I was one of four children, and I remember my mother begging me not to have a fourth, but I was sure that was what Adrian and I wanted; looking back, obviously my mother was thinking like that because I had MS and she would have had an idea from my father of what, long-term, that could mean …
Now I am sixty-four and our children are grown-up: Barnaby, the oldest, is thirty-nine, Henry is two-and-a-half years younger, Jonathan is thirty-three and Oscar is thirty, so “our children” are no longer children. Other mothers have said to me that it must have been noisy in our house, but as they were not quarrelsome children they were not noisy. People asked me whether I wanted a girl and I can’t remember that I did. In those days there was no way of knowing the sex of the baby and so we accepted what we were given. I suppose it was only when our boys married that I realised I had, at last, female companions, and granddaughters as well as grandsons.
It seemed all four boys, or actually it was the three younger ones, were aware of my physical shortcomings; when Henry, Jonathan and Oscar were still quite young I had to ask them to turn my pages as I could no longer do it, and they saw me walking with two sticks, and then I had to use a wheelchair, as I do now.
Barnaby went to university and so he missed out on seeing my progressive illness having an effect on me. I wonder whether this has contributed to him living in Australia now … Barnaby is now, in fact, working on the human relations side of a large organisation in Sydney, using his university degrees in psychology and occupational psychology.
Henry went to university and went on to be a teacher in a primary school, where he specialised in literacy; it was this specialism that led him and a friend to think up the idea of starting a website called “Lend me your Literacy” (now known, for publicity purposes, as “Pobble”) which was to ask children to write pieces that were then published on the website, asking readers for their comments. This particularly interested teachers, parents and children as it went worldwide. Jonathan became involved with Pobble, using his MBA experience to manage the growing business side and to help Henry to make Pobble better known. They are both generous in crediting each other with the skills that they brought in to helping grow Pobble into a world-wide business.
Oscar, having taken a degree in psychology and sociology at Keele University, is a successful lawyer; he works in matrimonial law for a highly esteemed firm in London. We never expected to have a lawyer in the family, though it is certainly useful!
(Writing about our sons as adults also brings back many memories of all of them as children; Barnaby’s parents were very pleased when their two-year-old son learned to walk! He had no siblings to learn from, and our time spent at the Crown Hills mother and toddler group did not compensate for having no siblings).
We are definitely proud of all four boys and it is good to see how well they have done for themselves. Adrian is particularly pleased to see that they are good fathers.
Mary Smith 25th August 2016