Ten Things I Love About Being a Parent by The Unmumsy Mum
The Unmumsy Mum is an author and blogger from our home town in Exeter. Sarah has three boys, Henry, Jude and Wilf which form the centre of her blogs, covering everything to do with parenting from the good, to the bad an ugly in a very open, transparent and funny way!
1. There is never a dull moment
Sometimes this is said sarcastically when there is poo on the carpet or a tantrum over fish fingers being too fishy, but generally, I quite like the unexpectedness that goes hand in hand with raising small people. Even when all the ingredients for the day ahead match the ingredients of the day before, it will not be the same. No day is the same when you have kids because they are unpredictable. It certainly makes life more interesting.
2. Kids’ zest for life is contagious
Children have an incredible ability to see the magic in everything, even the everyday stuff that we as adults take for granted. As a parent you gain a free pass to tag along with that enchantment. I see things differently when I have the boys in tow – it’s hard not to get swept up in their amazement. As sad as it may be, if I didn’t have children I don’t think I would ever find myself lying on the grass, looking for shapes in the clouds; or collecting conkers; or counting the seconds between the thunder clap and the flash of lightning. Seeing the world through their eyes has made me appreciate all those things.
3. I have greater faith in my instincts
There is something about being a parent which has made me value my gut feeling more than ever before, particularly when it comes to the boys’ health. Before I had children, I always employed a typically British approach to seeing the doctor, almost apologetic in manner – ‘I’m so sorry to make a fuss, it’s probably nothing . . .’ etc. Yet since the boys have arrived, I have felt no shame in saying, ‘You’ve said it’s probably nothing but I don’t think that’s right, actually.’ In fact, when Henry was a tiny baby, it was that confidence in my instincts that drove me to demand another appointment with a different doctor to discuss Henry’s feeding problems. My gut feeling was that something just wasn’t right, and when I phoned to make a second appointment I remember saying, ‘I know my son.’ In the end, it was that second appointment which led to a specialist’s referral, a diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux and a prescription for medicine to help decrease his stomach acid production.
4. I have a ‘get out of jail free’ card
I’m pretty confident that I’m not the only one who has ever used the fact that I have children to get out of a particular situation or event that I just didn’t fancy going to or getting involved with. Granted, at times having children has presented me with unfortunate logistical challenges and I have, on numerous occasions, had to turn down invitations to things I would have loved to go to because I can’t sort a babysitter or because the hen party with all the pampering at the spa clashes with the live performance of Peppa Pig’s Big Splash at the theatre. However, there have been a handful of other occasions where ‘babysitting problems’ or ‘chicken pox’ have provided a justifiable reason for me not to go to something I actually had no desire to go to in the first place. I know it’s naughty, but ‘Jude’s had awful diarrhoea, I think we’re all still carrying the bug’ is a much easier text to send than ‘I can’t think of anything worse than the evening you have just invited me to.’
5. I have learned new skills
Parenting is massively undervalued in terms of the skill set required. When I worked full time in finance, I thought I was a pretty accomplished multi-tasker because I managed to successfully ‘juggle’ several things at once. However, looking back, I can see now that any multi-tasking I did in the office was a piece of piss compared to the multi-tasking I have had to do as a mum, because at least in the office I maintained some control at all times. There have been so many moments in the last five years when I must have looked, to an outsider, as though I were an octopus on speed, with each of my limbs trying to execute a different task. I will never forget the day I answered an important telephone call while I was in the bathroom, with both children in there with me. The call was important in the sense that it brought the possibility of new work and I spoke with the phone cradled between my ear and shoulder, attempting to answer questions with intelligent, witty answers while simultaneously using my hands to tear off toilet paper to wipe Henry’s bottom, and one of my feet to bounce Jude back off to sleep in his bouncer chair. It was far from ideal, but I managed. I’m self-employed now, which brings its own challenges, but if I ever went back to an office environment, I honestly think I’d make a more efficient employee than I did pre-kids.
6. I have stopped being self-centred
That’s not to say I was outrageously selfish before I had kids, but having regard for the thoughts and feelings of others (friends, colleagues, partners) is not the same as always putting them first. When I wake up in the morning I don’t think, Ooooh, what does my day have in store? I think, Where are the boys going today? Are they well enough for the childminder’s/school? Have I done everything I need to do for them? And though it pains me to cancel a long-anticipated night out with friends due to a toddler’s temperature, it is also the most natural of things to do. Yes, there are times when it pays to be a bit selfish and look after Number One, but, first and foremost, my day-to-day priorities are based around making sure the kids are looked after. Feeling less important is not always a bad thing.
7. I will always have a purpose
Regardless of where I live, or what work I am doing, or how successful (or not) things are going for me in general, there will always be one role that endures: I am someone’s mum. Linked closely to being less self-centred, I think having a purpose means you manage to keep on keeping on even when you’re having a shitty day. Sometimes I am knackered or feeling poorly and I would love nothing more than to just wallow for a bit, but then a little person drops a book on my lap and demands I read it to them, or a nappy needs changing, and I realise motherhood is an important gig – far more important than any gigs I’ve had before. For my two little people, I’m actually pretty essential. There will always be somewhere I belong.
8. I am perfect
OK, obviously I don’t think that I am perfect. In fact, I could dedicate a whole book to the things I dislike about myself. It would detail physical hang-ups including my overbearing nose and the mole between my eyebrows that Jude points at and says, ‘Nipple.’ I would also touch on all my character traits I find really annoying, including being hideously clumsy and the fact that whenever I am talking to somebody and I don’t much like what they are saying, it is written all over my face as though they have stepped in something and I can smell it. I see so many flaws in myself, but every now and again I look at the boys when they are looking at me and I think, To them, I am perfect. They don’t see Mummy-with-the-big-nose or Mummy-who-keeps-forgetting-appointments. They just see their Mummy, and love me as I am. When you think about it, that’s a pretty big confidence boost.
9. I am happier
Sometimes I am proper mardy, or stressed, or frustrated with the fact that we can never seem to leave the bloody house without somebody crying. But overall, my life is filled with more warmth and laughter than it was before I became a parent, and, all things considered, I’m more than willing to accept a scattering of crappy days as a balance to the days when we are in our own little bubble of contentment. I probably don’t appreciate that bubble enough, but I think that’s because it’s become the norm. Even with all its maddening quirks, I do love our norm. And though I can’t bring myself to caption any Instagram pictures with ‘#blessed’ I am well aware that I am incredibly lucky to have such a lovely family.
10. There is always something to look forward to
Parenting is hard. Really hard. I have become accustomed to what I call my ‘mini-meltdowns’ and I know now that these usually occur when I bottle everything up for a few days, panic, and then cry about the fact that I am doing a terrible job of everything (such meltdowns are all about the melodrama). However, no matter how bad a day I have had, or how helpless a particular situation seems, I know deep down that I have so much good stuff to look forward to, and almost all of that goodness centres around upcoming things I can’t wait to do with the boys. Many wobbly moments over the past year have been rescued by thoughts of quality time together on holiday, and sometimes even my frustration over the relentless ‘Why won’t you just eat what is in front of you?’ battle is eased by me setting my sights on the future, when they are all grown up and when I am almost certain I will think, My God, they were annoying but just look at them now; it all came good.
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