My beautiful eldest child, Amelia, was 6 yesterday. I was thinking about the adventure we have been on since she arrived which prompted me to write the following list of things I wish I had known before starting the Mammy journey.
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Everybody will be willing to offer it to you, regardless of if you asked for it or not. That includes your parents, in-laws, neighbours, friends, person at checkout in your local supermarket, complete strangers when you are out and about, Gina Ford (you have to take partial responsibility for this if you bought any of her books), and my personal favourite – people who don’t have children! Ignore it. Trust your instinct and one or two people whose advice you trust and more importantly that you have asked for.
I would have been better off having a bonfire in the garden and burning cash instead of buying nappy bins, wipe warmers/holders, soother holders, two pairs of shoes at a time (little feet go through growth spurts overnight if you do this), singing potties, any toy that requires 6 batteries…………
Trust your own always. It’s a magical thing. A mother’s instinct is particularly powerful. It only failed here once. Looked down at my gorgeous three month old and saw a large brown lump on her cheek – cue absolute panic stations about this tumour that has appeared suddenly on her face. It was chocolate. I had dropped it on her whilst she was sleeping on my lap and I was shoving it into my mouth. Thankfully, we realised this before consulting a medical professional. I have only gotten confidence in my instinct in recent years, it’s serving me well, all three are surviving.
Always remember it’s only temporary. For some people it might only last a few weeks, for others a few years but always repeat to yourself in the middle of night when you would give somebody the contents of your bank account for some sleep, “it’s temporary, it’s temporary, it’s temporary…”
They are everywhere. You know the type “Oh is she not counting to 100 yet in four languages? Mine all could do that by the time they were 2″ or ” Is he STILL in nappies” or “We don’t let our children watch tv”………. These Olympic parents are everywhere, you can ignore them or play them at their own game and up the stakes and lie about your child’s abilities. Whatever works for you. Most importantly don’t let them get to you, they are insane.
Precious First Born Syndrome
We all suffer from this. Nobody ever is or will be as beautiful, clever and amazing as your first baby. That’s very true, the important thing is to know you are the only person to think this and that is safe to bring PFB out in public and nobody will want to kidnap PFB because they are so amazing.
It is also not necessary if leaving PFB with your mother/father/in-laws for them to babysit for a couple of hours to leave 4 pages of instructions. They have had their own children, chances are they will never let you forget it, trust me. I think I will suffer from Precious First Born Syndrome forever more, the important thing is remembering I have it and trying to curb it when around other people.
Choose Your Battles
Choose your battles – toilet train when the child is ready, not when you are, not eating a nutritious dinner 7 times a week will not break your child, soothers are a miracle product for some children, a bottle of milk at bedtime for a three year old will not not mess him up for life, sometimes it’s ok to let your little girl out dressed like a ballerina and little boys who enjoy getting their nails painted are not strange.
There is absolutely no point spending the last month of your second pregnancy worrying about your first born and how they will feel about their sibling or if you will love your second child as much. Your PFB is getting a friend and you will love all your children the same. I cannot believe I wasted precious time worrying about such a thing. I copped on when pregnant with third thankfully and didn’t pace the floor at 3am with these thoughts.
They won’t tell you what they did in school or who they played with. This will drive you to the point of insanity as obviously you want to know every single detail. Accept it, you’ll find out bits and pieces about what they do when they are not with you in time. Sometimes children are cruel and won’t always be nice to your children, you try and teach them how to stick up for themselves and how not to let others’ insults hurt them even though what you really want to do is call said cruel child horrible names. Your child won’t get invites to every party.
You have to teach them this is ok even though you want to march up and demand a party invite. When your first born brings home first painting from playschool, takes part in first nativity play etc crying is fine but remember no need to share their amazing achievements with all and sundry. Nobody else grasps how special it is, that’s the reason, I swear.
Try and enjoy it all
I tell myself this as often as I can especially when I am so tired I cannot speak or when every last ounce of my patience is shredded. Before we know it they will be sleeping in till noon, grunting and sighing instead of talking, won’t hold our hands crossing the road and wont be small enough to sit on our laps. They will think we are embarrassing instead of superheros.
Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. – Elizabeth Stone
Never a truer word was written.
Happy 6th Birthday my Precious First Born, love you to the moon and back x
This blog post first appeared on Theclothesline.ie Blog on April 5, 2012