I am a mother to two boys and a girl. My children are all approximately two years apart in age and they are my life. They have shaped a part of the woman I am today. I had read so much parenting material to prepare for motherhood. Whilst there was a lot of helpful information, there are certain things I still wish I would have known to have prepared for. I know that one can never really be fully prepared for being a parent, but what I am referring to didn’t even cross my mind.
I’m going to start with breastfeeding. I will unashamedly say it was not for me. My first born was breastfed for about 3 months, my second for just over a month, and my youngest only for the 5 days we spent in the hospital. Thankfully, my breastmilk dried up very easily. My reason – PAIN. I have a very low pain threshold generally, and with all the advice that was volunteered, with all the materials I read, I did not come across how painful breastfeeding can be. Only when I searched for why I was in pain with my firstborn, did I find information about it. I immediately decided it was not for me. As soon as I could give it up, I did.
Then, there was the first fever, cough, and sneeze. I think this is the first time I realised that I too could be overly dramatic. In fact, when it comes to my children not being well, I still am. All you want is to make them feel better immediately. I would not sleep. I would do everything I possibly could to stay awake to make sure my child was still breathing. I would go mad – so mad that I vividly recall waking my children when this happened to just make sure they were ok. If they didn’t wake up fast enough, the panic would escalate with me screaming out their name and shaking them awake.
What about allergies? Both my boys had food allergies – one allergic to both dairy and wheat and the other dairy. My oldest son was my first experience of dealing with a food allergy. I can still remember the horror of my child going blue, swelling up and breaking out in hives. I felt like I was dying inside when this happened the first time. I had no idea what was happening. My sons have both outgrown their food allergies – thankfully. With allergies, especially food allergies, there needs to be more awareness. Talk to your friends and family to help create an awareness of how life-threatening this can be. I didn’t know how bad it could be until my son was diagnosed. If neither of my boys had allergies, I might still be ignorant about it.
If you’re a working mom, going back to work after your maternity leave and having to leave your fragile, helpless little baby with someone else is another emotionally heart-wrenching moment. Even my third time around, and when I only had to do this after my son was six months old, it wasn’t any easier. It makes me think of my best friend who in fact returns to work today after four months of maternity leave, leaving behind her first born. I can resonate with every feeling of sadness, worry and longing that she will have today. It is such a heavy feeling leaving your little one behind for the first time.
I heard from many the phase of the “terrible two’s”. Wow – what a nightmare! How many tantrums can toddlers actually have? I wasn’t prepared for it. Just when you think you have mastered your way around one thing that causes a tantrum, my darling children found yet another tantrum for the oddest of things. Anywhere, anytime, often with no warning. I will never forget one evening when my daughter had a massive tantrum due to being incredibly tired, but of course didn’t want to sleep. She rolled around on the floor, stomping her feet, crying and screaming louder and louder. My husband and I after what felt like hours had enough and decided to leave our nearly three year old to just get it out for as long as she needed. Eventually things were quiet. We looked around and she had fallen asleep on the cold tiled floor, half her body underneath the dining room table, at peace.
What about the start of school, and all the germs that continues going around and around again between our little darlings and the teachers. Then it works its way through the household, and the cycle repeats itself sometimes 3 or 4 times in so many months. When you eventually feel like being well and healthy will never happen again. All you get told is that “their immune systems are getting stronger”. No – I would much rather have been told, to start using immune boosters, vitamins, etc., as early as is possible. Thankfully, my first child enabled me to be prepared for school the second and third time round. And, these things worked for me.
As they got older, friends became more important than parents. Friends know more than parents. In fact, what friends say is the “Holy Grail”. I wish I was prepared for just how much value these little stakeholders have in my children’s lives. A few years on, their social lives become busier than those of the parents. In fact, parents are the secretaries who manage their children’s schedule, and the chauffeur ensuring our darling sons and daughters get to where they need to be. Fast forward just a little bit more and you might hear them talking about “liking” other girls and boys. Then at 13 years old, your son has a “girlfriend”. What? How? Am I really that old? Has everything in life started happening way earlier?
Ultimately, as parents, we will never stop worrying and there will always be something we fear for our children and would want to protect them from. We will always be needed and possibly never really be prepared for being a parent even when our children have children. I have learned to just go with it, to talk about what I go through, and respond to questions about being a parent based on my experience. But the above is what I would have appreciated knowing more about rather than the sleepless nights because of feeding and nappy changes, the expense that comes with having a baby, the many vaccinations, the milestones, and all the niceties. The difficult emotions and challenging experiences would have been great to at least have awareness about.
I’m sure parents around the world might resonate with some of these things, and I hope that parents expecting for the first time find some value in this post.
Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being