20 July 2017

Parenting isn't as hard as I thought it would be

Growing up I gained quite a lot of 'experience' in looking after little ones, so I knew the basics of looking after babies, toddlers and children, thankfully helping me feel more prepared for becoming a Mother myself. Whenever we discussed having children with our friends or when we announced we were expecting, a lot of people would warn us about how hard parenting is, how your life changes forever and you'll forever be fighting against disobedient children and longing for your pre-baby days. For us, the opposite has been true - parenting isn't as hard as I thought it would be.

A post on why parenting isn't hard

I was 11 when my little brother (not so little now he's turned 18!) was born and I helped my mum a lot in looking after him. People used to say I was like a second mother to him, doing everything a mother would do, whilst my mum and stepdad worked long hours. Sometimes I resented the babysitting over being able to go out, but the bond I grew with him was something I had never had with anyone else before, a bond which helped me survive my teenage years and early adulthood.

I also used to be a 'live-in childminder' of sorts, staying with a family I used to be extremely close to, helping them with their little girl. It started out before she was 1, helping out in half-term at College in my early 20's, and the term breaks at University, as well as spending roughly 8 months between University years living with them. This lasted until she was well into toddlerhood, so I picked up quite a bit of 'experience' in looking after a little one from morning to bedtime.

When we told friends and family that we were planning to start trying for a baby, a lot of them recycled the same lines. "You'll miss your baby-free days when you're trying to control a toddler having a tantrum in Tesco!", "Having a baby is such hard work, it will make or break your relationship", "You'll always be skint once you have a baby!" and "You'll hate kids when you have your own" were the most common. They painted parenthood as all doom and gloom and me and M would often have chats about how hard our lives would be when we had our baby, but secretly, I wasn't worried at all. In fact, I was quietly confident that everything would be OK - and it has been.

Of course, some bits of Motherhood and parenting in general are extremely hard. Those first few weeks and months with a newborn, the inevitable sleep deprivation that comes along with having a baby and your life revolves around this tiny little person, rather than the self-indulgent pre-baby days where you only had to worry about yourself. Other than that? I'd say parenting really isn't that hard at all.

Willow is an exceptional sleeper, as I shared in my recent MOTHERHOOD feature - I'm not sorry our daughter sleeps well -, so I imagine that if I was struggling to get any sleep at all, I would more than likely find things harder on a day-to-day basis, but I don't believe tiredness is the reason why parenting is dressed up as the most difficult job in the world.

Willow is an exceptionally happy, joyful, welcoming and friendly little girl with a very inquisitive mind. She barely ever cries - only when she is teething or poorly, no, really. She is constantly smiling, laughing or talking away. We don't struggle when people come over, as Willow just wants visitors to sit and read her books, or when we go and see friends, where she is if I do say so myself, always exceptionally well-behaved. She's absolutely fine when we go out for meals, long days out or even abroad on our first family holiday. We haven't yet had to deal with any unexpected tantrums and we find she's super quick to pick up on appropriate behaviour, by following a very gentle baby-led parenting 'style'. She eats well, doesn't make a mess and is always happy to get her clothes on, have a bath, have her hair washed, she's just a very happy little toddler. So where is the hard life everyone warned me about?

Every baby, child and family are different; our family units are all beautifully unique and so are the lives we live. None of us will ever have the exact same experience. For some parents, for many different reasons, parenting is hard - and I don't want to take that away from anyone because we all have our own struggles in life. We're just personally not in a situation which makes parenting hard for us.

Instead of telling expectant parents that children will ruin their lives, we should be sharing all the best bits with them. The last thing you want to hear when you're heavily pregnant is how you'll regret ever starting a family - you want to hear positive stories and experiences, the happiest moments as well as being realistic about some of the harder bits.

We shouldn't be telling new parents that they will long for their pre-baby days when realistically, that's not how everyone feels. I don't resent becoming a Mother, even though I sometimes day dream about the gigs I used to go to (and will go to again, when she's old enough to have sleepovers), I certainly wouldn't swap my pre-baby days for the life I have now.

Maybe it will be harder when she's older if those dreaded tantrums do start or when we have another baby and have to manage two instead of one. Maybe her teenage years will be a disaster and we'll clash heads and maybe, just maybe, I'll wish I was still young enough to get away with spending my weekends going out, but right now? We're happy, we're settled and parenting really isn't that hard.

Have you read the previous features in my weekly MOTHERHOOD series?


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