In the dim and distant past, otherwise known as the years before children, I vaguely remember an old boss once making what, at the time, I thought was a really fatuous comment.
I seem to recall that I’d been moaning about how knackered I was. She as a busy, working mum-of-three no doubt thought that, with me then being 28 and childless, it was one of the most stupid complaints she’d ever heard.
‘Wait until you have kids,’ she told me. ‘Then you’ll really know the meaning of being tired.’
And much as I feel like I’m betraying my younger self by admitting this, boy was she right!
Not that I’m here to preach to the un-converted you understand, but one of the secrets of having a family that you never really ‘get’ until living through it, is how you will learn to survive on hardly any sleep – and copious amounts of caffeine to slightly deaden that ‘insomnia’ tension headache.
Blue-eyed boy seems to be teething again at the moment – judging by his grumpy night-time moods and extensive drooling. Which means he isn’t sleeping – so neither are we.
And incidentally what’s with that thing where those pesky one-year-olds like to throw you off guard? You know with one good night where you think it’s either over or you’ve finally cracked it, followed by five bloody awful ones!
Anyway, lack of shut-eye aside. All this sleep deprivation torture/ extra early hours analysing time, has got me thinking about those other scenarios that you never fully relate to until having pushed out a sprog or two.
It’s a little like suddenly being able to speak a new language.
Firstly there’s the fear of causing a scene in a public place. Yes you care less as time goes by (party because you don’t have the energy) but don’t pretend you ‘enjoy’ being the mum of the offspring having a hissing, kicking tantrum in your local shoe shop or public library.
Then there’s the associated family tension caused by eating out. Yes that previously enjoyably leisure pursuit now compromised by everyone’s fear of causing a scene in a restaurant.
And by the way ‘friends’ who tell you their immaculately behaved children sit nice and quietly doing colouring before using their knife and fork properly only make it worse!
There’s the worry about your kid being ‘the one’ in the toddler music class (and this is true of any class, birthday party or ‘toddler social setting’ with other parents you don’t know well) who either runs around screaming causing total carnage or knocks another child over.
And it’s guaranteed to be the one belonging to ‘Judgy Mummy’ who will look down at her nose at you while you apologise profusely.
There’s the thing where you feel like laughing in the face of the health visitor who advises you to cut out drinking several nights a week – or altogether. And so what if that welcoming glugging sound occasionally happens before bath-time…
These little ‘parenting club’ scenarios are endless so sure to be revisited here on the Neat Freak blog.
But the final one for now is one that recently reared its head with my poor sister and her two lovely boys. Namely the horrible feeling that comes with being ‘put in your place’ just because your children are, well, being children.
In this case it involved them going out for breakfast, an obviously childless couple shooting her evils for the entire meal and muttering about ‘terrible parenting’ and then when she politely approached them and said they were making her feel uncomfortable she was sworn at.
It’s something that in the days before kids I would never have fully appreciated the awfulness of. But now I do.
So, in the spirit of goodwill, I hope the bastards choked on their eggs!