It's not the same as when I was growing up...

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3 under 3

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age in her mummy blog. This week Amy talks about the worries we face as parents today, and how different it is to growing up in the 70s...

Pictured: Amy's 3 under 3 (left), Amy with her sisters (with Amy on the far right!).

'Finally, this week, after what's seemed like months of cabin fever and desperately thinking up activities to stave off the boredom, the sun came out, and we've practically been living in the garden. I've been setting out the ball pit and the paddling pool, positioning the brightly coloured garden chairs, slathering on the Factor 50, and setting the girls free. It's why we left London, why we bought this house with its generous garden and peaceful setting. I've long dreamed of being able to recreate my own happy childhood memories of summer in my grandparents' giant garden. And as I watched the girls splashing and laughing, I realised I've done just that.

But, actually, maybe they needed more sun tan lotion? And had they had enough to eat? And where's M? She might be going for that hole in the hedge...

That's what's changed since I was the girls' age in the early 80s (Oh, OK, late 70s). We are just much more aware of all the things there are to worry about. I'm pretty sure we used to run out into that garden with nothing more than a token hat to ward off the summer sun, and no one thought to bat an eye. The other day, I heard a report on the radio about a wee boy who'd developed rickets as his mum was forever covering him in high-factor sun tan lotion, thinking she was protecting him, but in fact denying him vital vitamin D. I panicked. This is Scotland, so the sun is not something you usually have to worry about, but if it ever does make an appearance, I head straight for the medicine cupboard, and cover the girls from head to foot.

But by trying to protect them, could I be putting them in danger?

Of course, a few deep breaths later, I told myself off for being ridiculous. But it just seems the world now is full of so many dangers we just didn't dream of.

My sisters and our neighbours would play outside from dawn till dusk, without anyone ever thinking to be concerned about kidnappers or drug dealers or angry stray dogs. I'm not one of life's great worriers, preferring a kind of ‘life's for living' kind of attitude. But since becoming a mum, I see peril everywhere. Even though the twins now love nursery, I still get a bit fluttery and nervous when they're out of my grasp. I know I'm being ridiculous, and I never show it outwardly, but they're so precious to me. I want to be able to protect them all the time. From everything.
When does this get easier? I just hate the idea of them being scared and needing me when I'm not there. Will I feel like this when they go to school? To their first sleepover? On their wedding night? They'll stop wanting me all the time, but will that mean I stop wanting to be wanted all the time too?

I remember my mum confessing that after she'd dropped me at university, she got in the car and cried. I was 18 (and already in the student bar). And when I moved to London at 26, we both sobbed for a good half-an-hour after the train pulled out from the station. When I was 32 and a few weeks pregnant with the twins, I met her and my sister in Paris to celebrate my sister's birthday. When we separated on the Metro as they headed for the airport, and I made my way to the Eurostar, Mum admitted she had to fight all her natural instincts to run after me and fight off every stranger that came too near. And when I was 34 and now a mum to 3, it was agony for her to leave me in London while she headed back up north.

So I guess that's my answer. My babies will always be my babies. Even when they have their own babies. I get the feeling that between then and now, I'll learn to enjoy time apart. I suspect when the teenage years hit - in triplicate - I'll be desperate for time apart. And I'll see that even if there are dangers everywhere, my girls can face them without me. That they need to face them without me.

University provided some of the best times of my life. Moving to London led to love, marriage, children... I could take care of my unborn babies alone, and am really proud of how I am managing to raise my daughters. I've done all that because, although Mum cried, she did it when I wasn't there. I may not need my mum to hold my hand any more, but it's nice to know it's an option. I hope my girls can say that about me one day.

But not today. I reckon I have a few more years of being needed left yet. So for now, I will worry about vitamins and sun and strangers and cars and, well, everything. In short, I'll be a mum.'

Do you think growing up has changed much since you were a child? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below.

Continued below...

Amy's other blog posts...

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Claire Elliott

There's a fine line between freedom and neglect and sadly in the late 70's I think a lot of us fell on the wrong side of that line. My parents never seemed to feel the need to do things with me - the general attitude was 'entertain yourself', which is fine up to a point, but I don't remember being read to or being talked to or being helped with homework or anything at all really.... I think I am a massively better mother than my mother was (and I love her dearly), my children come to talk to me about things I would never have shared with my parents. I do worry - but my children do have freedom - they also know they are loved and cherished and Amy it sounds like your girls will too :o)

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