“What would you as a parent hate to see happen,
in your childs future?”.
Quite a number of years ago,
when my eldest was a small toddler,
another parent asked this question.
We were visiting in a friends house,
and all of us had young children.
It wasn’t long before the list began to grow.
As we were new to parenting,
it was quite a tame list to start with.
“I’d hate her to have no friends”,
“I’d be upset if he didn’t play sport”.
Then the scenarios began to snowball,
until in no time at all we were discussing,
teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse and depression.
We were getting heated,
arguing about our hypothetical situations.
Sitting quietly, as usual, was my husband.
(Sadly I am loud enough for both of us!)
One of the group turned to him and said,
“What do you think? Which would be the worst situation?”.
He said “For me, it is none of those”.
“Really?”, I said.
“Well then, what do you think would be the worst situation to happen?”.
“I think, he said,
to lose the line of communication with my child,
would be the worst thing to happen”.
And in that moment we were quiet.
As we looked around the room,
of young toddlers making plenty of noise,
we became aware of our unconscious interactions and conversations.
There was a child slapping a fathers knee for attention,
another repeating, “mum, mum, mum”.
One parent had a child sitting half asleep on their lap.
No one could imagine a future,
without their childs chat in it.
And in that moment I agreed with him.
Although I did think, as a typical new parent would,
that that situation was most unlikely.
Sometimes I think back to that evening.
I have now been a parent over twenty years,
and life’s experiences have taught me,
that that situation is no longer so very unlikely.
I have seen in my circle,
marriages breaking down,
and children losing out on contact with a parent.
I have experienced the difficulties of teenage years,
and can well understand,
just how hard it can be for some parents and children,
to come out the other side,
with a strong relationship.
Thankfully so far I have been lucky,
I have great contact with my college children.
And happily still feel a deep connection with them,
even though they are not at home.
As I ponder on my relationship with my children,
I am reminded of my own mom.
She is living 200 km away from me.
Yet I phone her most days,
and she is still very much my world.
My brothers and sisters continue almost daily,
to call on her, and phone her.
I am beginning to realize,
that this is a relationship she has nurtured,
all through our lives.
When I was a very troubled teen,
she did not reject me.
When I lived in Australia,
she wrote letters every week,
and phoned me regularly.
When I came home, got married and moved away,
she kept up the contact.
Always interested and up to date,
in all that was happening in my life.
I spoke to her once about this.
I was wondering how some families remain so close to parents.
I used my brothers almost daily visits,
as an example,
and also how much I myself still enjoy her company.
She laughed and said that that was the key.
No one wants to visit a misery.
She told me she bakes and cooks for visitors,
and likes to chat,
which encourages us all to return.
Thinking about it I can see now,
that she has been doing this same thing a long time.
Cooking Sunday lunch, and having us all there.
The craic, the rows and the laughter,
were what brought us back for more.
I have over the years come to understand,
a relationship is not a given,
just because we share blood, or a past.
A relationship can only exist,
if it is fostered and worked upon,
and is ultimately enjoyable to both parties.
As I write this it is clear to see,
that my mums work has paid off.
In her 80s she still has a great relationship with us all.
For myself over the next who knows how many years,
regardless of life’s ups and downs,
I hope I can do half as good a job with my crew.