It was during a conversation with my mum recently that I had an epiphany – I was probably a terrible child. It took a while to sink in, because for the previous 30 years I had always thought of myself as a delightful child. There was that time I playfully hopped out of the bath and ran butt naked down the main road, or the time my twin brother and I found bags of rice and scattered them across the kitchen floor – how hilarious. I also recall always having my family enthralled at the dinner table with the latest story from my day. Well, that was how I remembered it – until the tables were turned and I became a parent myself.
As it turns out (and I’m still coming to grips with this), I was probably not as pleasant a child as I had once thought. Apparently chasing a naked toddler down a main road, cleaning up yet another mishap, or having to listen to yet another tedious story was quite tiring. Yet even with four children and not enough limbs to manage all the chaos, my mum allowed me to believe that I was special, that I belonged, and that she delighted in me – and I bought it!
Fast forward 30 years and I am amazed at how my own wife can bear the brunt of a two-year-old toddler. How she somehow manages to find endless enthusiasm to sit on the floor with him, finds yet another funny way to read a book to him, or how she can sit calmly in the midst of his strong emotions, offering a reassuring presence to him.
My wife is more than just a mother, she has three degrees, she has been a much-loved chaplain and teacher for many years, she has a green thumb and is an amazing gardener, she is a steadfast friend, and she is not afraid to take on a new challenge – whether that’s pottery, bee-keeping or photography. But what she manages to do as a mother, day after day, is what truly amazes me. Her relentless patience, enthusiasm, attention, creativity, and utter dedication to our son is something else. And as he grows up, she will make sure that Harley knows with absolute certainty that he is loved, that he is ours, and she delights in him – and hopefully he will buy it.