Before I actually had kids I had all sorts of ideas about the type of mum I wanted to be. I wasn’t going to let having kids change my life, or change the type of person I was, and my kids were going to be well behaved, well dressed and free from snot at all times.
Fast forward 3.5 years and I’ve learnt a lot about parenting; about what I’m willing to put up with, and about myself as a person. Parenting is an awesome experience, but it’s also scary, undignified, dirty and downright disgusting in a lot of ways.
Here are just some of the things that I swore I would never do when I became a mum…
Change my life to revolve around my kids
Everything I do, everything I think, everything I buy, everything I want, all revolves around my kids. And I’m OK with that.
Change our plans to fit around sleep routines
Neither of my kids are any good at just falling asleep anywhere – they need to be in the car, in the pram, or in their beds. They are also not good at being out of routine, so if it’s 12pm and the Stuntman is due for a sleep then see you later, I’m outta here.
Respond to any story about a child with a similar (or sometimes completely unrelated) story about my own child
This used to annoy the crap out of me before I became a parent. I’d be talking to someone about a story I read in the paper, or something I saw on the news, and suddenly they’re telling me a completely unrelated story about something their kid did. But now I understand. We can’t help it.
Stop wearing makeup on a daily basis
I used to take pride in my appearance and spend a good 25 minutes ‘doing my face’ every morning. These days, I’m lucky if I swipe on a bit of BB cream and some mascara before I head out the door. I don’t even bother trying to hide my ginormous eye bags with concealer. I’m tired. Everybody knows it. Why hide it?
Let my kids watch TV
Little Miss didn’t actually watch any kids’ TV until she was around 14 months old. The first year of her life she just wasn’t interested and she had my complete and undivided attention so didn’t need much alternative entertainment. It wasn’t until I was pregnant with the Stuntman and really ill with morning sickness that I started to introduce the TV as a ‘parenting aid’. I needed something to distract her while I was crouched over the loo, hurling my guts up, and then further into the pregnancy when I just couldn’t run around with her anymore…The Stuntman had the TV on from the day he was born. His first words after mumma and dadda were “‘Eppa ‘Ig”. Not cool mumma.
Breastfeed past 12 months
Before I had kids I never had any intention of breastfeeding past 12 months. In fact, I thought mothers who did so were a bit weird – or a bit ‘crunchy’ anyway. But when Little Miss arrived we had such a lovely breastfeeding relationship that I didn’t want to put an end date on it, so decided I would just let her stop when she was ready. She eventually weaned at 16 months, by which time I was 4 months pregnant with the Stuntman. He’s still going strong, feeding 4 or 5 times a day at 20 months, with no end in sight. So I guess I’m an ‘accidental’ extended breastfeeder. And I love it. (Mostly).
Give my kids junk food
I can proudly say that they’ve never had McDonald’s or fast food like that, but they have fish and chips every Friday, and they’ve both acquired their Dad’s love of a jelly snake (or 3). And did I mention cupcakes? Oh yes, cupcakes.
Show people I’ve just met (and sometimes total strangers) endless photos of my kids
I have a terrible tendency to bring out photos of my kids during work meetings. I’ve even had photos of my kids put up on the projector during a team meeting. I’ve shown strangers sitting next to me on the train photos of my kids. I have over 1800 photos of my children in my phone, and that’s just from the last 6 months. I am ‘that’ woman.
Tell mum jokes
(N.B. these are not quite as daggy as ‘dad jokes’, but I’m told they’re just not funny. At all.)
My jokes aren’t funny; no one laughs… well, no one except me anyway. Most of the time no one even gets that I’m making a joke! Plays on words are completely lost on 1 and 3 year olds. And tired husbands. I should just give up.
Call my husband ‘daddy’, even when the kids aren’t around
And not in a sexy way. Not that it could ever be sexy, really. But in a “Daddy, could you pour me a glass of wine and make sure the bins are out, and by the way have we paid the electricity bill?”, kind of way.
Wear ‘mum jeans’
I’m not sure if it’s the jeans, or if I’ve now just got a mum bum?? Probably a bit of both. I was guilty of wearing my maternity jeans for a full year after the birth of my children, so that might explain a bit. My jeans now cost less than $40 and are built purely for comfort, not style. They do have the ‘distressed’ look, but I didn’t buy them like that.
Become a short order cook
Little Miss only eats white foods. The Stuntman can’t eat dairy products or soy. Mr McD and I like really spicy foods. I cook three meals a night most nights. It’s rubbish.
Compare myself to other mums
This is something I really wanted to avoid, but comparison is inevitable I think. When someone tells me that their baby is sleeping through the night, and mine is still waking 4 or 5 times a night, then I wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong! (By the way my ‘baby’ is 20 months old!). Same if a mum loses all her baby weight in five seconds flat, or leaves the house with perfectly applied makeup, and no visible stains on her clothes. What the actual fuck?
Talk about my child’s poo in public
I didn’t do much poo talk when Little Miss was a bub, but when the Stuntman came along, about 50% of my conversations were about his poo (or vomit). He has cow’s milk and soy protein intolerance, and one of the key indicators is mucous and blood in the nappy, so I was literally obsessed with his poo for many many months. I had a whole separate gallery of photos in my phone of his dirty nappies (to show his Doctors, I’m not actually a freak).
Let my child have a dummy
Little Miss started sucking her fingers at only a few weeks of age, learnt to self-settle very early and was sleeping through by 12 weeks. Brilliant. The Stuntman, with his food intolerances and feeding issues (upper lip and tongue tie), couldn’t self-settle to save himself (he still can’t at 20 months!), so I tried desperately to get him to take a dummy. I remember actually holding it in his mouth for 10, 15, 20 minutes at a time, just hoping he’d get the hang of it and start sucking on it. He ended up using one for about a month before deciding that he got a lot more comfort from my boobs, and just insisted on using those instead. Gutted.
Let the kids eat food in the car
I’d seen the family cars of my friends, full of food and rubbish and crap. Disgusting, I thought. Why would you let your child eat a muffin in the car? Surely that’s a choking hazard? Not to mention the mess! Well, actually, not letting your child eat that muffin is more of a strangling hazard (as in, if you don’t shut up I’m going to strangle you), so I now just let them do whatever the hell they want back there, and get the car cleaned once a month. (This is a lie – I rarely get the car cleaned).
Allow my kids to behave badly in public
‘Allow’. Did you see what I wrote there? Allow. As if all those poor long-suffering parents of screaming toddlers had given permission for their child to behave like that. OMG. What a self-righteous knob I was. I’m pretty sure my threenager was sent to punish me for this thinking.
Let my kids run around with snotty noses
The snotty noses really do gross me out. I try to catch them, but these kids of mine are so fast on their feet, and they turn their faces away, and smear their disgusting slime-covered noses on me before I can get the tissue out… sometimes it’s just easier to let them run free and wait for the snot to dry!! Dried snot is much easier to handle.
So it’s been a steep learning curve for me, this parenting gig. I learn something new every day without fail, either about my kids or about myself or the world at large. Parenting is smelly, it’s hard, it’s exhausting, it’s brutal.
But it’s fantastic