This post is going to be about parenting solely from my perspective. Some parents find the whole journey a breeze, while others struggle for many years and some only find aspects of parenting difficult. Every parent is different just as every child is, that’s why the world is such an interesting and controversial place and God love our kids, they bring a whole new view of life don’t they. A little weird and a lot messy, but their view of life is so innocent and amazing.
When does parenting get easier?
I will start from the beginning of my parenting journey and take you through to the point we are at now. It won’t be a book-worthy post and this may not be as sarcastic or giggly as many of my other posts, but I hope you’ll stick with it and relate. You might cry, you might laugh, who knows (‘cus I’ve not finished writing it yet).
So, from the beginning, the day I gave birth to our first child, our beautiful and a little gunky son, myself and Mr Firstooth burst into tears. The first moment you meet your first child is something you can never recreate, I feel terrible for saying this because our gorgeous daughter, the sequel to our son, melted my heart just as much, but with our first child it was all so amazing, all so new. That moment we officially became parents was indescribable, it didn’t feel real I couldn’t believe that this little human was our responisibility, our lives changed at that very moment.
Bringing our son home was so special, but I couldn’t help but cry, all the time. I got upset thinking that each minute he was getting older and I just wanted him to stay tiny and cute forever. I kept thinking about Mr Firstooth going back to work and wondered how I’d cope with it all. It couldn’t be that hard right? Even with my wingman with me, I still found it hard, but babies don’t do much, I could watch Made in Chelsea while he slept couldn’t I? I could catch up with friends, babies are fairly portable.
Only, that wasn’t my reality. I did cry a lot and I dreaded my support system going back to work, but I didn’t see much of my friends, I did have TV on in the background but I couldn’t hear it because my son cried all the time. I kept thinking ‘what the hell is this about’, why did he cry all the time? All day err’ day.
‘Babies cry’ was a general response of most people, ‘that’s what babies do’, I did kind of expect that but come on, he woke four or five times a night and during the day he’d burst into tears without any warning and comforting him became increasingly difficult. White-noise, cuddles, baby-wearing, milk, sleep, car drives, crying along side him, I just couldn’t find the winning trick. Because I was an awful mum, that was my only reason for this. I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t read enough parenting books, I was too selfish, too emotional, just not cut out for this.
(Baby-wearing always makes me laugh, “what are you wearing tonight”, “probably jeans, a shirt and my baby”)
Parenting through baby-hood was incredibly hard. You’ve probably read before that I used to call my mum and Mr Firstooth in complete hysterics because I couldn’t calm my little angel down, he was dieing was my only rationale to it all. No-one cries with this much passion and this often, unless they’re dieing. Something that I haven’t written about was the time I called the doctors because of this reason. I will share the conversation (or what I can remember of it) I was a little irrational, but who cares;
“Hello surgery, how can I help”
“My baby won’t stop crying, I think he’s dieing”
“Would you like me to make an appointment for him to see a doctor?”
“It’ll have to be a home visit or telephone consultation, he won’t stop crying. I don’t know if i should go to the hospital?”
“We can’t do that but I can make an emergency appointment here?”
“Ok, I’ll have to bring him, I really think there’s something serious wrong”
That was pretty much the conversation, I feel so silly that my reason for making the appointment was because my baby was crying. That’s what babies do ‘duh’. The woman, as lovely as she was, probably rolled here eyes once she’d put the phone down. And I’ll give you one guess as to what happened when we were at the doctors… While I was creating a pool of tears around my feet, speaking in a croaky weird voice, my darling little boy was smiling, giggling and incredibly content.
That was the first time I realised my son would make me go a little bit crazy. Imagine what happened when we expanded our family to two children, I’m one tantrum away from being wheeled away in a white jacket.
The reason for this crying, was reflux. The moment we had a reason as to why out son was so distressed everything felt easier, there were ways I could make him happy and comfortable during the day and eventually he grew out of it. Those few months of random tearful outbursts, waking almost on the hour every hour and the worries that comes generally as a new mum (like when they don’t finish their 5 ounces bottle and their same aged friend drinks twice as much), was hell as I never knew it, let me tell you!
Parenting still wasn’t easier then…
The thing with babies is that they learn milestones, these new skills are brilliant to watch and encourage. They make us mums speak to our tiny babes in a high-pitched baby voice “well done wittle baby, look at you ickle pickle poo, crawly wawly to your toysie woysie”. (I stare at other mums with a scrunched face when I see them do it, but I still do it now to my toddlers. Even in public, sometimes I think ‘shut up Lizzie for God-sake you sound ridiculous’, but I can’t stop, I do it to other peoples’ children too. Your child might be next. It’s like we can’t really hear how silly we sound when we talk like this, we’re so engrossed in talking to our children, there’s nothing wrong with that. I just hope they don’t grow up talking like it, imagine that.)
The milestones mean they want to practice their new skills all the time, in the middle of the night, on long car journeys, in the push-chair, during their visit to the health-visitor and they will protest loudly all the while they aren’t sitting/crawling/standing/walking. But it’s just not practical to do this all the time kids, I’m sorry about that. Unfortunately for me, it put me off going out because I was nervous as to how my child would be in public. Would he scream until I got him out of the stroller or car-seat? Yes. Yes he would.
(I had a very, I want to say pushy, but we’ll say ‘encouraging’ instead, friend. She ‘encouraged’ me to go out regularly with her and her son, at first I wasn’t sure why she kept dragging me out, it was hard for me didn’t she know? But I soon realised why she was close to arranging my week ahead for outings, because she was a great friend. She knew the benefit of going out and just getting on with things, tears ‘n’ all and she wanted to show me that it’d be fine and if it wasn’t, she was there to help. That’s the sort of friend you need when you’re a mum, I’m lucky I have a little group of wonderful friends, who just ‘get it’.)
With my friends’ best efforts one thing she couldn’t make easier was the process of going out. Buggies/strollers, bags, nappies, blankets, bottles and a change of clothes for my son who would projectile vomit most of his feeds – over everything within vomiting reach. What was with all this sh*t, why so much stuff? If I nipped out for a few hours I’d pack 10 nappies and 2 packs of wipes ‘just in case’. That’s the thing with a First Time Mum, we prepare for the ‘just in case’ at every event. It’s handy, you know, just in case they do need new clothes, an extra blanket or sh*t themselves out of 9 nappies (don’t worry because you brought 10), but it’s really unnecessary. Don’t tell a new mum this though, we get quite offended. Eventually we learn what’s really important (1 nappy, half a pack of wipes and a bottle – milk/water/wine).
I used to dread the idea of going out, the tired and lazy mum in me used to think staying home would be easier. Setting up my buggy/car-seat combo was a workout and would only be constructed with a lot of swearing alongside a baby crying.
I enjoyed going out with my precious boy, but it all felt so hard. If we would visit the zoo he’d choose the point furthest away from the exit to have a baby meltdown, he never wanted to sleep in his buggy, you see. I’d look a little insane racing back to the entrance with tears streaming down my face as my son wailed the entire journey.
(Bear in mind that I fell pregnant with our second while my son was around 4 or 5 months old, so I was just a mess. Call me crazy, but we like a challenge)
I found the entire baby years tough. I wondered regularly if it would ever get easier, was I the only one who just didn’t fare well with this adorable tiny baby? If I ever mumbled lightly about the difficulties of having a baby, I would be met with “wait until you have a toddler”. Thanks. That’s just the encouragement and hope that I needed ‘if you find it tough now, it’s only going to get worse’. I used to sit in the evenings and think that it’s only going to get harder.
(Don’t get me wrong, I love my children more than I could describe, they’re amazing and we’re so blessed to be their parents, I knew this even then, but it didn’t make raising a baby any easier. It was probably because I just wanted to be the best for them, I’m a perfectionist and I just wasn’t living up to this ideal of a mother I had in my mind, or the Perfect Mother social media likes to depict.)
Only, to those people who said it’ll get worse when they’re toddlers…
The whole baby year wasn’t easy. Up until maybe 18 months? A genuine question, was it easier at 18 months? I feel like my son was easier but we then had our beautiful daughter who was going through the motions above. Add that to a toddler who occasionally freaks out because the right TV show wasn’t on (but he’s not quite able to communicate why he’s melting down during dinner) and life felt like we should be in a comedy show, so someone could get some laughs out of our insanity.
Once my son hit 18 months, we could have ditched our stroller/buggy, but instead we needed it for our new little babe. The usual buggy battles continued. It seemed a little easier the second time around, but every outing took twice as long, was a little more risky ‘will they cry?’, why ask? Of course they will! I forced myself to go out daily though, we went to a playgroup every single day. The alternative just wasn’t good for mine or my childrens’ sanity. I used to be glad that every morning was catered for, we had something to get up for, a purpose to our day and when we got home we’d have a spot of lunch and it was straight to bed for both of the kids. WIN. Well it would have been a win if there wasn’t dinner to prepare, washing to do and crap to clean up. It was a welcomed break nonetheless.
Then we moved into our new family home, which had that third bedroom we needed a lot sooner than expected. Gradually, motherhood started getting easier and easier as the weeks went on. Our daughter was an incredibly easy baby, she rarely cried, slept like a dream early on and was as content as you could imagine. But is a bloody challenging toddler. Both children have grown into the opposites of eachother, my son was a challenging baby and is a breeze during his toddler years. He still treats us to regular tantrums, the occasional dump – not in the potty and regular destruction to our home and everyone elses, but as a toddler, I’d say he’s easy.
They’re both a joy to be around and it’s only now that I feel parenting is easier. Easier than I ever thought it could be. I wish I could freeze their ages and continue to enjoy our lives as they are. If you’re wondering why it’s easier I’ll try to break it down…
My son talks to me, sounds simple but when he can explain why he’s upset, what he wants to do or what he wants to eat I want to rejoice and shout “YES, THAT’S WHY YOU’RE UPSET”, then try to solve it for him. My daughter can’t talk full sentences but she says what she want like; ‘doose’ (juice), ‘mord’ (milk) and the usual ‘sleep’, ‘my toy’ etc. You can let go of a huge exhale when you know how to please your children, communication makes a huge difference in how easy you find parenting.
We don’t need a buggy or stroller. I take it sometimes purely to hold all the crap I still seem to cart around, but we don’t need it. If you’re happy to go out for the day and walk at their pace (so, so slow), you suddenly drop the burden of the buggy. I’m more than happy to walk at their pace, no-one whinges about being in the buggy and they get to enjoy the day, do what they want to do. That was the point of our outing in the first place wasn’t it?
I know I said I still take lots of ‘stuff’ out with us, this is actually just a lunch, a water bottle and wipes. I sometimes don’t even take a nappy for the small one. I throw this into a bag and leave, we just leave. We don’t leave as quickly as we like because sure enough my girl will fill her nappy, my son will need another wee, someone will take their shoes and socks off, again and one will always empty a cereal packet onto the floor. I may clean it up, I may not. If I ever nip to the supermarket I take nothing. That’s right NOTHING. It’s so liberating to have toddlers.
These ages are fun, they’re so easy to entertain. Take them to the beach for the day and you’re the best mum ever. A trip to the supermarket – best mum ever. A walk to the park – you’re the best. The simplest of things keeps them happy and occupied, the most important thing you can give them at this age is input. As long as they have someone with them encouraging their enjoyment of the great outdoors, they’ll take care of the rest.
We went to the beach last week, very last minute and for three hours we just walked along the shore, picked up shells and stones and watched the waves (the tide was out, so we watched from afar). This was the moment really that prompted this post, the moment I realised we’d ‘made it’, to that content period of parenting, where it all doesn’t seem so tough. I watched their enjoyment of life and I had butterflies at how happy they were, I nearly shed a tear at just how wonderful they are and how much I appreciate this age and how lucky I am to be a mum. To be their mum.
It really doesn’t take much to please a child, just love and input.
Of course having two toddlers is challenging, they’re learning all sorts of things which are alien to them and this is frustrating for everyone involved. They can be incredibly whingey and tantrums are awful, the worst. But I’d much rather parent a toddler than a baby, I just find it easier. Their appreciation for me and for everything we do for them is growing with time. It makes a trip to the zoo more worthwhile when they’re so overwhelmingly happy there, even if there are tears and tantrums, it isn’t as taxing.
So, if you’re finding having a baby hard, maybe you’ll find toddlerhood much easier, if anything you’ll find them freakin’ hilarious! But maybe you’ve had the opposite experience? Maybe you had a dream baby and once the toddler years hit, they hit like a bus. But again, they’re funny aren’t they? Focus on that.
That face makes it all worthwhile…
If you enjoyed this post on parenting then you’ll probably love our Facebook page. We keep things honest, real and sarcastic. Or maybe you’d benefit from subscribing to updates of our new posts? It’s one email a week, you’ll be pleased you did I promise.
You could also share this post with your friends…
This post has been shared on: