One of the reasons I started writing this blog, way way back in the mists of 2009, when Jamie was two…was because I found parenting really really fucking difficult.
Not only did I find it difficult, I found it the vast majority of the time to be a thankless and really quite unenjoyable task. And, before Anne and Joan and crew start on me, I know how hideously fortunate I am to have children. I get up every single morning and give a prayer of grateful thanks for just how lucky I am. But in some ways, I almost think that makes the early days of parenting when you are struggling harder. How dare you be unappreciative when so many others would love to have what you have. The unhappiness you feel as you struggle through what, even if you take to it like a duck to water, can be a pretty challenging time getting your head round being responsible for an entire other human being, is compounded by the hideous guilt for not enjoying it more that you berate yourself with.
I started this blog initially just to get down in words how I was feeling. If I could make myself laugh with the sheer ridiculousness of the situations I found myself in, then nothing ever seemed quite so bad, even when I’d had 45 minutes’ sleep in the last two days and had woken up with actual human excrement on my face (true story).
Now my children are ten and seven. The baby and toddler days are long behind us. Thank fuck. And, this is what I have concluded.
Not everyone enjoys everything about parenting. We can choose to rant and rave and berate those people as much as we want for not behaving how society tells us they should behave and cherishing every single second with their child…but every time we do, we stop other people who are also finding it tough saying “Yes! Me too. I’m so glad you said so. I feel so much better to know it’s not just me.” That doesn’t make those people bad parents. It doesn’t mean they don’t love their children. It just means that parenting doesn’t perhaps play to their natural strengths.
But secondly – and really importantly – if you are one of those parents? Your time will come. Because – and I WISH someone had said this to me back in 2009 – I have a theory that, when it comes to raising our children…we all find our time.
I know there are some people out there who absolutely love the newborn stage. They are devastated when their baby starts to grow and become less helpless, more independent. There are also some parents who thrive on toddlerhood. They adore every second spent with their fast developing two or three year old and could spend hours with them doing messy play or watching them desecrate their home.
Me? I found both of those stages an utter grind. (I even had a countdown chart in the early weeks of Jamie’s life, to count off each day we’d successfully made it through. A little bit like being in prison. Which is not the worst analogy for what it feels like being trapped in the house with a newborn.) Back then, if you had asked me, I would have told you that I utterly adored both of my children. But I did not like parenting really very much at all.
One day though, things changed. Suddenly, my children were older. They were more independent. They had personalities of their own. Not only that…they were funny! They made me laugh. They cuddled me when I was sad. We could talk about the world, about life, about their random and ridiculous questions on whether Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have sleepovers at each others’ houses. All of a sudden… being a parent was… fun. Enjoyable. And… having spent the last few years feeling like there must have been some kind of parenting exam that I’d failed, because I was clearly so shit at this… I suddenly felt like I’d got the hang of it. That this was my time.
So what I want to say out there, to anyone who has children, or is still to become a parent, is that if you haven’t yet found your time, then don’t despair. Maybe you’ve got a brand new baby and you’re loving life, or maybe you’re sleep deprived to fuck and wondering when this hell will end. Either way, if your baby is safe and warm and fed and alive, then you are a WONDERFUL parent. And if your time isn’t now, then it will come. Meanwhile, stop beating yourself up for not enjoying every second of parenting. Not only that, let’s stop beating each other up for having different experiences to us. Some of us love the baby stage, some of us the toddler stage, some of us once they go to school and develop more independence and personality of their own, and I daresay some of us even love the teenage years. (Which I really really don’t feel like are going to turn out to be my strength 😂)
Here’s me and my boy in my favourite place on earth at the Royal Albert Hall last night. We went with my dad, who was probably 90% responsible for me developing my love of music. I was a bloody nightmare as a baby (and toddler…and child…and teenager), and I have no doubt in my mind that there must have been times when my dad found parenting me extremely tough. But last night, we all went to indulge our shared passion of classical music, and as the lights went down, and the opening notes of Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra resounded around the auditorium… and I looked at my boy’s enthralled face… I realised that right now, as I look at the amazing individuals and personalities that my children have become… I bloody love parenting ❤