This parenting stuff never stops! All new parents like Peter and Emily think they are in for 18 years of it but I seem to recall that some of our most anxious moments about Peter were when he was in his early twenties. I still worry about him now, even though he is 40 and doing well in all areas of his life. Will went through troubled times on and off between the ages of about 8 and 13, but is now a responsible, thoughtful and sensitive 28 year old who possibly worries more about me and Walter than we do about him. He is about to move back in with us for a few months with his girlfriend whilst they look for a flat to buy together. Not the greatest way to start a live-in relationship and we will all have to be on our best behaviour, but we are lucky to have a couple of spare rooms they can use so we can all have some privacy. No more thoughts about moving to a smaller house for a while and it will be fun to have them around.
Zannah in the meantime is off to the Burning Man festival in the Nevada Desert before she settles down to her third year of Anthropology. There are so many ways in which I could worry sick about this American trip but I have decided that the best policy is to invest her with my confidence that she is an intelligent and resourceful person who can manage all eventualities (and make sure she has a credit card that can get her out of a hole if necessary – emergencies only!)
Becoming a good-enough parent (and I for one have never claimed perfection or anything like it) means walking a tightrope between meeting enough of your own needs in order to be able to meet the needs of your children with love and not resentment, and constantly putting their needs first. It can drive you to drink or to make sure that you are going to live long enough to at least see your child through to 18. Peter, a nicotine addict for many years, got himself a health check recently, has now stopped smoking and is paying attention to his high cholesterol and asthma that has lingered since childhood. The impending arrival of his daughter was the driver behind this. Walter believes that becoming a dad by donor conception has been the making of him. Having to face his infertility and the use of a donor to make our family has given him an emotional depth and range that many men never have. It is heart-breaking that this life enhancing experience is still denied to so many because despite the huge advances in assisted conception techniques, not everyone who wishes to become a parent can become one.
Walter and I are so glad and grateful for all three of our wonderful children, despite of and including all the times they have taken us to our limits and back…Peter and Emily have all this (and all the joyful times too) to come.