I have been in a very reflective mood this week. It has been triggered by the fact that my eldest is about to turn twenty. It has also been made complicated by more than one conversation with friends that have left me feeling frustrated.
I am a parent. Before my eldest was born, I was confronted very painfully with the reality of the emotional connection that being a parent means to me. The week long wait for fetal cardiology investigations after they found a problem on the first scan left me in no doubt about how fiercely I loved this person who I hadn’t yet met.
I actively sought parenthood. I had thought about what it would mean a lot before I started trying. I was determined that my children would always know that they were my priority – not in a pandered to way, but in the way that I would meet their needs before my wants.
So here I am, twenty years later, reflecting on who I was, who I am and what that means.
I find it hard to explain to people how I parent. It can appear anarchic at times and there is always a huge heap of humour and the right level of cheek with all three of them. Underlying that, there is a layer of absolute discipline. No means no, and more than that, we all have the confidence of that. My permissions aren’t wobbly and variable. For both myself and my children, this is important. It gives us all the foundations and structure to have freedom with support, to be able to explore and most importantly, to be able to grow in who we are.
It is important to myself and my children that we have a clear understanding of our relationship, of our rights and responsibilities and of how much we care about each other as well as what we can expect of each other. It allows us to thrive and to develop our own experiences and relationships without damaging each other.
One of the reasons that I am sharing these thoughts here is because I feel that these relationship foundations are important to me. I thrive on having a clarity in relationships whether they are friendships, acquaintances or more. I do not like to have to second guess whether someone would like to hear from me or see me. I do not like to feel that people are putting up with me because they are too polite to avoid me or make it clear. I have an annoying and destructive tendency to worry too much about this.
One of the interesting parts of being a mother to a child on the autistic spectrum is that I have had many more detailed conversations about different relationships and social interactions and the emotional weighting that goes with them. I know that I have internalised some of this and now having clarity in my relationships is a huge priority for me.
Twenty years ago, I would not have thought so deeply about relationships and the foundations that allow them to grow. Now, I start to get twitchy if I can’t feel and see the extent of those foundations.