Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion on, and the hardest thing to do, or so the famous quote goes. Parenting before you’ve even had a child of your own is even easier.
Minimal amounts of telly, endless Pinterest-perfect days of crafts and sensory activities, no junk food to pass their cute little lips, right?! Isn’t this every non-parent’s perfect vision? The only way that they’ll ever bring up any child of their own?!
Oh it’s so easy to say and so difficult to do, isn’t it?! And so I want to apologise. Publicly apologise to all of those Mums that went before me, who I may have silently (or not so silently, among friends) had a tiny bit of judgement towards. I’m so sorry, because this raising children thing is hard!
And I think it starts before you’re even pregnant: just think of all of those child free days you just didn’t appreciate. Going out with friends without the military operation that is organising childcare, beach holidays where you could actually relax, going shopping without the mad dash to get everything before a certain little person gets hungry or bored.I’m so sorry, to all my mum friends that went before me, that tried to tell me to enjoy these simple pleasures before we started a family.
Even when you’re pregnant, before the baby arrives, you have absolutely no clue how this child will affect your lives. How could you?! Up until this point, you’ve solely been responsible for yourself, and perhaps your partner. Many Mums-to-be start to want to rush their baby along towards the end. Yes it’s uncomfy and tiring and you just want to meet that little person that you’ve been baking for nine whole months! And no amount of telling a woman who is miserably uncomfortable towards the end of pregnancy to ‘just enjoy it’ will sink in. We’re all the same, we all think we just know that we’ll feel better once the baby is here.Although I didn’t really feel the need to rush Baby Lighty along, I was still guilty of not heeding my friends’ advice to just enjoy the last few weeks’ of pregnancy. “Put your feet up! Get some rest! Read a book! Drink hot tea!”, they all told me, but did I listen?! No I did not. And now I’ve only managed to finish one book in the past 17 months; a far cry from the Mrs Lighty that would finish one book every 10 days. I distinctly remember Nanny Kersey asking incredulously if I thought I’d have time to harvest the tomatoes I’d planted once Baby Lighty made his appearance, and me thinking “Not enough time to pick a couple of tomatoes?! Don’t be daft!”. But of course she was right. In that dreaded newborn phase, Baby Lighty barely went long enough between feeds for me to go to the loo, let alone do anything else.
And so I’m sorry, dear mothers that went before me, for not heeding your warning.
Then, of course, the baby arrives. Oh how I apologise to all of those mums that went before me! There is nothing that anyone can tell you that will prepare you for how much a baby changes your life. Someone once said to me that the changes a child makes to your life can be likened to throwing a load of balls into the air, seeing where they land and trying to make a new normal from what’s left. That sounds pretty accurate right about now.
Until you’re a mum yourself, there are some things you just can’t comprehend. I’ve had conversations with childless friends in the past about the likes of co-sleeping and breastfeeding, and there are always really strong opinions at play. But until you have a little person of your own, until you know how hard motherhood can be, you just don’t realise that once you are a parent, you do whatever it is that you need to do to get through the day.I’m sorry to my mum friends that went before me for not understanding why you would complain about how hard it was. I’m sorry for not really understanding how difficult it is to juggle work and childcare. I’m sorry for not understanding that you might not want to be separated from your baby. And most of all I’m so sorry for not being more supportive. I’m sorry for not offering help or at least lunch, rather than just buying cute outfits and showing up at your house not long after you’ve been through the trauma of birth to enjoy baby cuddles. I hope I can make it up to you all in the future somehow.
Because I get it now. This parenting malarkey is hard bloody work. So, Mums, let’s all give ourselves a pat on the back.
And if you’re reading this and you don’t yet have children, please take note. I know you won’t truly get it, because no one ever does until their own bundle of joy comes along. It is such hard work, but you just can’t comprehend that before you have children. Although don’t let me put you off parenthood either, for despite all the hard work children are bundles of joy: beautiful, rewarding, funny, amazing, frustrating, testing, tantruming bundles of pure joy.
Just do me a favour, Mums-to-be? Drink a hot cup of tea, read a book, enjoy one last holiday as a couple. Go on, for me. You may not understand where I’m coming from right now, but you will. Once your own little bundle comes along, that is, and you suddenly find yourself wanting to apologise to all of the Mums that went before you, too.
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