“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Gospel according to Jeremy

You get some funny surprises in this job. Of all the people I would have suspected that I would learn a spiritual truth from, one of the last on my list would have been Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. And yet it was so.

I've been dipping into The World According to Clarkson in the bath, because my Kindle isn't waterproof, and what is a bath without reading material? Some of his writing makes me "tut" out loud, because I disagree so violently with his views (although how much of it is tongue-in-cheek I am not sure); some is downright funny (for example an article about the contents of the average woman's handbag); and there is the occasional gem ...

"a parent can only be as happy as their least happy child"

It doesn't matter how old they get; if the child is unhappy, most parents will be too. Today has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster; shopping for difficult-to-find clothes for her, and facing up to the fact that, yes, his car has had its day, and we need to find a new(er) one. The parental instinct is still to "make it better", in spite of the fact that both of them are quite old enough to sort most things out for themselves.

Children continue to have a huge impact on their parents' lives for as long as they're around. When they're little, doing anything has to be planned around meal and nap times, favourite toys and so on. when they start school, the shape of your day revolves around dropping off and picking up times - it is not until they reach their teens realy that you can start to give them some independence (and, incidentally, get some back for yourself!) Even then, you worry about where they are, who they're with, what they're doing, are they all right and so on.

The thing that doesn't change, I have found, is your love for them. The strength of my love for both my children is unlimited - when my son was born I was quite taken aback by the sheer instinctive ferocity of it. And it never stops - at various times I have been incredibly annoyed, frustrated, and fed-up with the behaviour of one or the other of them, but underneath it all, I always love them. And this love makes it very hard to let them go. You know the lovely saying "You can only give your children two things in life - roots to grow, and wings to fly." I've done my best to provide the roots bit, but the wings are much harder. Libby Purves puts it beautifully in her book How Not To Be A Perfect Family: "To weigh a theoretical danger against an overwhelming love is the hardest thing in the world.

And yet, I know that I must let go, not all at once, but gradually - let them make their own decisions, and, harder still, make their own mistakes. Otherwise they won't grow into sensible, responsible adults. Knowing all the time that if they do foul up, I'm going to feel as guilty as hell for not intervening! Mother-love takes you that way - you want your children to have happy and fulfilled lives, and accepting that Mother doesn't always know best is a hard lesson for any Mum to learn. In a way, I think it's the toughest test of your love for them - that stepping back out of the centre of their lives and letting them grow into themselves.


  1. Brilliant and beautifully honest

  2. Firstly I am glad to see that others also feel that a bath without something to read is just not right :-) I am not a parent and yet the words you wrote strike me as utterly true and deeply moving. In addition how blessed you are to be able to understand, deeply understand, something of the unconditional love our Creator feels for us.