Today is the 30th birthday of our eldest, Adam. Not sure how that works when you still think of yourself as 21, but there’s no escaping the fact that we’re getting on in years and the next generation is maturing too!
An abiding memory of our first night home from hospital was listening to the start of the first Gulf War, with the radio on in the early hours, hearing the RAF bombers leaving on Operation Desert Storm to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait, with naval and aerial bombardment which continued for 5 weeks.
I well remember thinking “what world have we brought this baby in to?” and the worry that he’d have to face challenges that we couldn’t protect him from forever.
Perhaps this is a natural part of becoming a new parent, realising that you’re responsible for another human being (at least until they’re teenagers and know everything anyway), and that there are things beyond your control that may affect their long term health and happiness. Never has this been more noticeable than in the current crisis.
Who would have thought that 30 years on (and with his own little baby just passing her 3 month birthday) that we’d be asking the same questions with pandemics, political unrest and humanity’s hopes being pinned on a vaccine?
The opportunity to take time reflecting on our past can be both a positive and negative experience.
Looking back now, I wish someone had told us not to stress that for a while all he’d eat was Crunchy Nut cornflakes and he’d still grow up healthy, and become a qualified Personal Trainer with an interest in nutrition; or that just because he had a love of art and creative skills in design and technology, that didn’t mean his parents’ expectation for him to be an architect was the path he’d choose, but he’d still use those talents to build his new baby an integrated bedroom storage unit from scratch!
As parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents and the like, we can become paralysed by our own aspirations for our young charges whilst worrying about all the things we cannot protect them from. In reality, the sooner we accept they’re individuals in their own right, with the ability to make their own decisions, mistakes and successes, the more we can support them.
They will face challenges and change throughout their lives – whether that’s having to be home-schooled during a pandemic, or facing action if they go into the military.
Today’s reflections on that momentous day 30 years ago gives an opportunity to see a true picture of life’s ups and downs – the great times and the testing times and especially in the current climate where we can’t celebrate together as a family, it reminds us that better times will return and there is much to look forward to in the future.