This post is actually going to come with a dedication. Why the heck not. This post is to everyone who has ever looked despairingly at their child(ren) or their own reflection in the mirror and thought “Am I doing this right?” Or even “I’m really not doing this right!”. But especially, this is dedicated to my friend Rachel aka Mummy Glitzer.
I have spent many, and I do mean many, many, many MANY hours in the last three years worrying. About my capabilities as a parent. I wonder if perhaps, I feel that burden weighs heavier on my shoulders as I’m a single parent and therefore I have to be two people’s worth of parent. Possibly, but either way, I’m sure you’ve felt the same at some point.
Let’s not lie or try to kid ourselves now. Parenting is HARD. It is really, fucking hard. Nothing prepares you for it. These kids, they come along, they rip your body apart (or if your a man, they fill your partner with such crazy hormones that she might just rip you apart), they deprive you of sleep, they make your house stink of something indescribably awful, they cry and shout and generally damage your hearing they make constant attempts to harm themselves the second you look away… its knackering.
So. I am here, Ladies and Gentlemen, to put your fears to rest. I have the answers you have all been waiting for. Here it is, my guide to parenting, my own Gina Ford Guide if you will, to this minefield we call parenting…
Rule 1: To Fail to Prepare is to prepare to fail. Be prepared folks. Arm yourself, for this war against the tiny people. Fill your cupboards with salty, sugary snacks, multi packs of them if you can, to fling at your children in self defence in times of need. Yes fruit, try fruit but I tell you, it will not save you. Jamie Oliver has staff. He is not a foot soldier in this battle.
Rule 2: Sleep. The Holy Grail. Again, stockpiling is your best option. Sleep should be embraced as your friend, your comrade. If that means snoozing on the sofa for 4 minutes at a time while the little darlings crayon in their favourite CBeebies characters directly onto the television then so be it. If you nod off on your commute, or in my case, stood upright behind the bar This Is Fine! Do not fight the sleep. Sleep loves you, let it caress you and care for you.
Rule 3: Wine. Or gin (tins optional). Whatever your poison, it should be readily available at all times. A good parent does not allow the stresses of the day to continue even a second past bedtime. Deposit the children into their beds and RUN, grab a glass and fill it, fill it to the brim! Gulp it down and Let It All Go. The housework will still be there tomorrow. Trust me. It’s pointless tidying, they’re only going to trash the place again tomorrow anyway and Kim & Aggie will not come knocking on your door. (They’re too busy trying to break down mine).
Rule 4: Coffee. Do not, I repeat, Do Not attempt to embark into the battlefield of a morn without this. But proceed with caution. Kids are aware of the power the brown nectar has over their parents and may try to consume your coffee to strengthen their own arsenal if you leave your cup within reach.And no-one wants a toddler full of caffeine at 6.3oam.
Rule 5: Be wary of how you man your platoon. Out there in the real world, away from the safety of the internet are the Uber Parents. You know the ones I mean. The ones who are always eerily On Time for things, who’s children are lacking in food stains or bogeys trying to get into their mouths. The ones who’s houses are as immaculate as their manicures, who, when you open their car doors no raisins cascade out onto the ground or chickens fly out of the boot. We all have real world friends. And we all know the ones I’m talking about. Be wary of the Mummy who’s little darling walked at 27 minutes old, who’s first word was ‘astronomy’ who has NEVER eaten ketchup or rubbed Wotsits into the carpet. They will not help you. Instead, embrace the honesty of others. Do not be afraid to admit, that last night you did not cook a Delia-Happy dinner for yourself and instead ate the children’s leftovers on bread while standing up in the kitchen. I suspect that many of the Uber Mummys do not have twitter. Or if they do, we’re doing a lot of fucking lying to each other out there.
Rule 6: Remember- you’re all they’ve got. So yes, perhaps in some respect, they’re stuffed. But hey, they don’t know any different and at the moment, they love you! Even if you were the perfect parent, we’ll all have to endure the years of angst ridden teenage hatred together anyway. Enjoy their unquestioning love while it lasts!
Rule 7: With Rule 6 in mind: Forgiveness. Kindness is key in this game. All joking aside, honestly, I believe that but for a small few, we are ALL doing our best. If you love your kids, care for them, clothe and feed them, even wash them and said clothes sometimes, if you are there for them, making yourself accessible to listen to their troubles, their joys, to hand out cuddles and tickles, to get the Hula Hoops down from the cupboards they can’t reach, to change the channel over to CBeebies at their demand, then hey… that’s not bad.
Rule 8: Remember. Being in our childrens lives is not a right. It is a privilege We cannot, and do not, despite those of us who try, mould our children into what we would like them to be. They will choose their own paths regardless, our job, our blessing, is to be there to help and support them along the way. One day, they will be old enough to decide for themselves how big or how small a part they want us to play in their lives.
If you have ever been so exhausted after a night of broken sleep that even your skin hurts, ever given in and let them have some crappy snack of crisps or a biscuit before dinner, ever just let them watch TV instead of doing crafts or going to the park or whatever, ever let them come and sleep in your bed because its just easier to do that and go back to sleep that continue the battle through the night, ever panicked at the thought of visitors because the house is in disarray, ever done any of that and more. You are not a bad parent. You are a parent.
If you have ever worried about your parenting skills, ever feared that you’re not doing it right or that you should be doing more, or better, or differently then that is enough. Because in those thoughts is the desire to do the best for your children. To give them the very best that you have to offer as a parent and a family. No-one is perfect. But if you look at your child and believe that actually, despite being such little terrors, They just might be perfect, then you’re doing it right.