There are some things to do with parenthood that people love to share and let you know. That first pregnancy you ever have, everyone is busting to tell you how little sleep you’re going to have and how to put your child to bed.
There are other things however that nobody bothers to tell you, things that actually really matter when you become a parent.
- Nobody told me just how hard that first bit is. You’re not just ‘a bit sleep deprived’ or have slight ‘baby brain’ you are whole heartedly, totally and utterly, blown into a complete mental haze. For 9 months you’ve prepared yourself (or so you thought) for this little bundle of joy to arrive, totally unaware that NOTHING can really prepare you. The feeding is constant, you feel like every tiny sap of energy and life is being sucked out of you quite literally. You take up secret eating of flapjack in the cupboards (which by the time you’re on baby 2 or 3 you hide in a carrier bag in the cupboard so your toddler doesn’t clock eyes on your booty). The baby cries, it has colic, you spend hours an evening pacing the bedroom with a windy, colicky baby just wishing with all your might that it would just peacefully drift off to sleep. You trot along to baby groups to meet other mums, some of which delight in telling you how well their baby sleeps, you look at them politely, finding yourself for the first time thinking ‘Shut the fuck up’ but smile (with your mouth only, no eyes involved as you don’t mean it) and tell them ‘well done’. You leave feeling like crap because you must surely be doing something wrong. Although as a friend correctly said, nobody is going to tell you how hard it is because they’d be cruel to, to sit you down when you announce your happy news and say ‘Look love, for the first 12 weeks you’re not going to know your arm from your arsehole and you are going to look like shit on a stick’ so instead, they congratulate you and tell you how wonderful it is. And it IS wonderful, but shit it’s hard too.
2. Nobody told me how much hate you can have for a creaky floor board and a barking dog. There’s not many things I hate in life but have grown to have very strong, negative feelings towards anything that creates a lot of noise when my children are asleep. I want the world to sleep when my kids do, for everything to be silent so you don’t stir the lions in their den. Especially the sodding dog next door, he’s rigged our house I swear, waits for the children to sleep then heads straight outside to dump and shout about it. I hate that dog.
I’ve mastered a route out of Little B’s bedroom door to try and avoid the creaky floorboard. It’s not even a particularly old house, what business has a creaky floor board got hanging around there?! No business. I hate that floorboard.
3. Nobody told me that a trip to Sainsburys alone feels as good as a night out on the lash with your mates. That it becomes your new place to ‘browse’, that you spend hours looking at the different types of bin liners on offer just because you can. That you walk up and down aisles feeling free and then find yourself smiling like a weirdo so have to check yourself and try to look normal again.
Nobody told me that you spend a lot of time wishing that you had just half an hour to yourself, even 10 minutes, that you look forward to taking a shite just so you have some time alone, despite the fact that 9 times out of 10 you are joined by a little person that walks in and says ‘Are you doing a poo mum? Can I see it?’
Nobody told me though, that once you finally get that time, that long awaited time, a morning away from your kids, you miss them like hell and can’t wait to see them again.
4. Nobody told me how much of a shit hole your house turns into. That inside you is a domestic goddess desperately trying to bust out and keep an immaculate, tight ship, but instead you are manically running round on a daily basis attempting to hoover a bit and put toys away. You jump up in excitement when you see how well your baby’s fine motor skills have developed as he picks up a small item off the floor, only to realise it’s some piece of manky food from a few days ago. Winner.
5. Nobody told me how much seeing your child in an assembly or nativity will crumble you. Yes they tell you you’d be proud, that much is obvious, but not that seeing your child in an oversized shirt with a tea towel attached to their head with an elastic band will literally kill you. That you sit there trying to stop yourself dissolving into a blubbering mess as they walk around the stage like an Egyptian 29 times, covering the same small circle, following a star. They’ve got stamina, I’d have given up on that bloody star 2 laps in.
6. Nobody told me that when your child starts school your biggest worry isn’t whether they achieve academically but whether they have friends. That it hurts the hell out of you to think of your child alone in the playground. That you even consider just happening to stroll past the field fence at lunchtime to make sure they’re OK, and then you remember you’d probably be arrested for hanging around school grounds staring through fences like a child predator.
Nobody told me that I wouldn’t even be able to handle taking my child for his first school dinner as just the thought of him queuing up with his tray, food segmented out with the ice cream scoop of mashed potato on one half and cup of grapes in the other, made me well up like a nutter whilst still at home. That was one for his dad.
7. Nobody told me that your child might still not sleep through the night at 3 years old, and therefore may continue to not sleep through for many years to come. That your nights become like a carry on film as you and your husband trudge up and down the landing in and out of various beds and bedrooms throughout the night. Sleep deprivation at birth is a given, sleep deprivation still at 5 and a half years later is taking the piss slightly. We did however have more children so that much I’ll take responsibility for…
8. Nobody told me that poo would become my life. That you’re either changing a poo nappy, cleaning it out of pants or potty, longing for one yourself or finding it in unexpected places. Once I could smell it very strongly, checked everywhere, or so I thought. Sat down to feed Little B and only at the end of the food did I notice that I was indeed sitting next to a well formed nugget on the rug. Slightly ‘scuffed’ so knew it had been knocked along the way. Just counted my lucky stars that I hadn’t sat in it. I was so knackered I would have started to wonder if I’d actually laid it myself.
9. Nobody told me how shit you’d feel if you shouted. That sometimes your children push every button going and you manage to stay calm for so fricking long and in the end you break because they’re just not listening. For the rest of the day you feel like you’ve ruined their life. You’re a shit mum who got angry.
One day I was in a hurry to get to work and get everyone out of the door but the boys were having a huge jolly, Middle F was chucking toast over his shoulders left right and centre and Big T found it hilarious. Give them their due, they knew how to liven up breakfast time and did it all whilst belting out a merry tune. After many attempts to hurry them along and get out of the door I shouted at them to stop singing. What kind of mother tells their children to stop singing?!? A tired one, desperate to get to work. But nobody tells you about that bit.
10. Finally, nobody told me how much I’d think on a daily basis about how much I’d want to protect them. Nobody told me that one of the things that scares me even more than something happening to them is something happening to me. That may seem selfish but it’s because if it happened to me then it’s them that would feel the pain.
Nobody told me that I’d drag my sorry ass down the landing 10 zillion times, wishing that my child slept and that they didn’t need to call me at that time. But when they curled up on my lap, all bendy and folded in like a cat, that I’d have a slight panic about the day they couldn’t fit on my lap anymore. The day when they get too big and I have to ask them to come to me and not the other way around.
Nobody told me that it wouldn’t just be my children not wanting to leave home, but that I’d look at them and crap my pants about the day they say that they want to go. That my little boys, with smooth cheeks and only tiny fair hairs on their legs may one day be covered in body hair and tower over me and no longer climb on my lap because other than not fitting, it would be slightly awkward.
Nobody told me that parenthood would totally and horrendously FRY me, that I’d look like crap, wear a dreadful out of date wardrobe and that it would make me behave like a swan- look calm enough on the surface but be paddling like shit beneath the water.
But most of all, nobody told me just how really flipping amazing it would be. 💙💙💙