My two daughters have turned 18 and 12 this month. It’s a fairly big milestone for both of them, and I thought as the month of July brought me my two gorgeous girls, it would be a nice time to pay homage to them. I’ve said this before in a previous blog a few years back, but my husband and I really did luck-out with our children. Sometimes, when the kids have gone to bed, we actually discuss it with awe-struck voices. How did this happen? We’re really not that great at parenting. Fate has been kind to us in that area. To be fair, they were horrible babies (sorry, children, you were right miseries!), but after that first year of immense suffering (mainly for me), it’s been plain sailing. Or at least it gets easier year-on-year. And I’ve never really known why that should be when I see so many caring, patient, and better parents around me tearing their hair out.
You see, I don’t have any life-hacks or magical pearls of wisdom to offer anybody. If you’re considering kids in the terms of ‘nature versus nurture’, then nature won out in our case. I literally did nothing (well, I did; I fed and clothed them – and loved them. But most people do that, and I got a fair bit wrong, too). Thankfully, my kids are just naturally nice people. And thank God for that, because I could not have coped with monsters. Really, I’m just not that tolerant.
My eldest has virtually always been sweet and calm in disposition – luckily for us; terrible teens never came. But along with that placid temprement came a rather anxious child – I was the parent with a screaming kid clinging to her leg as she tried to drop her off at nursery…and school. And although that anxiety hasn’t disappeared as I’d hoped, she’s still a happy, home-loving girl, who doesn’t cling to my leg anymore. When she reached her first birthday (once all the whinging and crying-all-bloody-night-long had stopped), I remember thinking, ‘I’d be happy if time stopped here, because she’s just perfect’. But I’m glad time didn’t. Because she’s become more and more perfect as the years go by. And at 18 years old, she’s got everything going for her. Seriously, I don’t think she knows it yet, but her future is so bright she’s going to need to wear shades. Not only is she hugely talented at photography/graphics/film-making/blogging (damn her), but she’s supremely witty, too. She has this ultra-dry and slightly wicked humour (I have literally no idea where she got that from). If you got to know Erin (and sadly, I’m not sure that terribly many people do – I’ll get on to that later), you would spend your day belling-laughing. She has the maddest, weirdest, most individual sense of humour. But if there was anything I’d change about my eldest (and there’s very little), I’d want her to stop hiding her light under a bushel. Sometimes I ask her if she acts in quite the same insane way around her friends as she does me, and I don’t think she does. I don’t think she lets a great deal of people see who she really is. However, you can often see flashes of the real Erin in her blog– because I of all people know it’s easier to be yourself ‘in writing’. But she would be the first to say she suffers from acute shyness. And maybe other people’s opinions of her matter far more than they ought to (but at 18, I think most of us would say the same of ourselves). Still, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. It’s a bona fide personality type just like any other – and possibly the best type. And like Erin once reminded me when she sent me a very telling meme on snapchat, ‘why the hell would you want to go big when you can go home?’. Well, you can’t argue with that logic.
Ibby (short for Isobel):
There’s a six-year gap between my children, largely due to the fact that childbirth and the first year of that first child’s life is just so incredibly awful. But I suppose nature makes you forget or nobody would ever have more than one child. Erin would agree that Ibby is certainly the braver of the two girls. I suppose most second children are; they don’t have to do the trailblazing. One of the most notable things about Ibby is her obsessive nature. I think she has a touch of her father about her in that respect, because I obsess over nothing. Seriously, trying to be arsed about anything is very difficult for me. But when Ibby is interested in something, she is extremely passionate about it. For instance, her current obsession is nails (fingernails, not the metal variety that you hammer into walls, because that would be weird). Dear God, that child can chew your ear off about nails. There’s nothing she doesn’t know; she’s spent months researching them on the internet. She is always talking disparagingly about the state of my cuticles or about how little time and effort I put into the filing of mine. If you want your fingernails doing for a night out, believe me, ask Ibby – her work is nail-salon quality. She’s been like this before about other things – gymnastics was one. She taught herself gymnastics off the internet, too, and she was so good we had little choice but to put her into classes. But she soon tired of that, and we moved her onto drama classes because we felt it would suit her outgoing nature (and we knew she could sing). And man, I’m so glad we did. That kid has some dramatic flair. She’s such a talented singer and actress (seriously – I’m talking goose bumps up your back and neck when she’s on stage – and I’m sure I’m saying that as an impartial bystander). Like her elder sister, Ibby is extremely placid in nature. She’s very loyal and stolid, and stands up for what she believes in; stands up for her lucky school chums. If there was anything I could change about Ibby (and again, there is very little), sometimes I wish her interests didn’t flit about so frequently. I’d like to see her passionate about one or two things and concentrate on those – forever. Otherwise, it may make for a very expensive lifestyle when she’s a grown-up (a bit like the time her dad was obsessed with archery – for about four minutes – then promptly ditched the habit after buying all the kit). But really, there’s nothing not to like about Ibby. With her courage, she will go far.
I know, I know; many mothers extol the virtues of their kids. But sometimes, those parents are a bit deluded. Not me, though. So, let’s be frank about this, what did
we I do to end up with such wonderful children? I wish I could tell you – I would bottle it (or better yet, write a book about it – because seriously, I could do with a book idea). In many ways I think I’ve been a bit inadequate as a parent. I always did my best, but I’m sure I fell short many times, I’m quite sure I still do. What I do know is I very much like my kids, and they honestly like each other. You do hear some people say in a very candid moment that they ‘love’ their children, but they don’t’ like’ them – not at that current time, anyway. And I’ve never felt like that. If I’m honest, I don’t really get overly excited about child-free weekends away or anything because I feel like I’m being separated from my friends. And I do know your parent shouldn’t be ‘your friend’, as such – don’t worry, I am in charge (you should see me go off on one when they don’t wash up the hand blender now they’re going through their current smoothie craze). But as my children grow, we really are just becoming more and more like mates. I like them and they like me – and I hope they’ll always feel that way about their mother, even when she’s elderly and annoying, and could really do with carting off to a care home. My daughters are whip-smart, sassy, and witty people who are a credit to the universe. People that you, as an adult (even a lesser adult like me), would choose to surround yourself with. All I did was make them – biologically speaking. You’re welcome.
NB: And a big thank you to my husband who helped.😉