As parents we cannot take all responsibility all the time for the meaning our children create from everything they experience, but we can support them to feel loved and to create more feelings of love in their life.
I was walking hand in hand with Keith, bum poking out from my hospital gown, cheeks clenched so not to shoot out my pessary, wrists labelled up like a lab rat, and we had an entourage of unfamiliar faces watching, as we dragged our third wheel, infertility down the corridor for the last time.
I've always been a traditionalist, my friends at school used to laugh at my 'old fashioned ways'. As a parent the educational path of your child is pretty traditional and easy to follow, you have lots of messy fun with them and then off to school until, well pretty much until they leave home. So off we both went on to another stage of our lives.
So, do those of us with 'different families' feel any additional anxiety surrounding their children starting school? Should we take be taking further steps in settling our children (and us) into the school community?
In a big family house by the sea, I watch my four-year-old blonde daughter launch herself across the couch to gleefully 'body slam' her doppleganger blonde father. One and the same Mr Happy our sperm donor, Scott is now my husband and Leila's dad.
Over eight years ago, my family started a new journey: Home Education. It was a journey ahead that felt extremely frightening, as I knew I would be wholly responsibility for my children's learning, and super exciting as I knew that there would be many adventures ahead!
We get so carried away with making everything perfect all the time. Trying to reach that elusive parenting dream, thrust upon us by advertising. We forget that it's not the big gestures. It's that cuddle, that story, that time spent together. Think back to your childhood memories. Was the first thing you thought about a material thing or was it time you spent with your parents?
There was a moment when I knew, beyond any doubt, what it meant to be your mother. But it wasn't the day you were born. It wasn't the first time I knew about you, even - a long-awaited pink line forming in front of my eyes as I sat, perched on the edge of the cold bath, waiting.
His drive and focus is what keeps him going and we know that whenever he goes away, whether it is for a few days or a few weeks, he'll always be back to make up for lost time. In reality, we're just like any other family where one parent has to have time away with work. It's just that ours involves a little bit more risk and adventure.
At the moment, I am the Dad who watches from the sideline. From the point of view of a thriving family, we have found a sport that both our sons seem to want to play, One of the great things about cricket is the way that it can make a family feel part of a community and a community spirit.
I've found recently the amount of articles explaining what NOT to do is becoming overwhelming and actually hindering me to the point of utter indecision. We are bombarded daily by articles telling us how to parent
So, my point here is that as the partner of a parent at home, you, whether you realise it or not, provide much of that validation. Next to our children, you are the most important people in our lives. You are the other half of this parenting team and your opinion means a LOT
When I look back on this wobbly route to motherhood I am heartened to learn that far from damaging my child by being older I am potentially giving him a better life by virtue of me being wealthier, more stable and experienced.
So what is a 'Strong Mum'? We throw these words around as if it's a description, when in actual fact there doesn't seem to be a way to define the term. I think it's clear that being strong isn't just about lifting weights and eating healthy, there are times when in order to be strong you have to make a tough decision, or be brave when you're scared or juggle multiple activities.
My time off might not have made me love my employer more (although If you're reading this, boss, of course I love you, and not only because you're paying for the mortgage and the girls' clothes) but it has made me a better employee. Paradoxical as it sounds, not being at work has made me better at work.
The dynamics of families can change, the dynamics will switch and I'm very lucky that within the Harper clan this has always been how we've worked. A family can only work if it adjusts itself to suit each person in it.