Helen (heleninwales) wrote,
Helen
heleninwales

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A mother's place is in the wrong

This started out as a comment to brownnicky, but got rather long, so I thought I'd upgrade it to its own post.

I sometimes suffer feelings of guilt because I gave my children the kind of childhood I wished I'd had, ie a rural one. Though ironically, by moving to a very very small town, they both had the kind of freedom I'd had as an inner city kid growing up in the north east of Manchester in the 50s and early 60s. Those were the days when you could actually tell a kid to cross the road by, "Look right and then look left and when there's nothing coming, walk briskly across." And what is more, they would be able to carry out the instructions. Nowadays you'd wait all day for a moment when there wasn't a moving car in sight in either direction. And there were no murderers or paedophiles around in those innocent times, so parents could let their children wander where they pleased without worrying. Oh, wait! There were those pesky Moors murderers, but I don't remember that impinging on our freedom.

But perhaps my kids didn't really want to grow up in the country. What if they'd have preferred the amenities of a city? What if they'd preferred to be mono-lingual rather than have to struggle in school with two languages? Parent guilt is easy to fall into.

I could have hugged my son when he came home just before Christmas and actually mentioned how he'd enjoyed the days when he was a young boy and could be out all day with his friends playing football until it got too dark to see the ball and how they'd made dens in the wood and swum in the river and been taken down old deserted lead mines and in fact done all the things the children did in the books I read as a child. I hadn't got it totally wrong!

One disappointment was that I could never get my kids enthusiastic about learn an instrument (though our daughter had private recorder lessons for a while) and they showed no sign of wanting to play music and sing like I did when I was young. They were both too into sport for that. They did both read though and our son, now in his late 20s, has rediscovered novels. His sister is probably doing too much non-fiction reading for her job as a university lecturer to want to read much fiction at the moment, but like brownnicky said, I know they have the skills to read narratives and take enjoyment from them.

We also dragged them round castles and museums and stately homes and historic houses. (Our daughter, then still a toddler, set off the alarms in the Bronte house in Hawarth!) We've taken them on a canal holiday to see the delights of the Leeds-Liverpool canal where they could marvel at the decaying splendour of the Victorian factories and the bleak northern landscape.

The problem is, until the child is more or less grown up, neither you nor they know what they really want to do. It's also impossible for a parent to offer everything. There's only so much a human being can study or work at or experience during a normal childhood. Whatever you do, it's only a small sample and it's hit and miss whether you get it right or wrong.

So in the end we just have to muddle through and hope for the best. Which is something I need to keep reminding myself of when the depression tells me I was an awful mother.
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