Caroline 2

If I could 'Jam Jar' Parenthood

written by Caroline Eyles

  1. #parenting
  2. #toddler
  3. #baby
  4. #newborn
  5. #sleep
  6. #playgroup

While it has become a recent trend to openly discuss and both write or express how hard parenthood is, and of which we are all witness that I have wholeheartedly participated in - I wish to write a more rare post that, in this instance, doesn't make light of the things that have previously made me cry, thanks to the magnanimous change and hard work a child brings.

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Make no bones about it, I will always continue to highlight and be honest about the exhausting role that we cannot prepare for in the slightest until it is thrust upon us. I feel the new 'fashion' of being honest about breastfeeding, post natal depression and being able to openly admit a general disdain towards your constantly grizzling child for a day or two, is mandatory for mums who, it seems, have had to previously disguise the struggle with a smile on their face and a baby gnawing at their nipple for too many years.

And I will always 'mum salute', complete with a nappy sack in hand, any mum out there doing the best we all can; And I will always revel in agreement over a glass, or seven, of wine (in six months time due to pending baby) with anyone who wants to, about the fact that even a year and a half and another one on the way later, we have no idea what we're doing and had absolutely no idea what we were letting ourselves in for.

But alas, outside of the sporadic sleepless nights nearly two years in, the amount of homemade meals (or more likely microwaved mash potato once you've given up) thrown in the bin, the endless teething and then along come the tantrums that introduce you to a whole new ballgame - just as soon as you feel you've got this parenting lark under some sort of control, what comes with the rest of the time is utterly overwhelmingly indescribable. Indescribable not only because of an emotion, a love, that is so all consuming and strong it can't possibly be put into the matter of words, but more sadly, we live in a world full of competition and comparison and while the expression of happiness is welcomed, it is only providing it is not 'too' much; not too over the top; not too happy that on learning about someone else's, it makes us question our own. And instead, the incomprehensibly strong passion for our children extends itself to a simple picture and 'feeling happy' emoticon on Facebook, if we even dare to gloat that much; this is the 21st century way of sharing our feelings of the good days.

Parenting high points

And so, with the urge to deliver a more celebratory post, a more congratulatory post to all parents, particularly to those who are currently so exhaustingly tired that the numbness has set in and you can't see the end, until they've left home in 18 years, maybe 16 if you're lucky, here is a reminder, which I know you already know deep down, way below today's struggle that next week won't remain, remember it's just a phase.

Being a parent IS the best thing to have ever happened to you; I'll repeat this, being a parent IS the best thing to have ever happened to you. And trust me, I am not a happy clapper, all is positive, let's teach our children to hug trees and never say 'no' type of Mum, or more candidly doesn't feel your pain and share your weaker moments of occasionally questioning 'WTF have we done?' But I am one who quite simply recognises I am in one of the 'good phases' on this cyclical journey that we are all on, and cherishes these days, banking them in my memory, for when the impending doom of a 'Wonder week, fortnight, month' hits, and I will have to re-read and no doubt question what I have even written here!

I am just a Mum whose child played nicely at play group today without tears, clinginess or grizzling, whose child has successfully eaten three meals without me having to chase her around the room with a spoon for fear she'll wake up in the night out of hunger, whose child has agreeably gone down for a nap this lunchtime and as a result giggled a lot at my rapport throughout the afternoon (always a winner in the love stakes!). I am just a mum who according to daddy, her child has added 'woof' to her vocabulary today and as I write this, I am just a Mum who has evidently had a good enough run of sleep more recently to be feeling this way and is currently joyfully listening to her daughter singing in her cot until she eventually goes down, irrespective of whether I may quite likely have to pop in and firmly remind her it's night time should the games begin.

Playgroup even went well

Now please don't mistake this as a 'look at me, aren't I doing great' kind of post, it is instead a gentle nudge to those who are struggling to keep going, and to remember that the days like this WILL return when the wonder week you're in has ended, and DO 'make it all worth it'. We've all had the wonderful weeks, days, moments that reiterate why we had offspring (and in all seriousness, if you haven't, please do see your doctor, PND is hugely under-diagnosed), but I just wish I could relish this 'to the brim' feeling of love in a jam jar and not only sell it, but take it out and spread it on toast with a cup of tea on the days that the smell of poo that has gotten under my fingernail still lingers and my child won't get up from the floor in Waitrose. And also, to offer up to parents-to-be and those wishing to have kids in the not too distant future, who have alerted me recently that they very sadly, only hear how much hard work being a parent is nowadays. And aside from both of these options, I would just like to jam jar the well behaved child that my daughter was today, and take that particular pot out the cot each morning.

I mean, I'm not saying I love my child more when she is obedient and acts exactly how I would wish her to everyday.....but actually, with all the toddler taming, baby whispering research, rationale and counselling qualifications I have and knowing that children are their own person which should be encouraged, and I actively attempt to do so daily, this is exactly what I'm saying - I am entirely admitting that when my child behaves exactly how I would wish her to everyday, with three healthy meals, a long nap for me to achieve something productive or simply enjoy Eastenders on Catch Up, endlessly giggles at me for being the rock star she finally realises I am, before gently drifting off to sleep without me having to play firm at the end of a day, I can't help but feel the endless unconditional love I have for her ever more strongly, and in turn am reminded of just how much I love being a mother. I am proven exactly the reasons why I chose to become a Mum and how, albeit it regarded as 'too much', it should be celebrated, how unbelievably amazing being a parent really is.

Happy Baby

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