Tomorrow my first born turns 10. That’s a whole decade of being a parent, and a whole lot of sleep lost! There have been many many lessons learnt in the last 10 years. There were ridiculous intentions at the start, and a whole host of unexpected things along the way. But if I could go back to just before it all began, what would I give myself the heads up about? What are the things I wish I knew before becoming a parent. Asides from never look at your post birth stitches…
Things I wish I Knew Before Becoming a Parent
1 Poonamis are normal
The poo explosions that go from the toes to the neck are part and parcel of new born babies. You don’t need to google how to put on a nappy. You are not doing it wrong. That shit just happens. No pun intended. But the day you had to deal with the mother of all poonamis. The one that covered him, his bouncy chair, the carpet, and you, and left a trail all the way to the change matt. The one that made you cry. You will survive it. Although it would have been really useful to know about the envelope sleeves on babies body suits when it happened.
2 It can be lonely
Sometimes parenting can be a very lonely job. Despite the fact you never seem to have a minutes peace and can’t even go for a wee without being needed. It can often feel like you are the only person dealing with tantrums from hell. Social media can paint a glossy picture that can make you feel you are doing it all wrong because you don’t relish getting the glitter out. For every decision you make there is someone telling you to do things differently. It will take you a few years to find your confidence and trust those instincts everyone talks about. Then you will have your second child and discover he is nothing like your first!
3 You will damage your kid
Don’t spend so much time and energy worrying about the scar on his head from when he fell and hit his head on the table. He will go through a Harry Potter obsession when he is seven that makes his scar the coolest thing ever.
4 Friendships change
When you first have a baby your friendships will change. It’s a sure fire way to find out who your real friends are, and you maybe surprised by who is or isn’t there when you come out of the newborn fog. I think this was the biggest adjustment for me. The thing that took me by surprise, and definitely one of the things I wish I knew before becoming a parent.
But hang in there, you will meet some amazing women who you bond with over birth stories and they will become some of the most special friendships you have ever made.
And please don’t spend so much time worrying and crying over the friendships that didn’t survive your change in circumstances, because the ones that count will come back.
5 Rights of passage are not what you neccesarily expect
You will be puked on so many times that catching it in your hands or your skirt becomes a natural reflex. Forget about first steps and first words. The best parenting milestone is when they learn to puke in the bucket!
6 It’s all a bit overwhelming
It’s quite hard to explain the absolute overwhelm of responsibility that sometimes hits you. The responsibility of knowing when the library books are due back, where the karate uniform is, the whereabouts of all favourite toys at all times, when the next dress up day is, whether the cough requires a trip to the doctors, when you need to make a dentist appointment, if you have paid their dinner money, have you responded to the party invite, do they have enough clean uniform, are they eating enough fruit and veg, is their obsession with fiddling with their willy normal. It’s never ending.
At times you will feel like you are nailing it. But then you will inevitably drop one of the plates you are spinning, and beat yourself up for doing so. When that happens, have a good cry and write a list. And chocolate always helps too.
7 Potty training
Always, always make sure the willy is pointing down. If not you will be in the firing line and your Mum will do nothing to help as she stands there barely able to breathe through laughing as you get covered in wee. When potty training it is advisable to spare clothes for yourself as well as the kid.
8 You don’t always notice the changes
They change and grow in so many ways. But some of the changes you won’t notice straight away. They kind of creep up on you. You will see his teacher from last year and remember how he used to hug her every morning, and you suddenly realise that he doesn’t hug his teachers any more. You will remember how when he was excited he would pump his arms up and down by his side so much that he would look like he was going to take off. But nowadays there is only the slightest twitch that would go unnoticed by anyone else.
You won’t know it’s the last time they will fall asleep in your arms when it’s happening. One day they are running to great you shouting “Mummy” with their arms open wide. The next they are calling you “Mum” and begging you to let them walk home alone!
9 we are all winging it
And anyone who says they aren’t is lying. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. There isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t made numerous rookie mistakes.
There are so many approaches to parenting. so many ways of doing things. Breast or bottle, work or stay at home, naughty step, reward charts, enforce homework or not. There are two things that unite parents and makes us feel less alone. One, we all want the best for our kids. Two, None of us really have a clue what we are doing.
10 You lose yourself to Motherhood
It’s easy to lose yourself to motherhood. This tiny being is suddenly dependant on you for everything. You’ve replaced bars with baby groups, work colleagues with Cbeebies presenters. It’s easy to not recognise the person you were before your life got flipped and turned upside down. (The Fresh Prince hinted at it!)
But as they get older you start to find yourself again. At the same time your kids are learning who they are. It turns out they are pretty cool humans.
The first ten years has been a blast. I’m sure the next ten years will teach me so much more, and bring me a few more grey hairs.
So those are the things I wish I knew before becoming a parent. What would you give yourself the heads up about?
For Big who turned 10. Happy decade birthday to my chatterbox.
10 years of being your Mummy…
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