The un­ex­pected joy of be­ing a god­mother

For­get spir­i­tual guid­ance – god­mother-of-nine Eliz­a­beth Day ex­plores what it takes to be a thor­oughly modern god­par­ent

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

idon’t want any­one search­ing my in­ter­net brows­ing his­tory. I har­bour a deep, dark se­cret and I’m wor­ried about it com­ing to light. For sev­eral years now, I’ve de­vel­oped an ad­dic­tion to a cer­tain web­site. I’ll visit it at the same times each year, and my us­age gets par­tic­u­larly heavy around Christ­mas. I’ll get a short-lived buzz ev­ery time I go on­line and af­ter­wards, I’ll worry if I’ve done the wrong thing.

No, it’s not porn. It’s a gift­ing web­site for chil­dren (wicke­dun­cle.co.uk), with fun, off­beat toys, cat­e­gorised by age. This web­site not only sends you birth­day re­minders, but also wraps and writes cards for the child in ques­tion, dis­patch­ing your present in a timely fash­ion. And the rea­son I have such an ob­ses­sion with it is be­cause I’m a god­mother of nine.

That means nine dif­fer­ent birth­days to re­mem­ber, nine sep­a­rate gifts to dis­patch at Christ­mas, and nine lit­tle lives look­ing to me for some form of spir­i­tual guid­ance. And if not ex­actly spir­i­tual guid­ance, then at least the odd ticket to a mu­si­cal and day trips to visit me in Lon­don where they can eat as much choco­late as they want.

I love be­ing a god­mother. Re­ally, truly, un­com­pli­cat­edly love it. Ev­ery time I’ve been asked, it’s been a ges­ture of such kind­ness on the part of the par­ent that I well up and say yes be­fore they’ve fin­ished the ques­tion. I like know­ing that my friend – and his or her fam­ily – will hope­fully be in my life for­ever be­cause they trust me to forge a life­long con­nec­tion with their child.

Of course, I’m not stupid. I re­alise that the fact I don’t have chil­dren of my own, but have a dis­pos­able in­come and a job that is good for work ex­pe­ri­ence, means I’m an at­trac­tive god­moth­erly prospect. It’s not just to do with the fact that my friends think I’m a paragon of hu­man virtue (although that comes into it… right guys?).

But I don’t re­ally mind why I’m asked, be­cause the joy that comes with say­ing yes to be­ing a god­par­ent is un­matched by any other area of my life. The clos­est I can get to it is be­ing an aunt – and my el­dest niece is also my god­daugh­ter, so I have a dou­ble-whammy of love­li­ness – but be­ing a god­mother is in some ways even bet­ter be­cause it’s some­thing you’ve cho­sen to do.

Get­ting to know my nine god­chil­dren has been in­cred­i­bly fun. They each have dis­tinct and bril­liant per­son­al­i­ties and range in age from nine to seven months: Thomas is the kind­est boy you’ll ever meet; Elsa is a strong-minded four-year-old whose ex­ten­sive vo­cab­u­lary in­cludes the word ‘spillages’; Uma plays the vi­olin and wants a bed­room with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows; Walt is sweet and gen­tle; Billy is hi­lar­i­ous, open-na­tured and looks great in a leather jacket; Imo­gen is a whirl­wind of cre­ative en­ergy who once showed me her se­cret hid­ing place and made me prom­ise not to tell her mother (I still haven’t); Tessa is wise and funny and can do dance rou­tines to Michael Jack­son; El­iza is a but­ter­ball of love­li­ness, and Alex is the sm­i­li­est baby ever.

Who wouldn’t want to be around this eclec­tic bunch of peo­ple, who have so much to of­fer? And the joy of it is I ex­ist in the lim­i­nal space between rel­a­tive and friend. I get to be the fun adult who doesn’t care if you watch back-to-back episodes of Peppa Pig and who lets you jump on the bed – but I can also be the one to turn to when my god­chil­dren have a prob­lem that they don’t want to talk to their par­ents about. As they grow older, I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing a refuge for them, to my home be­ing a com­fort­able place they can stay and (fin­gers crossed) to my be­ing a source of use­ful life ad­vice.

Be­ing a god­mother means that I have the priv­i­lege of see­ing what won­der­ful par­ents my friends have be­come. My best friend, Emma, for in­stance, whom I first met in the col­lege bar at fresh­ers’ week sport­ing a tight T-shirt em­bla­zoned with the words ‘One For The Rogue’, has turned into a bril­liant mother, si­mul­ta­ne­ously lov­ing and firm, un­der­stand­ing and com­pas­sion­ate. Mean­while, over the sum­mer, I found my­self on hol­i­day in the South of France with two of my clos­est fe­male friends and three god­chil­dren, and it felt very spe­cial be­ing an ex­tended mem­ber of their fam­i­lies, know­ing that I was part of their mem­o­ries.

Fer­til­ity is­sues, mis­car­riage and di­vorce in my mid-30s have meant that I’ve never had my own baby. So be­ing a god­mother has given me mag­i­cal ac­cess into that world – while know­ing I can al­ways hand a scream­ing tod­dler back to their par­ents.

For me, the re­li­gious as­pect of it – stand­ing up in church and re­nounc­ing the devil – is sym­bolic. It’s about say­ing you’ll be there for your god­chil­dren when they need you most and that you will love them through­out their lives. For some, that might mean putting aside money or bot­tles of wine or en­grav­ing chris­ten­ing spoons. I haven’t done any of that, but I can prom­ise to be fun, re­li­able, un­ques­tion­ingly ador­ing – and to of­fer them work ex­pe­ri­ence!

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