With the Easter holidays well and truly here, there are lots of positives in being a parent.
Easter Cards made with copious amounts of tissue paper
Easter bonnet competitions
Numerous renditions of "chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken, lay a little egg for me"
PLUS an excuse to eat a sickening amount of chocolate eggs. What more could you want, really?
On Saturday night I had a long overdue catch up with some of my oldest and loveliest friends. By oldest I mean I have known them for many years and nothing to do with their actual chronological age!
Over several glasses or if I'm honest, several jugs of pimms we talked frankly, honestly and at times hilariously about the highs and lows of parenting. Uncle Dick's Pimms is amazing stuff ..as was Uncle Dick! Sadly he is no longer with us, however his legendary recipe will continue loosening tongues for many years to come!
It was these funny, open and honest conversations with my fellow friends who are also parents, that led me to reflect on some of the things that;
a) No-one ever told me before I came a parent
b) I thought I knew before my journey into parenthood but was not really prepared for in reality!
Firstly the guilt.......
The guilt arrives with conception and it would appear, is there for the rest of our lives! Sometimes it's BIG guilt that you feel, the sort that takes ten years and a bucket load of therapy to come to terms with.
Other times it's a smaller kind of guilt ....The kind that comes in tiny pangs, sometimes for just take abit of "me" time to pop to the hairdressers for example. One way or another this guilt thing seems to be there.
I still get that kind of guilt today when I think about the day I chopped off a piece of my son's finger with nail clippers when he was a small baby (yes "ouch") ..and this guilt is still with me after fourteen years and several therapy sessions!!!!!!
It seems that guilt is an entrenched part of parenting ..Most of it largely unjustified!
Secondly, We have all heard the phrase " Children say the funniest things "
Yes they do and they also say the weirdest, most brutally honest and sometimes down right rude things too.
I am blushing now (eight years on) at the memory of my oldest daughter howling with laughter after spotting a woman with bright pink hair in the supermarket.......
"Mummy" she shouted in what I can only describe as the loudest whisper known to man. "Mummy ..look at that lady's hair. She looks like a great big my little pony!" To this day I don't know if she heard my daughter's comment, because you couldn't see my bottom for dust!
A few weeks ago my adorable four year old nephew put a smile on the straight faces of several commuters on a very busy train back from London. He thanked me rather enthusiastically for taking him on "A lovely day out to Bethlehem." We had in fact been to The Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green and not the holy city!
I can probably guarantee that there is not a parent in the world who hasn't wanted the ground to swallow them up following something that has just tumbled out of the mouth of their offspring at some time or another!
Thirdly - They can love us then hate us in an instant!
One thing I was certainly not prepared for was what fickle little creatures our precious miracles can be.
Yes, they love us unconditionally, however a lot of the time they don't give us that impression. They can swing several times a day from complete adoration of us to believing that we are the most evil creatures that ever walked this earth demanding a "new mummy", usually when we can't perform miracles such as making their favourite T.V programme appear whenever it takes their fancy or when we can't glue their piece of cucumber back together again..
Although the "on demand" service has made the first one much more achievable it hasn't helped at all with the other!
It doesn't seem to get any better as they get older either. "The teen" was angry with me the other day because I wouldn't let him go to the cinema until he found out film times and train times.....not because I am a horrid old bag but because I care!!!!
His answer to this was to shout "You are an expert at taking away peoples freedom" Twenty minutes later when all the details were sorted, he is sidling up to me asking for £20!
Number Four - My home won't remain tidy for a nano-second!
They are also incredibly good at mess. Tidy houses become a distant memory, but because they take up so much of our time we never seem to be able completely deal with the mess. Leaving our heads full of the things we "should" be doing but no time to actually do them. (Here's that guilt again)!!
One of the lovely ladies I spent the other evening with had crazily been tidying her house in preparation for a relative to baby sit for her whilst she and her husband went out. She found during the tidying process that she couldn't find a place for everything to go, so had no choice by to hide it in her own bedroom. Where upon, thinking that the baby sitter might be horrified by her dumping ground of a bedroom, she got her partner to fix the door handle so that the bedroom door would not be opened whilst they were out!
Lastly - despite the guilt, the mess and the chaos and the fickleness .. We wouldn't have it any other way.
We love them they love us and we kind of muddle along all in our own way - and when that little person kisses us and squeezes us and tells us they love us..it makes up for the fact that ten minutes earlier they were telling us that our "new lipstick looked lovely and makes us look much less ugly than the old one did!"