Note to parents: relax, the kids will be okay
AFTER spending 22 years raising two children, if I had to choose one thing to tell other parents, it would be this: Chill. The kids will be okay.
You don't have to be a perfect parent. You can be inconsistent at times, disorganised, distracted.
You can tell them one thing, and then change your mind, as long as you explain to them what's going on so everyone is on the same page.
You can send them to school without a Book Week costume.
You can fill their lunchboxes with crap every now and then, when you're so busy you can't think straight.
You can serve them sausages in bread for dinner sometimes and they won't die of malnutrition.
You can make astoundingly bad judgment calls that later become "Remember when?" stories told around the dinner table (assuming nobody gets hurt!).
One of my family's favourites involves a kitchen fire. We can laugh now. At the time, not so much.
Kids are tough. They'll survive. As long as they have at least one person who cares, one person in their corner, they can usually get through most things.
As parenting has become such a complicated business, such an Olympic-level calling, we seem to have this notion that we have to raise kids who will become adults with no baggage, no hang-ups.
But who do you know who's like that? We all carry things from our childhood that we'd rather hadn't have happened, invisible bumps and bruises.
Some are small and easily overcome. Others require a lot of work.
So why do we think our kids will get through life unscathed? With crisp and clean psyches, invincible and unscarred?
Better then to let them experience life, in all its chaos and glory. To learn how to overcome, to deal, to become resilient. Life is messy. It isn't all sunshine and roses.
It's also exciting, exhilarating. At times it's boring and mundane.
It's natural to worry about our children, and to stress over the challenges they have to face. But they can handle a few knocks.
And let's face it, worrying over every little thing is exhausting.
You do what you can while raising your brood, and then it's up to the kids.
They'll get through the difficult times, and they'll turn into the competent, capable adults you hope they will be.
Because the type of parents who worry about their kids are the type of parents who provide the support that children need. It's when no-one cares that kids are in trouble.
But don't worry too much. Relax. Take a deep breath. Don't stress. The kids will be okay.