Our Faces of Parenting: the Smyth family

"Hi, I’m Stephen Smyth, I’m 38 and I live in Rhydyfelin, near Pontypridd, with my two children – Ayda, six, and George, three.

I’m a trained chef, but for the past few years I have been a full-time dad to my beautiful, busy children. Ayda likes to play games and make things; George likes the outdoors and generally making a mess.

My wife Teresa and I met in 2007 on a night out in Bridgend and, a year or so later, after spending three months travelling the world together, we moved to Rhydyfelin and decided to start a family. It wasn’t an easy journey but, after 18 months, Teresa fell pregnant with Ayda. We married in Rhodes, Greece, in June 2013 and, in early 2014, we were delighted to find out we were pregnant again. However, when Teresa was seven months pregnant with George we discovered she had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, an uncommon cancer of the lymphatic system. A decision was taken early on that we would deal with the pregnancy and birth first, then tackle the cancer. Sadly, when George was seven months old and Ayda just four years old, Teresa passed away.

"Being a parent is a gift, a life changing experience. The last thing I promised Teresa was that I'd do anything and everything for our kids, so they'd grow up to make their mummy proud. That's what I have been trying to do since, with the fantastic support of her parents, my parents and my sister."

"I think the biggest thing I have learned is that there is no magic formula to parenting. Just surround yourself with family and friends, and if you need help then ask for it."

Lately, we've been going up to the Taff trail as the kids were both lucky enough to have bikes for their birthdays from their Grampy. They both have their own interests – Ayda loves swimming and gymnastics, while George likes singing and playing with his action toys – but enjoy soft play, and pizza and film nights. Choosing a film isn't always easy, though: George likes to watch 'Smurfs… or Smurfs', and Ayda has her favourites, too.

Teresa and I made a great parenting team. When one of us was lacking patience, the other was calm and ready to go. It just worked. I've tried not to dwell too much on the fact it's all on me now. I have routines, and try and be as organised as I can – for example, if they’re happy playing, I try to get a few things done around the house, perhaps run the vacuum over the floor. That way, when they go to sleep at around 8pm I can sit down and chill out, have something to eat if I haven’t been able to, perhaps watch a film. Sometimes it’s easier said than done though.

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