There are not enough words to describe life as a parent. In one day there are those beautiful moments when your child helps their sibling with something and you absolutely melt; the incredulous moments when your almost two year old busts out three words together which actually makes sense(!); the heart-racing moments when your little one is hurt and does that awful, elongated silence before a powerful scream; to the inevitable frustrating moments of having to chuck perfectly good toast to the birds because apparently you cut it the wrong way (and you’re sick of eating your children’s leftovers).
It’s so nice when you meet other parents who are completely on your wave length and just ‘get’ all of this. You never really know when you say something about your parenting whether you will be judged or not. I know we all feel guilty over certain things – too much screen time, too much junky food, not enough quality time versus getting household chores done – so when other parent’s let slip or just downright proudly said these things to me, they made my day.
- ‘When I get the kids home from kindergarten and school, I rug them up, send them outside for a play and don’t let them inside for half an hour while I have a cup of tea. I need some time to myself’. This was from the mouth of another kindergarten mum who had three kids with the same age gap but a year or so ahead of my brood, and it was freezing as it was the middle of winter. She was a full time stay at home mum who had no family close to help her and I secretly idolised her mothering. She was so awesome and full of pearls of wisdom like this. No guilt whatsoever. Parented hard the majority of the time but took the time she needed for sanity. Respect.
2. ‘It’s shit, isn’t it? It’s okay, you can say it. It’s shit’. After having my second child relatively close to my first (22 months later), I rocked up to my Maternal Health Centre to find that my previously sweet and tactful nurse had been replaced by a women closer to my mother’s age but who had a far coarser manner. A mother of four herself, she looked at my exhausted face and listened to me explain about life with my clingy, screaming newborn and my neglected, also needy not-quite-two-year-old (while trying not to sound ungrateful) and she responded with the aforementioned line. And while I don’t like describing my children or parenting with swear words if I can help it, she was right. At that time, it was shit. And it was quite nice to have someone acknowledge that!
3. ‘I have ABC4Kids on a fair bit. You do what you have to do’. This was said by another mum I totally idolise who has multiple kids and also manages to work and have regular time for her own interests. She always appears so calm and together. I felt so validated that she also used television, as I’m sure we all do sometimes, so we can get things done.
4. ‘I have a shower every morning. The kids can survive for ten minutes without me’. This was said by one of my oldest friends, a nurse as well as amazing mum to three children, who at this time were from approximately two years to eight years old. Sometimes I think we are so worried something will happen if we leave our children for a moment but her comment here made me feel so much better. Even if we are there all the time, things can still go wrong, so there is no harm in taking necessary time for a shower and letting the kids fend for themselves for a few minutes.
5.’I breastfed my daughter until she was four’. Both my boys self-weaned at one year old even though I thought I’d happily feed them as long as I wanted. My last cherub is still keen on feeding at two years old which I’m happy to do but I am acutely aware that feeding at this age and above is exceedingly more controversial, especially in public. When I spoke about being unsure of what to do with this friend, she shared this with me which I really appreciated as it is not generally celebrated as the norm.
6. ‘You’re doing a great job!’. Picture this: a heavily pregnant lady loaded up with three bags of food and walking her four and two year old sons through the middle of the shopping complex when the youngest child decides to have a meltdown and lie down on the walkway between IGA and Bakers Delight. That lady was me, and no amount of cajoling could coax said child to stop his floppy arm movements to be picked up and taken to the car. As I glanced around feeling huge Mumbarassment, hoping not too many people could see his tantruming legs or hear his ear-piercing shrieks, a lovely lady approached me and said the above. In that moment her kind words brought me to tears and helped me brave on through a difficult situation.
There is so much guilt hung on parents in social media these days, I think that Constance Hall and the like have got it right when they say that we should be building each other up, not dragging others down. As I said, I have a huge appreciation for these parents who tell it like it is and are completely real about their parenting. And it is always nice when random strangers give you a sympathetic glance or a kind word when you’re having a crappy day. Has anyone ever said something kind or helpful that resonated with you as a parent?