Things they never told you about parenting.

  • It doesn’t actually get “easier”. The challenges just change.
  • All that stuff you thought you knew? You don’t.
  • Just when you get a handle on things, they change the rules.
  • There is a special something about your child that only they possess. Treasure it. Nurture it. And in turn, that will nurture you.
  • Some kids like climbing. Hope that yours isn’t one of them.
  • Your child may not like the same things you like, or enjoy the foods you enjoy. They might love foods or activities you hate. You owe it to them to at least give them the option. It might unlock a lifelong passion.
  • Many things in life can be solved by a nap or a cup of tea and a biscuit. (Or equivalent.) You might even find your child falls asleep too.
  • There will be time you will wish your life away – chickenpox, or 2AM feeds, or staring at a brochure for a grown-up event while throwing coffee down your throat in a desperate bid to stay awake.
  • But there will be times when you wish time would just stand still forever – that moment when you kiss their warm fuzzy forehead as they drift off to sleep, or watching them play with their shadow, or the first time they pick dandelions to bring you as a gift.
  • Life is not like the movies. Love does not mean never having to say you’re sorry. Sorry is not a sign of weakness. Sorry means that it’s okay to make mistakes.
  • There will be moments of absolute joy, sheer madness, wonder, inconsolable sorrow and magnificent bemusement. Sometimes in the same moment. It will be bitter, it will be sweet, but it will be yours.
  • You are the only you your child has. That doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. But it does mean you have to try.
  • It also means that you are the only you your child has. That should be reason enough to tie up your bootlaces and try again for another day.

I used to look after other people’s kids for a living. I thought I knew what parenting would be like. I had no idea. Each day brings moments of beauty and sadness, times of solid affirmation that I’m doing the right thing, and lapses that make me doubt whether I’ll ever make a good parenting choice again. But it’s a process, and every day is a new day, every tantrum an opportunity to do it better. It’s okay to have a little cry from time to time, to think you can’t go on, to wonder how you’ll navigate the next set of challenges. But we’re not in it for our today – we’re doing it for their tomorrow.

And because it gives us an excuse to be a child again.

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