Today my son turns seven, which means that I’ve been at this parenting lark for SEVEN years. You’d imagine that a mother of three – who has changed something in the region of 20,000 nappies (yes, I googled those stats) and managed to keep younglings alive since 2010 – would have a wealth of knowledge and experience.
I don’t. I have some. Twenty wise thoughts to be precise.
This is what I know.
- Parenting is a bit of a mug’s game. It’s no secret. Ask anyone. Some days the rewards are few. Some days you may be reduced to sitting on the utility room floor crying into a Wispa. Other times you’ll burst with pride and well up recounting an impressive sliding tackle to the butcher. It’s a mixed bag.
- People will offer ridiculous, unsolicited advice. The moment you upload that scan photo and unwittingly make your announcement to the world, you’re fair game for inappropriate touching, tales of woe about the specific lengths of perineum tears, and lectures on the perils of eating homemade mayonnaise.
- Parenting books are best left on the shelf. A childless ‘expert’ who insists that the mother of a newborn should set an alarm for 6am – after having 47.5 minutes’ sleep – in in order to pump, needs her own nipples twisted. On yer bike, Gina.
- On becoming a mother, you automatically waive the right to normal emotional regulation. Tsunamis in the furthest corners of the world, hospital documentaries and DIY SOS will bring you to new inconsolable depths.
- The colour white (or any variation thereof) is generally out. This applies to both clothing and furnishings. Edit: Does not apply to carbs and wine.
- The mythological perfect baby is as elusive as the three-eyed raven. People who brag about their baby sleeping through the night before six months have deep-rooted psychological issues with obvious sadistic tendencies and should be ousted, shunned and blacklisted.
- Seven-seater cars will crush your soul. And that’s without any kids in them.
- Baby wipes are life.
- Baking with kids is a practice enjoyed by the masochistic. Success is not guaranteed and the following formula can be applied to determine the duration of the clean-up: (Prep time + baking time) x 23.
- Your uterus will probably always skip a beat when a) you see the perfectly-rounded tiny butt of a newborn asleep on a mother’s chest, b) you catch a whiff of a baby’s head, c) you are in the vicinity of bare newborn feet or d) you see a baby-wearing dad. The feeling should probably not be confused with an actual desire to have another baby.
- Children can survive on a diet of brioche rolls and ketchup.
- Sod’s law applies to the following: the discovery of a high temperature and a rash on the Friday evening of a bank holiday weekend; an up-the-backer immediately upon leaving your home; tantrums in front of in-laws.
- Comparison and Play-doh are the thieves of joy.
- Children will eventually sleep, as will you.
- Toys will get smaller and you may even reclaim up to 30% of your home over time.
- The stages will pass and your babies will disappear before your eyes. One day you’ll be denied a cuddle, your hand will be brushed aside or they’ll tell you ‘you can go’. You will cry mixed tears of devastation and pride. You’re winning the game in which independence is king.
- You can’t do this without your tribe. Find like-minded parents and lean on one another. On the bad days, they’ll kindly attempt to prove they are worse parents than you and well, that’s just about the best thing a friend can do for any beaten down parent.
- You can’t truly appreciate your own mother until you are one.
- You’re better at this than you think.
- The kids are alright.
I always love hearing your thoughts in the comments. Am I being too hard on Play-doh? Have you been told to ‘go’ yet? Share your nuggets and experiences in the comments below. They always make me smile. When I’m not crying into my Wispa, that is.