Next week it will be four years since I became a mother.
This time four years ago I was excitedly waiting for the birth of my first child – a week overdue and feeling very impatient. It’s funny when I think about all of the hopes and expectations I had then versus what I actually know now, four years and two kids later.
So I thought I would share some of the ways that parenthood has enlightened me over the last few years! Let me know if any are familiar.
1. I am not in charge
Make no mistake, baby is the boss. We all kid ourselves that we have ultimate power and control, but let’s examine the evidence.
You wanted to go to sleep, but your baby wanted to cry most of the night. Who won?
You wanted to go out for a nice, relaxing meal, but your kid wanted to be picked up, then put down in the high chair, then picked up again times infinity. Who won?
You wanted to wear your brand new top to the family party, but your kid wanted to be sick on it. Who won?
We might be the grown ups, but we don’t get to make all of the decisions.
2. I am THAT parent
I was such a dick before I had kids. I would see families in the supermarket or at the tables close to us in restaurants and think “why on earth can’t they keep those kids quiet?”
Now I’m the one pushing one screaming child around in a shopping trolley while dragging the other by the arm behind me.
3. Crying is like torture
Do not underestimate how mentally destroyed a mother who is caring for a child amidst a sleep regression/teething/developmental leap can be.
I knew that babies cried, but I didn’t realise how difficult that constant noise is to deal with. It saps your brain power,
4. It rarely makes sense
You gave your child the red crayon, because they asked for it. Then they started crying, because they wanted the blue one, so you give them the blue one, which makes them cry harder because they wanted the red one. Trying to reason with it is futile, and trying to make sense of it in your head is wasting valuable energy you don’t have.
5. Saying “I’ll never let my child do that…” was fucking stupid
This applies to the following things: watch hours of telly every day, eat sweets more than once a week, eat stuff off of the floor, steal food from my plate, throw a tantrum in public, use a dummy, sleep in my bed, etc etc.
6. Dirty nappies are a non-event
Changing a poo-filled nappy is the easiest bit of the job to be honest. It’s a physical task that needs to be done, so you get on with it. Of course sometimes you have to actually sit on your child to keep them still while you do it, but it is absolutely nowhere near the hardest part of parenting.
7. Embracing the “bad habits” is good
There is no such thing as a “bad habit” when it comes to sleep
In the first year, sleep is all about survival, by any means necessary. If being rocked, breastfed, sung or cuddled to sleep is what the kid wants, then there’s nothing bad about it.
So much changes in that first year, that wasting time stressing about a “bad habit” at four months is really silly. Embrace the bad, because it four years you won’t care.
8. What real sleep deprivation feels like
Before kids when I had one night’s bad sleep, I remember complaining about being tired. What an idiot. I didn’t know how lucky I was.
You do not know sleep deprivation until you’ve spent a year with a baby waking up multiple times every night. It feels like you’re constantly swimming underwater. It feels like you’re on edge all of the time. It feels like you might die.
9. There is no toy a child wants more than the one their sibling is playing with
They haven’t looked at the stacking cups set in years, but when their sibling starts flaunting it around in front of them, it suddenly becomes the only toy they want.
10. I love them so much my heart might burst
I knew that I would love my kids, but there was always a little part of me that worried I would be deficient in the love department some how. I’ve never been a natural baby person, so I was concerned I would just find everything they did a bit gross and weird.
Instead I find myself gazing at them in a cheesy, made-for-TV movie type way. Some days they drive me crazy but still when they go to bed I find myself missing them. I love them so much I can’t imagine my life without them in it.