I first became a mother in May 1980. I remember it well, because it was after a three-day labour, which as you women will know, is not unusual for a first baby. May 24th 1980, the day my life changed forever.
I held this amazing little scrap of humanity in my arms and experienced a tidal wave of emotion which was like God saying, "Now you know how much I love you." I guess it's moments like this one that prevent me from becoming an atheist, though I do have sympathies in that direction, I have to admit. I certainly have no belief whatsoever in a hell-fire and damnation deity, and this might prove to be my eternal undoing, who kmows?
I remember saying to my husband as I lay exhausted on the delivery bed, "They say you forget how painful labour is, but believe me, I NEVER WILL!" He wisely chose not to comment. You do though, forget, it's strange, I read somewhere that there is a bio-chemical reason for this forgetting, which is anomalous, because usually one is programmed to remember pain in order to avoid repeating the experience. Evolution will out, I guess.
Two more daughters arrived in due course, all three equally and uniquely loved. I vastly enjoyed growing them up. I thought of the process as one of having lit the blue touch paper, then standing back to watch the fireworks. And sometimes there were.
Ray and I have been reprising some of the highlights as we marry off the spinsters in our midst. Hannah, last Friday, Kate in a few week's time ...
'Hedgehog land', Kate's paper round, Hannah''s Kick-boxing, Jen's perpetual inability to ride a bike - and the wealth of embarrassing stories ( though not for me) that will be brought out for the grandchildren in due course, but which I can't write here, because there would be repercussions ...
I am not a perfect mother, I would feel I had failed if I'd tried to be, I used to worry, perhaps I will again, from time to time, that I'd been too lax, or too strict... .
I watched in amazement and admiration, as one mother of my acquaintaince, Mrs Hilda Gamston, who had RUlLES, check off her kids' tv-watching on a tick-list. They were allowed one soap each, and each chose a different one, so had to shepherded in and out of the sitting-room. I doubt it lasted, but bully for her for trying.
I don't think we had rules as such. We just had values. 'This is how we do it in this family, we are kind and respectful to one another and to others.' That was about it, really. One daughter skivved off a games lesson once, and got found out. Floods of tears followed her father just saying, "I'm very disappointed." That was all.
I skivved off school at every opportunity, which seemed the most appropriate response to it, so I kept quiet on this one.
Mother-Of-The-Bride! You wait ten years then two come along at once ... What fun, for me, at least,whose only obligation was to turn up and look happy. No problem there. Darren, Kate's intended made sure my glass was never empty, and I breezed through the day in a cheerful if slightly inebriated haze of affability. You can tell by looking at me, I'm having a wonderful time.
One of the unforseen consequences of having three daughters, is that you end up with three sons of whom you were spared the expense and anxiety of raising. I have to hand it to my girls, they chose well: I'd have expected nothing less. I had to cross my fingers a couple of times along the way, grimly determined to love 'em no matter what, but it all turned out well in the end.
Then there are the granchildren! Well, what poppets! And the delightful prospect of more to come (One due two days after Kate's wedding, which adds an extra layer of excitement to the proceedings,) i had better stop there because if I start on the grandchildren, you'll be here all day.