Before having children I knew exactly how many children I wanted, what age I was going to have them at and the age gap between them.
I knew how I would discipline them so they were perfectly polite, with no tantrums, they’d eat organically, never have sweets and everyday would be filled with educational sensory fun and strictly no TV.
As well as having perfect children, I’d be the perfect parent, I’d never lose my temper, always look presentable, the house would always be sparkling and I’d definitely never swear!
Pregnancy would be a doddle, I’d conceive the first time of trying, there’d be no stretch marks, my hormonal outbursts would be cute and I couldn’t wait for my “pregnancy glow”.
As you can see it was going to be pretty much perfect, I had it sussed even before the word GO.
There was just one problem, a snag that stood in my way, I bet you’re thinking what could possibly bring my perfect parenting plan crashing down?
Becoming a parent, that’s what!
There’s nothing that can quite show you how little you know, not just about parenting, but about who you will view the world than becoming a parent!
Not only does the textbook baby never show up, but neither does the textbook parent. Not only has this tiny person changed your day to day routine but they’ve changed the way you see the world.
Suddenly everything and everyone is much more frightening, suddenly you’re not the centre of your world anymore, you thought you knew how much you could love someone, think again.
I speak to so many parents who are devastated and guilty they didn’t live up to your own expectations, but let’s be honest those expectations were always unrealistic. There’s nothing wrong with that, the truth is no-one knows what to expect and if they do (like me) then they are wrong.
The guilt will continue (sorry to tell you) for the rest of your life.
Some of the expectations we put on ourselves and some are inflicted by others, fellow parents, the news, Facebook (that ones the worst), but the truth is if you’re keeping your child alive and if you love them and care for them, then you’re doing a good job, there are variations to how we parent but that doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong, it just means we’re different.
So now as I sit here using my newborn as a plate for my sandwich while she sleeps, one of my boys is eating crumbs that he purposely crushed into the carpet this morning and my eldest is laughing insanely at a dinosaur app on my husband’s phone all at 9pm when they “should” be in bed. I think back to the time when I thought I knew everything about parenting and smile at how I thought that my expectations were what would make it perfect but now I realise the imperfect child and the imperfect parent are what really make it perfect and I wouldn’t change one snotty, tearful or stressful moment for the world.