19 February 2015

The (ahem) magic of parenting

I was speaking to a couple of new parents recently.  Lovely couple, madly in love with their little bundle of poo and spew.

Sure, they are tired. Sure, they spend lots of time gazing at the wee thing reassuring themselves that without a doubt their progeny is by far the best looking ever born in the history of forever, obviously the most intelligent and clearly brimming with unrealised potential.

They don't mind the tired when they've had some sleep, and they despair of ever feeling rested when they've had none.  The breastfeeding has worked out in the end, the return to work went well for him and she's got a fairly decent support circle so she doesn't go batshit crazy at home on her own.

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But they're not finding it magical as such.  She feels none of this new mother euphoria that many of
her friends have spoken about.  She doesn't find the time she spends with her boob in the mouth of a mini megalomaniac delightful or life defining.  She doesn't define every poopy nappy she changes as a precious moment that gives her life meaning.

Which is perfectly reasonable.  Everybody knows that the reason you have children rather than getting a dog is because children learn to pick up their own shit eventually.  Literally and figuratively.

But the euphoria? The bliss? The sheer heady joy of parenting? The absolute magic of parenting?

Um. We totally oversold that to you.  Sorry.

Parenting is hard yakka.  Particularly in the beginning when you realise that all the preparation you did to birth the baby failed to give you any indication of how the hell you are going to get through the next 18 years and so on.

You spend 24 hours a day wondering if you're doing the right thing or if your complete lack of interest in reading in Latin to your child by week four has doomed them to a lifetime of voting for people who don't believe in climate change.

Breastfeeding might be good for the baby and of course cuddles with your wee one are incomparable, but it's generally not fun, it plays havoc with your choice of clothes and a lot of the time it freakin' hurts.  It's rarely delightful, euphoric or magical.

And let's not forget that babies are boring for the first little bit.  Adorable yes, but it's not like they are providing some entertaining small talk or showing you how to juggle. Which is of course a relief because between working out how to keep them alive and getting some sleep you have about enough energy to yell at the TV during Qanda but not enough to drop witty bon mots into your Twitter feed about your little darlings early grasp of calculus.

People say it's gets better.

And in the next bloody sentence they say treasure every moment because it never gets better than this.

And it's a bit of both.  Babies get more interesting, you work out how to exist on the sleep available, and about two weeks before they grow out of it you finally work out how to tie the baby wrap around you so you can use both hands at once. Which conveniently enables you to pat their back, and tweet about those moments where your baby does something like chuckle when they fart which strangely causes you to feel a surge of love so powerful you feel like you've been punched in the throat.

That moment when love-o-meter surges is what your treacherous little mind will transform. It will turn the poo, the spew, the post natal depression, the exhaustion, the mastitis, the coffee needed to get into work, the time you dropped your baby in the world's biggest airport in front of a thousand billion people, into the magical, heady euphoric period you will fondly recall as parenting a newborn.

And you'll peddle that to another new set of parents who are secretly just as worried as you were that they'll fuck it up beyond belief and are looking for reassurance. And you give it.

And then boom, before you know it you'll be wandering around the supermarket and overhear your little one randomly singing "My 'gina is better than your 'gina, my 'gina is the best 'gina in the world, you have a 'gina, I have a 'gina, no one here has a willy, it's all just 'ginas" and you feel a surge of love so unexpectedly visceral that you feel like you can't breathe for love.

Because yes, it does gets better.  And better again. It also gets messier, crazier, is speckled with socially awkward moments and contains a period of three years where the number one argument you and your partner have is about who is the MOST tired and therefore the better parent.

It means that as their little personalities emerge and they turn into ace little human beings you pretend it's nurture even though you know it's all nature.  They are just great kids and it's unlikely you had much to do with it.

And best of all, it means when they are singing about vaginas at top volume in a supermarket spookily jam packed full of senior citizens, you love them.

That's the magic my friends.  Selective memories.

You're welcome

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