Parenting is THE toughest, most challenging and yet most rewarding job in the world. You can never prepare yourself enough, and you will never ever know it all. You can read parenting books and websites, watch other mums and dads do it, plan and picture how you will parent but when it comes to it, you will really just be learning on the job.
Parenting will exhaust you beyond imagination, turn your life (and for most mums your career) 360 degrees and will change the way you think and act; yet, you will not want it any other way. Ever.
So, to put it out there, here are my Top 10 Ups and Downs of being a mum/ parent…
1. You will feel a love so strong, so definitive, so beautiful – a love that you have never experienced before. It’s different to loving your parents/ spouse/ siblings – it’s so deep and so intense, it scares you sometimes. But it’s what makes those sleepless nights and tantrums all worth it!
2. You will learn patience, whether you are patient by nature or not. Ever seen a three-year-old put on his socks and shoes by himself? Or waited for a four-year-old to dress herself from head to toe? Or finish a meal in what seems like forever???
And it’s not always in their benefit to shout ‘Hurry up!’ because unless they do things themselves, they will never learn.
3. You will awaken the child in you, and learn to see things from their perspective. And that innocence is so beautiful…
You walk down your neighbourhood road every single day, but it is your toddler who spots that gorgeous flower or alerts you to the birds chirping.
It is your child who will make you jump in puddles, or piles of Autumn leaves, and make you feel a sense of freedom you haven’t felt in years.
It is your pre-schooler with whom you will sit on the floor and make play-doh men and Lego creations with.
It is with your children that Christmas will mean so much more… the laying out of the cookies for Santa, their joy at receiving the gifts they asked for, their first Nativity play…
4. You will feel so proud seeing them grow into little individuals, who have imbibed all that you have painstakingly taught them.
These moments will make you especially proud:
– Watching them perform in their first Nativity play
– Their first day of school – how – and when – did that happen?!
– The times they share, help their friends say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’ – that’s when you know you’ve aced this parenting thing!
5. You will get superpowers you never thought you had. For starters, you will survive on barely four hours of sleep for the first few months of motherhood. You will learn to multi-task (I’m talking holding baby in one hand, cooking with the other, helping your older child with homework and thinking of your work presentation for the next morning). You will do ANYTHING to protect your child and lay your own fears to rest should any danger to your child present itself. AND you will (mostly) smile through it all.
1. Number 1 has to be sleep. Wave goodbye to a proper, restful sleep – you won’t get that again till your child/children are past their teens. First, there are the frequent night-wakings, then the toddler jumping into bed with you’ll, then the early morning wake-ups to combat the school-run rush… and it continues until your littles are, well, big!
2. Exhaustion follows as a result of lack of sleep, and also because life with kids is non-stop action. If you are a working mum, you have to juggle work and home. If you’re a stay-at-home-mum, you are the sole entertainer and provider for all your baby/ toddler’s needs, from dawn till dusk (and through the night feedings too).
With older kids, there’s school and homework and classes and extra-curricular activities and weekend birthday parties – It. Never. Ends.
3. Loss of personal space and freedom. Wave goodbye to any form of privacy – right from the moment baby enters this world (think a room full of strange faces looking down your vagina). After that, you will have baby latched on to your breast, toddler latched on to your leg and even watch you do your business on the loo!
Your bed will no longer be YOUR bed. You will be lucky if you get even one-tenth of the space while baby/ toddler/ pre-schooler sprawls himself across.
The television will almost always be on CBeebies, but you won’t mind, as long as you get a few minutes peace.
Forget leaving the house in 15 minutes. That will be the time it takes to convince your toddler to put on his shoes (remember I mentioned you will learn to be patient?). Or bundle up baby in jacket, cap, gloves and strapped into the buggy.
4. No more lie-ins. For the next 15 years! Babies have a knack of waking up very, very early. It doesn’t get much better once toddlerhood rolls along – at the most you will go from a 5 a.m. start to a 7 a.m. one! And once you hit the school-going age, mornings will be rush, rush, rush anyways.
Weekends? Hahaha. Don’t you know that the same child who has to be dragged out of bed Monday through Friday miraculously bounces out of bed half an hour earlier on the weekend? It’s just one of those ironies of parenthood.
Or you’ll probably have to wake up anyways for a darn 8 a.m. swim class on a Saturday morning!
5. Loss of identity. Motherhood is a life-changing experience, but it can also be a very lonely one. One minute you had a life with work and socializing; the next you’re stuck at home with a very demanding human being to look after – often with no support, no experience and a severe lack of sleep. Your brain gets numb following the same routine of feed, burp, nappy-change, sleep. You are not yourself anymore – you just become so-and-so’s mum.
It is tough in the beginning, but once you find your feet again, make sure to take some ‘me-time’ every once in a while. You need a break from mothering, and in fact, you’ll be a better mother once you’re re-charged and energised!
This post was first featured on Hello Mums
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