Before I had children, I had certain notions of what it would be like to have my own little mini-me’s running around the place. I’d had my fair share (as I reckon we all have) of parent-friends warning me that ‘oooh it’s tiring, but sooooo worth it’, that I was certainly aware of the disruption to my sleep and the reduced ability to party the night away at the drop of a hat. But on the whole, I figured this parenting malarkey was something I could take in my stride, gently navigating those occasional hurdles on the way. But, blow me down, if I knew then what I know now…ermmm let’s just say, there were a few things I was not expecting. If I could go back in time, I’d certainly let my Before Children (BC) self in on a thing or two. So excuse me, whilst I have a quiet word and give her the heads up on what she’s in for…
You will develop an unhealthy dependency on wet wipes
So much so, that you’ll have a spare pack in every room (or, at the very least, one upstairs and one downstairs). You will never, EVER, be able to leave the house without taking one (practically full) pack with you, even after your children are well out of nappies, as there will always be an occasion when your little pickles will be covered in some sort of bodily fluid/grime/jam that requires immediate removal with a pre-wettened tissue. If your husband ever dares to NOT REPLENISH the wet wipes in the change bag – it is an offence of which he will receive your most ferocious mummy wrath – for a good day and a half at least. (Hmmm maybe daddy doesn’t have quite the same addiction). Sure, you’ll feel bloody guilty about the less than eco-friendly method by which you choose to mop up your kids, but seriously, who can argue with their convenience and utter brilliance at getting you out of any scrape?
You will not believe the monumental effort it takes to get out of the house, just to post a letter 50 metres down the road
Pre-kids you could go from sofa to out the front door in less than 30 seconds. A cursory inspection of your (beautifully compact) handbag for keys, purse and phone – and jobs a good’n! You are free to exit the building. After children, you will only fantasize about doing such a thing. Most days, pre-planning for such an exodus will start at least forty-five minutes in advance. It will begin with the gentle warming up of your children to the idea of leaving the confines of their home (AKA the ‘five minute’ warning, which let’s be honest is always well beyond that) and the promise of all manner of things (see bribery* below) to tear them away from whatever screen they are glued to. Then comes a generally unproductive foraging for suitable outdoor clothing and footwear, followed by a cajoling of children to adorn themselves with the aforementioned clothing, dealing, as you go along, with lots of ‘discussions’ about why they can’t wear flip flops in the snow. Then once you’ve finally appeased the elder one and got him in his bloody wellies (the right way round), your youngest will have stripped down to her nappy, tearing round the front room in a defiant ‘I can do what I damn well please, cus I’m a toddler’ dance. Then, she’ll do a poo. At this point, you will be cursing yourself for not giving daddy that goddam letter to post on his way to work, whilst simultaneously calculating if you have enough wet wipes for the excursion (what? There are many incontinent pigeons round our way…). When you finally leave the house, you will almost certainly have to return at least twice, to gather forgotten snacks/favourite toys/the bloody letter. But, seriously, the sense of accomplishment once you’re out and on your way, is like nothing you’ve ever known. #bloodynailingit
You will chop up 5, 486, 759 grapes in your children’s lifetime.
However much you enjoyed cooking in the past, you will loathe cooking for your kids
BC me loved nothing more than cooking a nice meal for her and hubby at the end of a hard day (*chokes* hard day! You ain’t seen nothing yet lady) at the office, just to unwind and ease into that glorious evening of putting your feet up in front of the tele, and actually laughing fondly at eachother’s jokes. But as soon as you start catering for little food nazis, any joy you formerly gleaned from such a pastime has now well and truly been beaten out of you. When approaching mealtimes with the kids, I become visibly pale and my hands get clammy thinking about the sh*tstorm that is about to ensue. The blood, the sweat, the tears that occur just to get food into the little buggers and continue their survival is Absolute. Hell. Get me to a Maccy Ds – quick!
The word ‘snack’ will cause you to have involuntary convulsions
It might be hard to fathom this now, but the word ‘snack’ will cause you to have the strongest negative reaction you could possibly imagine. It will throw you into uncontrollable spasms of fury. Following on from my previous point, never more so than after serving your kids carefully prepared wholesome meals, which are flung gleefully about their person with sob stories about how full they are, and that their tummies hurt, and what an evil witch-mother you are trying to provide them with life-giving nourishment. Then, five minutes later, the dreaded ‘snack’ word is uttered. Nay, demanded! Their god given right to bear snacks is exercised. Literally, it will make your Blood. Boil.
You will bribe your kids – so just get over yourself
You know when you vowed you’d never bribe your child with food/trips to the parks/time on the iPad BC lady? Yeah well, forget that Ms High and Mighty! Time you join the real world. It’s bribery or you don’t get sh*t done mate. And the snacks aren’t even healthy, so there. Turns out toddlers aren’t that fond of carrot sticks. Chocolate buttons have become a form of currency. There ain’t no reasoning with an apoplectic toddler who’s decided that she’s on a nappy strike 30 seconds before you have to exit the house for your eldest’s Christmas play. Five minutes late and your little lad will miss his debut as the back end of a stable animal and if that happens, the fallout will be of Armageddon proportions. So yeah, bribery every time.
You second guess yourself like you never thought possible
Yes. Your fear of making the wrong decision often cripples you. And it’s not necessarily big life-changing decisions either, like choosing a school for your child. No, you soon discover that making a wrong decision about something like ‘should I take a snack with me for a 15 minute walk down the road?’ or ‘what is the acceptable time period before “recycling” my son’s most recent junk modelling project?’ can have monumental repercussions. (Note to BC self – always take the goddam snack). I myther over things like ‘to give Calpol or not?’ If you do, you feel like you’re just being lazy – anything to get that child to sleep! And if you don’t you’re being a neglectful, cruel-hearted mother. I swear I feel like I have Dr Sears in one ear, whispering to me to attend to my child’s every need on demand, whilst Gina Ford is sitting on the other shoulder, yelling at me to get a grip of myself and stop being such a pussy mother.
They’re the boss of you
Tears of mirth are literally streaming down my face when I had the gumption, BC, to think that I’d be the one in charge! I was tricked into the theory that parents raise their kids. When in actual fact – Kids Rule, OK? If you don’t believe me, re-read all the last points and let it sink in that all this jumping through hoops is because it is the only way to vaguely keep any semblance of order with your angelic offspring.
Children like to be on you (well up to age 4 and half years at least…)
And it’s often not in an affectionate cuddly type manner. More, ‘I just need to lay about your person so you are unable to move your limbs’ kinda way. I guess it’s a territorial thing, sorta like how dogs pee on stuff to mark their space (so that’s nice). But it does rather impede on your ability to get things done. This is particularly exemplified when you have two or more siblings together. Suddenly, mama’s body becomes the ultimate prize. And don’t think they’ll give you any time off for private matters like peeing or showering, nope your body belongs to them. And then when you try and extract yourself from them, you just feel awful guilty for not enjoying all those ‘cuddles’. Which leads me nicely onto the next point…
And then boom – one day they ain’t gonna be babes no more…
And sorry to end on a kicker – but what you don’t realise when you’re peeing on that pregnancy stick in eager anticipation, is that what you’ll be getting is not a squidgy baby that you can snuggle forever, but an actual human being that eventually you’re going to have to release into the wild. Fair dinkum, that might seem aeons away when you’re sleeping at maximum two hour stretches, but soon it’ll become clear, as they do more and more things by themselves – feeding, getting dressed, fastening their own seat belt, operating the TV remote control – that your whole raison d’etre is to steadily let them go. Once this dawns on you, it’s a total sucker punch. And then the whole Mum Guilt thing sets in. So my advice to you is Cherish. Every. Single. Moment. Or not.
So there you have it. There’s a whole pile more things I could tell ya BC mama – but frankly I don’t want to put you off completely (you’ll bloody love them when you meet them, I promise). So enjoy, not only your uninterrupted sleep, but your seamless exiting of the house and the unadulterated bliss of eating grapes whole. And remember, forewarned is forearmed…
This post was written as part of a Write Club challenge – this means that lots of other brilliant bloggers also wrote about the subject. If you fancy checking out their awesome posts – read on!: Mom Of Two Little Girls, Mamaville Tales, Twins, Tantrums & Cold Coffee, The Mulberry Bush, The Desperate Housewife, The Mum Conundrum, The Incidental Parent, You Have to Laugh, Me, Annie B, Me, Them & The Others, The Accidental Hipster Mum, and Tonic & Tiaras,
The Mum Conundrum