Parenthood - you're kidding me?

September 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Top things we didn't know about being a parent.




There is no such thing as a perfect parent
so just be a real one. 
Sue Atkins



When we are young and independent we tend to look at parenthood from a tidy, harmonious TV and movie perspective. Let’s face it, even when fictional families face those daily life issues, we only see the tip of the iceberg and in the space of minutes things fall into place effortlessly, with humour and of course, a lesson to be learned – all wrapped up with a bow.  It’s not until we start to witness the evolution of our own offspring as they begin to think, act and communicate for themselves, that the truth comes out! These walking, talking (or babbling), breathing beings grow and grow and with time become increasingly complex, presenting challenges that we never knew existed.  As a mother of four, both boys and girls, close in age from 3 to 9, I’ve come to realise there is so much more to this parent thing than I would ever have imagined. From the Brady Bunch to Full House to 7th Heaven, this marketing phenomena continues to fool us from generation to generation. As we enter those early adult years, our eyes filled with stars, hope and expectation, many of us have travelled the world, conquered those career  highs, partied until we dropped. We start to think it might be a nice time to settle down and get a taste of home and family life… yep, ‘lets have a baby’. ‘We’ve done all the hard stuff, it’s time to relax and enjoy the easy phase of our lives, being parents’. We soon realise that although it’s no piece of cake, there is so much more to being a parent and we wouldn’t change a thing.

Life as we know it

We said life would stay the same. We wouldn’t be burdened by routine and home. ‘Children need to learn to do as we do’. ‘Surely we can go to the movies, travel and go out to dinner at a moment’s notice’. ‘Our kids won’t be like those others. Some parents just don’t know how to keep kids still and quiet’.

We now know children are all different. Some need routine, some like noise and chaos, some need a lot of attention and others are independent. But all children know how to do and get what they want, when they want it and if they don’t have it their way, then whether they are 3 months, 3 years or 13 years, they’ll let us know about it! Life as we know it is no longer ours… it’s about them, and the sooner we work that out, the saner we will be. Our job is to teach them manners, compromise and patience they will test us and keep us on our toes the whole way. 

We can train a puppy, we can train a baby

We said we wouldn’t need advice. We wouldn’t be consulting those experts on parenting mumbo jumbo. We wouldn’t need any help. If we can train a puppy, we can surely ‘train’ a baby… AND show others how it’s done!

We now know from feeding, to sleep, to teething, eating vegetables, sharing, walking and talking to TOILET TRAINING. Nothing is easy! There is no easy way. It’s our job to get our mini-me’s from A to B and as nature designed it, we have to work hard for it! But as we now know, each of these milestones are part of the enjoyment of being parents, of watching our little ones succeed, and they are something to be celebrated, together, every time.

It’s not just the LEGO

We said we wouldn’t spoil our children with every toy under the sun. We would teach them to enjoy the simple things in life. Who needs those material items anyway? ‘We will read to them, teach them to run and play outside, play with sticks and stones and water and sand, sing themselves to sleep’. We were going to have tidy houses, not like those other family homes with toys everywhere and the Wiggles on repeat.

We now know we need all the help we can get! These little creatures need stimulation 24 hours a day! They need to be entertained and amused and challenged and … well… they have GRANDPARENTS, AUNTIES, UNCLES who will come with presents. Who were we kidding? It was usually our idea to spend a Sunday afternoon traipsing down the aisles of Toys R Us, looking for all those little extras and things ‘we never had when we were young but always wanted’. LEGO? Yes, we did chuckle when we heard those parent stories about toys everywhere and the pain of stepping on those little coloured bricks. Well there’s more to it.  We now know, the single most important piece of clothing when doing the vacuuming and housework is… THE POCKET! Yes, those Legos and other small items you don’t recall ever having bought are always on the floor just where you need to vacuum. Pockets are a life saver as we can quickly scoop up the 100 little clips, trash packs, marbles, crayons for re-distribution once the job is done!

Did I just say that?

We said we would do things differently to our parents. We wouldn’t make the same mistakes. We would always make the right choices.

We now know they were just as much in the dark as us or any other parents! This parent thing is a gamble. We play our cards one way and the result is always different. Kids these days can outsmart us. Yes, our parents made mistakes but now with all of life’s challenges, we find ourselves in muddy waters, trying and failing and trying again. We are even starting to sound like our parents! When we find ourselves trapped in a corner with nowhere to go and no idea what to say, the oddest but yet, most familiar words come out of our mouths…‘If you don’t like it then find another house to live in’, ‘when you grow up and go to work then you can buy any food you like and guess what, you can cook it too!’ (while thinking to ourselves, ‘and you too will have children who refuse to eat your gourmet delights in preference to nuggets or the dreaded McDonalds!’)

The competition stops here!

We said we would never get wrapped up in what others are doing. We could do things our own way and who cares about the rest. We wouldn’t be bothered with sewing up the best dress up costume, riding in the most aerodynamic stroller… Competition is for fools. Individuality is the key.

We now know as soon as our little munchkins first started to smile, roll over, play with their toes, say their first words, ours had to be up there with the best. After all, we work hard to teach them all that they know, to make sure they aren’t disadvantaged, to keep them ahead of the pack, to have friends, to be leaders, yadda yadda. The moment we step into that first ‘mothers’ group’ gathering, we know, our baby is something to be proud of, to show off to the world. We have entered the ‘competition zone’ and that is where all our insecurities, failures and self-doubt as parents begins! Just a few years later we find ourselves at pre-school and school events where we beam with pride but can’t help look at that ‘sparkly Sally’ who does all the twirls and splits and jumps and never misses the hoop, can sing like a canary and recites her speech like Abraham Lincoln! So competition is a fact of life. We now know our job is to keep our kids humble, while encouraging them to do their best and respect others – and if they do something great, make sure they know about it.

Breathe in and enjoy the ride

We now know parenthood isn’t as easy as we thought and we know as parents that our job will never end. We’ll always worry about them, feel their anxieties and share their pain. But we also know it’s the best job in the world. They are our little part in the world, the best part of us. They give us life and love and we do the same for them. They are their own people who need our guidance and support. They love us unconditionally and we love them more than we love ourselves. We do the best we can and one day they will also know that parenthood, from generation to generation, remains the same… as nature intended.


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