Most the time, I have no idea what I am doing. Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual, so I just make it up as I go along. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and want to high-five myself for making it to bedtime with everyone smiling. And other times, I want to curl up with a vat of wine as I’ve made mistakes, there have been tears, and there’s still a whole banana trampled into the rug that I cant bring myself to clear up.
I used to wonder if I was on my own with this, but the more I chat to friends about it, the more I realise that we are all making it up as we go along.
Take potty training, for example. I didn’t read any books, I didn’t even look it up online. I wasn’t remotely ready – but when Stanley spotted other children at nursery being taken to the toilet, he decided he was ready. So I’m winging it. I have no idea if I’m doing it the right way, but I’m guessing he wont still be in nappies when he’s a teenager, so we’ll work it out one way or another.
That doesn’t mean to say that I’m totally relaxed about it. We haven’t had many accidents, but the one aboard the scooter today was not a highlight of my parenting journey to date.
Just to make motherhood even more complex, even when you think you have it covered, life throws you a curveball. When my second baby boy was born earlier this year, I thought I’d know what I was doing – but Mother Nature gave me a baby that was completely different to my first. My first slept during the day perfectly, but was a pickle at night – and now his brother does exactly the opposite. I’ve had to learn all over again.
This also applies to day-to-day life. Just as you get into a habit or routine, your child decides to mix it up a bit. Whether that’s dropping a nap, suddenly deciding that green foodstuffs are the devil, or working out how to undo his carseat straps when there’s nowhere to pull over.
But here’s the point: I’ve got better at winging it. I’ve relaxed, realised that mistakes can and will happen, and learnt how to cope when they do. And by cope, I mean that I rely on a sense of humour.
A sense of humour is a most useful tool for mothers. Forget hynobirthing, this advice should be handed out at antenatal classes. It is invaluable especially during the toddler tantrum stage, when you are likely to have to drag a two-year-old around a supermarket as he yells ‘No Shopping! FATHER CHRISTMAS!’ and it’s only the beginning of June.
Most importantly, however, I’ve realised that we’re all winging it. Even the Mums that look immaculate on the nursery run, dropping off their kids in beautifully cut suits and designer heels, before driving to a high powered jobs, and doing it all again tomorrow. I used to wonder how they had worked it all out so perfectly, how they juggled their life so efficiently, and how they still had time to blow-dry their hair – but now I know they are winging it too. Their rugs will have banana trampled into them, their children will decide that peas are the devil, and their sons will inevitably wee on a scooter. It makes me feel a lot better to know that we’re all in it together. And on that note, I’m off to find a vat of wine.