As I have written previously, my sister and I had a wonderful childhood ; a good friend once said that our childhood sounded like something from an Enid Blyton novel , with our beach holidays with cousins and picnics at the weekends. We knew we were loved but we also knew that there were rules and expectations placed upon us, and for the best part, we adhered to them. I was fascinated by the different family life that my best friend , next door had where there was more rough and tumble and they had homemade chips for tea – and regular chip pan fires too! Their joiner – father drove a 3 wheeled Reliant Robin or a Land Rover, and he often brought home exciting gifts like the first portable TV that I had ever seen or a jack russell puppy! It seemed exciting, as a noisier household than ours and as I grew older, I would enjoy sleepovers next door, yet I have no recollection of my friend ever staying at our house!
As I grew up, I felt the love and support of my parents wrapped around me as they encouraged me through my school career and they drove me away to University – buying me Flora Margarine while I sobbed in the supermarket, before they left me in the strange city where I knew nobody. I was always welcomed home during the college holidays and although they did not really approve of me living together with my boyfriend after graduating, they were supportive of our new life together and were relieved when we finally got engaged , making it more respectable. I have recently been watching our wedding video and their love for each other, and for us, shines out of the footage, which I was glued to with both laughter and tears.
So I learned from the best, what kind of parent I wanted to be and I had an image of our family life in my mind. Sadly the perfect family of two children was never to be our reality – despite three failed attempts to give Joshua a brother or sister. Joshua arrived with his difficulties and so I have not yet had the opportunity to send him on his independent way, filled with life skills and good advice – and it seems unlikely that that will ever be his reality either. I recently watched a TV programme showing Harvey Price, Katie Price’s son who is the same age as Joshua, moving away to a residential college. His arrival there seemed traumatic and they could not coax him out of his flat. I cannot predict this situation in Joshua’s future, rather I envisage him living with us, his parents, for the rest of our lives. Joshua happily waves me off at daycare, as he has absolute confidence that I will be coming back for him in due course and I am always greeted with several hugs on my return.
The worry is though, what happens after our lives, where does he live then and who takes good care of him? I am never able to contemplate that future and my Mum and Dad’s role model of parenting did not prepare me for this scenario. So instead I continue to do what I always do – I ignore uncomfortable thoughts about the future and I pretend that we are going to live forever and that we will be fit enough to take care of Joshua for the rest of our lives. Joshua needs to spend more time apart from us, either at respite or daycare, so that he learns that other people can still look after him and that he can have fun away from his parents. In life, we are always learning and I am eternally grateful to my wonderful parents for giving me the best foundation to be able to give the best upbringing to Joshua that I can.
- John Connolly