I have a clear memory of walking through our village, pushing a big red double buggy containing five year old Daisy and three year old Lenny. Rosie, who was a very slight and elfin-like seven year old, would often tire of walking, or wanting to join in the ride, would perch herself on the molded handle of this contraption, facing me, the work-horse, and entertaining me with her bizarrely delightful conversation.
Despite the obvious problems associated with travelling in this way; I couldn’t have been happier. All that my heart held dear was contained in my big red pram. I was in complete control – all of our daily necessities (nappies, snacks, toys for distraction, and the ever-present bumper pack of pampers wipes) rested reassuringly on the netting underbelly. I never had to think about troublesome matters like parking meters, acts of rebellion or denial of entry. If the wheels of the buggy could navigate the terrain leading to any destination, and the energy source of my optimism was still in full flow, then we could go. If one of my unusual offspring decided that compliance wasn’t the order of the day, then I could bodily lift up that particular child, secure him back into the pram (yes, it was usually Lenny) and we could be on our our merry way, to a more satisfactory location.
Us ultra-busy, doggy-paddling-through-each-day parents of toddlers and young children should never make the mistake of assuming that our roles as decision maker, protector, feeder, dresser, educator, advisor and soulmate are anything but temporary; I see that now.
With Rosie making the final preparations for her independent life at university, and conversations about Daisy and Lenny’s eventual care package surfacing regularly, I find myself looking back to those days of the Big Red Pram wistfully. How comforting it was to be able to keep the dangers of the world at bay, to board and retreat to the sanctity of our home whenever things became too much.
Now, I have to begin to trust the world – or at least the people who make up the part of it that most matters to my children. I have to learn to use my energy to help to plan, advise, and to facilitate as much independence as each child can strive towards. No easy task.
If only there were a red pram big enough, and an ageless, eternally energetic version of myself to push it along, I often muse. But no, I guess that wouldn’t be quite right either…