Wednesday 8 July 2015

Well, you chose to have kids, didn't you?! Why parents are the only people who aren't allowed to moan.

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When I was my youthful, carefree, childless self I would look at stressed-out mothers and wonder why they had even bothered if they found parenting so hard. I reserved some sympathy for parents of one though – well, they didn't know any better when they entered into the world of parenting, did they? I'd let them off the hook because you can't possibly know what something is really like unless you've tried it. After all, I suspected I'd become a parent one day myself – you know, when I was ready for all that parenting crap; when I'd done everything I'd wanted to do in life first, or when I'd become a better-rounded, altogether more wise kind of person (anyone there yet?!). It's totally understandable that before you have children you could be lulled into a false security; that parenting is all blissful; full of cute gurgles and cuddles. But parents of two or more? You bloody asked for trouble, didn't you?

Pre-children, If a parent of multiples moaned at me I would have little sympathy, as though they just wanted a life full of more screaming and chaos and banana stuck behind their sofas – like they were just desperate to clear up twice what they had previously. I figured they must just love trips to the park and wiping dirty bottoms and answering ridiculously crappy why questions about everything. Weird.

And yet here I am, with two children, and part of me wonders why I went there; why I chose to add to my workload and washing pile too. Maybe it was the fear of regret or the hope that my children would play together, or just that I think people are pretty amazing, you know? But the problem is that when I have crap days, as I inevitably do, people often come to one of two conclusions.

1. You've done this before, you can handle it. Surely you're pretty much an expert by now, able to take parenting in your stride.

2. Well, you chose to have kidS didn't you?! I have no sympathy.

Oh sure, I do it to parents of three, and no doubt they do it to parents of four. What were you thinking?! Are you gluttons for punishment?

Now, can you imagine if every time you took on an extra challenge in life people came at you with the same responses. Can you imagine if you got a job promotion and the reactions were the same? Imagine if you took on something else in life that you loved - like joining a theatre production - and then when you said it was hard learning your lines, some awkward bugger told you how you didn't have a right to complain because you were asking for trouble when you took on the part.

Or imagine you got a new job, and you found your new boss hard work - can you imagine if they said:

 "Struggling with your boss? Well, you've worked for a boss before haven't you? Surely you should be an expert at handling bosses by now?!"

I'm pretty sure that wouldn't happen. 

Parents, on the other hand, get the "Well, you chose to have another kid, you were asking for trouble," or, "you chose to have one kid, surely you knew what you were letting yourself in for with a second?"

And sure I did, kind of. In the same way that I knew this about anything that's challenging. What did you expect, that I was just going to sit on a sofa for the rest of my life in the hope that no one gave me any new challenges? That I was going to negate all the fun stuff; the cute cuddles, the family day trips, laughing till my face aches – or miss out on watching a real life human being grow up before my eyes – that's frigging awesome. And just because I chose to do it twice, it doesn't mean that I wished upon myself a string of sleepless nights, piles of washing and a chubby tummy. Just because I moan sometimes doesn't mean I hate my life or regret having children.

Some people choose not to have children, and I totally understand why; it's tough and it's not to be taken lightly. There are people who will be far happier without, and I respect their decisions. But when someone announces they've had four kids there is a look that dawns upon the majority of faces, and they say congratulations through gritted teeth – "Congratulations?" – like they couldn't possibly have planned this. Like, why would you wish that upon yourself?!

I have two children and I still don't have a scooby do about parenting. All the things that worked for my firstborn haven't made a dot of difference to my second. Here's the thing, they are different people. Entirely different human beings with entirely different personalities, so please don't think I have this all figured out. Please don't think that I don't need a hand because I've somehow got this nailed. I still find things tough. And it's perfectly understandable. Life is hard sometimes, regardless of whether you have children or not. 

And in those moments when I struggle and think, what the hell have I done?! I just look at baby no.2s ridiculously cute face.


My life may be more of a challenge for having them, but I wouldn't change I thing.

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