In Greg Allen’s household, it was his wife who needed some time to come around to the idea of having kids.
When my wife, Jasmine, was a little girl, she would dream of life as a grown-up with a challenging career, a waterfront condo and a sheepdog. No partner, no kids.
Of course, life has a way of changing such plans. When we were not much more than kids, I came on the scene and became a permanent impediment to her alone time. The waterfront condo became a 30-year-old house with a lawn always crying out for a trim in an “up and coming” (read: mildly scary) neighbourhood. The sheepdog became a hyperactive 12-pound Boston Terrier named Tess. Worse still, I had always wanted to be a father.
After we’d been married for a couple of years, I wanted to start a family. We were both getting settled in our careers and we were more financially stable. For me, it seemed that the time was right. However, it took some time for Jasmine to come around to having kids and waving a permanent goodbye to the life she had envisioned for herself. My admittedly incessant badgering did not help. Nor did family pressure or the general societal expectation that she should want kids above all else. In particular, she feared that she would not be motherly enough, and worried that she would not connect with a tiny human that could only take and not give anything in return for months and months.
Eventually, Jasmine decided she was ready. This was, in part, an effort to make me happy, for which I am forever grateful. Elisabeth came into our lives in October 2013 and I think Jasmine was pleasantly surprised at how easily she connected with our little monkey. Maternity leave was not easy for her, as she was forced to give up her independence and take a break from the job that she loved in one fell swoop. But she persevered and thrived. Jasmine is a great mom, unconcerned by anyone else’s definition of what that means.
For me, watching her and Elisabeth together is one of my greatest joys. I hear them giggling in the next room and happiness billows through me like milk poured in a fresh cup of tea. I see how much she loves Elisabeth in the way she sings to her and the way she brushes her hair. It sounds trite, but the two of them make me happy beyond measure.
Elisabeth is lucky to have a vast network of grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins who love and care for her, all of whom live within a few kilometres of us. As she grows, her extended family will be there to teach her all the important stuff that we can’t, like how to make fart noises with her armpit, hit the five hole or make a proper Fijian curry. We rely on our family to help us raise her because we need their help as we try to balance parenthood and busy careers, but more importantly because her relationships with them are extremely important to us. We want her to grow up with a sense of who she is and how she fits into the world, and the best way we know to do that is to surround her with family.
This is #1000families post number 91. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.