I’ve always been a fan of adages.
Go with the flow. Don’t sweat the small stuff. What will be will be. What’s for you won’t go by you.
The simplicity of fridge magnet wisdom is appealing.
The serenity offered by these simple mottos always seemed so unattainable in my young adulthood.
Then my daughter was born and everything changed.
Suddenly there was a person in my life who was so important, so vital and urgent, that it was easy not to sweat the small stuff.
She was zen in a bottle. Or, at the very least, zen in a babygrow.
I matured, quickly, as we all must when we’re handed a tiny person to nurture and keep alive.
Gone were the self-indulgent dramas that peppered my teens.
I disowned the chaos that characterised the first few years of my twenties.
That huge weight of responsibility for another human made everything else seem simple in comparison.
The moment that changed everything
It was 24 hours after my daughter was born before she and I were properly introduced.
I’d recovered from the surgery that I required after the delivery and she’d recovered from the pokes and prods and bright lights of the hospital ward.
I don’t remember the first time I held her. But I vividly recall the first time we officially met.
It was that blurry time between night and day and our neighbours on the labour ward were sleeping and wailing, respectively.
I held her close and her grey-black eyes opened and searched for mine.
The moment was equal parts terrifying and humbling.
That ready-made love that you have for your baby is often discussed.
Sometimes, I’d argue, it’s overstated.
It’s the fact that you love them more with every day you know them that I find the most incredible.
She makes my world go round, I make the pancakes
She’s seven now and regularly makes clear that she is thoroughly bored with the lovey-dovey stuff.
These days, when I declare my love for her she often shrugs it off with “yeah, I KNOW mum, you tell me ALL. THE. TIME.’’
It’s a good sign, I think.
She doesn’t realise how miraculous she is.
She doesn’t understand how lucky I feel that I get to be her mum.
I deliver a sermon that encapsulates the full, life-changing, life-affirming devotion I have for her but she’s only ever truly impressed when I make her pancakes for breakfast.
5:35am: “mum see if I DO get my own baking show what do you think I should call it I was thinking maybe ‘baking every DAY?’ or ‘every day BAKING???” pic.twitter.com/62J2X0CF48
— Kirsty Strickland (@KirstyStricklan) November 29, 2021
“Go with the flow’’ and ‘”what will be will be’’ is an easy path to follow when you feel content with your lot, as I do.
But in recent years, the wee one has made clear that she’s not on board with that plan.
She wants siblings.
This question is harder to answer
She looks to me, as our household’s pancake-maker-in-chief, to crack some eggs and rustle one up for her.
Every time she mentions it I feel a jolt of unease.
Her dad and I separated when she was two and I’ve been cheerfully single ever since.
She would be an amazing big sister but, for now, I’m happy with it being just the two of us.
I tell her, “you can’t predict the future’’ and ‘”what will be will be’’ but she’s looking for an answer more definitive than a fridge magnet platitude.
I’m usually her Yes person. Why is it that when it comes to this I’m unable to give her any guarantees?
Grown-ups know the reasons but it’s hard for kids to understand.
If my daughter is destined to remain an only child then I pledge to make her the best pancakes I can for as long as she wants them
I firmly believe that what’s for you won’t go by you.
But that doesn’t stop me Googling the benefits of being an only child.
I hungrily seek out stories of people who don’t have siblings, looking for reassurance.
I have four brothers and one sister: the only child thing is a concept I’m not familiar with.
— David Clegg (@davieclegg) November 1, 2021
Nevertheless, I want to quieten that nagging voice that says she’ll resent me later if our family doesn’t grow as she does.
And then there’s the clock.
That stupid, infuriating tick tick tick that all women of a certain age are subjected to.
Whether you want kids or not, it’s impossible to filter out the endless people, newspaper articles and dire warnings about “leaving it too late’’.
Some decisions are out of my hands
One of the reasons that I cling to the hope that there is a higher power; be it the universe, a God or fate, driving the direction of our lives is because it absolves me of the responsibility to make decisions.
Without it, I’m left in charge of The Big Stuff and frankly, I don’t feel qualified.
If I rule out the possibility of having more children, will I regret it in the future?
Does anybody know a good psychic?
It’s preferable to believe that everything happens for a reason.
If my daughter is destined to remain an only child then I pledge to make her the best pancakes I can for as long as she wants them.
And if the universe has other ideas, then I’ll invest in a bigger frying pan.
And maybe some new fridge magnets.