There are so many things I wonder about as a parent. I have to admit that right now in my life words like ‘parenting’ and ‘family’ and ‘home’ are like giant, shape-changing, meg-clouds of steaming immensity. S’cuse the hyperbole. For me, they have more in common with ‘infinity’ and ‘universe’ and ‘meaning of life’ than with ‘gingham’ and ‘curtain’ and ‘kitchen bench’. I wish the word ‘family’ would shrink back into the manageable neighbourhood of BBQs and kids’ sleepovers. Or fall down between the cushions on the couch alongside the discarded paper clip and the furry lolly. Family lived in those domestic spaces for decades, and it seemed to belong there. But recently it all changed. I woke up one morning and suddenly said to myself and anyone else who would listen: ‘Honey, the kids have all left home.’
I find I am a little like a stranger in a strange land
Arriving here now in this place of quiet with all three of my children having flown the proverbial nest, I find I am a little like a stranger in a strange land. I’m wondering what to do with the pile of certificates for trying hard in maths? I’m wondering where to put the plastic soccer trophies? I’m wondering what happens now? It takes a bit of getting used to, this letting go of tending to their needs, providing the taxi service, almost daily visits to the supermarket, and more than daily feasts of whatever carbohydrates can be found in the pantry, boiled up and smothered with tomato sauce and cheese.
I wonder about the whole glorious mess of my family. I don’t know quite how I feel about it. Feelings are tricksy, I find. The thing about feelings is that I feel more than one of them at the same time. In fact, pretty much all of the time I feel opposite things at once. So, regarding the empty nest … regarding family … regarding children … regarding parenting—I’m bereft and I’m thrilled. I’m exhausted and exhilarated. I’m proud and I have regrets. I adore my children utterly and I sometimes wish they would change. I feel like I did my utmost as a parent and sometimes I feel it wasn’t enough. Sometimes family feels like the most wonderful of adventures and sometimes I am a bit … well … a bit disheveled in the wake of it.
Yes, parenting is full of wondering. It is sobered by worry and niggled by guilt. It is fuelled by hope and love. It teaches you and challenges you. It floors you and fills you.
As a parent I wonder … most of the time.
Author: Karen Bedford
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