Becoming a parent can be one of the most exciting and terrifying times in your life. Just getting your head around being responsible for such a small, helpless soul is an immense task in itself. Add to that the pressure of ‘not stuffing your child up’ and you can be in a tizz before the child has even arrived. You quickly discover that there are myriad methods of raising your child and everyone has an opinion on how this should be done.
The real adventure begins once you’ve had the child. Trying to decipher apparently differing cries, dodging projectile poos and juggling child, nappy bag and shopping trolley at once is a feat in itself.
I can see now that my thoughts and understanding of parenting before having children fell much shorter than the reality of the day to day living with my pint-sized ball of energy. I was seduced into the belief that babies did what you wanted them to do as long as you read the warning signs and carefully orchestrated their routine.
Little did I know, their personalities were largely formed well before they took their first breath. My steely sense of persistence and determination was obliterated within days of meeting my first bundle of joy as he was resolved to live life on his terms.
Clearly, different people have different experiences with their children. At least that’s what I’m telling myself when I see parents with truckloads of children in tow. Two children and it’s game over for me. Battles over sleeping were just the beginning and it quickly occurred to me that the best ‘parents’ in the world were those that didn’t have children. If only I could remember all the solutions I had for parenting dilemmas before venturing into parenthood.
I met Pia soon after having my first child, we had shared similar experiences with our pregnancies and births, which was the beginning of our friendship. Pia was the type of person that I would have clicked with regardless of whether we had children born at the same time. We savour any opportunity to swap thoughts on books and similar interests, hungrily gobbling the latest news and opinions. Like teenage girls gossiping about boys they like, we have progressed onto more ‘grown-up’ conversations!
Pia’s take on parenthood, prior to taking the plunge into the offspring journey, was far removed from mine. As a Children’s Court Lawyer, she often witnessed the ugly side of parent-child relationships. It wasn’t unusual for parents to oppose their child’s bail and she was often left to inform the child that their parents wouldn’t be coming to collect them. The police would then be left to play babysitter, frequently for minor crimes.
In her nurturing tones, she explained that these experiences revealed that there was nothing more important for a parent than to give their child unlimited and unconditional love and there was no such thing as loving your child too much.
On more than one occasion Pia would have taken the child home with her, if only to show them what it was to be loved. The reality of their situation was inescapable if she was presented with CCTV footage unmistakably showing their criminal behaviour. This could be compounded in the courtroom where a victim was added to the equation and her compassion was torn in another direction.
As we sit chatting on a sunny winter’s afternoon with our children playing around us, I find it fascinating to observe that Pia has struck an enviable balance in her parenting style. She hasn’t gone too far in the other direction. While she is a wonderfully loving mother who has no end of time and patience for her children she is also firm in guiding their young lives.
Pia is relishing being a full-time mum to her two small children. However, she has decided that if she chooses to resume her career it will be in a different capacity. She would like to continue in the children’s court in the position of a Duty Lawyer, dealing with lesser crimes.