When I was 24 years old, I made the obligatory trip over to the UK to have my “Australian in London” experience. I had set off with the same hopes that most Aussies and Kiwis do. Set myself up in London, work, save and see as much of Europe as humanly possible. As it turns out, life had other plans for me. My time in London was spent almost exclusively in London. Whilst I was disappointed that I hadn’t ventured around the old continent, I got to know London very well and fell in love with the city. The world wasn’t going anywhere and I could always go back. That’s how I consoled myself as I left after two years in the UK.
Ten years on and I was blessed with an opportunity for a second chance to gallivant around Europe. This time with a husband and one year old daughter in tow. Initially, I wanted to see about 8 countries across Europe, countless cities and hundreds of museums. During the planning stages, factoring in costs and travel time with a one year old, my husband and I decided to scale the trip back. Starting with 4 days in Cairo to see family, 4 days in London to catch up with old friends and 4 days in Paris. We booked all the flights and accommodation for the start of our journey. We figured we would spend some time in France, get a train to Italy for a short while there and finish off with a lazy stint on a Greek Island before making our way back home.
Once we began our adventure in France, my 24 year old self was giddy with excitement. I wanted to do all the things I missed out on 10 years ago. It wasn’t until we were in the south of France that it dawned on me that that part of my life had ended.
Back home I was telling anyone who would listen that having a baby didn’t change me. Sitting in our apartment near St. Tropez while my family was asleep I realised that my life had absolutely changed. I think there was a part of me that was so afraid to let go of my youth. The selfish delight that comes with being young and single, living out my own dreams. It wasn’t until that night that I welcomed with pleasure the new chapter in life. I am a mum and a wife to the man I love. These two people have become an extension of me. My priorities have completely shifted. Making my family happy and being the best person I can be are now integral to every decision I make.
Having a baby is like having a tiny person being held up to reflect all you are and all you want to be. I used to judge others for things they wore or things they said and did. I used to yell a lot and be quite negative. I would be sad for things I didn’t have rather than be grateful for things I did have.
There are so many things I have become so much more aware of. Some things may take longer than others to change or become unlearned but the point is, I am aware of them and I am making a concerted effort to change. All of these things would not have happened if I didn’t have my little sponge. She will absorb my outlook on life, the things that I deem to be important and just. Of course, she will get to an age where her own personality will take charge, but until then, I am responsible for her little soul. And that’s not a responsibility to take lightly.
I don’t claim to be an expert of the right or wrong way to raise a child. I don’t think there is such a thing. But if every parent can instil kindness, acceptance and charity towards all people, than the parents of today can start a revolution in humanity that we so desperately need.