The photo I am sharing is one of my four children when they were much younger. It’s bad quality but I am sharing it because it fits in with my topic. My three sons were helping their sister open her Birthday cards and presents. At the time I was taking the photos and my husband was, if my memory serves me well, passing presents to the boys to hand to their sister. All four children look happy, healthy, and are bonded together as siblings. Each child has a different personality which we acknowledged, to ourselves and to our children. We introduced them to the concept of chores at an early age, and they were rewarded with a Thank You, bed time stories, wonderful Birthday and Christmas presents, at least one holiday a year, but we did not pay them to do the chores. They have grown into wonderful young adults knowing money does not grow on trees and if you do a job you love you will enjoy it more.
I am proud to say our children are resilient, they can stand on their own two feet and when challenges enter their lives they are strong enough to deal with them.
I enjoyed being a full time stay at home Mother to our children but looking back I often have doubts about whether I did the best I could. I wonder whether I should have known that in later life challenges would come along which I now feel should have been dealt with earlier.
I found it difficult when our eldest cried his heart out his first day, and subsequent days, after being introduced to three half days a week at what we called Play School in those days. He was only three years old, very sensitive, our first born, and we loved him very much. It broke my heart but I knew this was the only way he would experience being around other children and ready him for Primary School, which he would attend full days once he was four years old. The Head Mistress at Primary School shared with us that he would probably always be a sensitive person and not to try to “tough him up”. She was correct, he gradually accepted school was a big part of life and we were so proud of him. He never wanted a large circle of friends at school, or college and this has continued right up until present time.
Our second born son seemed to pronounce words wrong and his speech was not doing as well as it should for a child aged three and we noticed this more when we watched videos of him. After visiting our GP he arranged an appointment with a specialist who confirmed that our son was having difficulty hearing due to blocked tubes in this ears. This was remedied easily but he was not able to learn to swim due to the tubes in his ears, at that time. We introduced him to Judo at his tender age and he went on to progress and enjoy this sport right up until we moved to Canada when he was aged ten years old. He was able to learn to swim once the tubes were removed.
It seems that when our boys reached the age of three years old the earliest challenges were noticed. Our third born son had a slight lisp, and yes he was almost three when our GP suggest a speech therapist and that worked well, due to the fact we caught it early.
Our youngest child, the only girl, appeared to take life as it came from the day she was born and thankfully never experienced any challenges in her early life in the UK. She was loved by her brothers, they were very protective of her and all children are very close to each other.
After moving to Canada life was challenging to say the least. I had to give up being a stay at home Mother and work three low paid jobs to make ends meet, and eventually divorce loomed its ugly head. We did our best as parents, and I know that in my heart. But, and yes there is a big but, I look back now and I wonder if I could have done better. Our children have faced many challenges in the past twenty years, mental health, broken bones, broken relationships, heartache, financial. I understand young adults should experience real life but it hurts to see them suffer. I feel guilty and wonder if I could have done more, seen more, prevented more. I remind myself at those times I did my best.
Should I have noticed some of the signs of anxiety, depression, sadness, and other related challenges. I understand I had faced cancer twice, was working to earn money, was struggling with life in general but did I protect my children enough is the question I ask myself time and time again.
We can read all the books about being a parent, we can listen to all the advice from other parents, but ultimately every parent, every child is unique.
It was my choice to be a Mother, not once but four times. My choice and my husbands choice and we never had a problem with the choice we made.
As life goes on and my children have left the nest, some are in contact with me, some are not, my greatest wishes for them are health, happiness, contentment and love.
Guilt is something, I believe, most parents experience at some time. It’s natural but we have to know in our hearts we did our best, that’s all we could do and all we can do.