Welcome to the first in our new Sunday column series written by some of your favourite Channel 7 stars.
This week, Sunrise host Natalie Barr reflects on preparing for the second phase of her children’s lives as her youngest son Hunter, 18, moves out of home to go to university, following in the footsteps of her eldest son Lachlan, 22.
I have a memory of walking outside when the wind was blowing and smelling his newborn scent. His tiny jumpers and wraps were airing on the line and they smelt of him. I think it was the moment I fell in love with my newborn baby boy.
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It made me cry, like I’ve found myself many times this week, sitting in the corner chair, thinking back over the decades of memories.
The house is quiet after years of noise and sweat and boy smell. Our boys are men and the sayings all the older parents have told me over the years are swimming through my mind: ‘The days are long but the years are short’, ‘They grow up so fast’.
Natalie Barr with her sons Hunter and Lachlan. Credit: SuppliedNat Barr reflects on parenting and the beginning of the ‘next phase’. Credit: Supplied
I secretly hadn’t taken any notice of all those wise men and women. It didn’t feel like that all those years ago, life was so busy and beautiful, and wonderous, and exhausting and frustrating.
My husband and I were in the trenches, making important decisions on how to transfer them from the car to the house without waking them, whether the top shelf of the dishwasher would sterilise their bottles, whether a few months of breastfeeding would be enough to arm their immune systems, how long to leave them in the corner when they were naughty, how many days of daycare were acceptable when other parents said none.
When to get a phone? When was too young to catch a bus into the city by themselves? Was a glass of wine at dinner with the family going to give them a drinking problem? Was watching the news at night going to scar them? How much do you discipline them when they don’t tell the truth? Sneak out at night? Get drunk? Do girls stay over and which room, and do you tell the girls’ parents which room?
Natalie Barr with her sons in Australian Women’s Weekly in 2021. Credit: Instagram (Natalie Barr)/Australian Women’s Weekly
But now, in the tidy house full of memories of the beautiful times, the next phase begins.
Our 18-year-old, our youngest, is packing to move away to university, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Did I do enough and be enough for them because ‘Phase 1’ is over, and we will never get it back?
I have loved it with every bone in my body. But now what?
And then I’m reminded about another saying from the parents who’ve been here before … ‘Your children are only on loan to you’.
Hopefully, our best is enough, they are ready for ‘Phase 2’, and we can hang on for the next part of the ride.
Join Nat Barr and Shirvo for Sunrise live from 5.30am weekdays on Channel 7 and 7plus.