Monday, 1 August 2016

Growing up

Two of my favourite heads

Ah insomnia, my old friend! It's the early hours of my last day in the UK and, perhaps in readiness for heading back to Australia, I seem to have become nocturnal. I've had an amazing few weeks here, centred around my little sister’s wedding. On the day itself, I was immensely proud of her for so many reasons; especially as I watched her protectively walk her new wife around at the reception, and saw how they had thought through a day that reflected them as a couple but also caringly catered for their guests. It was a beautiful day that epitomised both my sister and her new wife!

And who doesn't love a good wedding?! I’ve always tended to get carried away with the frivolity of the day and the celebration at hand, and this one was no exception: I turned into 18-year-old Corina again for the day, and may or may not have coerced some of the party – including one of my more competitive cousins – into a game of Last Man Standing. (The cousin in question is also the first-born on one side of the family, thus aptly named First in Command – FIC.) Well, at 6.45am on Sunday we called a truce, only to discover that one of my other legendary cousins had pulled the wool over both our sets of eyes – she had hidden until we retired to bed, and therefore cunningly stole the crown of last man standingActually, I might have to get on my high horse and rename this game 'last person standing'... Because, FIC, technically you lost to two girls.

This story is leading somewhere, I promise... Family is very important to me as is the wonderment of little people, which sounds hypocritical coming from someone who decided to move to the other side of the world. But it’s true. My family is bloody massive too, to the extent that if we were the Waltons, then the 'goodnight Grandpagoodnight blah-blah bit would not be the closing scene, but the whole flipping episode. And one thing I was struck by when I came home this time is just how much it has expanded over the past few years. Not just in my family, but in my friendship group too, there’s a whole new army of little people around. 

I got to spend a few nights 'co-parenting*'which was precious whilst also opening my eyes to what consecutive nights of sleep deprivation can do to a person! Listening to my friends tell me about their various 'bad parenting' stories had me in stitches, and I had to remind them that turning on Peppa Pig at 5am so you can catch one more hour of sleep  well, that really isn't bad parenting.

As I heard them worry about what other people may think, all I could do was sit there in awe that they are bringing these tiny people up with amazing values and, in my eyes, memories of 'when mum let me crawl into bed and snuggle while we watched Peppa Pig'. Especially when it doesn’t seem so long ago that I was carrying these now-responsible parents home after a night out, as they tried to recall whether it was the left or right foot next before dragging us both into a gutter With that kind of perspective, all I can think is, wow, you are successfully raising a small human  bravo you legend!

I'm also a little jealous: it's an amazing thing to shape both a tiny humanoids life and its values. I was over the moon that my parting gift to one of my friend’s children is that she has now added 'Oh my goodness' to her vocabulary, and I sincerely hope this sticks until she is at least four, to know that I have made even a tiny impact on her life. It’s also made me sad to think that the next time I see her, she will have grown and changed so much; I’m missing these formative years.

I don't think anyone has the right to judge anyone else's parenting style. Babies don't come with manuals, and every child is unique. It's hard enough adulting let alone balancing that with feeding, clothing and shaping another human. I really do mean it when I say I am in awe of anyone who is doing this full-time job! I am also completely jealous as I'd always wanted to bring a little person into this world, which might be why I love helping out with the sproglets so much.

I am always overwhelmed when I go home by the feelings of love and overbearing protection I feel for my niece and nephew. This is why I feel like a hypocrite that I live on the other side of the world, because really I am acting out of selfishness, living out my own dreams when I could be a much larger part of their lives. Especially after finding out last year that there is a high probability that I would find it very hard to conceive a little person. It kind of took away the regret of not having prioritised children sooner in my life, because it was always going to be difficult even with the thrown in complication of a same-sex relationship.

However, I’m trying not to dwell on these things too much. You have to digest the information and then formulate a new plan. I guess the scary part for me was being asked so many times recently if I think I'll have children and was I planning on moving home soon? This is the first time in my life I don't really have a plan. The only thing I've promised myself is that I’ll get my Aussie citizenship – once that’s done, well, I really don't know what’s next. That's both scary and exciting all at once, and I suppose it's the first time in my life I've really been able to think, what do want? Not, what do we want or what does she want? But, what do I want? Which, in itself, is quite daunting...

Anyway, let's not think about these things until after my citizenship is granted! My trip home made me feel so proud of all of my family and friends. I loved those bad parenting stories that clearly do not even register on the scale, and I am definitely in complete admiration of the legendary parents my friends have become. To any parent out there, balancing life, work and your own goals along with cultivating the values and safety of your child  I tip my cap to you.

* exaggerating a little here, maybe, ‘helping out overnight’ might be more accurate.

Written by Corina Hawkins, soon to be author and edited by Sophie McClelland.

1 comment:

  1. Another great blog from my good, funny little friend ❤