DAY FOUR of the “Find the ‘AWESOME’ in your family!” Challenge and I have been invited to reflect on something I have learnt about myself since becoming a parent.
What have I learnt?
I learnt that I don’t like babies.
In fact, I don’t like much about the first 0-3 years at all. I find them relentless, boring, suffocating. Sure, babies are cute and amazing in their own precious way, but I find their extreme vulnerability very confronting and the wearying sameness of the daily grind wears me down until I feel like a pale replica of the human being I used to be.
I hate the soul-destroying sleep battles.
I hate that I am responsible for catering to every single one of their basic needs.
I hate arsenic hour.
I hate making multiple outfit changes because they cover themselves in spew, poo, food.
I hate changing nappies.
I hate that they can’t tell you what is wrong with them, what they want, or what hurts and that you are left to puzzle it out with varying degrees of success.
I hate pointing to picture books and saying the same words over and over and bloody over again, hundreds of times.
I hate having to make the same stupid animal noises all the time.
I hate having to pack an overnight bag full of crap every time I walk out the front door.
I hate reading really simple stories with sentences like “Knock, knock. Hello Maisy!” so many times that I want to knock my head into the wall.
I hate that sometimes it is impossible to leave the room without inspiring spirited howls of protest and dispirited wails of despair.
I hate the endless trail of debris the leave behind as they move from one room to another, and the constant cleaning required to contain it.
I hate having to fiddle with baby-proof locks every time I want to get something out of the damn cupboards, and I hate clambering over baby gates every time I need to enter a room.
I hate the tantrums. Oh, how I hate the tantrums.
I hate their sheer, unrelenting dependence on me.
But, on the other hand, I’m loving everything after three.
I love reading well-written picture books with really cool storylines.
I love teaching my son complicated words and concepts, the challenge of trying to define them in age-appropriate terminology.
I love the interesting conversations we have, his curious yet thoughtful questions, his individual sense of humour.
I love that I don’t have to be on constant alert to stop him from killing or injuring himself with environmental hazards every second of the day.
I love that I can walk down the street with him and feel comfortable that he isn’t just going to unpredictably run out in front of traffic.
I love that he can go and get himself a bottle of water, a box of sultanas or a piece of fruit from the bowl.
I love that he can get up and turn the TV on, or that we can spend time chilling out and watching a movie together eating popcorn.
I love that we can bake a cake without him making a complete disaster of the kitchen because he wants to bury himself in all the ingredients.
I love that I don’t have to change nappies anymore, and that he takes himself off to the toilet.
I love that he tells me he loves me, that he tells me I’m the best mum in the world, that he tells me I’m his sweet girl.
I love his newly-found independence, and I love the fact that I was the one who mostly laid the foundation for it.
There may have been a lot to hate about the baby stage, but the thing that surprised me the most was to learn how fiercely I would love my babies anyway, despite the fact that becoming a parent has been one of the most difficult and intense experiences of my life to date.
I’ve learnt that it’s still pretty awesome being a parent. Even when I am knocking my head against the wall.
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