As Mother’s Day is upon us, here are some very basic rules of motherhood I’ve picked up over the past six years:
You can survive on a lot less sleep than you think – lack of sleep was the one thing I was terrified about before I had children. My first born was a dream when it came to bedtime; my second was a nightmare and didn’t sleep through the night until he was two years old. He napped but that old advice about sleeping when your baby sleeps just doesn’t work when you have a pile of washing to do, meals to prepare and another child to pick up from school. These two years passed in a bit of a blur and I was never totally engaged or present in any situation but I got through it. Nature is a marvellous thing and you can adapt to not sleeping – obviously it’s much more pleasant to get a full eight hours but life without uninterrupted sleep is not the end of the world.
Your kids think you know what you’re doing – I may be 41 with two children and a responsible job but I don’t feel like an adult. Every day is spent winging it and hoping that nobody catches me out. I can’t plait my daughter’s hair, multiple without a calculator, iron a shirt or bake a cake. Somehow I get myself and the kids up, dressed and out every morning (with help from hubby of course) but a lot of what we achieve is down to luck rather than good judgement. I am blatantly playing at being a grown up and am just waiting to be found out. The miraculous thing is my children are fooled by the whole thing and seriously think I am in the control. It seems a little bit of knowledge, a confident swagger and a whole lot of blagging can get you through.
Other people’s kids are really hard work – bringing up children is relatively straightforward until they fall under the influence of other people’s children. No two people bring up their children in the same way so it stands to reason that once your child starts school and makes friends outside of your control you will come across all sorts of weird and wonderful attitudes and behaviour. It’s not easy coping with the fruits of someone else’s childrearing experiment – the best advice is (as long as no-one or nothing is being damaged) grin and bear it and stay safe in the knowledge that the way you have brought your kids up is the right way!
Childbirth is not nice – I don’t care what anyone says, childbirth is grim. At its very best it is painful, exhausting and undignified; at its worst it is very painful, totally exhausting and extremely undignified. I know very few people who have had a straightforward pregnancy and birth. There has always been some sort of complication or at the very least a funny aside that has turned the miracle of birth into a gory freak show or a scene from a sitcom. Of course the end result is more than worth it (and this is from a woman who lost the sight in one eye with her first birth and had to be pumped full of morphine during her second) but there is no getting away from the fact that the actual birth is just plain grim.
Mummy guilt is all consuming – I never knew true guilt ‘til I had kids. Putting two little lives at the centre of your world means there’s not a lot of time for yourself so when you do manage to jokey yourself into position to grab half an hour to have your nails done, drink a cup of tea or make a phone call you immediately feel guilty. Logically you know that your kids will benefit from you having some ‘you time’ – all mummys are nicer people when they have had time to chill and recharge their multi-skilling batteries – but you can’t help thinking every minute your kids are awake should be spent with you. I have yet to find a cure for mummy guilt – any suggestions gratefully received!
Nothing beats “I love you mummy” – this one needs no explanation. There’s no ill in my world that can’t be fixed by my two little ones putting their arm round my neck and, unprompted, saying those four special words. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mums out there – if you are surviving you are doing a great job!