There’s a rather famous poem by Philip Larkin, which opens with the line “they f*** you up, your mum and dad.”
It was a somewhat outrageous read when I was 14 and studying for my English Literature GCSE – but the sentiment stuck in my mind.
Now almost two decades on, a mummy myself, I find myself pondering the truth of his lines,
“They fill you with faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.”
I am a worrier. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had anxiety over something gnawing away at my gut, prickling just at the edge of my consciousness. In a weird way it has probably spurred me on in life. I might as well put myself out of my comfort zone, take the big leap, I’ll worry it about it, whatever I do.Yet, since having Sonny Jim, I’ve gotten the closest I ever have, to parking the creeping fear that clutches at my heart, with no rhyme nor reason for it.
It has been a conscious effort. When Sonny Jim toddles towards steps I don’t jump up and snatch him away before he even gets close to tumbling. When he runs, on those wobbly-not-quite-in-control-chubby legs, I don’t tell him to slow down. Even though my mouth might be a little dry and in my mind’s eye we’re already at A&E, I do my damndest not to let it show. To let him discover the world without unnecessary fear – just a decent amount of caution.
It’s only going to get tougher the bigger he gets. But I’m determined to face down my own fears, so as he doesn’t have to live with them.
Because that’s what you try and do as a parent, isn’t it? You don’t want to pass on those hang ups that you’ve spent your whole life trying to work around and manage. You want your children to be blissfully free of your failings.
I’m not sure if that’s achievable, or if Larkin is right. I guess we’ll see when Sonny Jim is grown…
This post was first published in the Echo newspaper on Friday, October 20, 2017: www.echo-news.co.uk