Decisions, decisions…

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This week we had a rather special event; regardless of how many children we go on to have, Wednesday was the only time that it was the first time to go for a 20 week scan. We saw our little bean on the screen and understood…I’m going to say 50% of what was said and seen(!) and we also chose to find out the gender, we’re expecting a baby girl!

Now the gender question seems to be a popular discussion point and my husband and I seem to be on the side of the minority with most of our friends opting not to know until the birth. Firstly, I should point out that we would have been thrilled with either bit of news. So some have queried, if we’re not bothered, why find out? We’ve been adamant from the beginning that when we could know, we would know, I’m not even sure we can explain why. Being very naturally inquisitive, I find it difficult to understand why people wouldn’t know if they could know. I know that there is a always a margin of error and we could well find ourselves with a little boy in July that was maybe just a little bit camera shy or good at using his angles to stay a surprise! But that won’t affect our happiness in any way, we are so excited to meet our little one; but for now, we feel we can bond a bit more because we can say ‘she’ and not ‘it!’

A close friend of mine is 6 weeks ahead and they opted not to know and that’s fine, I know it’s a popular choice. And I know that as the number of children increases, the choice to discover the gender also increases; especially if you have three girls and want to know if you’re finally adding a boy to the brood! But I think it just shows from the very beginning, we all see having children very differently, and why the hell not? Ignoring religious, cultural and medical differences, we are all completely different as individuals, which makes us completely different parents. There is no definitive handbook, there are no legal qualifications to have children and that makes for very rich and varied generations, which is great. 

I’ve said before, every parent does the best job they know how to do and the marvel we have already found of pregnancy is realising more than ever that as Mum and Dad (or Mum and Mum, Dad and Dad, just Dad, just Mum, Mum and close friend, Grandparents or whoever is forming the child raising team, love is love…although that’s a blog entry for another day!) you are a team, more than ever before and you have 9 months to come up with as solid a plan as possible for a stable, happy healthy environment for your child. 

I know that for my husband and I, creativity and allowing the child to be who they dream of being is very important to us. (I’m ignoring the obvious things, such as keeping the child safe, healthy and happy as every parent wants that for their child) Likewise, we want to enable them to be able to experience as much of life as possible. We are not 9-5 Monday to Friday office people and if our children want to be, we will support them; but whilst we have more of a say, we will try to help them see every opportunity possible to make sure that when they’re old enough to make their decisions, they can make a decision confident that they know what they want from life. 

Don’t get me wrong, we are not naive enough to not realise that financial restrictions will affect what we are able to offer for our children; and that for a lot of parents, they’d love to allow their kids to learn 12 different instruments, but that means paying for 12 different instrument lessons which is impossible to do. I myself tried lots of different things as a child, and after 5 minutes used to move onto the next fad, my poor parents bought a flute and a violin that I’m pretty sure got used maybe three or four times. But we’ll certainly do our best (and hope our daughter isn’t as fickle as I was!)

From the day you find out you’re expecting a child, you begin to make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives, which at first seems like a mammoth responsibility, because it is! It’s a whole human being, under, for at least quite a few years, your control. But it’s why I think it’s really important not to stress over those decisions, you’ve just got to go where those decisions take you, make the most of them, learn from the inevitable mistakes you make and help them grow up to do the same. 

So we decided to find out what gender we are expecting, and quite a few disagree with that choice, and that’s absolutely fine. I’m sure it won’t be the last parenting decision we make that others won’t think we’ve done wrong! And with that magical benefit of hindsight, we’ll probably think a lot of our decisions are the wrong ones as well! And the variety of opinions is a good job really, if everyone always did the same, what a boring life we would all lead and there’d be no reason to talk to anyone, you’d know exactly what they were doing! But like with everything in life, it does go to show that everyone is different, but that respect for other people’s views is not only very important (much more important than it seems to be regarded, especially with the horrendous trend of people bullying online, or the horrible way people talk to each other when hidden by being online these days) but absolutely necessary. With a melting pot of views, we are all lucky enough to have a whole host of options, opinions and information, you only have to look in your local book shop to see how much information there is on parenthood (seriously, if you haven’t already, have a quick look, it’s overwhelming!)

But whatever you decided at your scans and beyond, 1) congratulations on your bundle of joy, 2) feel free to add your opinion, I’m genuinely interested to know the varying viewpoints across the country and beyond and 3) now you’ve made that decision, there’s no stopping you, we’re all in this together now! Good luck comrades! 

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Future on my mind…

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I’m four and a half months pregnant. The sentiments I used to scorn at are now an all inclusive part of my emotional make up. There is already nothing I wouldn’t do for my child, I suddenly want to make sure that I am a better person to be a better Mother. Dreams I had given up on are suddenly paramountly important to teach my child that anything is possible. My husband feels the same.

It has made me re-evaluate my own parents, did they feel like this? My Mum remembers being pregnant with me really quite clearly, my Dad barely remembers anything at all, half the time I suspect that’s why he calls or emails my brother and I almost every day; just so we stay in his appalling memory bank! I know about a few of the things both of my parents planned or aimed for. The dreams they adjusted or a few regrets they have; I’m lucky to have a very open relationship with both of them and I’m lucky to be able to learn from their mistakes.

But don’t misunderstand my meaning, I have no interest in knocking my parents or criticising the people they are; from a new viewpoint of becoming a parent myself, it’s confirmed to me that every parent does the best job they can do. The real quality is being able to pass on your knowledge to your child. So when I hear a story about my Dad totalling his Dads car…more than once; or my Mum regretting never going back to Paris where she worked for a time, I’m grateful to learn more about them and why they made decisions that they made. Every parent was once an unsure teenager, a stroppy child, a screaming baby. We’re all the same, there is no handbook with the rules and I certainly didn’t live my life as a teenager considering how my actions might affect my future children. And I’m not going to pretend I did. I won’t pretend that I condone some of my behaviour, far from it; there are certain decisions in life I regret every single day and I want to be 100% honest to my children so they don’t make the same mistakes. They’ll make their own, special, ridiculous mistakes instead! But those life experiences need to be embraced, and most importantly, learned from.

Becoming a parent is a unique opportunity to be the best version of yourself to help your child grow to be confident with the person they become. Alongside the added bonus of growing up knowing their parents aren’t perfect; and therefore they can be open and honest when they make mistakes. If anything, it makes you better qualified to help, or at least support them through. I have a list of things I never really got round to doing in my twenties because I had that arrogant view that I had my whole life ahead of me, there was time to do those things. And there still is, I want to walk the Great Wall of China, and what better way than with my ‘little me’ and husband in tow experiencing it with me?! Not that I think mistakes won’t be made along the way but what better way to learn than together? As the parents, we simply have the benefit of making a lot of the mistakes before!

Life is tough, tiring, and unrelenting, but there are things that I now feel I owe it to my children to do. The follow up to this story may well be an older wizened Mother who decided against taking her child to China; but I hope that the follow up contains pictures and stories; not from perfect experiences, but happy ones. Life discovered as a family. That famous quote tells us not to take life too seriously, as you won’t get out alive. We all owe it to ourselves to live the best lives possible, and that means not shying away from the pitfalls, the unknown or the difficulties. I’m four and a half months pregnant, and it feels like life is just beginning, and I plan to live it with my family as the amazing adventure and journey of discovery it can be.Image