Thresholds of Life | Parenting | Kylie Purtell - Capturing Life

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Thresholds of Life | Parenting

When you're pregnant with your first baby it's impossible to think beyond the immediate constraints of that straining belly full of arms & legs. Labour & delivery is about as far in the future as you can see, the energy it takes to grow a human life inside of you leaves nothing left over with which to contemplate the future.

As your baby is born you become consumed with the endless days of feeding, changing and trying to sleep. These days will never end, or so it seems, until one day you're wrestling with a full-blown toddler who perhaps now sleeps, but refuses to do anything you tell them, and has progressed from taking their first tentative steps to running everywhere all the time. You're still too exhausted (both physically & mentally) to contemplate anything beyond the terror of toilet-training and perhaps preschool.

Then suddenly, you realise they've been out of nappies for years and you're taking them shopping for their first school uniform, holding their hand on Orientation Day and assuring them that everything will be fine as they're led away and shown their future.

January rolls around and you wave them off on their first day. Perhaps you breathe a sigh of relief, or maybe you plaster on a smile and then go and cry ugly tears in the car and sob on and off for the 5.5 hours before pick-up. Whatever your reaction, there is a sense that, with the ending of those years at home, the hard part is done. Your child no longer needs you 24 hours a day, they can feed themselves, dress themselves, wipe their own bottom and count to 100.

It all gets easier from here, you tell yourself, steadfastly refusing to acknowledge that the child you've just waved off will ever become a teenager. You cling to this belief like you clung to the belief that everything would get easier once your child learnt to sleep, learnt to talk, learnt to use the toilet, learnt to insert one of the million things we wish our kids would hurry up and learn to do.

What they don't tell you, while you're sitting on that fit ball moaning and rocking through the contractions, or lying on that table feeling the tug & pull of the surgeon's hands on your insides, is that those first 5 years are just the warm-up act. They're a seasoning. Years designed to help you build up physical & mental calluses so that you have a fighting chance of surviving the years to come.

What I didn't realise when I stood on the threshold of parenthood was just how much my children would need me emotionally as they get older. No longer does she need me to hold her spoon or hold her hand, what she needs now is for me to hold her heart.

I was terrified when she was first born, terrified. I was 100% positive that I was doing everything wrong and that I would ruin her for life.

Now she's 6, almost 7, and I know that these first years of her life were just a taster of what is to come. How I hold her heart in these next few years will shape the way she navigates all the rest of her years.

Now I know true terror.

I stand here beside her, on the threshold of the rest of her life, with both our hearts in my trembling hands and hope like hell I can teach her as much about life as she has taught me.

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