The day the world went dark
Having a baby lights up the world. It’s not easy, but all the clichés are true about how you’ve never known love like it, how magical it all is blah blah. The thing is it comes with a dark side too. One I only fully understood slowly over this first year of my first child as I fell totally and utterly in love with this tiny little character.
It didn’t happen all at once, it crept in, seeping into my heart and head and every cell until I realised… what a horrible, dangerous and messed up world we live in!
Seriously, I’ve lived my life absolutely fear free. I have travelled all over the world, leapt off cliffs, out of planes, been skiing, had typhoid, pneumonia, malaria, been in gun sieges (yes, plural!), camped with wild animals. It never really occurred to me that my brave brave parents must be quaking somewhere with the heads in a bucket of sand.
And all that was nothing really. Not compared to the terrifying prospect of the thousands of childhood diseases, bullying (cyber or otherwise) that can cause children to take drastic actions, perverts, roads! Oh my goodness, I have to work so hard to switch my head off sometimes.
We are nearly at our little boy’s first birthday. What a year it has been. Highs and lows to the extreme. But it has all been pretty cosy and safe so far, and this amazing kid just smiles and smiles and smiles. The thing is, he’s barely seen the outside world – that amazing, glorious beautiful world that is so fraught with danger I’d like to keep inside wrapped tightly in cotton wool with a layer of bubble wrap for good measure! I can handle him bumping his head or eating dog hair, I am pretty un-stressy mum about that stuff, but the thought of him caught up in drugs and unable to communicate with us simply because he’s a teenager and thinks that we won’t get it, or don’t care, or whatever – well it makes me cry. And I mean to the point where I can barely turn on the tv. Last night a childrens’ cancer advert followed by a BB2 film called ‘Disconnect’ about the internet world we live in had me absolutely beside myself, red faced and snotty because all I could think about was him and all he’ll have to face. I don’t want it to change him; for him to close up because his heart’s been broken, or because some other kids thought he wasn’t cool enough. I can’t bear for him to go through any of it.
But then I remember the incredible gift that my parents gave me: They kept all that fear a secret. I don’t mean they didn’t talk about issues and concerns, but that they let me go without showing me how frightening that was for them. At every stage they let me run off with no idea that they were still standing there, watching me go, arms wide ready for me to run back whenever it got too much. How very, very brave they were.
And how hard it is going to be to pass on that gift! But I am determined we will do the same for our boy because without that freedom he might miss all the joyous, beauty and wonder that is out there too.
So, on this Valentine’s Day don’t just think about the kind of love that makes you all mushy and romantic. Think about the big loves. About family and friends who have been there and supported you, both in tough times and celebrations.