Once upon a time, in a land faraway, in a time well before children, there lived a young woman who fancied herself to be quite the parenting expert.
This lovely young woman married a lovely young man, and together they started to ponder creating a lovely young family.
“It couldn’t be too hard,” she reasoned, as they discussed their future offspring, dreaming of Instagram-styled nurseries, and peacefully sleeping newborns. “After all, I’ve read lots of books!”
And she began to reel off a list of all the ways she would parent their babies…
No dummies, no telly, no tinned food, oh no!
Organically grown was the way she would go.
No kids in the bed, but no crying it out,
This baby would sleep, without having to shout.
No rocking, no bottles, not too much routine,
This kid would just “get it”, if you know what I mean.
All food, made from scratch, and of course, NO HOT CHIPS!
The big Golden Arches would not cross their lips.
Speak once, and they’ll listen – I just need to be firm!
And I know they can understand taking their turn.
No tantrums, no meltdowns, no public displays.
I won’t be a mum in complete disarray!
I’ll get them to school age in the blink of an eye,
And our life will be normal, without passing us by.
Within a few weeks, there was life in her tum,
And so began her REAL journey of being a mum.
(From the mum whose kids began life on solids eating lovingly prepared organic risotto balls and mashed peas, and who JUST TONIGHT ate hot chips for dinner for the third time this week).
Do your best, mamas.
And don’t hate on yourself too hard if things turn out differently to the way you think they might.
One of the hardest parts of parenthood, in my experience, was realising that I was holding myself to impossibly high standards, right from the start.
None of the books I’d read ever suggested that it was possible to feel like a complete failure at things that other people seemed to have all sorted out.
None of the websites I visited made any reference to the fact that you could actually dabble in multiple parenting styles and raise happy, successful kids.
I didn’t know that being the perfect parent for my kids required me to be, honestly, imperfect.
Imperfect, and flawed, but finding my feet and loving the shit out of those kids of mine, as they threw my handmade risotto balls onto my previously immaculate floors.
It might have meant rocking them to sleep, with a dummy soothing them to the land of nod, or curling up with them next to me in bed, after a burst of “sleep training” failed dismally, and ended up with us both weeping.
Or maybe it was carrying a shrieking child out of Kmart by the back of his overalls, because he REALLY WANTED THOSE GUMBOOTS we said he couldn’t have, or despite every intention, enjoying the absolute peace that only The Wiggles and Dorothy the Dinosaur could invoke (not to mention the semi-warm cuppa that usually went with it).
We learn as we go, and that’s what makes us the perfect parents for our kids.
So, forgive yourself for the shit you told yourself before you knew better, and praise yourself for growing, and changing, and adapting into a role that is also growing, and changing and adapting every day.
The parent I am to my tweens, is not the same parent I was to my babies. Nor is it the same parent I will be to them as adults, or the kind of grandparent I will be to my grandbabies.
I will be who they need, and provide them with what they need as they need it.
Believe in your ability to do the same.
You’re a perfect parent.
Just ask your babies.