5 Things I Have Discovered Being a Parent
This week Himself and I are celebrating being parents for 5 years. In many ways the days can feel long, so very long, but it is amazing how quickly 5 years has gone by. It feels like bare weeks since the midwife placed the tiny little bundle that was Bebe in my arms (and quickly took her back again as my b.p. dropped through the floor – but we’re not going to talk about that right now).
“The days are long, but the years are short” Gretchen Rubin
So what have we discovered in those 5 years? How has our view of the world been changed? Well…
1. Children are an ever changing mass of emotions, source of amusement, joy and also anguish.
I don’t think I have ever been through such a roller coaster of emotions as I have since having the girls. They can go from deliriously happy to screaming in anger in the space of seconds and we can go through every emotion in the space of a day (them and me). I share in their joy and their delight at the world but I also share in their frustrations at not being able to do things straight away. They also drive me to distraction on a regular basis by their complete inability/unwillingness to follow instructions –
Me: “Could you get me the wet wipes from the lounge sweetie?”
Bebe: “I can’t find them. (haven’t actually looked as she’s just found Daddy’s iPad and is now playing Cbeebies games)”
2. I/we would quite happily kill for a full night’s sleep.
I say I/we but himself is a pretty good sleeper and there have been several times where I have been woken up by a “Mummmeeeee”, spent 20 minutes changing a bed or rocking someone back to sleep and he is out cold. I envy him and his sleeping ability. We were lulled into a false sense of security with Bebe as she was sleeping quite well by 5 months. Note I’m not saying she slept through as that term really annoys me as it means so many different things. Lala on the other hand didn’t sleep for longer than 3 hours at a time for what felt like forever. Even now at 2 and a half she regularly wakes in the night.
3. Bodily functions can be a major source of conversation.
Most parents to be probably don’t think that they will spend a lot of time, thinking or talking about poo. They’re wrong. Poo can take over your life at the start; colour, consistency, frequency. Many’s the conversation I’ve hand with Himself over poo as we try to gauge what is wrong with one of the girls. Nappies aren’t just changed they are studied. And then you talk to other parents and compare notes and ways of inducing a poo in the constipated (orange juice? sugar water? lactulose solution?).
It doesn’t stop at babies because faster than you can blink comes potty training. Always a source of “healthy” competition between mums, “helped” by the e-mails from BabyCentre and Pampers that seem to suggest you should be potty training at 18 months. I tried that and it was a disaster; 33 months was much easier. The first time anyway. Lala is currently 30 months and it’s not gone well.
Potty training brings a whole new set of conversations and arguments over whether one of you should have packed spare clothes, who forgot the potty, why didn’t you go before we left etc. I’ve now found it safer to always take wet wipes and there is a potty permanently in the boot of my car, as both the girls are terrified of hand driers.
It catches you coming and going because, in my case anyway, you are worried that you’re not doing it right or making the best decisions for your child. I have suffered with crippling Post Natal Depression around 6 months after both girls were born, up to sitting on the floor of a caravan on holiday in Devon rocking backwards and forwards and begging my husband to let us go back home. As a parent I am constantly bombarded with messages from other people/organisations on how I should parent. It’s often confusing, sometimes contradictory and occasionally soul destroying. And I will freely admit that there have been two very dark moments where I have thought that it would be easier just to walk away and be on my own.
But and it’s a big but, I did not leave. I worked and continue to work through the guilty feelings. My child are alive, happy, thriving and oh so loved. I must be doing something right.
5. My children are a blessing that have enriched my life.
I often turn to Himself and say “whatever did we do before we had the girls?” And the truth is I really don’t know. We certainly did lots of things together as a couple but the girls have filled up our lives in a way I never really appreciated until they arrived. I get it now Mum.