When I had my first baby, I remember someone saying: “don’t worry, it gets easier.”
I needed that at the time. Especially the day I accidently went out in my slippers and baby sick in my hair as I grappled with exhaustion juggling single parenting, two little ones under the age of 3 and work.
I clutched at this nugget of hope as each stage threw up a new challenge. There was nothing I couldn’t handle with my Supermom cape flapping in the downwind heading towards the “it gets easier” finishing line.
And as I flew around toddler playgroups, dashed into school meetings, cheered at sporting events or navigated my way through homework, I came to an abrupt halt as the biggest obstacle known to man (and woman) reared its head (and roared). The teenager.
It was at this point I realised that person had lied. It doesn’t get easier. At all. Because the same worries continue to exist throughout parenting in a Truman Show style loop. Here’s my top five:
Babies – the aguish is endless. Is the room too hot or too cold? Basket, cot or co-sleep? Meanwhile you get zero sleep as you tearfully collapse with the baby monitor pulsating like a ticking time bomb.
Kids – by this point getting the devious buggers to bed is a military style operation in itself with “one more story” or “I’m thirsty.” For you, sleep is still a luxury item, and you’d sell your soul for a lie in.
Teens – in a cruel twist of fate when you need them up and ‘at it’ at this stage of their life, getting them out of their bed becomes mission impossible as they are likely to spontaneously combust into flames if vertical before noon.
Babies – full blown anxiety as baby goes to grandma’s house for the first time. You write a step-by-step anthology on nap, feeding and nappy changing routines. As if grandma had never borne children.
Kids – independence begins subtly with sleepovers and play dates. You relish the ‘me’ time but spend it mostly worrying if they are surviving the traumatic ordeal of being separated from mummy. But as they race around your open arms on their return and query the whereabouts of the dog, you realise you wasted your 24-pass stressing.
Teens – ironically if you’ve done your job right by this point – They. Don’t. Need. You. Anymore. Unless they require cash or a lift. And we hate it! From lapping up every story we fed them as a kid suddenly everything we say is either: 1. Boring. 2. Not useful or 3. They already know it. Word of advice – never offer advice.
Babies – why hello Day Care saviour of sanity. Despite the fact you feel physically sick as they scream blue murder as you hand them over , the fact you can work, shop, eat, have a bath or clean the house in peace, is liberating and alien at the same time.
Kids – by the time school age arrives you got this whole separation anxiety thing and have booked them in for any after school activity on offer. However, with school comes new concerns – bullying issues, homework, exams. It’s a jungle out there.
Teens – they may have skipped into school when they were 8. But now they want OUT. They hate it, they hate their teachers, they hate the pressure, they hate their life and most of all they hate you for sending them to school in the first place. They are crippled with anxiety and fear and stress about their future. At this point I can only say wine helps. For you. Not them.
Babies – by the time you have recovered from boobs that throb and looking like you are a serious wet t-shirt contender, you then spend endless hours trying to ‘choo-choo’ blended broccoli and sweet potato puree into pursed lips, to find that remarkably they just want to survive on Weetabix and yogurt.
Kids – in an attempt to cover all food groups, you have a small orchard in your fridge and lose hours trying to cunningly disguise vegetables. Meanwhile with a blank canvas immune system they catch every bug known to man and you spends hours chanting “blow” in a zealous, but futile, attempt to stem the flow of mucus.
Teens – any attempt at healthy eating was a complete waste of time as your teen seems to camp out in front of the fridge devouring everything in their path with total disregard for the food pyramid chart. You can’t keep up with the supply and demand and hope a multi vitamin will fill in any gaps.
Babies – the trauma of being let out of hospital with a tiny helpless being is the scariest thing ever as we are trusted to keep this little being alive. So, we spend every minute of our waking day (and much of the night) fearing every snuffle, cough and yellow bowel movement.
Kids – the day your toddler gets up and walks is the day you will never sit down or finish a conversation for many years. The phrase “be careful” becomes your mantra as you rescue them from up trees or running into the road. You have Stranger Danger alerts whenever you go out and relish the time you can let go of their hand.
Teens – now you quite simply relish the times they occasionally hold your hand. They are now on those same roads but on a scooter, motorbike or car. The dangers have suddenly multiplied and gone up a massive notch. Suddenly too much sugar or overtiredness is a picnic compared to worries about drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and mental health issues.
It does not “get easier.“
It just “gets different.”