Bringing up baby... the best job in the world even if it leaves you broke and bewildered | Sue Plunkett
A woman in America has made the headlines after she gave birth to a baby boy at the age of 57.
Brave? Stupid? Or just plain selfish?
Whatever you think of her, Barbara Higgins' decision to have a baby so late in life brings with it a whole load of complications. Not withstanding the fact she will be 61 when her son starts school and she will no doubt be mistaken for his grandmother!
Having children is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. But also one of the scariest too.
I remember the second my daughter Jenny, who is now 22, was born and I was filled with the most overwhelming love for this child..... mixed in with the feeling that I would have never again have a worry free day in my life.
It suddenly dawns on you that this tiny person is relying on you for absolutely everything in life. And while a lot of parents reckon the early days of endless sleepless nights with a crying infant are the hardest, to me they were the easy times.
Imagine battling with a toddler who will not sit in her pram or wear the clothes you have carefully chosen for her?
You suddenly realise that looking after a helpless babe in arms is nothing compared to battling with a feisty and independent human who is developing her own personality and ideas that may be quite different to yours.
The times when our children are babies goes past in the blink of an eye and the hard work starts when they find their voice and start to use the word 'no' a lot, when they start to become an individual in their own right.
When you realise there is no parent 'manual,' and friends all offer different kinds of advice, it dawns on you that this is all down to you to sort out... because that's what parents do.
And there is no magic formula to being a successful parent either. My two are very different. Jenny was a rebel teen who would do her own thing whenever she wanted for most of the time, but my son, Robbie who is 14, is shy in comparison and just wants a quiet life so he goes with the flow. Long may this continue.
They both know I am bit of a pushover when it comes to discipline and they have both been allowed a lot of freedom. And they say I always ask them what THEY have done if ever they are involved in any arguments or trouble.
I can't argue with that and one incident in particular still plays on my mind today and I regret jumping to the conclusion my daughter was automatically at fault.
A disgruntled parent arrived at my door complaining that Jenny, who was about 12 or 13 at the time, had been mean to her daughter. As Jenny wasn't home at the time I was full of apologies for her actions and vowed she would be punished.
As it turned out this mum's darling daughter had been making racist comments to one of Jenny's friends and she was defending him. She was upset I had just assumed she was in the wrong and I had apologised on her behalf without listening to the full story.
I regret that to this day. But at least it proved one thing to me, that I am bringing my children up to always do the right thing. As a parent that's all you can ask.