Remember those carefree days before you became a parent, when you and your partner used to stroll along hand in hand and half whisper to each other throwaway comments like, “How cool will it be when we have children?” And then you’d nuzzle into their neck and kiss their earlobe, while your brain concocted fairytale fantasies about flying kites, and toasting marshmallows over a campfire, and Saturday night films sprawled on the sofa as a family, all arms and legs and popcorn and happiness.
Well, I do.
And now here I am.
Is it anything like my dreams?
Erm, not today it isn’t: not when I’ve scraped another homemade dinner into the food recycling bin, and looked down at my top and wondered whether that slug-trail stain is snot or dribble; not when I’ve been lying IN THE SODDING COT with the baby trying to get her to settle at 9.30pm while pondering what the actual f*ck has happened to my life.
Motherhood isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be. Some days, it can break you. Some days you feel worried and worn out, and just not damn good enough.
You know what? I wouldn’t swap any of it for those bygone fairytale fantasies.
Don’t believe me?
My children might be noisy and messy and unpredictable and sticky. They might have caused me to utter sentences I thought I’d never have to say – things like: “Stop sticking spaghetti to the telly!” and “Put the poo back in the potty!” Yes, they have sped like a whirlwind into my life and tipped the world I knew on its side. They have crippled my social life and they have zero regard for my sleeping patterns.
But they are real. They are three-dimensional and high definition. Their laughter is loud.
They are so much more interesting and exciting than those papery, one-dimensional fantasy children, whose neat-and-tidy quiet perfection would, quite honestly, have gotten on my tits.
More than that, when motherhood was just a dream, I only imagined that I would raise my children. I had no idea about the reality of being a parent: that they are raising me, too.
My children push me to my limits. They make me question myself. They threaten to tip me over the edge pretty much each and every day. And I have to pull myself back; become more understanding; alter my perspective. I have to become gentler; more forgiving. I have to change.
I am learning and growing with them.
So you can keep your boring, perfect fantasy children, who allowed me to stick being the same old me. I’ll take my very real, very brash, very present little brood any day of the week… even if they threaten my sanity daily.
Because they are reshaping my whole world and everything in it, with their sticky fingers and inquiring minds… and I love the new surroundings we are building together.