Before I had children, I told myself that when I become a parent I wouldn’t change. Hell to the no. Ok so things might be different, but would it change me as a person? Pah! Of course it wouldn’t! Except being a parent has changed me. It’s changed me in lots of ways. Some ways probably better than others.
Boring and oh so cliche I realise, but true. Do you remember when you were a kid and you’d go to a sleepover at a friends house? You’d stay up all night playing Dream Phone and discussing which colour Kappa tracksuit bottoms you were going to get next. You’d finally fall asleep about 4am and then be up again at 7. Remember the feeling where you’d be so tired but your parents were adamant that you were not allowed to go to bed as you ‘wouldn’t sleep at night’ (I mean obviously I totally get this now but at the time jeez was it a shitter) .
Anyway that’s the feeling that I’m taken back to now that I’m a parent. Except it’s not just one night. It’s Every. Single. Night. Sometimes the tiredness is so bad I actually feel sick (anyone else get that tired hot face thing or is it just me?) Being a parent makes me want to go back and give pre child me who thought she was tired when she went to bed at midnight and had to get up for work at 7, a little talking to. Not that she’d listen, she was too busy socialising and spending her money on herself (oh the days). Back to the point though; yep I’m tired, always.
Sometimes, just sometimes I feel like my life might be classed as a teeny tiny bit predictable. I mean it might just be me, but when I’m putting the baby into her bed at 6.42, 12 minutes after her 6.30 feed for the billianth day in a row… Yeah it sort of feels a little bit samey (yes I know, one day I could really mix it up and pop her in bed at 6.57 or something). But for any non parents reading this, for a lot of kids, (my kids) routine is important. Most people who have been anywhere near me and my baby past 6pm at night (this is bath time foolish parents, what the hell do you think you’re playing at?!) would definitely vouch for this.
3. A rubbish friend
Talking of being predictable… You know who you are. The friends I have let down time after time because the baby has yet another cold and only mummas milk will do. I promise one day, one day I will become that funtime friend again that you used to know. (Except maybe this time sans the cowboy boots and disc belt…)
For everything. Always. Trying to get three kids out the door on time for anything is like an army mission. One that I am currently failing at dismally.
Weeks go by and I’m so busy and/ or tired that I don’t look in the mirror. Not properly anyway. Maybe enough to quickly whack on some mascara and liquid eyeliner and then walk off before its dried (and before I notice that oh-so-annoying black mark on my eyelid that nobody tells you about all day- come on guys I’d prefer to just know ok?) But when, maybe at the weekend, I take time to properly look I am usually horrified by the haggered face that looks back it me. Eye bags bigger that Tesco bags for life (do they even call them that anymore? Because they were never really for life were they, lets be honest- I’d say six months max). Add to that grey hairs that I swear I’m too young to be seeing and skin that is totally neglected because I’m just too tired at night to take my make up off properly (ok, ok at all).
Being a parent is simply not the solution if you want to preserve your youth.
Guilty for being at work and missing annoyingly timed school events. Guilty for attending annoyingly timed school events and missing work. Guilty for being too tired to play Hungry Hippos for the 3024th time. Guilty for wishing the baby would hurry up and reach the next milestone to make life a little easier. I mean let’s face it, pre kids, the only time I really felt guilty about anything was when I had bought a family sized bag of Minstrels and scoffed them all by the time Eastenders had finished, (although as we all know; family sized isn’t really family sized is it…) parenthood has that annoying way of making you feel guilty constantly.
7. Get it
I vividly remember being a student and sitting on a bus behind two women talking about their babies and how one of them hadn’t pooed for 3 days and all the tricks she had been trying.
What the actual f**k? My pre-child self thought, (no doubt turning up the volume of Mika on her minidisc player) when I’m a parent there is no way I’m going to talk about things like that in public!
Except I have. Regularly. Because once you’re a parent it’s like you enter into a special little club of understanding.
For example, you’re having one of those days; the baby hasn’t pooed for 3 days (yeah, lets use that one again) and is screaming in pain and your toddler is having a full on, throwing herself on the floor meltdown in the middle of M&S. A mum with her children walks past and gives you a knowing look. She gets it. The young business man however whose suit your child has just squirted her Percy Pig drink all over (should have gone with your gut, you knew she couldn’t be trusted with that straw) is not so understanding, offering either a glare, or if you’re having a particularly bad day, maybe even a rant.
Being a parent means you just get it. You get what it’s like to be a parent.
8. Less selfish
Whilst nobody really wants to admit to being selfish, on some levels I think a lot of us can be. Maybe not to the extreme, but that’s what we do isn’t it, we look after ourselves. We focus on our own desires and needs. We tend to put those first because nobody else is going to.
Being a parent changes things. It means putting the needs of those little people that you created, before your own. It means missing nights out because the baby is poorly. It means sitting for hours on end in soft play hell when you have a pounding headache. It means wearing clothes you’ve had since the dawn of time because you spent £38000 on childrens clothes in the Next VIP Sale (you did get the 5pm slot after all, so it would be rude not to use it) and have no money left to spend on yourself.
9. Appreciate the little things
I realise this sounds a bit wanky but yep, since having kids I really have started actually noticing stuff. Take the seasons for example. Pre kids, Autumn just meant wet weather and gunky leaves getting stuck to the bottom of my (no doubt expensive – this is pre kids remember) boots. Now it means collecting conkers, throwing leaves in the air and splashing in puddles. Spring, whilst great for most, just used to mean swollen up frog eyes and tissues stuck up my nose as I faced my yearly battle with hayfever. Whilst the hayfever thing still has me coughing and spluttering each year, now Spring means getting excited about seeing daffidils (and correcting the 4 year old when she refers to them as scaffolding – we got our extension last Spring and it seems there’s a bit of word confusion going on) rolling down hills, and picking flowers (no, not yours Pauline next door, that wasn’t us… promise…)
10. Embrace my inner child
From dancing around in the kitchen to the hard core beatz of The Disney Princess Soundtrack Collection, to having a who-can-swing-the-highest competition (I swear those swing seats are not as wide as they used to be) at the local park, having kids has made me realise that sometimes, it’s great to just be silly.
Of course I’ve had some shitty, slide down the wall and why don’t we have any wine in the cupboard kind of days and obviously we are not #lovinglife every day. But since having my girls, I have been happiest I have ever been. For every strop, there’s laughter. For every poosplosion from the baby, there’s the joy of watching her learn new things and master new skills. For every M&S meltdown, (although to be honest these are minimal as I’m more of Tescos gal – three kids here remember) there are fun family days out. Whilst the shitty days are admittedly pretty rubbish, all the hard work is worth it for the happiness that being a parent brings.
12. Feel a love like no other
I’m going to end on this one. And in all honesty, it doesn’t need explaining. Quite simply, being a parent has made me feel a love that I didn’t know existed. Even on the very bad days when I’m scraping baby poo out of my hair whilst the 5 year old tells me she hates her life because I won’t buy her a Pikmepop (someone was clearly feeling lazy and/or too hungover when it came to naming these things). Even when things are feeling pretty bloody hard. I love these three little humans more than life itself.
What has being a parent made you?