My oldest baby turned ten recently. Her birthday thundered towards me with the greatest of importance - not only because she was approaching double digits, but because it also meant my husband and I have been parenting for ten years...
My oldest baby turned ten recently. Her birthday thundered towards me with the greatest of importance – not only because she was approaching double digits, but because it also meant my husband and I have been parenting for ten years. A whole decade. Naturally, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the things I’ve learned in these 10 years. Apart from the (obvious) love and joy, here are my top ten:
1. Mindfulness is great and all, but sometimes nothing beats being mindless
When the kids are yelling, or tantrumming or whingeing about how unfair life is, the last thing I feel like doing is anchoring myself in the moment and soaking it all up. I’d much rather Teflon that stuff – let it slide right on over me. Mindlessness allows me to do just that.
2. You can never take too many photos
I’m sure there are those that would disagree but, for me, when it comes to photos, more is more. They’re a way I can hold onto the past – or at least try to. I also love wrapping myself up in them at night, using them to warm me and sustain me for those less-than-lovely parenting moments.
3. You will feel everything
I thought I’d felt the full gamut of emotions before I became a mother. And then my heart split open, exposing every tiny crack to the world, each cell laid bare, ready to absorb every fleeting feeling that floated on by. Needless to say, nowadays, I feel it all.
4. Talking in asterisks helps
There are so many conversations I have with my kids that end in an asterisk. Take this one, for example. Last night, my four-year-old daughter asked to have an ice-cream after dinner. I knew we weren’t having ice-cream after dinner, but I didn’t want to risk a full body meltdown by telling her that. Hence the asterisk. “Can we have ice-cream tonight mummy?” she asked. “That’s a great idea,” I said. “I’ll think about it.”* *It is a great idea – but not for tonight. I will think about it- but the answer will be no. Speaking in asterisks is a win-win; my kids are happy with what I’ve said, and I’m happy because I know the asterisk is there, explaining what I really mean without upsetting anyone.
5. IKEA is really fun in theory
I don’t know about you, but since becoming a parent IKEA has become a staple in my life. Before heading to IKEA I’m like a dog hanging its head out the car window, drooling with excitement. I always come home afterwards feeling less enthused. Something about those endless curving aisles, Swedish words that all sound like swearing, and unlimited choices makes me go bananas. And yet, every time I think we need to go to IKEA again, there I am, all dog-head-out-the-window excited.
6. When one child is away, parenting is a million times easier
Our oldest child recently went to school camp. With one child away, parenting became a million times easier. Mathematically, it doesn’t make sense. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
7. Mornings suck but morning cuddles are the best
I’ve never been a morning person and becoming a mama didn’t magically turn me into one. But – and it’s a biggie – morning cuddles are honestly the best. They’re like a caffeine infusion for my soul.
8. When it comes to clothing, pretty much anything goes
Being a parent means learning to pick your battles. Anything dangerous needs to be stopped, asap. But the lesser infractions? Man, sometimes you’ve just got to let them slide or you’d be arguing non-stop. So when it’s a super hot day and your toddler don’t want to wear no pants? Well, hello T-shirt and nappy.
9. The clichés are true
Take cover, my friends, because some clichés are heading your way! The love makes it all worthwhile… You’ll never feel love like it… There’s no harder job in the world… Ugh, it’s so cliché it hurts, but colour me pink if it isn’t all true. Which leads me to the most important lesson I’ve learned since becoming a mum:
10. Everything is better when you’ve slept
Honestly. Everything. Image: Nikole Ramsay