Before I had kids I knew it was going to be tough.
I remember telling my best friend I was pregnant as clear as it was yesterday. She has two kids so I was really excited to tell her but I was still in the very early stages.
We were at a party – a very drunken party where everyone else was so drunk they hadn’t noticed my sobriety but she’d spotted it – and I took her aside to tell her the good news.
She screamed then jumped up and down in the exact way we did about anything remotely exciting when we were 14 years old but then she burst into tears, hugged me and said, ‘This will be the best but hardest thing you do. But the BEST! But yea…the hardest.’
I snuck away from the party at around midnight feeling even happier about the little nugget growing inside me, but also feeling a little confused.
I just didn’t understand how something could be so amazing but so hard. Surely the hardness would take the shine off the amazingness?
Because, actually, all the little things that are tough aren’t really that bad. Toddler tantrums aren’t that difficult to deal with; You really just have to stand your ground, ignore everyone around you and be patient, because toddlers get bored pretty quickly.
Not sleeping through the night is tough but you soon learn to cope with it and eventually realise 9pm bedtimes are your best friend.
Changing dirty nappies is gross but hugging a nice, clean, fresh baby who smells like baby powder and wet wipes afterwards is worth it.
Spending all day at indoor soft play surrounded by screaming kids is like hell on earth, but hearing your kid’s giggles as they tumble down the slide for the 54th time is worth it. And soft play centres do sell good cakes and you can usually find a mum friend or an old copy of Look magazine to keep you busy.
When new born babies cry and cry and cry and you don’t know what’s wrong with them it is frustrating, but it doesn’t last long (honest!) and then they’re asleep again for a few hours.
So why is this parenting malarkey so hard?
Now, nearly four years on, I get it. I understand why it’s so hard.
The hardest thing about being a parent is that it’s incessant.
Parenting is constant. You don’t get a minute off until they fall asleep…which gets less and less as they get older!
Think about your job and how it’s manageable from 9-5 but it would be tough to do it from 6.30am until 6.30pm and probably for 10 minutes at 1am and 15 minutes at 4am too. There are lots of people who work 12 hour shifts but with young kids you don’t really even get a proper tea break.
Now I know ‘work’ probably isn’t the best example because that’s just a job (possibly a job you don’t really care about) and your kids are THE most important thing in your world so it’s a bit different, OK, very different, but if you don’t have kids it’s kind of the only comparison.
But then you get parents who say you shouldn’t go on holiday when you have kids because the kids won’t remember it.
WHAT!? Listen to yourselves! Who cares what the kids remember when you’ve spent the last two years changing nappies and teaching them to moo like a cow and baa like a sheep and scooping food off the floor every time they chuck it off the high chair and holding them all night when they’re sick and singing The Wheels on the Bus on repeat for four hours…with the actions. I honestly don’t care if they remember it, I need a holiday!
That is all.
This post obviously wasn’t written for the kind of people who are going to email me saying, ‘Well if that’s hard why did you have kids?’ or ‘If you find it hard, you’re doing something wrong’ or ‘You’re selfish taking your children on holiday’, or ‘No one wants to see children on planes’ or ‘I hate kids, I don’t want to have kids, stop blogging about kids’.
Please, save your energy and do not send me an email like this.
Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love having kids and how much fun I have with them. I’ve added a new tab to the navigation bar with ‘Videos’ if you fancy checking those out. There are even a few family videos where I’ve edited out the bad bits of parenting!