I think I fell into child rearing. It was suddenly thrust upon me in my first year of marriage and from that point on there was no going back.
When I think back on those years, the only role model of parenting I had was my own parents. So, there was a lot of hit and miss.
I was also very young and naïve. As the time came for my first born to appear, I had gathered enough within me to feel I could manage okay.
But, what you imagine and what is reality are often two different things.
The first thing you learn is that babies cry, they don’t behave the same way from one day to the next, and a whole bunch of factors come into play that interferes with their responses to what is happening around them.
Of course, my observations are from a male perspective. I suspect my wife at the time saw things differently.
There were long nights when my new daughter didn’t sleep, walking the floor and trying to get her to sleep and then having to get up and go off to work. But always my daughter was mine, and I’d do anything for her.
By the time my son was born, I thought I had a handle on babies. How mistaken I was. This baby was very different. Strong willed and determined. I remember at one stage he thought 3am was a good time to start his day. It was true that this little boy did give me a run for my money and by the time his sister was born, some fourteen months later – yes, we were very fertile in those days – I was in no way ready to go through the hard work I had to put in with my son.
I remember driving my wife to the hospital in readiness for another birth. On the way, I was feeling so resentful of this new child coming into my world when I thought I’d finally gotten a handle on my son.
But this little girl was nothing like the other two. She was calm, peaceful, behaved and at times I wondered if she’d been swapped at birth. But she was a welcome child after the rigours of the first two.
We had three more children, and they were by then expected and for the most part, a joy, even though my youngest son was a near-cot-death we somehow managed to muddle through.
You learn lessons as you go along. You learn that babies cry, they get sick, you can’t always win with feeding, they have minds of their own, they won’t always listen to you, they are often clingy and needy, and they love to eat, a lot, all of the time.
For me being attentive to my children was always the way I did it. I made a lot of mistakes, I stuffed up more than once, but I always tried to be there for them.
What might I change, well not a lot as all the hard work and long hours have resulted in my children being adults now, and I am blessed with adult relationships which I enjoy very much.