A real pet hate of mine is when, usually in response to me trying to calm down my somewhat ‘boisterous’ children, someone says sagely to me ‘you’ll miss this stage when they’re older’ or worse, ‘it only gets harder’. It’s not that I doubt the truth in these words and I do appreciate that they are trying to be helpful but mostly, it bothers me when people express these sentiments because it just doesn’t help how I’m feeling in that moment. If anything, it only adds the extra emotion of guilt to the mix as I feel bad for not appreciating every single urine soaked minute of early parenthood.
After a day like today when, for no discernible reason, bedtime just couldn’t come fast enough, being essentially told that I’m probably in the ‘best’ stage of parenting stings a little. Both the boys have been rather…challenging the last few days and after a rainy day stuck inside providing activities, playing peacemaker to warring siblings and dealing with the constant refrain of ‘Mummy!’ that seems to follow me everywhere, I’d just had enough. Today I found parenting exhausting. Now that they’ve all been asleep for a few hours, I can step back and process that it was just a bad day and that tomorrow is likely to be much better but if you approached me at 4.30pm when both boys were crying incessently and told me that, well, more fool you.
It’s a funny thing perspective. On one hand, I do realise that these first years of parenting will be over in the blink of an eye and then other more complicated challenges will face us; hormonal teenagers, first boyfriends and girlfriends, financial issues and so on… And I do completely agree in my calmer moments that it is likely that I will really miss certain aspects of life with kids under 5 (and one just above). But I maintain that I won’t miss toilet accidents, the nought to sixty reactions, the crying, the absolute exhausting physicality of it all. And I think that is OK. I think it’s perfectly fine to be able to say yes, I love my kids and they can be heart meltingly cute and side splittingly funny but only a second later, they can drive me up the wall. It’s OK to be annoyed, to be tired, to want to pull a sicky (chance would be a fine thing!), to want a break.
I guess a little like we forget the pain of childbirth, age must give us rose tinted spectacles when it comes to our children. After all, why would we want to remember all the things that we found so hard? So, having mulled it over, I guess I shouldn’t be so annoyed when people make those comments. Perhaps they miss their children being gorgeous toddlers, perhaps they remember the best bits and have forgotten about day to day life with small ones. But I still maintain that the folks who sympathise, offer a hug and are able to let me know that it’s OK to be stressed are still the interactions I prefer on a bad day. Parenting, like life in general, isn’t all sunshine and roses. So don’t feel bad for wishing bedtime on them occasionally, it’s more than likely that tomorrow will be a better day. Hang on in there fellow parents of Exeter (and beyond), we’re doing great!