Roots and Wings

Like everyone – Mr Benn in particular – I have a choice of many costumes I could wear at any one time. One of those costumes is a sauce-stained apron with copious pockets. Inside the pockets are a red pen, an eraser, a cheque book, a little silver Monopoly dog, a bunch of multi-purpose tissues, arnica, assorted plasters, an emergency banana, loose coins, car keys, curling ribbon, an alarm clock, consent forms, my CRB check certificate, a metronome and a detailed map of where everything belonging to every member of the family is located.

Being a Mum is without a doubt (and here I must resign myself to a cliche) the best thing I’ll ever have the privilege of doing. On my death bed it’ll be what I ask myself first: was I an OK Mum?

The children are getting to an age where they are starting to do things I can’t take any credit for – in other words they are becoming their own people and I must increasingly just sit back and marvel.

My friend Lyn, in Canada, years and years ago, told me as we pushed Julia around in her snazzy jogging pram (Julia was only 2 at the time and I only jogged with that thing twice), “T, our job is to give our children roots and wings”.

I love that. Roots and wings. Grounding and freedom. Stability and letting go. It’s a balancing act for sure and, as any tightrope walker would tell us, that’s the whole point – enjoying that edge between scary and thrilling.

Yesterday was mother’s day. We went for a walk to Tyndale monument above Wooton-under-Edge with some friends children. Sasha and his friends waved long sticks around at each other. Julia and her friend sang songs, all the way there and all the way back.

 

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A whole new ball-game

On Saturday my daughter becomes a teenager and today, as if in anticipation of that great event, we had to have our first ever serious heart-to-heart.

It’s a humbling thing watching your children grow and blossom into their own people, and not without its own sadness too. Once upon a time this young lady was my “little girl”, so cute, so delightful and, I hate to say it, but… so amenable. Gone are the days when she will take me at my word and obey without too much of a fuss!

It turns out Julia has had her own idea about how things should go with her life for a few weeks now and that’s led to the need for our heart-to-heart today. Julia is making a break for her independance and although my first instinct was to mete out punishment for her misdemeanours I’m glad to say I checked myself and decided to get advice from my oldest sister who’s been here before. Good move. Thanks Caroline!

With Caroline’s help I saw that I had created the situation somewhat by holding on too tightly to Julia – so much so that she resorted to cloak-and-dagger behaviour under the assumption that I wouldn’t listen to her needs. Hmmm. I talked to Julia about this, this afternoon and it went very well. She has accepted (even welcomed) the consequences of her actions (pocket money taken away etc.) but I have also promised her that I will make myself more available to listen in future so that she doesn’t feel she has to go behind my back.

Gosh, that was scary there for a minute! I realised that I’d found myself in a different room in Julia’s castle and I wasn’t prepared for the change of scene at all. Teenage-hood. A whole different game! I welcome it, but I’m clear I’ve got a lot to learn and I really couldn’t have a better teacher than my wonderful daughter, Julia.