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To ask was parenting like you thought it would be?

(93 Posts)
PriestessModwena Wed 10-Jul-19 07:16:30

I follow various parenting social media accounts, it's sad to see Mothers/Parents who look dejected, as their child/ren have played on their last nerve or things haven't gone as expected, deviating from the dreamlike parent routine is a failure of sorts.

I think we as parents should be more aware/accepting that parenting isn't always a dream, with times when baby/toddler/child or teenager does not act like the angelic little cherub you expected.

Different stages of child development have their own quirks as it were. (Even into adulthood!)

I'm sure this gets discussed, I think from time to time it's good to have a reminder that parenting is seldom how you expected. Some expectations you have/had about parenting, totally go out of the window.

I had fertility treatment for DC, I had all these great ideas on what I'd do, how I'd never do x/y/z, in the end CBeebies as mind numbing as it is, can buy you time to make yourself / your home look half presentable. You can buy all the children's books published, if DC hates reading you can't force them. Car journeys over certain times can be made easier with DVD's / electronic devices.

The best advice I had whilst pregnant / parenting, was you can buy all the parenting books in the world, watch all the videos of airbrushed perfect parents, read all the blogs, just remember your DC are unique, it would be a bit dull if one size fit all. Especially with babies & toddlers, they're not programmed with whatever latest expert is saying to achieve perfect parenting.

You have to do what's right for your DC & yourselves.

Is there anything you would pass on to those who are entering the world of parenting at all? Or for the parent who is really struggling?

MustardScreams Wed 10-Jul-19 08:37:41

The first 18 months were harder than I could ever imagine. I was very against sleep training or being away from dd for any length of time, much to both our detriment.

Since I’ve chilled out and realised 5 minutes of crying isn’t going to cause irreversible brain damage hmm it’s been much easier. I actively enjoy dd’s company now. Before I loved her, but it was stressful and hard and I didn’t wtf I was doing. She’s 2.5 and makes me laugh all the time.

I wish I’d known it wasn’t always going to be fraught with panic and anxiety. I still worry of course, but it’s a reasonable worry now.

swingofthings Wed 10-Jul-19 08:38:42

Trying to be perfect parents with an unconscious expectation in return that they will be grateful is what is doing kids most harm.

It is likely to contribute to the increase pressure they feel under. We don't need to be perfect parents to raise healthy happy children, consistent parenting is much more important. I was definitely not a perfect parent but I must have done ok as both are becoming young adults to be proud of.

Zaphodsotherhead Wed 10-Jul-19 08:39:01

Mine are grown up now, and how they got there I'm still not quite sure.

Dear God, the fighting! The arguing about why they shouldn't have to do something they blatently DID have to do, just because no one else was doing it, etc etc etc. The mess. The noise. The awful, awful television programmes...

But they seem to have turned out all right, so those twenty years of gritted teeth have paid off.

zafferana Wed 10-Jul-19 08:41:57

I remember when I was pregnant with DS1 and sitting at work dreaming of how lovely it would be to be at home snuggling with my baby. It was a totally rose-tinted view of parenting and one that wasn't based in anything like reality! I blame lack of exposure to babies/children before I had my own and my own lack of interest in finding out. I didn't read parenting books, still don't, and knew very few people who had DC before I had my own. So has the reality been disappointing? Well yes and no. When I compare how I am with my kids it's very similar, I suspect, to how my own parents felt parenting me and my siblings. It's hard bloody work. It involves a lot of sacrifices of time, money and all the things that as an adult I'd much rather be doing. But there are moments and magic and I really don't regret having my kids and I'm glad I didn't know what it would really be like beforehand, before if I had I'd never have done it!

HeyDuggeesCakeBadge Wed 10-Jul-19 08:54:25

I've found it hard, relentless and utterly thankless at times. I think the 24/7 nature of parenting you can't imagine when pregnant.

Now they are out of the baby phase it is easier in some respects but they are on the go constantly, still never really slept through and my body feels old and on the brink of collapse.

I love them more than i ever thought possible and they are absolutely hilarious and great company when not screaming at me.

BlueMoon1103 Wed 10-Jul-19 09:19:19

@growlingbear

Other good advice: don't feel guilty if you don't enjoy a phase of parenting. I was no good with babies. They bored me. I didn't really enjoy parenting until they could talk and do their own thing. If you hate toddlerhood or adolescence, that's OK. They won't be in that stage forever. Just muddle through, do your best and try to have fun together a few times a week, even if it's just laughing at the dog or making their favourite dinner.

That. Exactly what I was going to say!

corythatwas Wed 10-Jul-19 09:24:23

otoh I can see the strength on the "your baby hasn't read the book" argument

otoh so many threads are started by shocked parents who can't understand why their sweet and smiley 18mo has turned into a stroppy 2yo who throws tantrums and refuses to do as she is told shock

and I can't help thinking, well if you'd only read a book....

Where I went to school (abroad) we actually had a compulsory term on child development in secondary: I found that hugely useful when my own dc passed through various annoying stages 20 years later.

MaverickSnoopy Wed 10-Jul-19 09:47:51

Not at all how I pictured. I imagined having little English roses with hair in bunches, skipping through fields and picking flowers. Really.

I came down to earth pretty quickly and settled into real parenting quite well. I think what I actually struggle with most is how so many other people seem to have it sussed, kids playing nicely and family togetherness and we seem to spend our lives running around like headless chickens just trying to keep everyone alive, let alone doing fun stuff.

I think the key thing with parenting is to keep your children alive and happy and if you can manage that then you've pretty much nailed it - everything else is just background noise.

formerbabe Wed 10-Jul-19 09:51:31

I thought it would all be smocked tops and building sandcastles with cute little blue eyed blond children

What a weird comment.

Are blond haired blue eyed children cuter than others then?

SudowoodoVoodoo Wed 10-Jul-19 09:53:58

I wasn't prepared for the quantity of loitering, especially around playgrounds and parks grin

I did have the foresight to realise when DS was 3 that he was going to become a Minecraft devotee. I deferred as long as I reasonably could but after a summer of hearing nothing but "mummymummy on minecraft..." that downloading it was the only sensible course of action. Now I get some peace while he actually plays it.

People always wondered why I went for secondary teaching (particularly because I blend in far too well with a class of y7s) but having young DCs makes me realise it was the right call as struggling with the obsessive interests from the two people I love most in the world doesn't bode well for being patient with other people's progeny.

YY to different phases. Other than sleep deprivation and physical recovery from pregnancy/ birth, I like the baby phase. Whenever I get a broody pang, I repeat the word "toddler" until the moment passes. Three repititions usually suffices. DS1 was a relentless tantrummer. DS2 was an Usain Bolt type. DS1's "terrible twos" went from 10m to 5+, so lots of overlap with DS2's turn. I realised suddenly when they were 5&3 that life was suddenly simplifying. I love the primary school years at the moment... apart from the bickering.

The logistics of the school years are tougher than nursery especially when there is no family back-up.

Parent the child you have. Ignore people who have DCs of a totally different personality type. Don't sweat the small stuff. Yes a 2.5 yo can make it a totally unworthy battle to wear clothes they don't like. As long as they are safely dressed and appropriate to the the occasion, it's not worth battling beyond that. Some DCs are more pliable than others.

Highly functioning SN children don't come with labels or manuals. It can take years of life just being harder or being a bit out of synch to build up enough of a picture to investigate.

I intellectually knew it would be tiring... that doesn't prepare you for relentless exhaustion. It's the permanently being accountable. Recently had my first child-free weekend in years, but we still couldn't risk going too far or being too drunk incase a child needed an emergency collection.

Two words: SOCKS! SHOES!

I love it though and did plough on with the second before I could intellectualise myself out of it. I realised that a third would send me to the permanently demented zone though grin

bibliomania Wed 10-Jul-19 10:01:18

I agree with a pp about not feeling an instant whoosh of love when dd was born. It was a c-section, and I genuinely think that it's a different experience hormonally, and my body didn't release the burst of oxytocin that it's meant to. For the first few weeks/months, I felt perfectly well-disposed to her, but she just felt like - well, like a relative, like a cousin or something.

So far I feel like I've had an easy ride with parenting (she'll 11 now, so the jaws of hell might be about to yawn). I was old enough by the time she was born to know that the fantasy and the reality of any experience tend to be quite different, so it wasn't too much of a shock.

Camomila Wed 10-Jul-19 10:12:04

I always imagined I'd have blue eyed blond haired DC - because I was a blue eyed blond haired DC. Just imagined a mini me! Completley forgot about the dad part.

Siameasy Wed 10-Jul-19 10:26:33

My advice would be - parent the child you’ve got and not the one you think you ought to have.
I blame Instagram etc for a lot of these woes as people are living life online rather than mixing with actual people. SM presents a sanitised view of life with kids. Wooden toys, nature walks etc but never ever show the majority of the time which is at best mundane

NaviSprite Wed 10-Jul-19 11:15:33

It has had it’s hard moments - I didn’t expect my twins to be born two months premature and at such a low birth weight and certainly didn’t envision the 4 month NICU stay, so I have to say I have held a disappointment (in myself) for not being able to experience much with them during that time, never got to hold my babies after birth (c section) had to wait three weeks before I could hold them at all! But they’re now 20mo and thriving and I’m just going with the flow as best I can!

I read Susan Maushart’s “The Mask of Motherhood” during that NICU stay and I have to say, it helped massively! I don’t buy into “perfect family” stereotypes as portrayed by countless ‘help’ articles and I had a very candid chat with my mum whilst pregnant about the realities of child rearing. I am sorry to say that not every woman gets the same experience and I wish people were more capable of admitting just how hard, stressful, exhausting and downright terrifying it can be to be a parent. But that it has many more positive aspects to it too smile

It was best noted when I was in the waiting area for what turned out to be my last scan, there was a woman beside me talking very loudly about her perfect birthing plan, what her baby would be like because she ‘sensed’ it and spinning stories about how perfect her experience of early motherhood would be. Like me she was a first time parent, there were other women in the room who were not first time mothers and were doing their best to not eye-roll at her or stifling laughter. From the moment I found out I was having twins the rose tinted glasses flew from my face and I agreed with DH that so long as we’re all alive at the end of each day, we were doing alright! This has helped now they’re both toddlers running around (often in opposite directions) eating things off the floor and hitting me in the boobs whenever they can because they think it’s funny as they’re ‘squishy’... it’s a good job they’re so flipping cute 😂😂

MRex Wed 10-Jul-19 12:24:08

I think everyone faces different challenges in motherhood. Many of the things I was told would be hard simply weren't because DS and I are different than those other DC/DM combos so we face different challenges. The relentless of never getting time off and a long sleep is the worst of it for me, DH is picking up longer times with DS more that he breastfeeds a bit less (16 months), but it's still never a whole day off to rest. I know plenty who have had occasional weekends with GPs and lots of days in nursery, so they don't have that relentlessness, but in most respects DS is a much "easier" child than their DC (calm, eats, communicates by gestures and a few words instead of shouting or screaming, easy to amuse etc) so I don't have many of the challenges that seem to give those other mums trouble.

ineedaknittedhat Wed 10-Jul-19 12:43:00

No, but my two have autism (aspergers and pda). The pda was particularly challenging and almost drove me to a breakdown. No help from camhs exacerbated the situation. They're doing well now though and I'm very proud of them. I hope life is kind to them as I worry constantly.

Cyrusc Wed 10-Jul-19 12:48:02

I thought it would be great. I was utterly shocked when I realised that it's bloody awful 99% of the time. Constantly find myself thinking "can't wait until they grow up/leave home/be quiet".

I'm astounded that I ever thought I'd enjoy being a parent, I was a complete idealist with very, very limited exposure to babies/toddlers. While I'm affectionate/kind/generous, I'm a selfish introvert at heart and just want to be left alone a lot of the time - these were never going to be qualities compatible with motherhood so I don't know what I was thinking!

nannymcpee Wed 10-Jul-19 12:57:42

When the Midwife handed me my DS she said he will push you to the limits. I thought about it after i was induced and it tokk the little bugger 24 hours to come out along with everything the midwife obstrician could throw at me.
Its been a very long and hard journey to get him as he is our rainbow baby. We had a stillborn daughter at full term no one can prepare you for that its something the fluffy NCT dont tell you about.
He is now a cheeky giggly 5 year old and the Midwife was right. But we love him. You have to just go with it parenting aint for sissys. Xx

letsrunfar Wed 10-Jul-19 13:03:39

I've found it much more stressful and at times upsetting than I ever thought it would be.

I over estimated the sense of achievement I'd feel....so I've raised a child, and?

When people say how amazing those little moments are....all that is over rated.

BillywigSting Wed 10-Jul-19 13:06:28

It's actually quite a bit easier than I expected it to be, because I find myself wanting to care for my dc because I adore him. I have never previously wanted to look after any child, and I still don't really like other people's kids (though some of them are alright).

The thing that blindsided me was the guilt. You really can't do right for doing wrong and you will always be doing it wrong in someone's opinion. Forging the confidence to say 'no this is my child and this is what works best for us' is tricky. The shift in boundaries with grandparents can be quite challenging too at times.

problembottom Wed 10-Jul-19 13:07:16

I’m six months in and so far it’s as I thought. I knew it would be hard (one of my DSis was hospitalised with PND) and I knew it would be relentless. I’ve had dark days and I’ve cried buckets (I never cry!).

But I also knew I’d love the baby classes, playing with toys, singing songs and general day to day madness cause I’ve always loved that with my nieces. And I knew about the overwhelming love I’d feel that would make it worthwhile.

I had no clue about the birth, I did birthing classes and thought I’d breathe my way through it and it would be joyous. What a knob. My birth was quick and straight forward but also fucking horrendous.

And I didn’t know the strength of the bonds I’d make through NCT and classes. I usually take ages to make friends but my mum group relied SO much on one other in the early days.

Cabbagesoupsucks Wed 10-Jul-19 13:08:00

For me, the hardest part of parenting is me and/or my DH. I never realised I'd repeat things my parents did that I didn't like, or that I'd react to stressful times as I do. The fact that I didn't know how my DH would parent until we had kids and the different approach we sometimes have on things and how much pressure that can add sometimes. I think taking on the burden of emotion and behaviour, the guilt associated with things I can't prevent or protect them from or 'mistakes' I've made. My kids are actually bloody brilliant. They drive me potty, they make me cry with laughter and they are truly inspiring beasties. But they are also very different and I guess you end up being a different parent to different children when their personalities and traits are so different.

Spludge Wed 10-Jul-19 13:15:20

I'm a permanent step mum to 2 girls 9 and 10. ( their mother died when they were babies . Very sad).

I have to say I always thought it was hard because I'm not the maternal mum , although I have brought them up since they were 2 and 3. I have to say although I put 100% in and put on the mum face and do my best if I'm honest I've hated every stage every phase . It's totally boring and hideously life consuming .

It's interesting to hear birth mothers say the same thing.

I often ask ...why do people actually have kids. Your whole life freedom self and relationship as you knew it is totally stolen. I just dont get the need and think a lot of people naively dont realise what they are doing .

Saying that I am very proud of these 2 young girls they are a credit to themselves and one day I will look back and think I'm glad I helped them get through life despite it being at the total expense of myself. You make choices in life and I'm committed to the choice I made. Doesnt mean to say I have to pretend to love it .

All mums are amazing. They have to be.

burninglikefire Wed 10-Jul-19 13:16:07

I really thought that my babies would be blank canvases and that if they were brought up in an environment of love and respect, then they would be civil and loving to each other. I was a fool!!!

But I love them all dearly and, now they are grown up, they are all very close.

Having them was the best and hardest thing I have ever done.

babybrain86 Wed 10-Jul-19 13:27:48

I didn't expect breastfeeding to be so hard, I read up on it and did courses while I was pregnant and it was made out to be the easiest most natural thing in the world, if it hurts you're doing it wrong etc. I felt like such a failure when the first 6 weeks where a huge, painful struggle! Currently 30 weeks pregnant with baby number 2 and much more prepared this time!
A friend who is due similar time as me (with her first) mentioned how she felt bad she hasn't yet read any parenting books. I advised not to bother, baby hasn't read the books and they'll just make you constantly feel like you're doing it wrong, follow baby's lead and you'll find your own way which works for you!
I also didn't expect to love toddlerhood so much, I absolutely adore watching my confident, sassy, independant, strong willed and outright cheeky little mini me grow and learn something new everyday!

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