The kids are running circles around me. Not in some metaphorical parent/child angst kind of way, but in a literal I’m sitting at the table with my coffee (decaf. Why you ask? Quite frankly, I don’t quite know either!) and, they are chasing each other around the table and, therefore, me! Those ideas of chilled, everyone curled up, sitting still watching something together moments that people often capture and share on social media, how do you do it? In fairness, this is probably a significantly calmer me than when I received the call about an hour ago to alert me to the self-imposed nappy-less stare of the littlest. The kids had all managed to win themselves a place in my bed while I was drying my hair so, I had done what any self-respecting parent on early morning mid-term break would do: I’d gone into their room to ‘read’ (apparently ‘read ‘ can also be spelt ‘hide’ but I can nether confirm nor deny this 😉) There’s nothing like a toddler embracing their own brand of freedom to bring you back to reality-and fast!
There’s no doubt about it, parenthood is an unforgettable journey. So far on ours we’ve learned more about ourselves than we knew before, forgotten more than we ever thought we’d known, been taught more lessons than many a professor delivers in a lifetime. We’ve cried with frustration, fear and fury. But we’ve laughed and we’ve hidden laughter when we’ve known we really should be mad and we’ve despaired and delighted as we’ve watched or heard their little life stories unfold.
Are there things we wish we’d done differently? Absolutely! Do we ever think we’ll do things another way in the future? Without doubt! Do we ever feel inadequate and unprepared, wondering how on earth we got this far and praying that we will know what to do as we seek to provide the best for our little family? Well, I think that goes without saying. But, amidst the manic moments and feelings of failure, the laugher and the tears, would we change it? Not for the world! Pain and suffering in this world, whether on a personal level or further afield, leaves us in no doubt that every day is a blessing and a gift. And even the ones that we chalk down to experience and pray that we will learn from, they are all little steps on this great journey we are travelling as a family.
Recently, when sharing the news of a new arrival to the world in a few months that will launch a brand new journey of parenthood to a soon to be new mum and dad, I had a think about some words of advice I’d pass on. Besides ‘bin all parenting books that have pictures of fresh faced, clean clothed parents and sleeping babies’ (am I allowed to say that?!), this was my advice to them:
Be spontaneous – just get up and go places. Eat slowly, sleep when you feel like it, take lazy lie-ins. Drink hot coffee, leave the house with one bag, at most. Smile politely when people give you advice – listen to what you like and forget the rest. Take photos of the two of you and keep a journal of the things you do – you’ll never remember it was just the two of you once. And, when you hear Peppa Pig, Mr Tumble or Bing etc being spoken of in an elevated manner, laugh quietly to yourself but beware, one day those creatures may well be your heroes too. Finally, prepare for the most exciting adventure of your life.
So, while the last drop of decaf cools in the bottom of my mug and the energy levels of the girls deplete to a somewhat less manic intensity, while I joy in a nappy serving its purpose and appreciate the hypnotic power of Wooly and Tig, I am thankful for a new day and another leg of this adventure. The scene before me may not be social media picture perfect, but it’s certainly a treat for my eyes. So, as I move another hour into a day that will no doubt at some point become more tense that it is now, I pray that I will remember what an utterly unique present this day is and since there is a no refund or exchange policy on this particular gift, that I will appreciate every little moment- madness and all!