There are many things I've learnt as a parent, that have shaped me and changed me into who I am today.
But my parenting days are over and although hopefully I'll have Grandkids one day, it'll not be the same as raising my own kids and to be honest, although I'm sad that my parenting days are over now, I really don't have the energy to do it all again.
My kids are all grown up and have their own lives. My youngest is 16, but as he's in full time boarding school in the UK while I live in Dubai, he grows and changes without me. In fact all 5 of our children have moved into adulthood without their parents around. Actually they seem to have done rather well for themselves, are content, happy, have girlfriends, careers and a place to call home.
I started life as a parent in May 1992, I was 21. I finished as a full time parent in January 2015. I spent the last 4 years as a SAHM, but prior to that I worked and studied. I had spells as a SAHM when a child was born or we moved to a new area, but I worked part time and studied and all 3 of my boys were in nursery or with a child minder or after school clubs prior to starting school.
In 2005 I went to University, in 2008 I started work full time and had a career. On top of that as a parent I had pack lunches, homework, taxi runs most nights of the week and weekends with their schools, part time jobs and sport. Add to that a husband who worked away most weeks, I had laundry, supper to cook, housework etc.
I had a full and varied 2 years, prior to moving to South Africa and gave it all up. I worked as volunteer but with no family near by, I worked within school hours only. I was home every evening. Child 4 of 5 learnt to drive and slowly my 'Mum' duties stopped. I was no longer required to give lifts to and from school, to mates, to football....and then they left.
So here I am, with a varied and full life behind me, well adjusted (they've had their moments) kids. I've not been able to work for the past 5 years due to rules and visas in the countries I have lived in and I'm wondering what it has all been for.
I needed something else than being 'just a mum' I needed to be able to join in with the 'real world' to personally achieve something, to be valued, to have a role in society, to be me.
I can't go back and change the course of my life, it has happened, it has lead right up to this spot today. But there are still things I regret, things I can't change, but there are lessons I can pass on to my adult children and their girlfriends, so they don't reach the same stage I'm at, right now, with regrets and they are:
- Not worry about the washing up, hoovering, ironing. There is plenty of time in the day for that, instead of taking a long bath, I wish I'd had a quick shower and read more to my kids at bedtime.
- I wish I'd spent longer on the touchline when they were playing football, rather than sitting in the car with a coffee, reading a book.
- I wish I'd had more structure to my approach to their homework. I wish I'd played with them when they were in the garden instead of tidying up their bedrooms, that they were only going to mess up again.
- I wish I'd been more relaxed about the mess in their bedrooms rather than getting all shouty and stressed out about it.
- I wish I'd listened to them when they said they no longer wanted to go to gym, have swimming lessons, practice their musical instruments, rather than make them finish off the end of the term.
I regret running the PTA, the local football club, saying yes to extra work when we didn't need the money, all to do what? To have a career when the children had left home, so I wasn't left without anything to do.
I regret wishing the time away so they were more independent.
I regret interfering with their rows and squabbles as they'd end up ganging up on me.
I regret making them go to parties of children they didn't particularly like, when they said they didn't want to go.
These are regrets for me as a parent, I'm sure my children have a whole list of things that they wished I'd done differently, such as bedtime rules, electronic games, pocket money, pets, staying out later, different holidays, eating out more, a lift to school everyday and back and forth several times with forgotten PE Kit and I'm sure the list goes on and on and on.
It's made no difference, to where I am now, I'm not working, I don't have any children at home. But I didn't realise back in 1992 that part of having children would was about shaping me and making me who I am today, it's was not about putting my life on hold and making sacrifices.