Prompted by a friend’s post on Facebook today, this post is about being a parent and making it up as we go along, all day, every day.
For me, this is part of the learning curve of parenting, it’s the grown-up stuff, it is parenting. When we become parents for the first time, we are desperate for answers and solutions to get more sleep, more routine and to have some order back into our lives. Some babies will oblige by simply being placid and quite ‘easy’ to look after but most will demand a lot of us and will cause us to question our sanity and our ability to do this parenting thing. It can cause us to feel lost, so we go in search of all the answers.
I reckon there’s a learning curve with every stage your child is in and with every child you have. With my first baby it took me 4 months to realise and accept that life really had changed and that my baby wasn’t going to settle without some help – when I accepted this, life became a tad easier because I wasn’t as stressed and, bizarrely, I felt like I had more control again.
My children are 11 and 9 now and there have been plenty of learning curves along the way and there’s still plenty to come – toddlers are amazing and challenging in equal measure but no two days are the same and what works one day, probably won’t work the next and, as children grow, there are new challenges with attitudes, behaviour and peer pressure, as well as juggling work and family and the constant guilt that we carry around with us. So as the challenges shift, so do our responses and ways of parenting.
The biggest euruka moment for me as a parent came when they were a few years old and I suddenly realised that it was normal to make it up every day because that’s what every other normal family does as well – I had been waiting for the moment where all the pieces dropped into place and I knew what I was doing. Now I enjoy those peaceful days but they are rare and I embrace the chaos of a busy family life – even if it leaves me counting down for the wine at 5pm – because that is the reality when we are loving, parenting, guiding, listening, playing, teaching, nursing and caring – how can there be order and calm when there is that much going on?
Because children are not little robots who can (or should) be controlled, just when we think we have the answers we very quickly don’t. There will be great days when we feel in control – everything gets done, there is order and happiness and we feel like Super Mum. Enjoy those days, hold on to those memories because they will probably be outnumbered by days of chaos and stress, maybe of rushing and feeling pressure, of trying desperately to juggle everything and stay in control and of feeling like a pathetic parent who doesn’t have the answers and who can’t get through the day. These days can leave you feeling a bit shit but they are normal – indulge in wine/tea/chocolate and give yourself a pat on the back – you got through the day, everyone is still intact and are still Super Mum. And there’s always the hope that tomorrow will be better…