If you are yet to know the joys of parenthood and have asked yourself what all the fuss is about and if it’s really as hard as parents make out, I’ve been thinking about the little things you may not have considered.
Tonight as I was getting the kids ready for bed I walked into the bathroom to discover my fancy makeup brush had been dipped into a pot of hair gel and then shoved back into my makeup bag so that everything was covered in a sticky mess. It’s those awkward unexpected surprises that makes the more mundane tasks, such as getting the kids in their beds washed and fed, so much more exciting and demanding.
So you have to change your baby’s diaper when you are out and about, not too bad you might think. You find a changing table, undress your darling child, and then discover their poop has squirted out of the back of the diaper and covered them all the way up to their shoulders. As you try to stay calm and start wiping and delicately removing the offending articles of clothing, your child, feeling the cool air on their nether regions, proceeds to pee, washing the poop, the wipes and the clothing into a pool of almost unimaginable poopy mayhem. I’m not making this stuff up.
Perhaps while you are waiting to pick your other half up from work, you allow your small children to play in the car to relieve their boredom. If they find your spare change stash and slot it into your cassette deck, the whole thing might need to be replaced. Replacing a fitted stereo is EXTREMELY expensive. It’s no longer picking up your husband, it’s spending hours trying to get the pennies out in new and imaginative ways, days without the car and never being able to leave any loose change in your car ever again.
Imagine a long haul flight with a child…then imagine there are actually two children…now please imagine you are traveling alone with them. Next I want you to imagine that both of them, after many many hours have finally fallen fast asleep in your lap, aww … little angels, how nice. Now…I want you to imagine that one of them opens her eyes, and a split second later with no warning, vomits at least a liter of very foul-smelling liquid into your lap. Imagine, if you will, that you are wearing a dress and that the dress catches the sick like a bowl between your legs. The sick is also seeping in its warm stealthy way around your backside and is soaking into your underwear. A member of the cabin crew passes you a handful of paper towels with a very troubled and sympathetic look on his face. Your children are both crying. You have to get off the plane with all your stuff, a very sick child, and only half an outfit on, having had no choice but to take the dress off, rinse the rest of your clothes off whilst wearing them in that tiny airplane sink, and put your cardigan on backwards to hide the fact that you are not wearing a top.
You move house, you set up your children with something to do and install your beloved cat in one of the bedrooms, you set up her litter box, her food and her water. When your beautiful, relatively well-behaved 3.5 year old girl asks if she can keep the cat company, you of course say yes. When you go to check on her, you discover she has mixed the kitty litter into the water bowl making a slippery cement which she has then thoroughly pasted all over a chest of drawers, that stuff is extraordinarily hard to clean up. Moving house isn’t just moving house when you do it with kids.
So when you see a friend frazzled from the demands of parenthood and wonder if looking after a cute little baby is really that hard, after all… you miss out on sleep all the time when you go out at night, bear in mind she may have had to change at the last minute because her baby spit up over her shoulder, it may have run down the back of her top, if she was particularly unlucky, it could have made it’s way into her underwear requiring she change every item of clothing except her socks. She may have put her shoes on only to discover food, sand, mud or soap in them. Her babies diaper may have leaked on the way soaking the car seat, she may have had to return home if she didn’t have enough changes of clothes and had to line the seat with a plastic bag till she has a chance to launder the seat cover. Washing a car seat cover is very tedious and time-consuming INDEED.
Parents reading this, I would LOVE to hear about the ridiculous messy situations you have had inflicted on you, it will make me feel less alone 😉
Oh and FYI, even when none of this stuff happens, it’s all-consuming and bloody exhausting, but you do get the privilege of helping these incredible beings achieve their potential, that is the most rewarding and terrifying thing of all.