It’s day 3 of Podmas and today’s prompt was: I’ve learned xyz about myself this year
You can read day 1 here: The best advice I’ve ever been given
And day 2 here: Being honest online
Today’s prompt was another difficult one and I really had to sit down and think about it. What have I learned about myself this year?
The only thing that really stood out to me as something I’ve realised about myself this year is how much I love being a mum. I’ve always loved my kids more than I even knew was possible, but it’s only this year I’ve really LOVED being a mum.
I’ve always wanted children, but a lot of my wanting children was simply because that was the normal thing to do. It hadn’t really even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t have children.
Growing up I always imagined my life would follow a lose formula that looked like this:
- Go to school
- Go to college
- Go to uni
- Go travelling
- Get a job
- Meet a boy
- Get a better job
- Buy a house
- Get married
- Get a dog
- Have a baby
- Have another baby
- (I’m not entirely sure what happens next. I think I’m meant to get a better job and a bigger house fairly soon!)
Laying it out like this sounds impossibly boring, but life has actually panned out like this and it’s been incredible. It hasn’t quite happened in this order and we still haven’t got around to the ‘get married’ part but this is pretty much how the big milestones in my life have gone.
I didn’t ever stop and think, ‘Do I really want to go to uni? Do I really want to get a job? Do I really want to settle down? Do I really want to buy a house? Do I really want to have a baby?’ These things all just sort of happened.
I suppose I must have wanted these things as I wouldn’t have let them happen, but what I’m trying to say is that I wasn’t sat on the edge of my seat for years dreaming about having children.
Sam and I were incredibly lucky with the fact that we conceived both of our boys easily. Neither of them were exactly planned. That’s definitely not to say they weren’t wanted, they just came a little faster and a little easier than we expected. We were so lucky, but it did mean we didn’t have that time many couples have where they’re ‘thinking about trying for a baby’ and spending a couple of months dreaming about what it’ll be like and getting excited about the prospect of a baby.
We considered having a baby in a fleeting moment and the following month I was pregnant. In three weeks we went from, ‘That’s a nice idea…’ to, ‘Holy shit, we’re having a baby, we need to sort our lives out…’
We had two little boys in 18 months and it was wonderful but every parent knows that the first two years aren’t all sunshine and snuggles and it’s HARD FREAKING WORK!
I used to dread the days I had the boys all day on my own. Sam would leave for work at 7.30am and I’d literally count down the hours until 5pm when he got home. It was 10.5 hours with two children under two. How would I possibly fill the time!?
But fill them I did with a whirlwind of chaos and nappy changes and trips to the park and cups of luke-warm coffee at baby and toddler groups where all the mums pretended to be having a nice time.
In October, Joseph turned two and something miraculous happened. It stopped being such hard work and it started becoming a lot of fun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard, but the fun now outweighs the difficulties!
I now get excited about having a full day on my own with the boys. We make dens in the living room, we bake cookies, we go for long walks in the woods where we hunt for the Gruffalo and play Poo Sticks on the bridge over the river. We go to the zoo and to soft play. We take it in turns riding on the zip wire in the local park. In the summer, we go for long walks to pick wild flowers and take photos in the sunshine. In the winter, we’ll take a flask of hot chocolate to the forest and spend an hour looking for the perfect picnic spot then we’ll go home and light the fire and watch Disney films.
OK, I’ve just read that back and I’ve realised I’ve idealised parenthood in 125 words! It isn’t always that perfect but it’s definitely much easier and much more fun than it was 12 months ago.
My tip to enjoying parenting
As soon as I realised there was no point trying to do everything, I really began enjoying parenting. I soon realised there was no point trying to work with a baby around and no point trying to cook a complicated meal with a 2 year old ‘helping’.
These things are possible and I see parents working and shopping and doing all their everyday chores with their kids, but jeeze, it’s HARD! As soon as I accepted that these things were hard and, mostly importantly, that it’s OK to accept that they’re hard, I stopped bothering.
I’m not going to stress myself out about making sure my house is spotless or every email is replied to within an hour!
I could spend the day trying to reply to work emails and attempting to write a blog post and cleaning the house and making a nice dinner and doing the washing whilst also trying to keep two little boys busy without just plonking them in front of the TV.
Or I could take the boys out for the day and have fun!
So that’s what I do. I take them out for the day and we have a great time. I don’t have my emails on my phone so I don’t get distracted by work messages and I can just focus on the boys for the day.
Then we come home and, yes, the house is a mess and there’s a mountain of laundry and my inbox is chocker but that’s OK. At 6pm, Sam will take over and he’ll do the laundry and tidy the house and bath the boys while I make dinner and tackle my inbox.
It works for us and life is a lot less stressful.
That’s what I learned about myself in 2018. I wonder what 2019 might bring….