There have been two recent occasions in my life where I have felt pure undiluted joy; one was on Croyde beach in Devon with close family friends and I was boogie boarding! It was something I hadn’t done for years and as I clung on (for dear life!), the waves lifted me up and rushed me through the water. It was an intense combination of total exhilaration, feeling grounded as I was unable to think of anything other than being in that very moment and the reality of how humbling it feels to be enclosed by the enormity of the giant ocean. I digress…
The second of these occasions was when my daughter told me she was pregnant. She and her wonderful partner are having a baby and I am going to be a Granny! I would not have been surprised if the elation I felt had floated me to the ceiling like Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins! You can try to explain the science to me until you are blue in the face but a woman’s ability to grow a tiny seed into a baby with all its perfect parts is nothing short of miraculous. Aren’t women amazing?!
It would be insensitive of me to talk about birth without acknowledging the loss that some families experience and the intense pain this causes. Whether it occurs with the grief of being unable to conceive, the loss of miscarriage or the devastation of losing a child, I can only imagine how heartbreaking it is to be denied such an integral part of you. If that has been your story, I am so very sorry.
Over the last few months, I have watched her body changing as it makes a home for her baby and have marvelled at the fact that whilst my daughter was growing inside me, she already had her eggs and one of these eggs will be my grandchild! The cycle of life like a nest of Russian dolls.
And of course as every week passes with her pregnancy, I watch her settle into being a Mum to be, fall more deeply in love with her baby and see the contrast of her vulnerability as she desperately hopes it will all be ok. I am able to recall some of the worries I had and try to reassure her through these but there is also the grounding reality that there is nothing we can do to prevent them, other than ride the waves.
This sense of wanting to protect our children whilst having no control over the outcome is something I often talk about with my clients. I see the uncertainty in parent’s eyes and once again, am able to draw from my own experiences. Will my birth be ok? Will I be able to feed them the way I wish to? Will I be able to parent them the way I want to? Will I be enough for them? Will I give them enough? And of course, the answer is yes. As you crash against the negative waves of shoulda, woulda, coulda’s in your mind, it may not feel so in the moment but it was the best, the very best, you could do at the time.
So regardless of where you are in your own parenting story, as each chapter rolls into the next, try to remember that none of us have control over the outcome as we are all thrown around in the ocean of our lives. All we can do is hold on tight, trust in the moment and hope for the best. As I stand back and watch my little girl create her own beautiful story, I truly hope I have done enough to prepare her for this chapter.
Some people say we choose our families and if this is the case, my grandchild has chosen two fabulous people as parents. They both have many different strengths to draw from and between them are loving, calm, capable and kind. I hope they both find the courage to focus on their path and do it their way. But in those hard moments when they’re spluttering on sea water and the surf feels too much, I hope they also know that however tough the waves are, I am right here (like a beach battered boogie board!) and we can face it all together.