Yesterday, my youngest child G went shopping to a mall with a girlfriend. Her father sat around for two hours in a coffee shop in the mall whilst the girls shopped.
At the weekend, G went to a party with another girlfriend. He dropped the girls off and loitered around the area for three freaking hours.
“You’re crazy!” I exclaimed, on both occasions.
“It’s a privilege,” he shrugged. “She’ll be off to University in 18 months’ time and I’d never be able to do these small daily things for her again.”
Yesterday, Ruby McGregor-Smith, Britain’s first Asian boss of a top FTSE 250 company, announced plans to step down, saying this was partly influenced by the comments from her children. You can read the full story here.
Now, many women (those who are fortunate enough to be able to afford it) quit work to be full-time mums, but what is interesting about this story is that Ruby’s younger child is already 17, rather than a demanding stay-at-home toddler. That’s a lot of salary to give up to run around a teenager, who probably doesn’t want mum fussing around him all the time and who probably has a hectic social life as most teenagers do.
But what my children’s father did yesterday, sitting around waiting for his sixteen-year-old daughter, bore testament to the fact at love is not measured in numbers. Teenagers (often when they are at their most unlovable) still need their parents, and it is the little things we do for our children, rather than the grand gestures that matter to our children in future years, when they look back at their childhood and remember us.
Though I am not as dedicated her her father, I try to go to all her football matches (rain or shine), I try to be in the car when he picks her up from parties and I spend a lot of time helping her with her school work.
Once upon a time, when I was the main breadwinner, I did the important things like school concerts and bedtime stories, but I did not have the time for the sweet nothings, like standing in the rain with her father watching her football training or baking banana bread.
I feel really privileged that I don’t have to work these days, to be able to cuddle my cooking pot and wait for my youngest to come home from school. This is the best I have to give her….me.