Friday, 8 July 2016

Why Parenthood Is Nothing Like I Imagined

Not so long ago somebody asked me whether life as a parent was ‘everything I imagined it would be’ and I laughed so hard that food came out of my nose.

‘Oh yes,’ I replied, after realising that this was, in fact, a genuine question. ‘It’s everything I imagined it would be and more,’ adding a slight grimace which I hoped delivered the honest subtext of ‘Absofuckinglutely not.’

Remarking on all the failed expectations of parenthood is actually one of my favourite pastimes. Not in a ‘Wow, look at all the things I hoped I would do/say/be as a parent, I’m none of them hahaha!’ way but just a chuckle over all the shit I thought I would do.

Except that’s not strictly true.


Clear as a toddler's backwashed sippy cup?

Allow me to explain.

I’m not saying I have lied about imagining a whole host of shit I’ve subsequently never come close to doing, I'm saying that imagining doing these things is not the same as genuinely believing that I would do them.

Is anybody still with me? (This feels like the bit in Titanic when Rose is calling the rescue boats back and begging Jack to stay with her but it’s too late because his bollocks have frozen after she hogged the floating door big enough for two). Stay with me Jack, I’m getting to the point.


Not quite what I imagined
My point is that deep down I knew my vision of parenthood was unrealistic even before I threw a baby into the mix. And that’s actually got nothing to do with parenthood itself, not really, because I’ve been setting myself up to fail with unrealistic imaginings all my life.

Before I started secondary school, I imagined that I would be instantly accepted by the cool kids and that I'd successfully attract a boyfriend to hold hands with between lessons. Only it turns out that when you have Deirdre Barlow glasses engulfing two-thirds of your face and you team ankle-basher trousers with ‘square’ shoes from Clarks (because your mum wouldn’t let you go to Shoezone and get the platform ones) you never do slot straight into the cool crowd. In fact, you later find yourself in Year 11 with nothing to show by way of romance except a drunken snog in the Football Club car park with a boy you suspect was sick before he kissed you.

When I started working in finance, fresh-faced from University and keen as mustard, I imagined that I would swish around in pencil skirts and deliver dynamic presentations so impressive they would leave senior management bamboozled. Credit where credit’s due I had a pretty good bash at swishing around in pencil skirts and delivering presentations but I also had spells of mediocrity. I got things wrong, I didn't always make a dynamic impression and I once managed to get myself locked in the staff toilet where I had to be rescued by a commercial banking manager who climbed over the top of my cubicle and gave me a leg up (upon re-entering the office from the toilet I discovered word of the escape had spread and I was greeted with a round of applause). Work life wasn’t always very swish, in the end, but it did provide years of laughter.

Parenthood has taken these unrealistic imaginings to a whole new level because every stage of the parenting game brings a new anticipation. When I first imagined myself having children I visualised a mum who would rustle up fresh pesto with a pestle and mortar, while listening to Jazz. Who would glide around looking positively glowy with her baby in a sling and her toddler sat nicely doing crafts (she would exude maternal confidence and have all sorts of educational crafty ideas because that’s what imaginary glowy pesto-pulsing mums do).

Only I’ve never been a glider, not ever, and there’s nothing about passing a small human out of your fandango that automatically makes you more glidey, is there? The reality is that I’m clumsy, I walk into things, I always seem to manage to get the belt loop from my dressing-gown caught on the door handle so it pulls me backwards with great force. I’m crap at cooking, I hate crafts.


It’s never been the boys’ fault that I haven’t blossomed into the beacon of delicious yummy mumminess I imagined. That was never my calling. My calling has always been slightly crummier. I just imagined a sleeker version because that’s what imagination does. It creates expectation.

So you see, it’s not exclusively parenthood that has failed to become 'everything I imagined it would be'. It’s just that by their very nature our imaginings are a bit fucking daft.

They are also inevitable. Which is why I can’t help but imagine myself absolutely bossing the role of School Mum when Henry heads into the classroom for the first time this September. I’m imagining that I will be on top of costume-making and cake-baking and the trillion emails I’m told I can expect every day. I’ll have a magnetic family organiser and I’ll have my shit together at all times.
I imagine.


46 comments:

  1. You probably never imagined you'd be a best selling author/ celebrity blogging queen though and you've pretty much nailed that one πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ Bloody scary that it's nearly school time for your one though - I'm sure you'll be the playground queen in no time...

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  2. Do you know what? I actually love you .... I have an actual girl crush on you. My children are slightly older than yours but still you make me say 'oh my god yes' at most of your statements.... Heck I'm actually commenting on a post telling a stranger that I have a girl crush on them. This isn't me... I don't do this usually, I'm not a serial commenter.
    But unmummsy mum, I salute you, you not only dare say but write down and then publish to the world what 99% of the mum population are thinking. In doing that, if you make even some of us feel less shit about that stuff that we think we shouldn't be thinking but actual we all are, well, well I think you deserve a medal, or a massive glass of wine.

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  3. Another very witty and realistic picture of parenthood! Reading this has made my morning as I sit still in my pyjamas trying to figure out how I'm going to get everything organised to just leave the house. You'd think I'd have this down after 3years and 2kids! Maybe I should invest in a magnetic organiser too 😬

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  4. This makes so much sense. My imagination was the problem all along πŸ˜‚

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  5. The magnetic organiser is a pile of crap. It turns out it has needs too. Sigh.

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  6. Absolutely spot on as always. I always imagine cooking with my daughter is going to be a wonderful moment... It never is and I never learn lol
    Xx

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  7. πŸ˜‚ I have the same problem with belt loops on the door handles! It's brutal!

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  8. Brilliantly spot on as always. I always imagine cooking with my 3 year old daughter is going to be wonderful and it never is and I never learn. Xx

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  9. JUST has this same conversation with my husband. I honestly admitted that it wasn't how I imagined it either, but why do we imagine it's full of gliding, crafts. Is Ruth ever present from birth? Whispering at our sides since we are kids?? P.S Ruth is real? Isn't she?

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  10. I can't wait for September to hear your take on school life your rock !

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  11. Ha ha my two are roughly the same age as yours & I'm completely the same. Reading your blogs is like reading about my life. I hate crafts with a passion. I try every now and then to let my 4 Yr old paint but 5 minutes in I'm regretting that decision too. Anyway they get all that at school they don't need mummy to be like that 24/7 as well!

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  12. The epitome of a Beta Mummy: good intentions but it all goes ever so slightly to shit (often literally).

    We try our best ;)

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  13. I catch my belt loops on the frigging door handles ALL the time too!! Makes me feel like an idiot. Can totally relate to everything else you have said too.

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  14. I just bought my magnetic organiser at the end of reception, we've used it twice. I have spent this year relying on the parental Facebook group to tell me what's going on, (often on the morning of said event, a packed lunch?! Shit!), had one rush inside to change daughter with lightening speed as we started walking & realised it was non uniform day, (& the clothes I shoved her into turned out to be outgrown) & my neighbours know it's Wednesday because I'm always running back into school with a library book & show & tell item. I may have to write a post about it, surviving school as an unorganised wannabe Pinterest mum! 😊 Louise Pink Pear Bear

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  15. So true and funny. I laughed out loud about getting your dressing gown belt loop hooked on door handles and being jerked back-this happens to me too! Xxx

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  16. I so needed to read this today!

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  17. The dressing gown cord on the door handle gets me every time too!!

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  18. I get so angry when Rose complains she is cold ON TOP OF THE BOARD while Jack is in the actual FREEZING water (I also agree with everything else you have written!)

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  19. It's like someone entered my head and wrote about me! Parenthood flip turned EVERYTHING about me and what I thought I knew. 13 years on in still trying to figure it out �� Good luck with the playground - have your battle armour ready for the mums who are pesto pulsing right now!

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  20. Just when I think I couldn't love you more! ���� Keep doing what you do, you bloody wonderful hilarious woman!

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  21. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who constantly snags their clothing on door handles. And it always seems to be when I'm trying to pin down my toddler to get him dressed.

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  22. I am literally laughing out loud...hilarious and refreshing!

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  23. I don't even have kids yet. I still get stuck on the door with my dressing gown or handbag or coat... Sometimes boob if the door knob is an odd height.

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  24. I tend to imagine everything is going to be awful and I'm usually pleasantly surprised, or correct.

    Kudos for use of the word fandango which is also my current term of choice for ladyparts.

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  25. The great thing is that you're a beacon of realistic mumminess!

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  26. I remember a mum admitting to me once that she thought I was 'supermum' having all my 'shit together' with 4 kids....I laughed and laughed and went home to quaff my high dose of anti depressants and anti anxiety meds, and spend the rest of the day willing the housework to do itself.......

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  27. Well, I can safely say parenthood is nothing like I imaged it to be, not even remotely. But then I never imagined I would ever be a stay-at-home dad. Wouldn't change it for anything now, certainly not the high flying career I imagined I would have while the wife did the stay at home bit.

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  28. Not a mum, but highly entertaining reading for all! The more I see of parenthood the more convinced I am that pesto-pulsing mum is a bit like Bigfoot... it may have been sighted and people have definitely tried to prove it with photos on Facebook but I have yet to be convinced and is probably just used to scare people!

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  29. This made me laugh and remember when my kids were small. I worked full time and didn't have time to bake, make costumes, knit jumpers out of lettuce, dispense words of wisdom to instantly calm a tantrumming child, make things to sell at the school fete. I used to feel a failure but then I thought "feck it" I know I'll be there for my kids whatever and whenever, that's what counts. My kids are normal teenagers now........yep still driving me nuts but we rub along ok. We wonderful women are,always pressuring ourselves to be better at this or that. Just be you, your kids will think you're wonderful just as you are.

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  30. "I always seem to manage to get my belt-loop caught on the door handle so it pulls me backwards with great force" ..... I just managed to half muffle a snort laugh at this, which woke my partner next to me up...and the baby next door πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ it was worth it.

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  31. we changed the handles on the doors so no more dressing gown garotting - this has not stopped the front door getting amorous with my pockets to the same effect!

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  32. Haha! Same!
    We had our parents evening this week as my daughter starts in September and I had the same thoughts about the parents association.... Found myself nodding along to the speech thinking, yep, I'm totally getting involved in this shizz.
    I know full well I'll probably miss the first meeting then get so consumed with just sorting uniforms and lunches... And PE kits... And books.... I'll just give it a wide berth!
    I think our kids are pretty much the same ages..... X

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  33. I have three children all grown up now (four grandchildren as well) but you make me feel better about how I felt as a young mother. Totally useless! Thank you for sharing.

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  34. Your just what us mummies need when dealing with a testing toddler! Keep doing what your doing! xx

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  35. Hi
    Was given your book today and I've read it already it was fantastic I loved every bit of it and as a mum of 3 I totally understand every page x

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  36. My two daughters sometimes seem to team up to by naughty. It makes me feel useless too.

    Zoe

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  37. I imagined being this super perfect pregnant lady, you know, the one who is only pregnant not ill .... it all went wrong. I was facing many problems, felt awful, was scared that the baby could die inside me. It took me ages to get over that and also that silly guilt and fear that this bad pregnancy somehow influenced Mythos daughters (who btw also likes to sing pee and poo songs) health.

    Olivia

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  38. I had children in quick succession resulting in 4 children aged 3 and under,(identical twins in the mix) and yes before anyone asks, we had TV's in our house there was just never anything on !! My dreams of perfect parenthood were well and truly squashed! I imagined my mummy days to be perfect, filling the time with beautiful strolls in the park and joining lots of playgroups and generally being the super ooober fantastic Mummy who did it all! Instead, my days were filled with crappy nappies, bottles, toys everywhere (literally), a huge ironing pile and Cbeebies! I knew every Cbeebies theme tune word for word tune for tune, it was like my personal UK top 40!!! If I needed to pop out there was the daunting task of packing up changing bags, ensuring vast quantities of nappies and Easy up pants were in tow, pushchairs packed up, toddler strap on wrist of toddler and baby carrier attached to me for youngest baby! After all the preparation to go out and resembling something that would give a pack horse a run for its money I would pop out already totally beat up just preparing for this little outing! It really wasn't easy, there was no longer a "pop out" scenario in site for the next umpteen amount of years! But on reflection looking back there were some truly lovely moments, and being a stay at home Mum was always my dream and I was fortunate enough to be able to fulfil that and capture all their first steps, first words etc, but it was tough very tough! Its best never to have too many high expectations of motherhood especially in the early days! Now I'm the proud owner of 3.4 teenagers (youngest is now 12 but has a stroppy teenager attitude before the teenage years have even arrived, god help us when she does actually hit them!) and let me tell you even though they are growing up and becoming independent creatures, and you start to see a light at the end of the tunnel and your life starts to resemble more of a life you have been craving since you made that crazy decision to drop your first little love bomb out your womb, some days I could totally lose my shit with them! Teenage hormones are far more challenging than shitty bums and terrible two's. Take me back to those days when I actually had control of what they were wearing and spoon fed them their mashed up slop rather than watch them sift it round their plate like I had served them poison and I was the worst Mother ever!
    But everything aside I love them all to bits (unless they've just pissed me right off obviously which given its the summer holidays is quite frequent at the moment!) and its so great now that I can have a conversation with them that's more adult like and watching them grow into rather splendid human beings that I made is "Awesome!"
    I'm a proud and frustrated Mum all at the same time. Certainly not how I imagined it!

    Your book is amazing I loved it, thanks for the very funny read and I can't wait for the next one! X

    Ps Sorry this post is so Long!

    Shirley

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  39. I always laugh out loud reading this blog, it is just like medicine! I have been reading through chronologically through the blog over the last few months and today finally reached the most up to date one. It has been a lot of fun. I am thrilled by the honesty o this blog and feel it is an enormous force for good, helping to make the world a slightly less judgemental and kinder place. Good on you :)

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  40. Lisa
    While almost getting a speeding ticket whizzing round the supermarket on Friday, my 17 month old in the trolley, comfort teddy wedged in my bag along with dummy, juice and kitchen sink, teetering far too near to dinner time than I would like (seriously where does time go when ur in mummy time zone???) I spotted a book which caught my eye..... The Unmumsy Mum..... Obviously at the time I couldn't stop to look but I tried to log it in the 'should take a look at that one day' part of my brain! And I did, in the process finding the Unmumsy mum blog page, where has this been for the past 17 months of my life, I have just finished reading the posts (yep, all of 'em) it's taken me several days and nights but I got there in the end, I too have found the whole parenting thing tough to say the least and have questioned my sanity on more that one occasion, your blog page is fantastic, real, funny and pretty accurate to my life since I hopped on the motherhood roller coaster. Some of your posts have had me laughing so much it made me realise that I really should have set more time aside for those pelvic floor exercises, while others have literally reduced me to tears, not for any other reason than I thought thank god, I really am not alone others find this whole daily rigmarole of nightmare monotonous feeding, napping, whining, winging, tantruming child raising thing difficult too! As stupid as it sounds, a friend of mine had a baby just a few months before our little girl arrived, she sent me a text message saying (and I quote) "I can so see what all the hype is about, becoming a mum is amazing just wait and see, I'm just loving every minute of it" she went on to stay in touch regularly with similar messages along those lines, from the day my baby arrived I have judged myself on those words and felt an absolute failure, yes, it is amazing but it's bloody hard, I didn't love every minute of it, I remember saying to my other half on many occasions that there was clearly something wrong with me as this just wasn't enjoyable at all, sleepless nights, confined to the house, unable to put said bundle of joy down for more than 5 seconds without all hell breaking loose, throw reflux into the mix and it you get the picture, it ain't no picnic! By the same token when my little girl gives me big cuddles and one of her lovely smiles, it does somehow for that moment make it all worthwhile, and there's just nothing that can melt a heart more than when you hear them say mama! Thankyou to all posts on this blog site for having the courage to be honest, hopefully it will help many other mummies as you have now helped me, suddenly I feel it's ok to have bad days and mummy rage! massive high fives, keep up the brilliant work all you mummies and daddies out there and huge respect to the Unmumsy mum herself..... We've got your back!

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  41. I'm a ftm 5 months pregnant and never been lady like or graceful so this quote has just hooked me to your blog!!
    Only I’ve never been a glider, not ever, and there’s nothing about passing a small human out of your fandango that automatically makes you more glidey, is there?

    I'm your new biggest fan!!

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  42. I'm a ftm 5 months pregnant and never been lady like or graceful so this quote has just hooked me to your blog!!
    Only I’ve never been a glider, not ever, and there’s nothing about passing a small human out of your fandango that automatically makes you more glidey, is there?

    I'm your new biggest fan!!

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  43. But my dear, you are absolutely ACING this blogging and book writing/selling malarkey, and you're essentially a hero to mums across the nation. You rock, and I'm sure you'll be an excellent school mum once Henry starts xx

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  44. Sometimes I avoid 'friends' nights out because all they talk about is their children ( i, on the other hand want to talk about us as friends and the next bloody holiday or girls only few days away!) and how bloody amazing there sprogs are at everything, and if they (kids) are not good at something they always create a valid reason for them not to be. Me, when I talk they tell me how I should discipline my child, they know best for me. I nod, smile and wish i were somewhere else...

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