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  • This weekend I was parenting. Yes - I know that for many people this is the normal state of affairs, but for me its something I do only now and again, when my sister and her husband go away and I look after one or both of their teenage daughters.

    If you know the rest of my stories, you'll already be familiar with Jess and Maddy, my beautiful girls. Just for the record, I do know I'm starting to sound like one of those starry eyed parents whose children can apparently do no wrong and for that I apologise. Does a little self-awareness give me some brownie points? Anyway, this weekend was just Jess and me. She has big exams coming up and didn't want to be on her own whilst revising. I help her to set timetables, I take her out to cool places in the evening if she completes her work and I highlight her hair. It's kind of our routine.

    This time was a bit different though. Jess was pretty wobbly and when we had the inevitable 'big talk and tears' she was having all kinds of anxieties about the rest of her life and how the exams she was doing now would impact her in 10, 20, 30 years. She's not yet lived long enough to know that part of the wonder of life is the unexpected things it throws out, and the chance to take forks in the road that you'd never expected to have in front of you. Right now, she's terrified of putting a foot wrong and at not-quite-17 is feeling the weight of her future on her shoulders.

    For my part, I'm travelling a path that has branches. Down each of those branches lies 'true' parenthood, should I choose it. So far, I've walked on by. I'm aware that there may be no more branches left - and you know what? It's absolutely fine with me, as in that particular department I'm already giving the best I have to offer.
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