Today marks three years since my eldest came screaming into our lives.
It’s safe to say that nothing has been the same since, not least mummy’s lady parts.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Not much surprises me anymore
After you’ve experienced nappies leaking poo, vomit covering new clothes and wee all over the carpet for the 10th time in one day, you learn to accept that when it comes to kids, s**t happens.
I believe the phrase “baptism of fire” was first coined by a parent in their first week with their first child. They used “baptism of fire” because it was a more dinner party-friendly phrase than “reign of s**t”.
It’s not until you actually have your baby at home with you that you realise what you have let yourself in for. And by then it’s too late. No returns, refunds or exchanges for this particular life decision, even if you paid to go private.
And so as time has gone on, I’ve learned not to let the little challenges of parenting shock me.
Baby cries without pausing to draw breath for three hours. Standard.
Boobs squirting milk halfway across the room. Whatever.
Projectile vomit from a small child that somehow manages to coat every wall, item of furniture, and person in the room. Grim, but normal.
Poo in the bath. Unfortunate.
Leave the room and return five seconds later to find everything is broken. Just another day in paradise.
2. Embarrassment went out of the window a long time ago
It’s hard to pinpoint the most embarrassing moment of parenting so far.
I could go right back to the start when I pooed on the delivery table in front of a midwife and doctor while grunting and wailing like a Medieval creature from Game of Thrones.
Of course there’s also been numerous instances of nipples flying about in public as fellow diners attempt to pretend they haven’t seen anything, incidents of my baby crying as if we are murdering her, and times when I was so tired that socialising with me was like trying to converse with a stoned sloth.
The point is that I’m beyond the point of embarrassment, or maybe I’ve transferred it all to my children in preparation for their teenage years when I will no doubt leave them mortified every chance I get.
3. The quest to sit down is never ending
I don’t want to destroy the One Ring like Frodo, I don’t want to blow up the Death Star, and I don’t seek the secret to eternal life. All I want is to sit down, without being asked for a drink, a snack, a different TV show, or a particular toy.
One day I will sit down in my children’s presence for more than five minutes without moving one inch. Who said parenthood stops you from dreaming?
4. You win some, you lose some
Some days I am truly parenting the s**t out of life. Others, all of us are in tears before 9am.
There have never been such dizzying highs and crashing lows as I have experienced while parenting my two.
Guilt strikes on a regular basis over every minor thing, as does worry that you’re somehow getting it all wrong.
But then, just at random, something amazing happens. Your child hugs you, does something new or laughs and you feel like you’ve won the lottery.
5. Nothing quite goes back to where it was before
When growing a baby everything inside your body has to shift an alarming amount to make way for the chubby little bubster.
While I’m fairly sure my lungs have returned to their usual capacity, my belly is a strange wonky shape that scarily reminds me of Jabba the Hut.
And even though I was carefully stitched back together, I can’t help but feel like my children’s grand doorway into the world is just one more child away from caving in completely.
I’ve learned to never put off going to the loo, because you never know when a sneeze might take you by surprise and that’s an awkward conversation to have with people at work.
I find it grossly unfair that as part of the joy of giving birth, my hair is going grey and my face is covered in weird brown freckles that are not at all cute. These two things are as far away from the key area as can possibly be, and yet they haven’t managed to escape the tidal wave of destruction resulting from childbirth.
6. Surrender ALL control
There are many times when I have kidded myself, convinced myself that I am in control of the situation, my life, our home, where we go.
This is simply not the case. Everything is centred around the kids and their nap times, meal times, likes and dislikes.
If you skip the nap, your kid will be so utterly furious that anything you attempt to do with them will only cause the red mist to descend further.
If you’re late with dinner, you will be bombarded with demands and desperate cries until you get on with it and serve it up.
If you fail to predict that your toddler wanted the blue cup and not the red cup today, you had better run and hide.
7. Say bye-bye to your beautiful home
Gone are the days when I could put out a vase of beautiful fresh flowers in the centre of our coffee table. Anything that is placed on that surface has an average time of around 3.5 seconds before it is picked up, tasted, hit and then flung to the floor.
Anything pretty has to be moved way up high, so now your house looks barren everywhere from the chest down.
8. We didn’t know we were born
Back when I had freedom and a choice in the matter, I used to lie in bed for hours at the weekend.
How naive I was to declare I couldn’t wait for the baby to come. I should have begged for just one more week of 11am lie-ins.
9. Sleep is for losers
It’s amazing how you can continue breathing, walking, and talking on so little sleep that you feel like your brain has shut down.
It makes you feel like you have some kind of superpower, because despite surviving on just snatches of precious zzzzs every night, you’re still keeping your unreasonable little tyke alive.
10. The human urge to procreate is strong
Despite all of the sleepless nights, the tears (mine and theirs), the frustration, the stitches in uncomfortable places, the trauma of giving birth, the pain and struggle of breastfeeding and the lack of any control, I would still do it all again.
Yes parenting is tough, but the thought of having another baby still fills me with excitement.
My kids make my days harder but they have filled my life with so much colour, joy, laughter and fun that I cannot imagine my life without them.
So these past three years have been a steep learning curve, but I wouldn’t have missed any of it for the world.