Do you remember your pre–parent days? Those long heady days where you weren’t either a small person’s bitch, or had to play prison guard with a grounded teenager? I do. Just about. Do you remember being told off as a child and swearing blind that you wouldn’t be such a horrible parent when you grew up? I do. In fact I had a list of things I never thought I would do.
I swore to myself that I would never tell my children off. That I would never clean their faces with a tissue covered in spit, and I would definitely not be embarrassing. You know, like by waving at them in front of their friends. The audacity!
I never thought I would…
Pre–2000 me, had no idea what was in store when it came to being a parent. Back then, I was one of those people who thought my child would never play up in public. A child that would always listen to me, especially in restaurants. And most importantly for me, my child would be happy to sleep 11 hours a night totally undisturbed. I also never thought I would have totally illogical arguments about things like; not putting shoes in the dishwasher, not trying to boil milk in a kettle, or not trying to drink from a mug whilst hanging upside down off a couch and definitely not arguing over why it’s a stupid idea to put ants in someone else’s underwear drawer.
As it turns out, I was completely wrong. COMPLETELY. Wrong. And these are all arguments I have genuinely had.
Things I thought I wouldn’t do …
1. Run towards a child being sick. With outstretched hands. Bleurgh.
2. Use a sock in place of a tissue when someone has a nose bleed.
3. Describe physical pain using 3 levels : “it’s not too bad”, “it’s like being in labour”, or the worst one, “it’s like stepping on Lego”.
4. Be able to hear someone weakly calling “Mum” through 2 doors, across a corridor and over the sound of the TV.
5. Have the ability to survive on ridiculously small amounts of sleep.
6. Pull apart 2 children fighting in the back of the car, whilst driving with one hand and yelling at BMW drivers who NEVER use their indicators.
7. Make up utter bullshit reasons about why the tooth fairy ‘forgot’ to visit for the third night on the trot.
8. Aspire to driving a car that’s too embarrassing for teenagers to be seen dead in. Because there’s less chance of being asked for a lift.
9. Answer 56,839 questions a day. Per child.
10. Store all my contacts as “First name” space “Child’s Mum”.
11. Complain about the mess.
12. Have a collection of bags worth £100’s. Nope, not designer bags. I have a collection of 55p bags stuffed with other 55p bags.
13. Forget to take my bags to the supermarket. Every. Damn. Time. And feel like I’ve failed the environment.
14. Sing loudly to ‘old music’ in the car. (As IF ’90’s music counts as being old now. What the actual fuck?)
15. Get depressed about the money I have wasted on food.
16. Answer the door to the postman with a boob hanging out because I forgot I was breastfeeding. (Only once, but oh the shame)
17. Worry all the time that the children haven’t eaten enough.
18. Complain that the children eat me out of house and home.
19. Let the washing pile up until nobody has any clean underwear, then do 45 loads of washing in 24hrs. *
20. Complain about how much washing I have to put away.
21. Beg the children to help me put the washing away.
22. Get frustrated that they aren’t doing it right and end up doing it myself anyway.
23. Complain that they have too many clothes, and that I have none.
24. Go shopping for clothes for myself, then put it all back because I can’t justify spending money on myself.
25. End up walking out the shop with new things for the kids.
26. Balk at having to buy a pair of shoes for myself, but be happy to drop a small fortune on a pair of school shoes.
27. Say things like “this is the last time I’m ever taking you anywhere”.
28. Take them somewhere.
29. Panic when a child doesn’t answer their phone. Even though I never answer my own phone.
30. Make empty threats that we all know I don’t actually mean.
31. Do the school run early so I get 30 minutes’ silence and a better parking space.
32. Think of that 30 minutes as a mini holiday.
33. Keep putting yoghurt in lunchboxes when I know full well how much mess it makes.
34. Buy a new kettle because some children thought it would be quicker to boil milk in it instead of a saucepan.
35. Actively look for headlice every time someone scratches their head more than twice in a day.
36. Sniff my child’s bottom to see if a nappy needs changing.
37. Walk around with baby sick in my hair and not even care.
38. Pick a dummy up off a filthy floor and put it in my mouth to clean it.
39. Have to use a nappy as an emergency sanitary towel because I got caught out when my period returned after pregnancy.
40. Have to use a cut up maternity towel as emergency breastpads.
41. Look through a child’s poo for signs of threadworms.
42. Spend so many hours in A&E I may as well have a season ticket.
43. Eat someone’s half chewed food because they shoved it in my mouth.
44. Lose my mind after losing a child in a supermarket.
45. Be woken in the middle of the night by policemen knocking on my bedroom door. **
46. Leave the house with unwashed hair disguised as a messy bun.
47. Use a bit of flour in place of dry shampoo. (It doesn’t work by the way.)
48. Willingly sniff the armpits of tops to determine clean clothes from dirty clothes littered about a bedroom floor.
49. Use my child as an excuse to get out of doing something I don’t want to do.
50. Have to go to the toilet in front of an audience.
51. Spend months teaching a baby to say Mum then get sick of hearing it eleventy billion times before breakfast.
52. Bribe my children with sweets to swallow antibiotics.
53. Cry at their Nativity performance.
54. Be one of those embarrassing parents on Sports Day. Being a personal cheerleader, not turning up in a bikini. (Yes, I once saw a Mum wear a bikini top to sports day because it was really sunny).
55. Complain that their music is too loud.
56. Immediately ask when the last time they did a poo was whenever they say they have a stomach ache.
57. Repeat myself over and over because nobody’s listening.
58. Pick up poo with my bare hands to stop a child eating or playing with it.
59. Throw a load of towels over a puddle of vomit because I couldn’t be bothered to change the sheets for the 7th time in a night and needed more sleep.
60. Say ‘No’. A lot.
That last one probably surprised me the most, because I thought I was going to be the cool Mum who said yes to everything. As it turns out, I’m not a cool Mum and I do have to say No a lot. It would be ridiculously impractical to say yes to everything. Not just because of the expense, but because I seem to have ended up with children who ask for the most random things.
Like Ruby asking for a Jackhammer for Christmas. And yes, I did have to Google what one was.
I may not be the cool Mum, I may not be the Mum I thought I was going to be, and I definitely might have a huge list of things I never thought I would do or say. But I’m doing the best I can. And that’s all you can do in life.
*Or I just go and buy more underwear.
**Don’t worry, nothing bad had happened, the police were looking for a friend of one of my older 2 who had been reported missing.