Yes, it’s tiring being a parent. But it’s also an overflowing cup of fun, love and satisfaction – even the tough bits, if you think about them differently …
Before I had my baby, a friend implored me: “can you please not be one of those parents that moans about their kids all the time?”
It was an oddly blunt request, although living in the Netherlands I’m well used to (brutal) honesty. “Everyone I know only seems to mention the bad things,” they continued. “Please don’t forget to talk about the good things too.”
Six months into life as a parent, I understand why moans sneak in. Lack of sleep. Lack of time to yourself. A world where the emissions from someone else’s bottom has become a #1 priority. But that comment has always stuck with me. And, true to my word, here are the reasons why none of the negative things really matter, and why I feel thankful to be a Mum.
The morning smile.
When the morning goes to plan, I wake, shower and dress before getting our baby up. I creep up to her cot and peer slowly over. She’s usually awake, fully occupied lifting her legs up and down inside her sleeping bag. And, as she turns and sees my face, hers lights up with the biggest beaming smile, as though it is Christmas morning. It makes me excited to get up every day, even though – as my husband will vouch – I’m not much of a morning person (he certainly doesn’t get the same expression from me).
There are lots of very boring, sensible things involved in adult life. Clothes washing, dish washing, bills, making sure you’ve got enough toilets rolls and whatnot. My Baby doesn’t care about any of these things. What she cares about is what’s on Old MacDonald’s farm, blowing raspberries, playing peek-a-boo and splashing in a bath. I can dance around like an absolute loon, and she thinks it’s brilliant (although I sometimes choose to shut the curtains for the more ridiculous dance moves). This is a million times more fun than the cleaning, admin things. Being a parent allows you unleash the inner child again.
Rediscovering the world
At six months, my little one is too young for questions (or words of any sort, unless you count ‘ba’, which I do). But you can see her insatiable curiosity for everything around her in her eyes. She is obsessed by any sort of light, almost wriggling out of my arms in her efforts to stare at lamp-shades, chandeliers and fairy lights. Having read that it’s good to talk to babies about what they’re seeing, I find myself in a constant monologue with her. I try my best to describe every animal, plant and mineral around. In doing so, I’m noticing things again I’d taken for granted. Like the beauty of the setting sun, explained to someone for the first time. Or the art of making a good cup of coffee. I’m oddly looking forward to the “why?” phase when she’s older. I’m sure there will be all sorts of things I’ve no idea of the answer to. We can discover together.
Admiring my creation
I’ve always admired architects and engineers (the good ones, at least). That sense of accomplishment, to have created something of beauty in the world that will endure long after you’ve toddled off. I may not have the first clue how to create a blueprint for a bridge, building or monument, but I (or rather, ‘we’ – my husband should take some credit I guess) have successfully crafted a living, breathing human being. I know having babies is one of the most normal biological things in the world. But it’s also breathtakingly remarkable.
Being a superhero
Not only have we made this baby, it’s our responsibility to make sure she’s ok every day. My Mum has this irritating phrase, it sticks in your head like an earworm: “Just move your brain sideways.” Basically, it means ‘think about it in a different way’. A more positive one. That’s what I do if my baby’s being a bit difficult – crying more than usual, waking up more than usual. I know she’s not doing it deliberately. She doesn’t have any concept of being malicious. She just needs something. Which means she needs me, or my husband. Needs us. We are superheroes; Captain Nappy Change and Wonder Feeder. We might not be saving the world, but we are sustaining one little life. How can you moan about that?
So tiring – yes, sometimes frustrating – yes. But is being a parent worth it? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
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