Safe Under My Care
When I look at the young children, I wonder what I am missing out on. I used to think that it's the children I want to hold, that it's the children I want to spend time with and talk with, that it's the children whose futures are important.

Then I notice the mothers and the fathers and I can't help but observe them even more. And then I feel a pang as I wish and wonder what it's like to be in their shoes, to be responsible for one so young, to be able to hold and cherish the little one that has been entrusted into your care.

And then I discover that it's about creating that little nucleus, that "little church," that family of one's own. It's even like a tiny society, a population of three or four, maybe even five, depending on how many children one has -- one, two, or more. And within that small nucleus, one can preserve one's traditions or even begin new traditions. One can tell one's own childhood stories to the young, creating that bond that one hears about so much. And when I see a mother with her child, or even a father with his child, I realise what it is that I've been wanting. I understand what it is that I've been missing.

I want my children to be safe under my care. I want them to know that it's perfectly all right to snuggle up close to me, in the middle of the night, when they are all sleepy-eyed and half-awake, wanting to feel the warmth, care and security of their mother or father.

I want them to know that it's all right to come to me, or to their father, to talk to us and share with us. What would my parenting skills be like? Is it something we grow into or an accummulation of experiences and wisdom garnered over the years? There are times when I understand what my mother went through, what she must have gone through, and I have a better understanding of her responses. And yet, I am not a mother. I just feel like one, which is not at all the same as actually being a mother with children to attend to on a daily basis.

I am surrounded by mothers and fathers, it seems. For that's what life is about, isn't it? Many, not all -- for that is understood as well -- of these children will, one day, in the future, become mothers and fathers themselves. I suppose that my parents and aunts and uncles thought that their children would one day become fathers and mothers as well, bringing up children of their own. It's a perfectly natural thought to have, a perfectly natural wish for one's own offspring. And yet, it doesn't seem perfectly natural to me. It is an unconventional life. And I am torn inside. And one who observes from afar may come to certain conclusions but they would be all wrong. It is not that I can't have, it is not that I don't want to have, it is not that I wish to have a career instead. Someone else may have their own ideas and they are entitled to them. It is not for me to explain to another why I am not a mother for it is no one else's business, after all. It's perfectly natural for another to wonder why, I'm sure, especially members of one's family. But perhaps even they have ceased to wonder.

Have I ceased to wonder? No, of course not, not if there is still a heaviness that weighs upon my heart, even a kind of sadness that comes and goes, reminding me... asking me ... maybe even telling me...

Tell me what?

That I wish for our child to be able to reach out to me, or his father, and not feel hesitant about putting his arms around us. That I wish his or her father to draw that child closer, protective and wise, shielding and, at the same time, preparing the child for any of life's storms ahead. Am I being unrealistic and do I think these things because I don't have any children of my own? But that's just it, isn't it? I don't. Affection. There will be affection. The kind of affection that is natural, and understood, and accepted, between a parent and child.

And how I love that image of a father holding his son or daughter close to him. It's not just about being safe with me. It's also about being safe with his or her father.

You will be safe with me. You will be safe with your father. Always.

Maybe in today's society, it has been overused. But there is a reason why we use it. As for myself, a daughter who ceased to feel safe with her own father, who still harbours some regrets and heartache, and at the same time, still has some fond memories of her own, I like that word. Safe.

 

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