Becoming a parent for the first time is an amazing event in anyone’s life, but at the same time it brings with it an uncertainty of what the future holds. No-one can ever really explain what it will be like and I know from experience that no two people are the same and so no advice can really be taken as gospel. That’s a real shame because the minute you become a parent you expect to be able to get all the answers from books, the internet, parents and friends who have had children already… surely that lot must have the hard and fast answers?
I have been that parent scouring the shelves of Mothercare with a newborn baby who won’t feed, looking for some answers or some miracle product that will solve the problem. I too have been that parent with a permanent seat at the health visitor surgery, expecting them to give me a yes or no to my question, only to be met with a hmmmm yeeeeees and a condescending pathetic smile.
Parenting books are ten a penny and big business cashing in on us poor sleep deprived, permanently pajama clad, emotional parents who would at times pay as much as our monthly mortgage just to be able to do the grocery shopping in peace, ALONE! These books,websites, friends and indeed so called professionals are all well and good, but it struck me very early on in parenthood that there are some things none of these will ever tell you.
Fear not, I am here to enlighten you to a few things that no book will ever tell you about becoming a parent:
For the first few months of your first-born’s life yourself and your partner will end up eating dinner in rotation. Forget sitting down together in a leisurely and relaxed way whilst you both catch up on each other’s day over a nice meal and bottle of wine. One will eat (at warp speed) whilst the other rocks the baby to keep it from crying and then swap so your partner can then eat.
Get used to cold toast! This, my friends is the only type of toast you will experience for at least eight years. As you stand there doing toast for everyone, by the time you get round to buttering your own it will be stone cold, the butter will sit in a solidified state like cream cheese. Yuk!
Say goodbye to spontaneous trips out. Babies and spontaneity do not mix. I think at one point I knew that in order to get out of the house by 11am I had to start getting organized at 09:30. This is normal.
Overnight and all of a sudden you are no longer able to think of yourself first. Like when you have had a rare trip out and all you want to do is head home for a relaxing hot bath. Your feet hurt, you are cold and tired, your eyes are heavy, when you are sick even, you have no choice but to see to your children’s needs first. Sometimes this just sucks.
Getting hammered together as a couple is a thing of the past. Read it and believe it. Someone will always have to remain sober, that someone is responsible for staying alert and being able to respond to any upsets in the night or potential emergencies.
Holidays … well I am not entirely sure you can really call them holidays, well at least until they are about ten years old, can swim unaided without floats, eat pretty much anything in a restaurant, don’t need a high chair or nappies and have learnt to put themselves to bed. Until that time holidays are merely the same shit different in a different place.
Gina Ford does not hold all the answers. Like I say, what may have worked for her children doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
Everyone will want to give you their advice whether you want it or not. People you have never met before in the supermarket will also offer advice and if you are pregnant, want to touch you! Just no.
Talking of being pregnant, this also means to all those interfering busy bodies around you that you clearly must be sick, paralysed in someway and have turned into some form of simpleton. You will constantly be bombarded with “how are you feeling?” “Should you really be doing that?” “Ooh aren’t you getting big?” You reply politely but what you really want to say is “FUCK OFF! I AM NOT SICK I AM PREGNANT!”
The main thing that no-one will ever tell you is that, at first, life as a new parent can be, well… SHIT!
But hey, that said, I got through the other side, I gritted my teeth, responded politely and listened to everyone’s advice, thanked them for it and then made my own decision for my own children. They are two of the best kids I know of who I am proud to be their mum.
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