Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Parenting - at times it REALLY sucks!

Parenting - at times it REALLY sucks!
16 April 2013

Parenting – it’s not all glam and glory.  Some parts seriously suck.

I love my kids.  I really, really, really do.  They are simply magnificent in very many ways.  I marvel at their perfection at times.  At how simply incredible they are.  How bright.  How cute.  How smart.  How amazingly unique.  At the miracle, that led to me playing a hand in their creation.  At the honour I have in leading them on the right path along life’s journey.  At the pleasure I get from being their Mom.  At the joy they give me.  At the bottomless well of love I have for them.  A well that seems to never run dry.

But, sometimes, I have my doubts about this parenting malarkey.  What I sometimes end up getting for my effort, is not what I had envisioned.  And at times I feel ill-equipped to deal with it all.

Hey, I didn’t sign up for this!  Where was this small print on the form?  I made a mistake.  I never read the “Terms and Conditions” bit at the very bottom, I swear.  That little *asterisk warning me to read all, was particularly small.  In fact, I fear I glossed right over it.

Parenting is hard work.  It really is.  And no matter how many pregnancy, birth and baby books you read whilst you’re still incubating them, nothing can fully prepare you for what is to follow.  I should know!  I read many of those books.  I have always loved children and have a natural affinity for them.  I enjoy kids of all ages.  They interest me, and luckily for me, kids seem to enjoy my company too.  Furthermore, given my very large family, I am surrounded by kids of all ages often.  I have always been comfortable around them.  And so, it was a natural progression for me to babysit as a teenager.  I had been in training for parenting my whole life.  And being the eldest child of three, I kind of did an apprenticeship with my Mom.  Learning lots from her along the way.  I am also observant about kids and about other parent’s parenting styles, and so, before I even had my very own kids, I had picked up many valuable pointers along the way.  Some awesome things that I wanted to implement when I was eventually a mom.  Traditions I wanted to start and so forth.

Still, nothing can quite prepare you for the reality of it all.  The baby bit was extremely time consuming.  They can do absolutely blow all for themselves.  And so for the first few weeks, life was a never ending cycle of feeding, burping, bathing, changing, and staring at them like a love struck idiot.  For hours on end!  And then there’s the sleeping bit.  Sleeping like a baby???  I don’t bloody think so.  In their opinion, sleeping is boring.  Playing with Mom or Dad is way more entertaining.

But somehow, the baby bit was actually the easy part.  Potty training, was not all that hard either.  Sleep training eventually not that difficult once I made a firm decision.  Going on to solids was okay.  Introducing new flavours and experiences exciting actually.  Going to Playschool, then Pre-school, then Primary school, then High school, swimming lessons, Mom and Baby Workshops, Playball, Karate, Piano lessons, Ballet, Tennis, Art lessons, Cricket, Hockey, Guitar lessons, Rugby, Modern Dancing, Gym Training, etc. wasn’t all that tough.  Homework, though not my favourite pastime, is do-able.  Teacher’s meetings, playdates, school meetings, school fundraising, supporting them at sport and all their endeavours not particularly hard.  Helping them learn how to read, how to tie their shoe laces and ride a bike, all fun.  Cuddles in bed, sticky kisses and hugs, enthusiasm, very, very, very long stories, their friends, little love letters, adoration, meals around the table, family car trips, nursing sick children, communicable diseases like Chickenpox also okay.  Doctor’s visits, dentist’s visits, orthopaedic visits, paediatrician’s visits, orthodontist’s visits, clinic immunisation visits, all part of the job.  Eye tests, hearing tests, speech therapy, occupational therapy – normal, run of the mill.  Signing of homework, letters to teachers, meeting other parents, sleepovers, birthday parties, concerts and plays, Eisteddfod’s and learning of poems – all in a day.  Bubblebath beards, dress-ups, fairy wings and superhero capes.  Playing dolls, shooting water pistols, watching animated movies, kid-friendly-meals.  Cooking of suppers, cleaning up afterwards, breakfasts and lunches and yummy school snacks too.  Pancakes in winter and ice-cream in summer.  Board games, puzzles, endless rounds of go-catch-a-fish, teaching times tables.  Lack of sleep, never wearing white and always feeling broke.  Covering books.  Many bodies in my bed – in fact playing musical beds some nights.  Dummies, bottles, bibs and nappies.  Cake sales, crafting, cutting their own hair.  Moments of academic brilliance, and academic disappointments too.  Sporting achievements, prize givings, certificates, even the odd medal.  Good choices, bad choices.  The Tooth Mouse, Tooth Fairy, Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny too.  Cartoons on the TV, and a Barney CD in the car.  Little clothes on the washing line, muddy feet through the house, hockey sticks, tennis rackets, guitars, crickets bats, swimming goggles, ballet shoes, hair gel for concerts, leotards, scrum caps, long sport socks, shin pads and gum guards, piano theory books, karate belts, school blazers, uniforms, polishing school shoes.  Khoki’s and crayons, pencils, paints and pens.  Chewing gum in hair, paint on brand new clothes.  Missing items often.  Balls lost and found.  School lunches not eaten, needing money for something at school nearly every day.  Homework forgotten, books left at school.  Buttons missing and school pants that are torn.  Brand new shoes scuffed, and missing one sock.  School dances and recitals.  Meetings too numerous to mention.  Car seats, prams, cots and high chairs.  Studying again!  Growing of beans for science experiments, orals, assignments, essays and projects too.  Mom’s taxi – seemingly all day long.  Disciplining.  Netball hoops and hula hoops, and blowing of bubbles outside.  Squeals of excitement and sibling bickering.  Put on shows and concerts at home.  Trampoline in the garden and a little swing too.  Training wheels on little bicycles, bigger bicycles, black scooters, pogo sticks, skipping ropes, swing bat in the garden, climbing of trees, picnics on the lawn, blanket forts.  Sand on the bed, black rings around the bath, knots in long hair.  Hand stands, cartwheels and bollemakiesies too.

Yet all of the above is actually quite manageable.  Exhausting at times, but it’s part of the parenting requirements.  It’s all physical responsibilities and merely requires a bit of planning, juggling and then knuckling down and doing it.  This is the easy bit.  And most of it is a lot of fun too.

The difficult bit?  That is not so much fun.  Feeling guilty a lot of the time.  And second guessing yourself.  Did I do this right?  Did I handle that correctly?  Should I rather have?  Was it wrong too?  I should have.  I must remember to…..  If only I had.  Why did I?  I wish I hadn’t…..   Worrying.  Worrying.  Worrying.  So many balls up in the air, all of the time.  Three very different individuals to consider all of the time.  To put their interests first.  To be fair, yet kind and loving too.  To teach right from wrong.  To follow through.  To be consistent.  To be compassionate and understanding.  To set a good example.  To teach through your actions.  To make the right decision, that best serves their interests, my pocket, our time and our family as a whole. 

And what makes it doubly hard, is that sometimes you don’t get back what you plough in.  Instead you get moaning.  And groaning.  Complaining.  Rolling eyeballs.  Being cheeked.  Rude.  Ungrateful.  Dissatisfied, even though you have nearly broken your back, to help them.  An air of entitlement.  Always wanting more.  Often feeling hard done by.  To name but a few.

But, still through it all, the good more than makes up for the bad.  Those moments of brilliance, when all just works so well.  When the planets seem magically aligned, and all is right with their world and mine.  Those moments, make all of the sucky bits simply melt right away.  And enthuses one once more to achieve that state of perfection.  Because you know it can be done.  Didn’t it happen, just the other day? 

Because even though parenting sucks, a lot of the time, I would do it all over again.  In a heartbeat.  In fact, I’d even have more kids.  Perhaps it’s not yet too late?

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