I didn’t have a happy childhood.
It wasn’t terrible, abusive – no-one was an alcoholic, no-one beat me, no-one left me unfed or unwashed. But I was unhappy and anxious most of the time. Perhaps it was my genetic make-up, perhaps it was the atmosphere at home and my sensitivity to it.
I spent my childhood trying to fit in, trying to be the “same” as everyone else – to blend. It never really worked. I started off bright as a button, trying to impress teachers – and achieving this, then crawling back into my shell when I was branded a “swat” and a “boffin.”
By the age of 11, I had become a silent blusher – flushing with panic when I was spoken to. I kept things to myself – I was often laughed at or bullied, but didn’t feel interference from home would do anything but harm. Perhaps I was wrong? Who knows.
My goal? To belong – to be part of the “in crowd.” The result? Lower exam results than I could have achieved, few friends and a feeling of never quite ‘belonging.’
Later, having shed my shyness (at least externally), I suffered the odd combination of a successful outgoing persona, with crippling inner anxiety.
Finally, at the age of 35, I have found some sort of inner peace – finally found myself again.
But from the day Lily was born, all I’ve wanted – above all else – was for her to be a happy child, to have a happy childhood.
And she is happy... Or at least I think so.
I am so obsessed with protecting her from emotional harm, I wonder whether I over-indulge her. I am so obsessed with wanting her to have “fun”, I wonder whether I make her exhausted. Sometimes I think she just wants to be left alone. Sometimes I think I am not spending enough time with her.
Then I worry – what will it be like with 4 little ones to concentrate on? Will I have time to even attempt to be a good mummy?
I think these worries are a pretty common feature of being a mother – a sign we care about our little ones. But I really hope my little girl, and my blossoming boys, aren’t left with a mother too drained to notice their little cares, too busy to play with them without half an eye on the clock, and so keen to ship them off to crèche and school that I don’t realise that all they want is to spend a day doing ‘not very much’ with me.
I just hope I’m up to the job.