Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well I never


Motherhood is an ever evolving state ranging from overwhelming joy to chaos and calamity, but at least you can learn from your mistakes
Before I had children I thought I’d be a pretty good mother.
I was nervous, of course, but I thought that I had a really good idea of how to raise children, so I assumed that I could easily face all the challenges that came with motherhood.
I am also a sucker for a good “how to” book, so I am always reading about pregnancy, birth and raising children (which, one would think, would give me great credentials for child rearing).
This state of blissful naivety was monumentally shattered when I had kids, and suddenly lost all of my patience (I also lost a lot of sleep and “me-time”).
Being so cocky, and somewhat self-absorbed, I look back at my life BC (before children) and it’s almost like I’m looking back at a totally different person.
But I wouldn’t change a thing because as Christmas of 2010 arrives, I look at my two daughters with so much pride and love that I’m amazed they’ve survived me (let alone me surviving them).
Not sure what I mean? Well, here’s my list of things I thought or said aloud before I became a mother:
I will never give my baby formula.
I will never let my baby cry it out.
I will never give my baby a dummy.
I will never shut myself in a room so I can finish a phone conversation.
I will never let my kids have soft drink.
I will never leave the house in my pyjamas, with unwashed hair, without wearing a bra or with snot or baby vomit on my shoulder.
I will never swear in front of my children.
I will never use the TV as a babysitter.
I will never change a nappy in a public place.
I will never roll my eyes at my children.
I will never use my own clothes as a tissue.
I will never use my own saliva as a cleaning agent.
I will never feel the urge to scream.
I will never use my children to fetch things for me.
I will never feed them junk food.
I will never judge another parent.
I will never extend nap time just so I can finish an email.
I will never forget to buckle them into their car seat.
I will never let my kids go without a bath each day.
I will never feel guilty for going back to work.
I will never choose to have an elective caesarean.
I will never smack my children.
I will never force my children to wear something they don’t want to wear.
I will never bribe them with lollies.
I will never let my kids sleep in my bed.
I will never buy a toy that isn’t educational.
I will never get excited about poo, or getting a child to sit on the toilet.
Never say never, has a whole new meaning now, because I very sheepishly admit that I have done all of the above.
It’s not that I have dropped all of my standards, it’s just that some days are better than others and the only way to get through them is to bend a few rules.
If you don’t have children, but you’re reading this column, let me fill you in one a little fact of life: there is no perfect handbook for parenting because each child is unique, and every situation can be different from the next.
Parenting is the ultimate “learn-on-job” experience and quite often it passes by in a blur from one day to the next, so it’s not worth worrying about the little trivial things.
I am quite sure that one day I will look back at the chaos and miss it.
And despite my embarrassing list above, my kids are happy, healthy and not the least bit “damaged” by bad parenting choices.
So to all my readers, if you find yourself sometimes doubting your parenting abilities, take it from me, no one is perfect, and there is always tomorrow.
Believe in yourself, and remember that if you’re worrying about being a good mother, you probably already a good one.
Have a wonderful Christmas and very happy and healthy new year.

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