She was right, I have done things that my younger self wouldn’t have believed and it is inspiring to think that in the future I may push past my comfort zone again and surprise myself whilst parenting. However, what my mother didn’t tell me was that so many of those unbelievable things would be the things that I find myself doing as a parent. I must ask her if she is surprised I have managed some of these too…
As a child, I was always washing my hands. I didn’t like dirty hands then and I still don’t. My own children have no regard for this. They did not come with a supply of protective gloves or hand sanitiser, and when I buy nice smelly soap they pump it all into the sink. Here are a couple of my most impressive moments that I would never have believed I would get through without throwing up.
What do you do with a baby who has the cold and can’t get rid of the gallons of snot she is producing? You suck it out with a special snot-sucker-outer also known as a nasal aspirator. It’s disgusting and despite the reassuring note on the pack that says you won’t get any snot in your mouth, it still feels wrong to suck one end of a tube and watch the little receptacle fill up with snot for you to clean out. Still, it makes her breathing just a fraction easier, and if that’s the case, I would do it mouth to nose if I had to. (Please, manufacturers, keep making nasal aspirators).
I made a terrible mistake once when my son was little – I squealed and then laughed when he pooped in the bath. He found it absolutely hilarious and tried to replicate the joke many times. I was an expert poop-fisher-outer by the time I had convinced him I was actually quite cross about it, he just failed to see it as anything other than funny to make me suddenly lift him out of the water, fish out the poop, drain the bath and bath him all over again. Look Mummy, a big fish!!!
In my pre-children days, I would have been sick at the very idea of someone being sick. Especially my good friend who doesn’t quite know when enough Sangria is enough and who insisted I hold her hair back for her. I loved her very much but I just couldn’t cope with the splashes. Now, I will regularly dive towards vomit in order to protect clothes, furniture, carpet, other kids and total strangers. I have carried sick in my cupped hands for quite some distance to save myself having to wash the car seat. I don’t even flinch.
When I was younger, I was very, very worried about what people might think. Or who might be looking at me. Or what someone else would say about me. Or what I looked like. Or what I was wearing. Now, I regularly do things that my younger self would be horrified about, in fact maybe all that misplaced embarrassment from when I was younger came from some sort of sneaking premonition of what life would be like with kids and got all the cringing done in advance.
If you have ever worn something because your children requested it, then you will know that the pride on their face trumps how silly you feel every time. I wore a paper necklace with big plastic gems on it every day for weeks because my son made it for me so I would feel like a princess. Equally, when we are out we try on silly hats to make them laugh (even if it annoys the shop assistant).
Sing and Dance in Public
When music comes on, kids don’t care who sees them dance – in fact, the more people who see them the better. We love to dance, but our moves are probably best kept for our own living room, but when your child offers a boogie, it doesn’t matter if you are trying to o the grocery shopping or walking down the street, you just gotta join in. It’s the same with a good ole singalong. We have gone from being really specific ad fussy about the music we are into, to singing Let It Go at full volume in the garden (and I spent the whole day in town yesterday humming The Bear Necessities to myself).
When you have a baby, one day you point out a little bird landing on a fence or tell them it is starting to rain and BAM, before you realize what has even happened you start narrating the world around you like a total nutter. It’s good for their development, builds language skills and creates a strong mutual understanding between you and your child. It’s a habit that is impossible to break. I regularly point out sheep and cows to an empty car or say things like, “Ohhh Daddy, today we saw a big red fire engine!” when my children aren’t actually around to hear me. I can’t say for sure whether or not I do it when I am wandering around town on my own.
Whatever scary, weird, disgusting embarrassing things you have to do today whilst parenting, they will be worth it. You will do things for your kids that you wouldn’t do for anyone else, and you will be less appreciated for it than at any other time in your life. It will still be worth it.