Friday, 9 March 2012

seven truths of motherhood

1/ It's impossible to do it all, all the time.

Let's smash the complete myth that it's a reasonable expectation to stay on top of absolutely everything and excel in every area of life 24/7. Without of course burning out or losing your mind. If I've managed to write a blog post, do the laundry and take the kids on a fun afternoon out then you can pretty much guarantee the house is a complete mess and we're probably having pizza for dinner.

If you attend a playgroup or coffee group where every mother sits around with their perfect hair do and fresh manicure, casually dropping into the conversation how terribly advanced their picture perfect child is and the whole scene makes you feel like Worzel Gummidge - not to mention a complete failure- you are not a bad parent if you a beeline for the exit, never to return again. They seriously exist, I've encountered a couple. It took me a while to realise (some, but by no means all) other mothers do shall we say 'take liberties with the truth' concerning matters of their children and their lives to save face or make themselves feel better.

I've now found a playgroup to which I take the girls where everyone is a bit haphazard, usually turns up late but more importantly they are all really lovely, supportive, can have a laugh at themselves and the kids often rock up with mismatched socks or in superhero outfit/ pajama combos and no one bats an eyelid.

2/ You are not alone.

Sometimes you feel like the only parent in the entire world whose nine month old baby still isn't sleeping through the night (yes Rose I'm talking about you!) Whatever parenting issue is troubling you at any given time I can guarantee that thousands of other parents are battling exactly the same thing and usually having a much worse time of it than you. Not met any of them yet? See the above point about other mothers who sometimes widely exaggerate or choose to omit the reality of certain situations. You only need to log onto the forums on mumsnet to see that you are not alone, you might even find some good advice to try while you're there.

3/ Some days you will feel like throwing your child out the window or willingly handing them over to a complete stranger.

Every now and then they will push you to your upper limits and you really just.need.a.break. Even twenty minutes in a dark room alone would do. They always seem choose the day to turn into the worst, most whiny, disagreeable, overtired or just plain horrific versions of themselves when you have something really urgent to do.

It's difficult to do anything at all when you have a tantrumming toddler clinging to your leg, refusing to let go and who inevitably ends up getting dragged around the kitchen floor while you try do whatever it is that requires urgent attention. Somehow though, usually at the very end of the day they do a complete u-turn and morph into a sweet, polite and loving little angel. You subsequently feel really guilty for thinking unmotherly, bad thoughts about them and spend a good half an hour internally beating yourself up over it. A large glass of wine in the evening usually helps.

4/ Smugness comes before a fall.

There's the odd occasion, typically at a childrens party or maybe in the supermarket, where you might encounter a poor mother with an out of control child lying on the floor screaming- the child that is, not the mother, though it can be tempting. However instead of sympathising (despite the fact at some time or another, we've all been there too), you have a superior moment where you bask in the smug parenting glow of, "Isn't my child so beautifully behaved". Or you start congratulating yourself along the lines of "I must be doing something right!". In my experience, this type of pride usually comes before an almighty fall. The next shop you go into, chances are you'll be the one dealing with an epic showdown.

5/ It's all a big cycle- you just have to keep on pedalling.

There are really small windows of time when as a parent, you feel really on top of things. Maybe you just convinced your child that green vegetables are infact edible or sucessfully potty trained your toddler. Fully enjoy every small victory and mentally high five yourself but realise this state of bliss will not last. Next week comes a new phase, a new set of challenges to embrace. That's all part of the joy of being a parent.

I've found a similar situation with their clothing. I always have an ongoing list of what I need to get them to 'complete' the ultimate well rounded, fully stocked wardrobe, maybe a new winter coat for Lila or a few more pairs of socks for Rose. Whenever I feel like I've finally got there, what do you know. Lila has grown out of all her pajamas and Rose no longer fits any of her vests. Here we go again...

6/ Children see, hear and imitate EVERYTHING.

If you've been wondering where your little one picked up that hysterical concentrating face or really annoying catchphrase, it's not always the case that they learnt it at nursery. Consider the fact that they may have actually picked it up closer to home. From you. Umm, yes, you actually do that all the time but just never realised until the correlation was helpfully pointed out to you by your beloved. While parenting books are always droning on about setting an example, they undoubtedly do have a point here.

Young children are like sponges, and while of course they also absorb all the good things too, it really only hits home when they come out with something shocking. I visibly recoiled in horror the other week when my three year old addressed me as "Silly old cow!", and wasn't sure whether to laugh, cry or reprimand her first (I think I did all three at once). Now I'm sure she hasn't heard it at home- well here's hoping it's not something her father has ever referred to me as, though maybe I need to investigate this further!!- so it got me thinking where on earth she could have picked it up. Hmmm, maybe I need to start paying more attention to those episodes of Charlie and Lola...

7/ If you are at home caring for your child, your other half will always secretly believe that you are living a life of leisure.

I practically guarantee that any mother (even one with a really high powered, important job) will tell you that staying at home and taking care of their child or children full-time is a lot harder than going to work every day. It is doubtful than anyone else other than another stay at home parent will ever fully believe them. Their husband or partner (even if they appear to or pretend to) definitely will not. Even when you patiently try to explain that this is a job which is requires you to be on call 24 hours a day, every single day. Which involves dealing with excrement and other bodily fluids and small, obstinate people it is often impossible to reason with. For which you get no monetary compensation, praise or thanks for that matter. Don't get me wrong, on many days it is beyond rewarding, fun and many more wonderful things but the way they see it, it's morning coffees, leisurely lunches, fluffy bunnies and walks in the park all day every day.

As the saying goes...No one ever said it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it :)

Print above from the love shop on etsy.

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