Stanley’s birthday is on Saturday, meaning that I have been a mother for three whole years. And whilst that makes me no expert on the subject, I have started to ponder the things I have learnt during this time. Here goes…
1 – Everything changes – and keeps changing. Just when you think you have settled into a lovely little pattern, something comes along to throw things off course. Baby sleeps through the night? Here comes teething. Toddler naps beautifully at lunchtime? He decides he prefers to climb out of his cot and run around the apartment.
2 – I love my children – but I don’t always like them. At the beginning of motherhood, I probably wouldn’t have admitted this. But now I know that we all go through moments when we really aren’t that fond of our own offspring – and anyone that pretends otherwise is either superhuman or very good at acting. I will always love my children with deep, protective and fierce love – but when they draw on the wall in felt-tip pen, throw a lovingly-cooked meal across the room, or slam-dunk their baby brother just for fun, I am allowed to dislike them for a few minutes.
3 – People will always want to tell me how to do it. It is the law of the world that once you become a mother, people will want to tell you how to do it. This might be on social media, through meet-ups at baby groups, or even from slightly barmy strangers that stop you in the street. After three years, I have learnt to smile, thank the giver of these words, and move on. On occasion the advice has been useful, but generally I know my own child better than barmy strangers on the street.
4 – If in doubt, we leave the house. As a mother of two, the thought of getting everyone ready to leave the house is usually enough to make me want to hibernate. But I have learnt that it is almost always worth the effort. The days we have all piled out the door, spent time in the park, or met up with friends are almost always the best days. For me and the kids, it’s a tonic to the mind.
5 – I sleep less than most humans – but I can cope. Given that I have barely slept for three whole years, I cope pretty well. I like a coffee (or eight) and the dark circles under my eyes give away the sleep deprivation, but my body has somehow got used to it. Yes, I feel tired – but very rarely so tired that I am nodding off on the sofa or glazing over when playing with the kids. And whilst I look forward to the day I can have lie-ins, full nights sleep, and midday naps whenever I feel like it, I can manage. My body has adjusted and it isn’t such a big deal anymore.
6 – Not everyone will like my children – but those that matter will. There are a gazillion mothers and children in the world (true fact, checked it on Wikipedia), so it really isn’t possible for the whole world to think my children are the best ever. I remember the exact moment when this occurred to me, when I was pushing my adorable baby in a swing in the park and realised no one else was even watching him. It hit me like a sledgehammer. But three years later, I am totally OK with this. As long as those around me love my children, that is all that matters.
7 – I am lucky. Becoming a mother wins you membership to a special club – and it’s inevitable that this club will share stories of losses and tragedies as the years tick on. To be honest, I don’t remember hearing about so many before I was a mother, but now every one literally plucks at my heartstrings to the point where tears fill my eyes and I can’t breathe properly when I think about it. It further cements the feeling that I am so lucky to have these little people in my life – and despite the felt tip scrawlings on the wall, despite the plates flying around the room, and despite the slam-dunking of baby brothers, I will remind myself daily how privileged I am to have them in my life.