Pits and Peaks of Parenting

Becoming a parent has been this dizzyingly fast rollercoaster, that makes me realise how fast life moves again and again- but in the same vein, parenting how also made me realise how much people need other people.

I’m 21 years old. I didn’t know this time a year and a half ago that I’d have a baby. Neither did my family, my friends or my boyfriend. So therefore nobody was around to tell me just how rewarding yet tiring, fun yet isolating, or beautiful yet horrible it was all going to feel. I didn’t know that I was going to get antenatal depression or post natal depression, and even if I did know- I didn’t know what that would mean for me. These are all things that you take on as they come, so at least everyone was right about having to learn on the job.

Once you have your baby, you get tonnes and tonnes of support. Everyone wants to bring around presents, offering babysitting, staring in awe of the beauty that is a fresh, new baby, straight out of the womb. For the first few weeks, you practically don’t get left alone- as if you’re not already distracted enough with a new human always within arms length.

After said few weeks, everyone disappears into the night until you’re mostly left with you, your partner (if that’s your situation), and your new person. Everyone texts and calls less and less, and the new allure of a baby wears off. Suddenly it’s been months since you’ve heard from anyone.

After birth, you can sleep on your stomach, bounce on trampolines, even go horse riding if that’s your style. Your body is mostly yours (if you’re not breastfeeding), and you’re free to drink as much alcohol as you used to, eat as much sushi as you want and just generally go back to doing all of those fun things that specifically caution pregnant people not to do (sleeping on my stomach was probably my favourite part).

Sometimes you need stitches, for a week or two you can’t sit without being in pain, you can’t feel any muscle in your stomach, everything feels mushy, you’re exhausted, your boobs are busting with new milk and your hormones are completely up the left. At first you might wonder if giving birth left you in worse condition than you were while you were in labour. And what nobody tells you is about the length of time it takes for your body to recover. It’s been 8 months and I am still recovering. Some parts painful, some parts not. Nightmare.

You wake up every morning with a tiny little person to smile at. Who eventually smiles back at you, laughs at you, laughs with you, who you get to share your whole world with. And they love you, stretch marks and all.

Sometimes that’s at 5am. Or 3am. Or 1am. Maybe even all of them. It’s the luck of the draw really. Maybe you’ll be too exhausted to keep track.

Watching them reach their milestones could make your entire heart burst. Just knowing that you’re the main person to help get them there feels like nothing else. Kind of makes you reminisce about when you were a baby. It’s so crazy that at once point in our lives we spent at least 8 months just lying there waiting to be picked up and cuddled by someone that loved us. What a dream.

You have to clean up the poop, settle the tears, put them to bed, let them fuss, cry and scream (you know, all the dirty work that the cool aunties don’t have to do). I’ll be honest though, this one isn’t really so bad.

If you have them young like I did, by the time you’re 40, they’ll (fingers crossed) be out the door, itching to get away to university. You can do all of the cool travelling, cool hobbies, cool anything that you want to do- because by then, you’ll be more likely to have the time and means to do it. Life doesn’t stop once you have kids, so neither should you.

While your friends are all out living it up in their 20s, staying up late and sleeping in the next day, travelling, spending their student loans, learning new things, experiencing real freedom for maybe the first time; you’re at home with a baby, teaching them how to walk, talk, and poop in a toilet.
(This one also isn’t so bad if you think about it- kind of cool really. Tomato tomahto.)

Having my son was a blessing. I have moments of doubt about how good of a mother I am, and I have some serious FOMO in the worst of times. But I’m helping raise a member of our future (hopefully not terrible) society. It’s something that everyone does when they’re ready and willing- and the fact that I’m doing it now isn’t the end of the world. It’s relatively fun and always exciting. Even when things feel bad, most of the time they’re not. My very unexpected situation was actually a really lucky one, and I get to look forward to all of the things ahead of me as a young parent. Pregnancy as a whole? Mostly terrible nearing the end. Childbirth? Also terrible but honestly you’ll probably forget about it as quick as it happened. Parenting? Hard. Super hard. But amazing and beautiful and rewarding when you have an amazing person to do it with.

(Shoutout to single parents out there- you’re a cooler, better, stronger and more resilient person than I’ll ever be.)

Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity, they think of you

H. Jackson Brown

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