They’ll always be ill on a nursery day, and other Parenting Truths

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I’ve only been a mum 5 years – still on the uphill of a learning curve that will last a lifetime, I hope. But there are some things I’ve already realised are Inevitable Truths;

  • The baby will always cry the second dinner is dished up
Ever get the feeling you’re being watched? I swear the three year old has a webcam – perhaps the monitor is two-way – how else would she know to let rip the second we open the oven door? Maybe it’s the smell wafting up the stairs. Maybe it’s the sounds of cutlery clattering, but we could set the oven timer by that girl. The volume of her cries is in direct relation to the effort we’ve put into dinner. Beans on toast? Monitor light will hover in the green zone. Probably just a dummy job. Sunday roast? Monitor goes straight to red. Forget dishing up. We’ll be cot-side at least an hour.

  • The kids will always be ill when your partner is away.
Flying solo with your brood? Stock up on Calpol and Arnica gel now. And if he’s travelling really far away, for a week or more, get ahead and book some doctors’ appointments in advance, cause every mum knows the further and longer dad is away, the sicker they’ll be. Likewise, the next Inevitable Truth;

  • They will always be sick on nursery day, especially if you have loads to do

Starting back to work? Unmissable appointment? Whatever you do, don’t tell the kids. They’ll muster a temperature of 40 degrees and a suspicious-looking rash at the first whiff of something important. But don’t worry, they’ll be back to bouncing off the walls tomorrow, as long as it’s not a nursery day.

  • They won’t settle if you’ve booked a baby sitter.
We normally co-sleep, crawling into bed with the kids till we’re dismissed by snoring. If we’re going out, I’ve been known to don my dressing gown over my going-out gear to get round this one, and maintain the facade that All. Is. Normal. (Yep, the ‘bedhead’ is necessity not choice.) Naturally, date-night is the night the five-year-old wants a heart-to-heart. ‘What’s your favourite part of the day, mummy? I like sleeping with you.’ ‘I love mummy-cuddles more than cake, mummy.’ And when I finally extract myself, heaven help the babysitter if one of them wakes up: compulsory horizontal spooning will follow.

  • Standards will slip.
Don’t get me wrong – I have my standards. Some of them are just out of reach at the moment. In an ideal world, the kids would wear ironed clothes. Chocolate coins wouldn’t be in circulation and Dry Shampoo wouldn’t be vital to my upkeep. Of course there are some principles I hold dear. For the kids; a minimum of 3 bedtime stories every night, positive discipline and lots of imaginative play. But it’s an Inevitable Truth that if these things are sacred, other things will slide. I probably won’t be up for anything more than a TV dinner most evenings, the kids will never be seen and not heard and the house will always get messy. And as for all those parenting no-no’s I promised I’d never resort to? Sod it. The odd hour of Cbeebees won’t turn them into zombies and bribery is just a basic version of the ‘reward chart’, no?

But it’s not all bad; luckily there are lots of positive Inevitable Truths about being a parent too.
  • A sleeping child can right any wrong
Newborn shredding your aureole? Baby not napped all day? Toddler decorating the kitchen with dinner? Three year old walloped Grandma? Never fear, come slumber, the scent of their post-bath skin, the rise and fall of their gentle snores and the fan of their lashes over their cheeks will wipe your frustration clean away. If they’re still young enough to be sleeping in that bum-in-the air/ kneeling pose, you’ll have to stop yourself squeezing them awake and smothering them with kisses. Which leads me to the next Inevitable Truth.

  • They they’ll always be scrumptious to you
No matter how many exploding nappies, bottom blasts or skid marks, their peachy little bum will always be kissable to you. And it doesn’t stop there. Where others see a snotty nose, you see a cute little button, crying out to be beeped. Where others see muddy foot prints, you see a hilarious welly walk. Where others see contagious disease, you see a snuggle bug who needs mummy cuddles. Their skin is like cashmere, crying out to be stroked. Their hair, like Velcro, you can’t keep your fingers out of it. Every cell of their gorgeous being is a highly-powerful magnet you can’t stay away from. My name is Mummy and I’m addicted to my kids.

  • They will make you cry, with laughter
I don’t care how miserable you are. How much you need a break. How sleep-deprived, frazzled or fed up: your child will tickle your funny bone when you least expect it. For me, this morning, it was the way the three year old l hitched up her tutu before she broke into a run, like it was big old Victorian skirt, slowing her down. And the way the five year old told me ‘let’s do this the old fashioned way,’ before tucking into his Shreddies with his hands. Yesterday it was the way the three year old swung her arm like a battle axe when she walked, toy basket in the crook of her other arm like a Thatcher handbag. I could go on, but it’s hard to type when I’m shaking with laughter. 

  • You will always love them
This one’s pre-programmed. Instinctive. In our genetic code. I’ve had my low points – we all have. (Thanks for listening.) We might not like our offspring sometimes. Hell, I wasn’t that keen on the five year old yesterday when he tossed the pancake he’d been demanding all afternoon back in my face. And the three year old has screwed me up for life (I still can’t hear a baby crying without going trembly.) But beneath the fleeting sad, mad or bad feelings, love is the default setting. That’s the biggest Inevitable Truth of all.

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