I ate a delicious meal at ‘Keyif’ recently. In my experience, food and service there is always excellent but what made this occasion particularly lovely was that I went with my two children. They are aged 12 and 11 and I am proud, happy (relieved) to say that I like the people they are. That might sound odd, but what I mean is that they seem to be emerging into the people that they will be and those people seem to be caring, kind, funny, respectful and gutsy. Babies are cute, toddlers are funny, but I like the age they are now because they are really growing into themselves. I admire my daughter for being her own person, for her quick and incredibly dry wit, for her quirky way of looking at the world and her intolerance of catty cruelty. I admire my son for his curious mind, his charm, his warmth and his emotional insight.

Many years ago I knew a woman who had two sons but would tell anyone and everyone about how disappointed she was not to have a daughter. I was horrified and confused. Horrified, in that surely the paramount consideration is that they are born healthy and then develop into decent human beings, regardless of gender? Confusion in that desiring one gender in preference to another, what that really meant? In her case it seemed that she wanted a doll to dress in frilly frocks and indeed she went on to have her little princess and that is precisely what she did.

I love ballet, I always have. But if I had wanted a daughter to dress in pink and arabesque at the drop of a silk slipper, I would’ve been disappointed. If anything, my son shows more interest in music, dance and performance and that is just great. My girl hates pink. She’s a triathlon, skateboarding, non-dancing dream. Part of the joy of having children is supporting them to find their own path and raising them to discover what they like and what they think.

A wise man told me when I was pregnant that once your children go to school you just have to hope that you’ve taught them the self-respect and strength of character to make healthy choices, but there’s no guarantee. I know people who can’t have children. For them this is heartbreaking and I am desperately sad for them. I know others who have chosen not to have children and for them I have the upmost respect that they have considered and decided what is right and best for them.

There are numerous books and websites about parenting, but the reality is it is still hard. It is confusing, scary, bewildering, wonderful, and fun, but also what I always wanted. What I also want is for my children to be happy, healthy and as adults to look back with joyous memories of time together, chattering and laughing, knowing that they are loved for who they are.