Every day I think I have to pinch myself to check if it’s real. This amazing little person who, 2 years ago, was still only under construction and who had yet to make his grand, and let’s face it, life changing entrance. I look at him and wonder, ‘how are you even here?!’ He’s amazing. And we created him!

Rian is the best thing to ever happen to Gavin and I. It’s such an obvious thing to say of course, any parent would say the same about their child. But how do you describe this feeling, being a parent? The usual; it’s hard work, long hours, little or no sleep etc etc and that’s mainly what people will talk about. Even when I was pregnant people said things like ‘Oh enjoy the peace and quiet while you can, you won’t get that back for a while!’ (We didn’t); ‘You might as well enjoy those lie ins, they’re soon to be a thing of the past!’ (They are); ‘Your life will never be the same again!’ Well it’s certainly not, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Of course other people told me what it would be like from the other side too, all the good things that come with it. The fun and the cuteness and the general happiness a child brings. But it’s still difficult to explain it, I don’t think I expected it to be so strong as it is.

Millions of poems and songs are written about the love you feel for your child (Sarah – Thin Lizzy / Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder are just two that spring to mind) and you sing along but not really pay any attention to the words. At least I didn’t. But how do you describe the love you feel towards your own child? It’s different to anything I’ve felt before, and it’s a love that brings an element of fear too.

It’s an overwhelming thing. Sometimes I feel it so strongly it makes me want to squeeze him so hard, as if to pass some of it through to him so he can feel it too. As if it would act as a protective shield around him everywhere he goes from now until forever. Maybe in a way it does do that! I would do anything for him, anything to protect him. And with that comes the fear I mention. How can I always protect him? Prevent him from all the horrible things that are out there?

His little face smiling up at me, full of innocence and purity. Ok, I’m verging on getting too mushy about it all maybe, (blame the pregnancy hormones?) but it makes me love him even more and want to protect him and preserve that purity he has. When does a person lose that, when does the cynicism of life creep in and chip away at all that innocence? I suppose all I can do is teach him the best way I can, how to deal with the horrible things he’s bound to experience and hope I equip him properly for any battle he’ll have to face whether it’s in the school yard or years from now in whatever he ends up doing in life.

And while I wonder  how it’s possible to love something so strongly it sometimes makes you so afraid of losing it you think you’d lose your mind, I wonder how it works when another little human appears. Does it get split in two, to share between them, or does it just double up, making it stronger and scarier all at once? I suppose I’ll find out soon enough. But now that I can feel Bump moving and kicking, a whole little person in there, when I see the little heartbeat on a screen at a scan, our newest little human, I think it just doubles up. Inflates itself out wide enough to cover them both. And hopefully protect them both.

I read something somewhere recently and although I can’t remember now what it was about exactly, it said something about parenting meaning being responsible for the only childhood someone has. That stuck with me and I thought about it for a while. It’s such a huge thing when you think about it! There are loads of guidelines and tips and tricks for how to teach kids this and that, but the overall picture is much bigger. Gavin and I are responsible for someone’s whole childhood, the whole foundation of how his life will unfold. It’s more than teaching him right and wrong etc, but building a store of memories and fun and laughter… basically, just happiness I hope. When I think of my own childhood I think of sunny days, excitement, fun and overwhelmingly I think of happy things.

When I went to see the Disney movie Inside Out, it completely affected how I look at Rian! All the little memory balls that go into storage in different parts of his brain, shaping who he becomes. Some must be pre-installed I suppose, personality traits and genetics and all that jazz, but some are shaped as we go. It’s not all sunny days and lovely surprises of course, he’ll have to learn to deal with all sorts of emotions. We can tell already he has inherited my quick temper, and naturally my amazing levels of genius…(!), he has Gavin’s good nature and affection and already I can tell he’s going to be kind just like his Dad.

Hopefully with this shield of emotion coming from both Gavin and I, and as they grow up, from eachother for eachother, it will get them to where they’re going safely and we can sign off Project Childhood as a successful mission complete… (whereby the terms and conditions of said childhood will kick in and involve making me pampered and treated like a Queen in my old age….!) In the end, I think it has to be scary and big, sometimes overwhelming, because otherwise how else would you do it! Either way, I know we’ll give it our best shot and hope it works out in the end.

However, doing it with lie-ins as a regular feature – is that too much to ask?? 🙂

Posted by:Jen Ryan

I'm Jen, 30-something, married, Mam of two little Munchkins, 2 dogs, Irish, red-haired and actual genius. (May not be true). I love Photography, cheesy stuff (including the music), fond of a cup of tea or two, although since the Munchkins arrived and taught me that sleep is for the weak, coffee is currently in top position.

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