Recently I listened to episode 2 of the new season of Giovanna Fletcher’s podcast ‘Happy Mum Happy Baby’ featuring Jeff Brazier and the episode evoked emotion and thought in a way I just wasn’t expecting. Non UK peeps, you may not know who Jeff is or why he’s famous to be honest but for those of us old enough to have watched reality TV or read the media 15 years ago we know him for appearing on reality show Shipwrecked and perhaps most famously dating and having kids with fellow reality legend, the late Jade Goody. Long story short, Jade passed away 10 years ago from Cervical Cancer and being only in her late twenties, it was a story that shook the nation to it’s core and hit home just how precious life is and how quickly it can be snatched away. Jeff of course went on to become the sole carer for their two boys and I think it’s fair to say, probably became one of the most well know Single Dads in the country.
So now you have the context maybe you find him relatable, maybe you don’t. I can’t say that I ever had to be honest, I mean I’m not a dad, I only recently became a parent and I haven’t lost anyone close to me, in a way that’s relative, to cancer. But something intrigued me to listen to his story.
I can’t detail the entire episode, there’s no fun in that – you need to listen to it yourself! But there were some parts that got me a little bit teary and others that just released some thoughts and emotions that I’ve felt myself since becoming Mama. Early on in the episode Jeff talks about the moment Bobby, his first born, arrived in the world and some of the feelings it evoked in him as a new parent. He discusses his own childhood and how parts of it weren’t that great, about how his mum’s own mistakes impacted him as a child and in turn as an adult. There were things that Jeff saw and heard as a child that have stuck with him into adulthood and it made me think, wow, me too. The bit though that stood out to me is when he mentions that when Bobby was born he felt a strong urge to be better than his parent, to give Bobby what he didn’t have, it was a chance to change his own childhood in essence. And that’s exactly what I felt and still feel. Almost 18 months into being a parent, my ultimate goal other that keeping our son safe and well is to ensure that he has what I didn’t. Now, I’m not referring to material things or feeling unloved; I had those. I knew my mum loved me and always tried to do best her best for me to give me what I needed but like Jeff, I too had a teenage mum which meant that whilst she grew up through her twenties and thirties she made many mistakes. As do all twenty/thirty year olds, the main difference though is that she was a parent already meaning that someone else was impacted by her choices and mistakes and still is to this day. I won’t do that to Tate. I/We will give him security, routine, consistency, boundaries and loyalty, always. He, like Bobby was to Jeff, is a chance to correct the errors of my own childhood and (hopefully – teenage years permitting!) help him flourish into an amazing adult.
Another point that stuck with me was a part towards the end of Jeff’s chat with Giovanna regarding finding yourself again after becoming a parent. We all know how much the teeny humans rely on us, at a most basic level for many years they can’t really do much, effectively, for themselves. Despite what toddlers think, they just aren’t born independent enough. They need their parents for many years and in different capacities, sometimes for feeding and toilet training, then for learning and setting up for school followed closely by being an ear to listen to all of their learning/friend dramas at said school. The job doesn’t end though does it? As Jeff quite rightly pointed out, he couldn’t pursue an interest in mountain hiking on a Sunday afternoon, his boys needed him because really a house doesn’t run itself, uniforms don’t toddle off to the washing machine and come out ironed and kids certainly don’t look after themselves in any capacity. I guess it’s frowned upon to ask your 8 year old to prepare the Sunday dinner so you can get your inner Bear Gryll on! So it got me thinking, how much of ourselves we lose when becoming a parent and I’ve spoken on it before both on the blog and Instagram. We give so much of ourselves to our kids that we have no choice but to sacrifice most of our interests as a result but what happens then when your kids fly the nest and move on to Uni or their own flat? Although realistically with the way house prices are currently going it could be quite a while before your kids leave the nest! Anyway, back to the topic…So rearing your kids through the younger years, the pre-teen section, teenage-hood (good luck!) and still being there when needed well into adulthood – when do us parents have (adult) fun again and no, not in the way you’re thinking 😉 Just some basic human enjoyment like going to the cinema to see a film that isn’t featuring colourful animated singing dancing creatures or a trip to a fancy restaurant without arranging a babysitter and a kit including spare clothes, milk, favourite bloody toy. Or even, bear with me here it’s wild, going on holiday. Sans children! Dreamy. Jeff’s boys are now mid teens, they don’t want to hang with their dad as often. They don’t want a family trip out all the time. They are teenagers. Adults couldn’t be farther from their agenda. And it made me realise, it’s coming. The time is coming again. In many years I know but it will make a return and once again we’ll be able to read a book in peace, city break as a couple every so often and maybe take a pottery/language/graphics course that we’ve always had at the back of our minds.
I’ll be able to do those things with a whole heart and my full attention because I’ll know that I’ve done my very best by my child/ren for as long as I can. That I’ve given them all I could have given them and that as a parent, that’s the job that I signed up for. Food for thought Mamas and Papas to remember on the most boring of parenting days, when you’ve tidied your house up for the 9th time that day or when yet another meal has been left untouched. Our day will come again. Eventually.
Peace and Love.