Parent at 42

I became a parent for the first time at 42

By Bernadette Orbinski Burke

It was a wonderful, life changing and life enriching experience beyond measure. I couldn’t quite believe that this little human was in my life, I endlessly watched her while she slept, while she was awake, ate, bathed…you get picture. I think I was scared that she might disappear and I would wake up.

It was easy to feel such an amateur among all the other younger, energetic, more organised parents who seemed to have an encyclopaedic knowledge about everything ‘baby’. As I was on my own with my daughter, my own mother was a tremendous support as were my friends. I do feel that my daughter, as the old saying goes, has been raised by a village. A village of loving and supportive people that have been in her life from the beginning. It was a wonderfully happy time of milestones and magic.

Naturally there were hard times too, and I vividly remember one day when I was panicking about trying to get everything right, a good friend sitting me down with a cup of tea and telling me about a poem that she found very helpful. I have included the poem below for anyone interested, but basically the message was that children are like living arrows, going into the future, to a place that we can’t go to and what we need to try and be to our children is a stable bow. I loved the mental image of the bow and arrow, and that for an arrow to fly the bow needs to be stable.

As the years have passed so quickly and she has become very much her own young woman, I realise that the time when she will leave and go out into the world is fast approaching. I am proud and it terrifies and excites me in equal measure. All the wonderful things to see and do, and the people to meet in this world, and of course will she be safe, will she recognise danger be it a physical, emotional, health danger……. the list goes on! I guess the reality is that like everyone she will have good and bad times, there will be fun and excitement and learning from mistakes and hopefully near misses and of course I hope that she will always find her way home whenever she wants to, or needs to.

So, to all those out there trying to be stable bows, I wish you stability, success, a sense of humour, resilience, more power to your arms and also a merry Christmas and a healthy, happy 2022.

Of Children

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls’ dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The Prophet Kahlil Gibran

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