Lessons in Motherhood…

Last Mother’s Day I wrote a post about all the mums in my life and basically how I couldn’t manage without them and how generally amazing they are! Well nothing has changed in a year and I still couldn’t function without them and their fabulousness, but instead of writing the same post again, I thought I’d reflect on what being a Mum means to me and the lessons it has taught me…

Children (ours anyway!) are bonkers! And annoying! And wonderful! And hilarious! And loving! And surprising! And unpredictable! And infuriating! And contrary! And usually all these things and many more over the course of any one ten minute period!

Parenting is tough… If you wrote a job description for being a mum, who the hell would apply?? No breaks, an audience if you attempt to go to the toilet, repeatedly arguing and negotiating with mini, more stubborn versions of yourself, constantly trying to stop small people severing limbs or throwing themselves off stuff… and all of the above on no sleep with weetabix smeared through your hair and snot trailed on your jeans; and yet if you asked the vast majority of us, we wouldn’t change it for the world! Watching these 3 little crazy minibeasts grow into little people is mesmerising! I watch and imagine what they will be like as adults; I see George and Ted at the bar of our local, sharing a pint and mercilessly ribbing each other in the way that only brothers can (Esme is there too but she just got off her motorbike wearing leathers and is chatting up her brothers mates!) I am constantly surprised by them and proud of them and entertained by them! They drive me to the absolute brink of completely losing my mind before giving me those huge saucer eyes making me remember that I’d do anything at all for them a million times over! They are my world… but it’s hard!

There is pretty much nothing in this world that it’s not possible to do one handed while holding a child with the other!

Putting your efforts into being a good mum can lead to feeling like you’re not being a very good wife or friend or family member or colleague!! Finding space in your existing life and relationships for babies and children is hard; they drain your time and physical energy (that sounds like I’m being selfish but I don’t mean it like that- it’s not as if they can help it! They don’t come straight out the womb able to whip up their own tagliatelle carbonara or nip to the shop to pick up their own nappies) You have to find time in your already busy life to fit these things in but you also have to take reserves out of your emotional and mental stores too! There are many times when I get to the end of the day and am that drained from the emotional barrage and relentlessness of life with 3 kids that I can’t actually function on any kind of communicative level with other important people in my life!

There is nothing in life that cannot be adequately cleaned to perfection with just a baby wipe!

It is possible to function in life with very little sleep, but it does not bring out the best in me! I didn’t function at all when I’d just had George- I’ve become acclimatised to it over the years but I still hit a wall after a few bad nights in a row! I’m grumpy and mardy and lose perspective… a duller and less patient version of myself! I’m there right now and it’s hard!

You will find more and more creative ways to answer the question ‘why?’

I am resourceful… I can find a solution to most scenarios and if that solution evades me, I can create a suitable distraction to draw attention away from the initial problem. I can whip up a game from nowhere in a doctors waiting room and find a solution to most rows (which usually at least stops the screaming if it doesn’t create total appeasement) and make ‘stuff’ out of leftover waste on a rainy day!

Your house will never be tidy again! Ditto for your car!

Accidents happen! You will beat yourself up about it but it won’t stop them running full pelt into a sofa, trapping their fingers or scraping their knee! You cannot wrap them up in bubble wrap or remove every single risk in the world, nor should you. Our kids are bonkers and do everything at a million miles an hour; they are bound to bump into stuff regularly by a simple law of averages.

It is not possible to complete a conversation when in the presence of small children! It’s the verbal equivalent of reading the same line in your book over and over again!

I am strong… physically (I don’t mean to brag but the whole child birth business…. nailed it!!) but also mentally. Last week I found myself sobbing to a random receptionist at an appointment and then meeting friends for lunch afterwards and not being able to stop the eye leakage! Life is full on, life with young kids and everything else on no sleep is fuller on-er! Having supportive friends and family who it’s possible to admit these bad days to and have a meltdown in front of (and who also admit to crying randomly in Holland and Barrett last week to make you feel better!) is really important. Those little people might be the reason that you are sometimes crying over your ham toastie (through a mixture of behaviour or worry or stress), but they are also the reason to dust yourself off and do it all over again the next day.

Having children and a hangover are not compatible- I’ve come to realise it’s just not worth it!

Balancing it all is my ultimate nemesis…

I am patient. Admittedly only to a point but I have a very high threshold for whinging whining and generally irritating behaviour!

You will have principles that you will break. If they are important enough to you, you will find the time or energy to stick to them (it doesn’t matter how bad a day we’ve had or how late it is- bedtime equals story time for example) but others will fall by the wayside; and that’s ok! I have never sworn at my children (parenting principle upheld; if it’s under your breath when they still haven’t put their shoes on even though you’ve asked them a million times, that doesn’t count right?!?) but I long ago gave up my dreams of them eating organic homemade hummus with cucumber crudités and instead embrace a good old Freddo Frog as our snack of choice!

I wish I’d bought shares in Pampers, calpol and washing powder companies!

You need to be kind to yourself; this is a working progress for me! My friend recently gave me some really good advise- imagine the mum you dreamt you’d be and the mum you think you are and then aim for a middle version that brings those two images more into alignment! Sometimes having everyone fed, alive and in one piece is a massive achievement!

Being a parent is an emotional roller coaster from guilt to joy to exhaustion to hilarity to worry to jubilation to frustration to pride to stress to elation and back again.

The African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ is the truest thing I’ve heard… From vital grandparents who offer love and fun and support; kick ass aunts and uncles and godparents who swoop in with the fun stuff and offer the next layer of nurture and fill them full of sugar (or buy them drum kits- thanks Bec Bec!); my amazing team of friends and neighbours who I can rely on to do a school pick up if I’m swamped or to make me a brew when it’s all too much or to have the kids round to play so I can pack for a holiday; teachers who take on the care of your child each day and fill them full of knowledge and curiosity and skills; nursery staff who step into your role and give out cuddles and read stories and bang on drums and shake rain makers! Raising a child is a team effort, and that’s because every single one of them is an unbelievably awesome little miracle!!

Our children are the best of us and the worst of us. They are my sunshine on a rainy day and continue to teach me new things all the time. This mummy lark is tricky; but I wouldn’t change it for all the Pinot Grigio in Italy!

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