Friday, September 14, 2012

The BB top 5 list of surprising things about kids and parenting

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to have a child. When adults would ask little Vanessa what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would always respond: "a mum". She, being me, had dreams of taking care of a husband and babies and being a proper little mummy, just like in the family shows on the telly. Probably not a Brady Bunch style family, but a family. And not like my family; in my childhood fantasies I would be a stay at home mum, not a work sometimes seven days a week mum (no judgements on my mum FYI, just saying).

That's my 8ish year old self with my toy babies.
From left to right: Teddy (my all time favourite toy),
Alexis (my Cabbage Patch daughter) and Christina (my sister's Cabbage Patch, ie my niece) 

This desire for kids didn't wane with age. My family is not a particularly big one, and my son was the first grandchild, so I'd never had any real experience with babies either. And even though my lifestyle was very unconducive to raising a child, I still wanted one. At 34 when my newborn boy was first handed to me, I'd never changed a nappy before. Ever.

So when I was kind of thrown into parenthood, on my own (with a lot of help from my now retired parents), I was pretty surprised by some of the stuff that comes with having a kid.

The BB top 5 list of surprising things about kids and parenting

(aged 0 to 3 years and almost 9 months)

1. Kids come with a lot of sand 

Yes. Sand. Our washing machine and dryer are both FULL of sand. Noo brings back the equivalent of half the Simpson Desert with him every day. It is hidden in shoes, pockets, bodily crevices...

Since we had our dining table painted matte black I can notice it more than ever. From the dryer, to the washing basket, dumped on the table and it is everywhere! Sand! For us, this started at around 14 months when Noo started daycare. Everywhere.

Sand collection in action

2. Three year olds really do listen to you and repeat what you say in their own little ways

It is so strange, hearing my most commonly used words thrown back at me by a little person. Except for swear words. I used to be a chronic swearer. I love to swear. I don't know why. Maybe it makes me feel powerful and cool. Why does anyone use four letter words to express themselves? I've obviously cut back on the cussing since Noo could speak, but it is a hard habit to break.

I still say shit a lot. I try to say 'shivers' in replace of shit but still shit comes out. And I try to say 'fudge' in replace of the F-bomb. Despite the fact that I do say shit, oh and 'bloody', quite a lot, I've never heard Noo say either. I told him these are grown up words that only grown ups are allowed to say. He accepts that. For now.

When Noo was a little tacker, with only a few words and phrases, he would say "here-ya, here-ya, here-ya" with his little arms stretched out in the general direction of whatever it was he wanted. It wasn't til then that I realised that I say "here-ya" all the time. As in "here-ya, have this" or "here-ya, gimme that". Dreadful. My mum is always reminding me of that expensive private school education I had and she paid for. We didn't have elocution lessons, mum!

The other funny phrases Noo says, that obviously come from me are: "Oh my goodness!", and "I really fancy a ...", and "Actually...". Also Noo never answers in a simple yes or no. It is always "I will" or "I won't" or "I have", etc. You get the picture.

3. Being a mum can be lonely

I had no idea how lonely being a mum can be. I know I'm a sole parent so of course there'll be times that I feel alone. But I don't think single mums are the only ones who feel it. Partnered mums spend an enormous time alone raising their kids while the father/partner is off at work. 

Also, dad/partner isn't going to be getting up at night for the 3am feed with you. There's no need for two to do that job. There is a lot of time where mum/primary care giver is by themselves with their baby who gives nothing back but smiles and cuteness and lots of good stuff, but it isn't the same as being with someone who is actually going to talk back to you in comprehensible sentences.

Only recently have I really started to absolutely love my solo time with Noo. I loved being with him before now, it was just harder. Now he is nearly four he is conversational, reasonable (most of the time), engaging and a whole lot of fun. We are best buds and I don't feel lonely when I'm with him any more.

4. Somehow you get used to handling disgusting bodily waste products

Poo, wee, vomit, snot. You name it, kids excrete it! We all think it is disgusting. I was always proud of myself that I only got baby poo on my hand once when Noo was a bubba. But then came toddlerhood and toilet training. That shit (yes, pun intended) is messy! And wee? As chief penis holder, while Noo learns to do 'stand up wees', I've got little boy pee on my hands way too often! 

And in the colder months? I had no idea I'd be wiping mucus off the kid constantly and picking his nose for him and wiping the snot trails off furniture... No idea.

The weird thing is that I'm not freaked out about it like I was pre-baby. It is still gross, don't get me wrong, but I guess as a parent, you just can't walk away from it. You just gotta get over it! Someone's gotta clean it up.

5. The love you feel for your own child is like nothing you have felt or will ever feel

OK, so I always knew I'd love my baby. Always. But I could never have predicted how deep and true that love would be. When I found out I was having a boy, I knew I loved Noo and would do anything for him. But it wasn't until I met him on the outside that I truly fell in love.

I know I've shown this pic on my blog before but I love it.
The day we met.

I spent five days in hospital on my own with Noo over Christmas 2008. It was both terrifying and wondrous at the same time. I would not let Noo go. I wanted him in bed with me and was constantly getting into trouble with the midwives for falling asleep with Noo in my arms. It was like if I let him go he might disappear. On the other hand, it was quite a lonely time. I had my own room and had to stay a while because of my history of depression and addiction and just generally lacking any real coping skills. My family and friends came to visit, but only for short periods, and I felt an overwhelming sense of aloneness with this new alien creature that I had no idea how to care for. On Christmas eve my beautiful sister Yolanda stayed with me in the hospital on the bed reserved for dads or partners. The post birth blues had kicked in and I couldn't stop crying. But through the tears and the fear my love for my baby only grew and grew.

Looking into Noo's closed eyes tonight as I carried him from the couch to his bed while he slept, I felt it. That overwhelming sense of pure love that I can't describe. As he lay in my arms, completely vulnerable and innocent, peaceful and calm, I looked into that beautiful soft face and my heart swelled with it. There's no judgement, no conditions. Just love.

I love all the surprises that come with parenthood. I love watching Noo learn new things and overcome new challenges or achieve new goals. He is truly my pride and joy and any other cliché you can come up with. I love that kid.

He is my son and I am his mum.

No surprises there!



Kylie Purtell said...

I LOVE this post, it's absolutely perfect and I have to agree with all of them, although we only just got sand for the first time on Wednesday. Mia's first and only experience with it and it's still everywhere despite two baths! Haven't had much experience with #2 but 3, 4 and 5, Yes, oh yes, I know exactly what you mean. Just lovely mate!

Mumabulous said...

I found myself nodding along with just about everything in this post. My princesses have secret repositories of sand and always manage to haul a beach load of the stuff with them back from kindy. I swear you could set up a beach volley ball court in my car. They mimic nearly everything I say including what spurts out in moments of road rage. Bodily fluids are all in a days work. The one thing that fortunately I can disagree with is the loneliness. I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic Mums group and to make a number of new friendships since having kids. My life is more social than my husband's.
All the very best

Grace said...

Gosh, you're gorgeous! And I just love that last photo. You both absolutely belong together.
This mothering gig is pretty bloody lonely. And I'm surprised as to how resilient I've become. As for the sand...we just got a whole pile in the house yesterday. I so totally hear you :) x

Rachel @ TheKidsAreAllRight said...

Beautiful post Vanessa. I had to laugh at the sand - it is a race at our house to see if we remember to take off the 3 yo's shoes OUTSIDE before she takes them off inside. She brings home half the sandpit from daycare.

And I think my frequent handling of poo was covered well by point 4.

The Babbling Bandit said...

Thanks Kylie. Wait til Mia starts talking. It really is so much fun. Although Ned said a really inappropriate word at the supermarket today. I don't know where he heard it because there's no way he heard it from me or anyone in our family because we simply do not say that word, ever. We're thinking he may have made it up. Yes, he said the C-word! He actually called another little boy a 'boy c###'. I asked him to repeat it to see if I actually heard right and I did. I told him not to say it again. He may have made it up. I don't know... *shakes head*

The Babbling Bandit said...

I missed out on joining a mothers' group. I moved back into the city just when Ned was about 7 weeks old. There are no early childhood centres in this area and I was quite unwell with post-partum thyroid disease so my anxiety was through the roof. It is something that I regret though. Will defo join one if I ever have another one! Thanks for your comment. V.

The Babbling Bandit said...

Thanks Grace. That photo was taken just after our epic 39 hour labour. Well 30 of pre labour. Little bugger was posterior and he made me work for that picture!! V.

The Babbling Bandit said...

Thanks Rachel. The sand issue is something I really never considered pre baby. We live in an apartment and it seems to get everywhere. Looking forward to summer when at least Ned wear sandals to school so less of the sandpit will come home with him in his shoes.

Kylie Purtell said...

I hate to think of the things she is gonna pick up from me. I love to swear but have been trying really hard to try and curb that vice and strangely the swearing seems to be coming out more and more in my blog posts, much to my mothers horror! Lol! Just waiting for the day she drops an f-bomb, I hope it's not her first word! And the c-word? My oh my, where do they pick up these things???

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