I knew when I had children that I would learn lots of things about myself, but I’ve learnt far more than I could have ever imagined. Amongst them – that I’m not as patient as I thought I was (!) I’ve also discovered how much I love nature, that there are an awful lot of different vehicles in the world (and I’m expected to know them all), that I’m really quite creative (which was a shock as I’d always been a maths and science sort of girl), and that they teach me far more than I teach them.
Although having children means I have a lot less time to myself, I also have so much more freedom. Every day is an adventure (not always a successful one might I add), as the three of us are free to roam. The two of them keep me on my toes and (most of the time) it’s very welcome. Ru and Win are slowly but surely becoming partners in crime – I can see it unfolding, and it makes me slightly scared (and very excited) for what the future holds.
Since having children I am outdoors so much more than I used to be and I love it. I used to work 9-5 and often there was over an hour car journey either side of that. I love being outdoors, I love being in new places, I’m not that fussy about where I sleep, but I would still describe myself as a really homey person.
I have so many things that I want to learn about and having children was the perfect excuse to get started. I’ve always felt I should know more about space, more about distant places and more about the world in general. I really can’t wait to discover all these new things with my kids as they grow. Jared is so up to date on current affairs and I’m totally rubbish. I can’t be excused for much longer.
Before Win was born (but cooking nicely) I bought a set of five books for spotting nature. I’ve always wanted to become better at knowing the names of plants, flowers, insects, birds and trees, and we’re getting to the stage where we can take the books out with us and start spotting. Doing it with children completely enhances the experience – they’re more tuned in, they ask questions and everything in the world is exciting to them. I feel the same way about holidaying with kids. It’s so much more fun and I learn so much more.
I have heard so many parents say that since having children they don’t have time for hobbies or interests. Apparently children are their hobby, and it’s something I have never got to grips with. Children are not a hobby or an interest, and you can have both – children and interests. During the day Win gets involved with crafts, he asks me if I’m going to the gym, he helps me arrange flowers in the home and he’s my go-to presser foot man whenever I use the sewing machine. I wouldn’t be without him, and the evening my friends, is all mine.
Writing this post has made me realise that Win lives in a little bubble because he doesn’t have a huge amount of external influences. He adores his many cousins, his grandparents, the workers at playgroup and there are two boys at church that he totally idolises (they teach him essential skills like boxing, play fighting and body slamming), but other than that he’s pretty sheltered, and at the tender age of three it’s not something I’m worried about. He’ll find interests and learn things along the way, as he makes new friends and meets new people.
He collects rabbit food for his imaginary rabbits in the garden, he often will pop outside to collect petals, he enjoys having epic sword fights with his brother, we make perfume and we press flowers. He’s never watched ‘Frozen’ all the way through because he finds it too scary, and he talks about Batman and Superman as if he knows who they are, but he really doesn’t.
I’ve been asked many times if I make a conscious effort to be a ‘gender neutral’ parent, and the answer is no. I really hate the term (it kind of makes me cringe), as I do at the label ‘attachment parenting’. I don’t even know what they mean. Making an effort to parent under a certain label doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know the faintest thing about Barbie or My Little Pony, never mind superheroes.
For me, parenting is about taking advice from anyone and everyone, adding here and there and making it your own. It’s about what feels comfortable, what suits your personality and what feels right. Jared and I are pretty minimal with toys (because we hate seeing them) – besides, it’s far cheaper to buy ‘gender neutral’ toys than buy two sets of paraphernalia. We’ll have saved loads of money if we ever have a girl!