This week I have been in Dubai, visiting my best friend and her two boistrous boys, the older of whom is my godson (GS).
I love running around with my GS, shouting loudly, squirting water at each other, pretending to fart on each other and making each other laugh hysterically at our own ridiculousness. At six years old, he is a whiz on the computer and from the moment I came into the house he comandeered my iPad and showed me how to get to the next level of angry birds. When I eventually got my iPad back, I found hundreds of new games that he had downloaded on it!
Growing up, I always assumed I would meet someone, fall in love, have children with them and create a family of my own. Yet this is not how it turned out! I have spent my working life protecting children and have always found kids to be good company, but having turned 40, I am coming to accept that having children of my own is increasingly unlikely. And, actually, the older I get, the less appealing I find the idea!
Instead, I’m lucky enough to be an aunt to five fantastic neices and nephews and a ‘godmother’ to four equally amazing children of friends. I have the very lucky role of being able to come in, wind them up to the full and then leave, while their parents have to cope with the aftermath! Whilst this may sound horrifying, I have it on good authority that it is ok because during these times the parents get to have a breather as I become the focus of their children’s attention.
I am well aware that there are many wonderful aspects of parenting and that for all the moans, groans and difficulties my friends have, none of them would be without their children. I have to say, however, that sometimes I look round at them and wonder how they manage because it is exhausting and neverending! Having a child may be the most selfish thing a person can do, but once that child arrives then that same person is required to be utterly selfless, putting their child first at all times. This is by no means an easy feat, and I know from my work with children and families that not all parents manage it!
As for me, I have found that the older I get, the more set in my ways and selfish I have become and the less I’m prepared to compromise for the sake of children! I can’t imagine not being able to do what I want when I want and wonder how on earth parents manage when all they want to do is shut the world out but there are little people around who won’t let them do that.
It’s not just about age and lifestyle, though – there’s also the fact I’m not in a relationship (I think it would be too much responsibility to have children alone – respect to all those that manage it). Plus, I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which means concieving would not be easy. I have also had a full lower body lift following weight-loss surgery and the last thing I want now is to put on weight (even if a baby was the end result!).
But, as I said, I love seeing my nephews, nieces and godchildren. This week in Dubai, the reward for spending quality time with my GS are the small gestures that mean so much! The first was when GS came up to me looking all sweet and innocent, puckered his lips up and went to plant a kiss on my cheek, or so I thought – what I actually got was a huge raspberry blown on my face. Then when we were in the swimming pool he insisted on holding on to me so that I could drag him along when he was too tired to swim himself. This was ok until I heard the words ‘giddy up’ coming from him and I realised he was treating me like his personal pack horse! As I was getting out the pool, he took the opportunity to pull down my tankini bottoms and expose my big fat white arse to the world, which he of course found terribly amusing! Then there was the song he sang in the car on the way home about how I smelt, how he wanted to put me in the toilet and finally how he was going to wee on my head! This was of course followed by raucous laughter about how funny he was, which in fact he is!
All that said, I love GS and find his company excellent. I particularly enjoy the little moments that shine through and let me know that he loves me too! This is not the endless shouting of my name to come and help him, or being used as a human climbing frame or even the face that appears over mine at 6am to enquire if I’m ready to play yet. It is things like today on the beach, when we were playing in the sand and got to a bit where if you weren’t careful you could fall in the water. I felt a small hand grasp mine as I was close to the edge and a little voice that said “I’ll stop you falling if you get too close”! He is of course far too little to manage that but it was the sentiment that counted.
I don’t know what the future holds and there is of course the possibility that I may get the opportunity to be a parent if I choose to, just not through conventional means; but for now, well……I love children but I couldn’t eat a whole one!