And it hit me just how much of a paradox parenting is. A huge journey of contradictory thoughts, feelings and events. And the more I though about it, the more it seemed to apply to so many aspects of child-raising……
Sleeping Through the Night
Kinda the ultimate parenting achievement in the early days. You spend every night deep in sleep, crying over the kettle at 5am when your baby decides to get up for the day, wondering when, or even if, your child will EVER sleep through the night.
Then the night they sleep through, you lie awake wondering if they’re breathing, go to check on them at 5am and wake them up by prodding them repeatedly until they confirm that, yes, they were doing what you’ve hoped for for months. They were sleeping through. They’re not now.
Milestones – mostly the physical and vocal ones – are ridiculously exciting – and you spend all your time praying for the time they crawl/walk/speak.
And then they start crawling and you catch them chewing the wires of Daddy’s new Playstation4 (Daddy doesn’t know and it wasn’t plugged in. I still shat myself).
They start walking and fall and bump their heads seven times a day.
They start speaking and choose to mimic you for the first time, not when you say “I love you darling, you’re my world”, but when you say “for fuck’s sake dog”.
And then you find yourself saying to your other half things like; “remember when he couldn’t move and we could just plonk him somewhere and he would stay there?”
I’ve never been a baby baby person. If someone comes into work with a baby, I’m happy to coo and admire but I have no super strong desire to cuddle him or her.
So I spent many months hoping my babies would be just a bit bigger, a bit easier, a bit less baby-like. I somehow thought as they grew, things would get easier – and in some ways they do. And in some ways, as my tantrumming toddler reminds me frequently, they do not.
And guess what? Now that they’re growing, I find myself looking back on pictures of them both as babies and marvelling at how tiny they were; how they snuggled in the crook of my arm; how they used to sleep all the way round the supermarket. They are becoming so independent and they don’t need me as much *sob*
I really do not enjoy the ‘milk stage’. Maybe this makes me a crappy, un-nurturing mother (that’s another post though!) but I find it draining. Actually, ironically, the only time I don’t find it draining is night feeds. I long for the days when my babies can just eat normal food.
And then you start weaning. And it takes ages for them to eat ‘normal food’ (i.e maybe a cheeky McDonalds Happy Meal or a pizza and chips at the pub). You have to spend ages introducing new foods, transitioning from tiny morsels of food to bigger bits, to the stage where they can actually eat a grape without you having to peel it and chop it into quarters (if there is a person out there with the patience required for this task, I take my hat off to you. I did it once. ONCE. It is half an hour of eating grape skin that I will never get back).
The problem with weaning is that there is a transition period where the baby is drinking milk AND eating food with a lot of help from you. Talk about blooming hard work.
My eldest starts school next September. Paradoxically, I am both looking forward to it and dreading it for the same reasons that I enjoy and dread sending him to nursery. I look forward to it because it is lovely to have time with the youngest and to sit for a whole hour whilst said youngest has a nap, with not much to do except drink tea and watch Homes Under the Hammer.
But when he’s there. Gosh I miss him. So much so that I often get there to pick him up whilst they’re still having tea. I love the peace and quiet in the house for about an hour when he’s at nursery. But I can’t wait for him to come back and sing the Cars soundtrack and shout imaginary scenarios at his Thomas the Tank Engine trains.
Basically I am never bloody happy.
And also, retrospection is a wonderful thing. In fact, it’s thanks to ‘selective retrospection’ as I like to call it (i.e remembering all the good stuff above and forgetting the crap stuff), that we chose to have another baby. And I don’t think we’re alone there.
Well done Mother Nature. Well done love.