battle with each everyday problem I find myself worn down, exhausted and dare I say it, bored. So I don't always accomplish what I set out to achieve and some days I have to settle for just being 'OK' instead of 'supermum'. Shit, some days I don't think I even reach the OK standards! So, will I wonder in 20 years time if there had been a little more left in the tank? If I could have found that smidgen extra patience to play Snakes and Ladders one more time or if I could have put down the phone and played hide and seek AGAIN. Will I regret missing out on these moments just to grab a second for me? Because we all know it won't last forever, we will get back our time and our patience and our sanity again one day, can I not just accept losing it for just now?
But as well as this fear there is also a tiny secret hope. A hope that as I grow and learn I will look back on these days with compassion. That I will wonder why I gave myself such a hard time and I will realise I was doing the best I could with what I had. I hope I will remember that, unlike my university days, I did not lose focus. That I never, not even for a minute, forgot how important my role was and that sometimes the weight of the responsibility was crushing. Maybe I will even look back and laugh at the insecurities that seemed so insurmountable at the time. But most of all I hope I will be able to look at my children grown and be proud of who they have become and realise my efforts were good enough despite the many many mistakes I will have made along the way.