Before I became a parent, I used to imagine what it would be like to have children. Oh the fun we would have, family days out, baking together, picnics in the garden, and whilst this does happen occasionally it’s a lot less frequent than I imagined.
Instead I spend more time getting the kids ready to a chorus of whinging. Days out are spent with a toddler crying or a pre-teen complaining the whole time. It used to get me down, why wasn’t I a perfect parent? why didn’t I have well behaved children going for lovely family walks or days out?
Now though, I laugh. I laugh at the naivety of pre-child me. How I used to breeze out of the house whenever I felt like it, where now it takes at least an hour of wrestling clothes and shoes on as shouts of “hurry up!!” echo around the house. I used to get upset that well-planned days out would end up with me more stressed than if we had just stayed home. Now I parent differently. I expect it will all go wrong, plan for it, and then when it doesn’t, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.
I tried to be a spare of the moment mum the other week, and I will NEVER EVER do that again. Our littlest has been going through a “phase”. According to “Wonder Weeks“, it was an almighty phase too.
I felt like I was failing in every aspect of parenting. Stressed out, not engaging enough with the kids, on edge all the time, the crying and whinging was relentless. Fred usually behaves a bit better when we are out and about. So I decided last minute after dropping Ruby at school, that we would pop to the park to have some fun. A go on the swings and slide would surely cheer him up, or tire him out, then a nap would follow and I could sit with a cup of tea and the day would be perfect.
This is not how it ended up at all. In fact, Fred cried the whole time. Fred didn’t want to walk to the park. (It is approximately 20 steps away from the school so we aren’t talking miles of walking). He didn’t want to swing, he certainly didn’t want to go on the slide, and he didn’t want to have a go on the car rocker. He. Just. cried.
Then he didn’t want to leave the park but he didn’t want to stay either. He had walked through so much mud it looked like he was wearing platform shoes the Spice Girls would be envious of. Falling over his jeans and coat were covered in mud, and then as I picked him up to walk to the car, he proceeded to kick mud all over my clean jeans it wasn’t a lovely day. It was a disaster. I came home feeling defeated, took out my Nudge Cards and found the “Breathe” card, made myself a cup of tea, popped Fred down for a nap and focused on myself for 10 minutes.
I look back on the photographs of that day and I do laugh, I laugh at the thought of ever being a spare of the moment mum. Plans need to be formulated. Clean clothes are needed, at least two packets of baby wipes, and a bottle of wine for when I return.
I adore my kids, the both of them equally, but my word why does nobody tell you about the grey bits. The tantrums. The relentless crying. The complaining.
I don’t remember my oldest Ruby ever being quite so miserable, maybe I just forgot. An “on this day post” came up on Facebook the other day it reminded me that yes, Ruby was just as difficult at that age. My brain has just decided to push the awful memories of that period to one side. I just remember her being cute and funny and loving. Maybe its the bodies way of tricking you into having more kids. You forget how difficult they can be.
Anyway the phase that felt like a black hole of parenting has ended. My happy, funny, cheeky little boy is back. Maybe we all just need to be a little bit more honest about the reality of parenting. We should share some of the rubbish moments too.