Things I’ve learnt the hard way as a parent: Lesson two: you can’t change reality

Lesson two: you can’t change reality

First aspect of reality? Lesson One. Much as we’d all love to be able to get out a user’s manual for our kids, it’s really our job to write that manual, with their help, so they can read it later on.

Second aspect of reality? Perfection is impossible. This is probably much harder to accept for perfectionists, but I’m pretty sure all parents struggle with the disparity between how they wished things were and how they actually are.

For many new mothers who’ve had a career, it’s the utter monotony of nappies, feeding, coaxing to sleep, nappies, feeding, coaxing to sleep and inability to do anything “productive”, things with concrete and lasting results, that is so hard to accept as the new reality of their lives.

This was my daily life for a looong time. There’s only so much useful stuff you can do with a sleeping baby on your back. He still can’t sleep all that long by himself, but at least it’s in bed and much less back breaking!

I didn’t have a career before babies, and was quite happy to be at home doing my thing… until I had two babies, and the second one wouldn’t let me out of touch let alone out of sight. Until then I’d been able to sew quite a lot, only had one set of nap needs to work around, and could move about the house freely when Lord B was awake. African Baby had other ideas. As time went on it got harder and harder to get him to sleep. I rocked his pram for as long as Lord B was ok alone, patted him, fed him, but all that worked in the end was wearing him. Until I abandoned all Western notions of how a baby should behave and embraced my new reality, I was stressed and pissed off, clinging to expectations of how it Should Be, wishing that Sir A would happily chill by himself for hours, as my task orientated personality so desperately wanted him to, so I could do Things of Much Practicality and Productiveness.

The primary task of parenting is, annoyingly, parenting. Being at home with children all day doesn’t mean being at home all day do to dishes and laundry and cooking and gardening and facebooking and watching tv and whatever else you think being a stay at home mother is all about. It’s about being present, 100%, to your wee ones and their needs and mostly ignoring what you want to be doing. Right I am managing to do what I want (writing) but it’s been interrupted for mim, to mediate disputes, be sat on etc. And frequently the chidders just need my attention too much and there’s no way I can do anything all day till their emotional needs have been met and  they’re able to leave me alone for five minutes.

Once you can accept that things are the way they are and can’t be changed you can enjoy parenting a lot more, even if it’s really hard at times. Or all the time.

Currently: my desire for reality: I sit here typing while the children play happily away. Actual reality: they bloody well need my attention and keep pesking me so I might finish this post sometime in the next year if I’m lucky. Back (maybe) soon.

And she’s back! (for a few minutes).

So, I was saying about how parenting is much more enjoyable when you stop trying to change you kids into people they were never meant to be. Like ones that slept by themselves and played by themselves and went to just anyone, which would make life easier for you but isn’t what that child needs. Really I don’t think it’s what any child needs, but that’s definitely a topic for another post. (Needed by children again.)

And on looking back on this a month or two later, when I finally have the peace and quiet to edit and publish it… I don’t there’s much more to be said, really. Two absences in the space of 600 words just about sums it up. But while there’s chaos and frustration aplenty, the fulfilment of mothering makes it all SO worth it. Damn gorgeous little Sweets’.

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  1. […] Lesson Two: You can’t change reality. Even if you really want to. Forget what you have read or heard about what “good” babies do. A good baby is a baby doing what he as an individual is meant to do. Sometimes this means being a great sleeper. Sometimes it means waking every 30 minutes. Sometimes he can be helped with whatever is the problem. Other times you just have to accept it, embrace it if you can, and wait it out. This too shall pass. If you try to change reality, you will go insane. […]



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