Back in September my eldest child, Cameron, turned seven. When I was pregnant with him, I had absolutely no idea what being a parent actually entailed. I assumed, wrongly, that having a baby would be fairly straightforward and that you would pick everything up right away.
Having now had three children, and having experienced my fair share of parenting milestones along the way, I figured it was about time I shared the wisdom I have acquired so far on my parenting journey.
So, without further ado, here are the 7 things I have learnt in my 7 years as a mum…
1. No Amount of Reading Baby Books can Prepare you for Those First Few Weeks of Parenthood
I didn’t actually read a lot of literature pre-Cameron. I was only 20 when I fell pregnant, and I was a bit naieve the whole way through, relying only on episodes of One Born Every Minute to educate myself on giving birth and becoming a mum. However, I don’t think any amount of baby books will actually prepare you for what is about to happen to you.
Those first few weeks with a newborn are tough. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing moments in there as well, but people tend to gloss over the intense sleep deprivation where you feel like clawing your own eyes out and running away just to feel like yourself again, the burning pain in your nipples whilst you get the hang of breastfeeding, or the absolute agony of afterpains (seriously, with my second child I felt like I was giving birth again a few days later).
If you are currently in this state of sleepless purgatory, be rest assured it will end, and some normality will soon ensue. Hang on in there
2. Attending a Children’s Party is the Closest Thing to Hell on Earth
So, you make it through the newborn stage, you start getting some sleep (unless you’re a crazy person like me who goes on to have two more children, thus giving up sleep forever more), and your child starts to make their very own friends. How cute!
Yes, very, until the party invitations start rolling in. This tends to worsen when they start school, and tapers off a bit after the first year or so when parents catch on to the fact that maybe inviting every single child in the class to a soft play isn’t such a good idea after all.
Some parents love children’s parties, I am not one of those people. Every time my children are invited to a party I groan inwardly a little. I love that they are making friends, and I know they enjoy themselves, which is why I inflict it on myself time and time again, but I do not enjoy them one bit.
This is a lie, I do enjoy the ones where I am actually friends with the parent of the birthday boy or girl. Those ones are more like a social occasion, and I get to have a proper chat with friends whilst the kids run riot, high on sugar. It’s the birthday parties of the kids at nursery, school etc that I can’t stand.
I have never really integrated myself into the cliques of the school mums, so these parties go as follows – I arrive awkwardly not really knowing the other people in attendance nor knowing which of the children is the birthday child (your own child will be no help at all in this situation, just find the kid having presents thrust at them).
After waving goodbye to my child (more often than not this is Carly, Cameron is socially awkward like me and doesn’t make a lot of friends and Benjamin is fortunately too young for birthdays parties at the moment), I then spend the rest of the party sat writing blog posts or scanning social media on my phone, trying to not look like a total loser and failing each and every time.
Occasionally Carly will run back, but generally these things involve 1-2 hours of solitude, followed by a party buffet you are not allowed to enjoy yourself. Grit your teeth and fake a smile. At the end of the party you will receive a party bag as a sign that you can finally leave
3. Wine is Sometimes Necessary
See above. Having kids has given me a new found respect for the healing properties of a nice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Sometimes life can be stressful. Who cares if the glass is half full or half empty, there’s always the option to fill it up
4. The School Run feels Like You’re Back at School Yourself
You may have been able to tell by now, but I am not one of those mums who relishes being at home and doing the school run twice a day, every day. That’s not to say I don’t love being around for my kids.
I am so grateful that I get to be the one to see them before and after school each day. I love that I am able to attend school plays and carol concerts, to be able to make special assemblies and parents meetings without having to rearrange work and use up annual leave.
I just hate (and I mean, really, really hate) the school run itself. It honestly feels like you are back in school and I didn’t particuarly like school. The lessons were ok, but the bitchiness was not fun. I went to an all girls school and it was a constant battle.
Being a mum of school age children, the cliques are there in full force. I tend to completely avoid the whole thing, which in turn makes me feel excluded. When Carly started school in September, I did make a bit more effort than when Cameron first started, and I am now on smiling terms with a handful of other mums in her class, which is nice. I just don’t think I am cut out to be a school mum, which is a shame as I am lonely at home all day
5. Breast or Bottle, You’ll Feel Judged Either Way
So my advice is just to do what’s right for you and try and ignore the arguments that apparently will never end.
I tried combination feeding with Cameron, as I needed my sleep whilst studying at university. Ultimately it didn’t work out and I switched to formula. With Carly I managed six months breastfeeding, but the last month was a struggle and I was making myself ill just to reach a goal I had set myself. I ended up resenting feeding her, which I am unhappy about.
When it came to Benjamin, I was sure I wanted to breastfeed, but I was adamant I would stop if I felt I was forcing it. Fortunately my feeding journey with him was a lot smoother, and apart from some issues early on with painful latching, Benjamin did really well and I am actually still breastfeeding him at almost 15 months.
I know breastfeeding isn’t for everybody, it wasn’t for me in the past, so I try and avoid getting involved in the debates. A happy mum equals a happy baby
6. You’ll Be Happy About Poo!
Whether it’s that very first poo on the potty (the pride is huge, just try and avoid sharing actual pictures of said offending item on facebook, your friends will not appreciate it) or when your child manages to go after a week of being constipated, something I never imagined being enthused about pre-kids was somebody else’s bowel movements, but there you have it. Children have changed me.
I was also rather pleased with myself when I managed that first post childbirth poop, but that’s a story for another day (or not)
7. Your Love for your Child Truly is Unconditional…
…. But my word, when they break something valuable/draw on the walls/spill juice all over your laptop you may well feel like trading them in!
Seriously though, I have never felt love like it before. When that newborn baby is placed into your arms and your eyes lock for the very first time, that feeling is incredible and makes all the low points, all the stress and strain to your body and mind totally worth it. Trust me.
Now off I go to remind myself of all the reasons why having a fourth baby is not a good idea….