When my mum died after a long fight with Alzheimer's, grief threw me an opportunity to consider her legacy to me, and my three daughters. A friend said to me, "We all leave our shadow behind". So what is my mum's shadow? What will mine be to my darling daughters so they have what they need to thrive in the modern world?
Telling the children is the part that many parents fear the most. The last thing that they want to do is hurt their children and it's a really difficult conversation to have as the consequences are life changing for the whole family. However there are some guidelines that will make it a little easier if you follow them.
As a parent of children who are fortunate to live in comfortable circumstances, I don't want to have to cancel Christmas or deprive them of the things they want. I don't want to make them feel guilty for having a better life than the many less fortunate children in the world. At the same time, I do want them to know that not everyone in the world enjoys the same level of comfort and security as they do.
When my first child was a small baby I collected parenting books, convinced that one of them contained the secret to a full night's sleep and a miracle cure for colic. They mostly lay unread as I was too tired to read them, but occasionally my husband or I would pick one up and pick and choose the bits that we could live with out of one and half-apply them in our exhausted states.
Thus, my mother had always told me that I had to learn to love cooking before becoming a mum. Not merely to learn to cook, but to learn to love cooking. Her rationale is learning to love cooking is not merely about putting food on the table, but cultivating a mindset where there is a genuine desire to nurture and care for another human being.
More and more, I believe parenting experts and childcare gurus are a scourge on modern mums, with a combination of one-size-fits all, conflicting advice that creates expectations that we - and certainly our babies - can never live up to. This leads to guilt, anxiety or, in my case, even depression as I felt I was failing at the most important job I have ever done.