Ah the smell of baby hair and milk feeds. Remember them? No. We don’t either.
So what happened? Shouting, door slamming and hormones happened.
Ah the good old days. The baby days. You thought it was it bad with sleepless nights, endless rounds of nappy changes and cracked nipples. But you were so, so wrong. Sadly, the worse was yet to come. Babies (even toddlers dare I say it) ain’t got nothing on a teenage strop.
It’s almost a right of passage as a parent, to wail your way through the pre-teen and teenage years. When older mums used to share wisdom at the school gates, “It gets harder” they smile. We never really believed them. They were always smiling, after all. We now realise that their faces were permanently frozen in that odd expression – half way between hysteria and overwhelming fear. How can it be harder than NO SLEEP? Where to start…
The which is harder game:
You’ve not slept for 8 months and you’re thinking about going back to work, but it really breaks your heart and you cry for your potential missed milestones… OR
Your thirteen-year-old texts you (again) from the school toilets; everyone hates her. You’ve got a meeting in five minutes with the boss. You consider throwing yourself down the nearest stairs.
Your 3 month old has reflux, you can’t breastfeed, you feel worthless, why is this so hard? OR
Your 12 year old has one spot. They think they have acne. They use all your make-up, insist on buying more than a US vlogger called James Charles (google it). Your child leaves the house looking like an extra from Towie. You consider throwing yourself down the nearest stairs.
Your two year old went on a rampage at nursery. After hacking their best friend’s (very smart) hair, they painted the walls and glued their bowl to the snack table – to stop it falling off, of course. OR
Your ten year old thinks she’s being bullied. Four kids have left the class already ‘due to bullying’. Your kid thinks she should leave too. Meanwhile every other mum thinks your kid is the bully. You consider throwing yourself down the nearest stairs.
Your two year old won’t potty train. You can’t leave the house without 42 nappy bags, 6 rolls of kitchen roll and 8 changes of clothes. You can’t even leave the house anymore… OR
Your 11 year-old worries incessantly about French. You don’t give a shit. You can’t tell them this, so you stay up until 11pm revising the contents of their pencil case in French. You get up at 6am to do it all again. You consider throwing yourself down the stairs.
Your toddler has just transferred from their cot into their first bed. They now come to see you at least 482 times before 10pm, but you keep on smiling and tucking them back in… OR
Your 12 year-old wants to examine the reasons for life, love and the universe… Every night at 9pm. Thus follows an hour of conversation about the existential existence of being. Before you know it, it’s 11.30pm, you consider throwing yourself down the stairs.
You lovingly, painstakingly and organically (of course) prepare 72million cubes of pureed sweet potato and spinach, but they relentlessly refuse them, so that their diet almost completely consists of strawberry fromage frais. OR
You attempt a family lunch out, but stupidly go past the 12 o’clock lunch slot with the pre-teen (because they’re not two anymore), without any rice cakes in a Tupperware (because they’re not two anymore). All low-blood-sugared-merry-hell breaks loose. You should leave but you can’t. Even the waitress is embarrassed. You consider throwing yourself down the stairs.
Answer: there is no answer. Parenting is a nightmare.
After some time attempting to cope by drinking double shot lattes after the school run, I decided to go on a parenting course. I went on another. I went on about five. Did it help? Yes, a bit. They still strop like a bastard, but at least now I know why. At least now I know it’s not my fault and it’s not just me. And at least now, I know it will pass.