Parents are lonely creatures. This is why they tell other parents that having children is a good idea. They know that the only way they’ll ever interact with another grown human being is at a playdate. What they don’t tell you is that these get-togethers consist of half a glass of warm wine and yelling at your kid to give the other little shit back his toys. Generally, everyone’s more preoccupied with making sure that the tiny human beings don’t kill themselves than discussing books they’ll never have time to read and movies no one will ever see.
As soon as you get married people assume your sole purpose in life is to populate the world. Everyone’s like: “Are you guys trying yet?” Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge. The tired parents try to hide the desperation in their voice when they ask. All they want is a new member to the club where everyone laments the fact that they haven’t had a private bowel movement in weeks.
It’s almost as if matrimony instantaneously makes people think you now have a licence to fill the world with your offspring. Obviously signing a piece of paper and throwing a big party is conclusive proof that you are able to raise a child.
But one night you’ll be on your second bottle of wine and your wife will say: “Baby, let’s make a baby. We would be nothing like our parents! We’ll be so awesome. Maybe we should start trying.” But your selectively deaf from the wine and you only hear “awesome” and “start trying” and the next you know you’re stirring puréed pumpkin with the one hand and using a teaspoon to investigate a dirty diaper with the other. The child may or may not have swallowed a magnet three days earlier. You’re not sure, because you left him alone for 10 fucking seconds to frantically claw through the medicine cupboard for painkillers. Listening to a child throw a tantrum for 20 minutes is conducive to headaches. When you got back the magnet was missing, but at least he stopped crying.
Parents will tell you their life is rewarding. Moving. Inspiring. They gush glitter and vomit rainbows when they talk about the miracle of life. But parenthood is a lot of other things too. Its about pretending to be really, really, really into putting nappies on stuffed toys and making castles beneath blankets and making submarine noises while pretending to eat water spiders. If none of this makes sense now, it will. One day.
Parenthood is like being in a very long, bad, improvised musical. There’s a lot of exaggerated overacting, weird noises, songs and dancing and it often ends in tears of boredom. Sometimes, there’s even a bit of drama. Like finding your child in his room painting his duvet with red nail varnish when he was supposed to be sleeping two hours ago.
Parenthood is about always making sure there are batteries in the house and warming up pizza just right because Goldilocks doesn’t want it too hot or too cold. It’s about finding drawings made from soap on the mirror and about getting Lego bricks thrown at you in the shower.
Parenthood is about going for a nice sunny Sunday morning stroll with your toddler and coming back covered in poo with a half-naked child that shat his pants in the middle of nowhere. Parenthood is also about having wet-wipes. A lot of them. All the time.
Parenting is about ALWAYS checking the stove to see whether there isn’t a toy truck or a ball or a spanner hidden inside. It’s also about turning the handles in so that inquisitive hands don’t tug at boiling pots. Yes, parenthood is about being paranoid and seeing everything that can go wrong, all the time. It’s about failing at multi-tasking and being tired. So tired that you’re too tired to be tired.
Parenthood is a lot of things, but I’m not sure it’s rewarding. Unless keeping you alive another day counts. If you’re looking for reward rather go gym early in the morning or get another degree.
Parenthood is about emotions. And dealing with them. Its about being sad and depressed, but also being really happy. Its about the quiet moments when your watching your son give the dog a hug while he doesn’t know you’re watching. Its about lying in bed with him when he screams after a nightmare about a killer goose. Its about feeling like you would kill that fucking bird if you could. It’s about feeling love. A fierce, protective love. Being a parent is about hugs and kisses and teaching your child about his feelings. But real parenting is also about learning about your own.
And I hope you get to do that one day too.