I have been at this parenting gig for a few years now. Actually, eleven of them. Last night as I lay, completely wide awake at 2am, listening to that fucking intense wind outside I was cursing my caveman brain. And not caveman in the paleo diet sense, but that I couldn’t sleep because my brain was on high alert in case we had to flee to a safer cave or something. Except it’s 2016, and I live in a brick house. While I was awake I had some time to think about all the other weird and wonderful ways that I am different now, and that new stuff still seems to crop up even 11 years in.
We all know about the sub-optimal changes to our pelvic floor, and that peeing alone is a dream you don’t aspire to until your kids are going through puberty themselves, but there are so many more.
I am so much more terrified of indulging in risky behaviour now. You may think this would mean train surfing or heroin, but no. More like big waterslides and driving in the rain. Caveman brain at fault once again. I might die and children will surely starve to death back in our cave while man is out hunting or some such thing. I discovered the new terror of heights thing at a waterpark with Tannah. While at the top of the enormous flight of stairs. Less than ideal.
I am endlessly delighted with just how much I truly like my kids. Sure, I love them-that goes without saying. But I really like them as people, and enjoy spending time with them too.
I didn’t realise that getting laid by the man I share a bed with would be so difficult. It is so much more than playing “are we both keen on the same night” roulette. We have to factor in if the kids are asleep, if they are asleep in their own bedrooms, if I am sleeping in my own bed, how exhausted one or both of us may be, and whether it is Game of Thrones night and we are up past Luke’s bedtime.
I was unaware that a child liking a food may not be a thing you can count on for any period of time.
I didn’t know how sad I would be when my kids stopped doing the things I was supposed to be excited about them growing out of, like breastfeeding and co-sleeping. I also was surprised at how exhausting some of their more grown up stuff would be, like Minecraft obsessions and clothes shopping.
I had no idea that complete strangers/the media would make incredibly negative comments/opinion pieces about our parenting style etc. Or that I would get t a place where I ceased to give a single fuck about what they said.
Do you know what the biggest change has been? It has been to me, as a person. Having kids (maybe even having quirky/tricky ones especially), has made me so much less interested in bullshit. Both my own, and other people’s. I was probably “girl least likely” to settle down. I threw myself into a lot of self-destructive crap, listened to so much of my own self-doubt, and bought into other’s opinions of me and how I “should” be instead. My girls have made me see that “I can” and that I really am worth something pretty magnificent. Advocating and doing what is best for my kids, even if it means making the different choice, has helped me to trust my gut and indeed myself.
Maybe that’s something they should put in the “what to expect’ books.
Tell me, what have you learned that wasn’t in the parenting books?