When we were expecting our first child I thought the imminent birth would flick a switch in our lives
[pre-baby self – off]
[new-parent self – on]
I assumed it’d change my outlook on life, my former self would be a distant memory, of which it is not, I still remember feeling fully rested, prosperous and living life with ease, pyjama days out of choice and not because I just haven’t got any bloody time in-between my parenting duties, which are not made easy by our two spirited children.
I thought I would become a much more tolerant person, someone who can tolerate lengthy spells of crying, tantrums and screaming. That becoming a parent myself would help me excuse other childrens irritating behaviour. In fact, quite the opposite has happened, I can barely tolerate my own children screaming, crying and throwing themselves on the ground in shops just for the hell of it, much less anyone elses. The big change here is my empathy with other parents, I feel your pain. I know you can control your child, I know when your child is behaving like a feral animal you are secretly dying inside, because it’s affecting you far more than anyone else. You will forever more get my sympathy smile, one that I also receive from other mums who’ve been there, are doing it, or have done it.
I thought staying at home with children instead of going to work would be a much easier task. Watching tv all day, tea on tap and being able to come and go as we please. Living this life for two years proves going to work every day is a real dream. My preconceived ideas of what a stay at home mum does got screwed up, chewed up and shat out by my first born. Come and go as we please? Don’t forget the nappies, wipes, bottles, snacks, toys, bribes, outfit changes, Disney CD, blankets, coats, phone and oops baby’s just filled his nappy with a huge, leaky ‘not so easy now is it’ dump, then we leave the house and in amongst trying not to forget everything-but-the-kitchen-sink, I forget the keys. We’re then locked out. I do now have a newfound respect for mums who choose to not go back to work, it’s not so easy breezy. I also respect mums who go to work, how on earth do you have time for it all?
I thought having children would mean my inner calm would flourish. What shitting inner-calm? I’ve never been more on edge than I have since having children. I regularly shout ”you’re in the wrong lane arsehole” ”nice indicating, NOT, wanker” or whisper ”for fucksake” as I clean up the mornings breakfast of porridge or beans off the floor, walls and child. Having children has exaggerated my inner rage, ‘mum rage’ I think it’s called. And it’s perfectly normal, considering you’re in charge of small children, on no food, sleep, clean clothes or money to do anything. I now never judge a fellow mum with her huffs and tuts at life’s little annoyances, I’m right beside you huffing and tutting too.
I knew the house would become a little more like a toy store. It certainly has. Our house is an assault course of toys, which will make you bite your lip to stop from screaming any profanity as you stand on them. I didn’t think I would fare well with a cluttered house, no fancy ornaments since these are also seen as toys, very breakable toys, no calm space to relax in, sitting on the sofa usually leads to a chorus of some mind-numbing song from a toy wedged between the cusions. There is no toybox big enough to contain the endless supply of toys. I’m ok with this. Well, I’ve accepted it and I don’t really care that they’re everywhere, most nights I can’t even be bothered to put them away. I have even bought into the toystore idea, I have a toy buying obsession. This shows that the large supply of toys we live in has made me lower my house-proud standards. I aim for clean, tidy is a luxury.
I thought those lovely nursery rhymes and TV show theme songs would be enjoyed by us all. We would sit in a circle, holding hands, swaying and singing ‘Silent Night’. I instead, do not enjoy this. TV theme songs are the main songs of the family. I tolerate the incessant amounts of ‘M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E it’s the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…’ it haunts every journey in the car, every morning, every evening. I even sing it to our baby after her bath. I also didn’t think what I listen to would have any effect on the children. Wrong. Most songs released now have countless amounts of shits, fucks, bitches and hoes in the songs. Straight over my head, but since we have a very impressionable child, I’ve found myself creating a child friendly IPod playlist and changing the music channels as soon as we know ‘this one’s got big booty’s shaking around in nothing but a thong’. I never gave this aspect a second thought before having children, but I now appreciate how inappropriate this is and is avoided at all cost. Listening to songs about ‘mahfuckers’ are saved for the evenings, whilst unloading the dishwasher when both children are sound asleep. I’ve actually gone off some of these songs, the appeal isn’t there.
I’m still me, my previous self didn’t disappear with my placenta after I gave birth. The changes in my mothering self are minor compared to the huge change I had once imagined, but these minor changes are all either necessary or natural. I suppose the biggest change to myself is putting someone elses needs before my own. A strong theme occurs that I won’t eat, sleep, get dressed, waste time tidying, because I’m busy with my children.