I’ve been a mum for ten. whole. years. What the fxxk?! You know that’s a decade right lol?! Almost a quarter of my life. And yet somehow someone who has missed the other three quarters of my life has managed to sweep in and take the whole damn thing hostage. Crazy. But not as crazy as realising you’ve been a mum for ten years; did I mention that yet?!
So, I’m clearly reeling from this fact. I mean, I never thought we’d get past the whole night-feed stage, let alone the teething bit and the whole starting school thing yet here I am with a tweenager. Heck, I can’t even keep a plant alive! I can’t help but feel there should be some kind of reward card to commemorate this achievement: “Here, you’ve gone past ‘Go’ again, have £200” type thing. Instead you get rewarded by an increased view of the back of your child’s head (the default ‘watching YouTube’ position) and if you look closely you can just start to see their joints flexing and extending ready for the knuckle-dragging phase in just three short years: oh goody, such fun!
Nah, I’m only joking. She is an absolute joy (most of the time) and I am forever thankful that I get to join her on this journey as she grows. But it is baffling how much your child changes over the years and watching that happen is – without doubt – a heady mix of topsy-turvy emotions. Just yesterday I remember holding my newborn tenderly in my arms while my broken vagina screamed “what on God’s Earth just happened there?!” and now – in what seems like a nanosecond – here I am with this gorgeous small adult-sized youth before me who ponders her own pending puberty (read here if you want to know more about the joys of tween puberty or you could just punch yourself in the face instead – it’s the same level of pain).
Some years back I experienced some weird quasi-grief type thing about my child growing up at what feels like the speed of light. It plagued me for a while and I basically got a bit morbes about the whole growing up thing so I wondered whether the big 1-0 would unleash the wailing on my part. Turns out it caused one sleepless night but no tears, yippee! To be honest I think I’ve put it down to relief. I mean, ten years is a long time and whilst I will never really get over my baby growing up I’m pretty damn knackered. AND parenting does get easier in many ways as they get older so there’s definitely a bit of a trade off going on (cue all the parents of teenage children laughing their fxxking rocks off at my naivety of what’s to come). So, I decided to write a bit of a balance sheet about it all to summarise the difference between then and now (it seems a little bit like I’m trying to convince myself I’m ok about her growing up and you’d be right)!
— She can make tea and coffee. AND I’ve even been brought it in bed before. Unsolicited. Whilst having a lie-in. I can see parents of little ones cocking their head at the word ‘lie in’ as it seems a vaguely familiar term but they juuuust can’t place it. Guys, it’s that thing you used to do on a weekend before you had kids (no, not sex, the other thing). I’m not a nice smug but nothing kicks the ‘pining-over-baby-stage’ quite like getting sleep. All 8 delicious hours of it. AND she sleeps more in her own bed now so there’s less of the whole star-fish scenario. Or being woken at night ‘cos she’s wet the bed. Had a bad dream. Her toe hurts. She misses a character from Disney Land Paris that she saw once for two minutes four years ago…..you know how it goes. So yeah, tween parenting definitely wins this one over the crying newborn and the dawn-rising toddler stage 🙂
— School. Hmmm. OK, so it’s technically free child care (teachers please don’t hate me but we all know it’s true, right??!) and after selling a kidney to fund years of pre-school childcare it’s nice to
have a bit more money in the bank think you have a bit more money in the bank (you clearly don’t). For sure though, the downside has to be the bloody school run. No matter how much practice – and there’s a lot – there is not a bloody parent in this land except for Ruth (if you know, you know) who seamlessly glides out the door each morning in a ‘together’ state. And then there’s homework and bastard projects that us parents end up doing. Alone. And don’t even get me started on the class teddy bear debacle. Or the chunks of your soul that go down like the fxxking titanic every time you have to guide-read Biff, Chip and mother-chuffing Kipper. Mine is nearing the end of primary which is a heart-ache to come, so I’m gonna go with the pre-school years on this one as nothing hits you in the solar plexus quite like the school application forms landing to signal the end of babyhood. God, what state will I be in with the secondary applications?!!!
— Clothes. With tall parents this child is never going to be dinky and the rate she goes through clothes has pretty much left me brassic. I miss picking up CUTE bargains and being able to buy gorgeous second hand stuff on Ebay that’s literally been worn for five minutes. Or fitting into the cheaper collections from high street shops. Moo is now in clothes that almost require a remortgage and we’ve been reduced to a staple wardrobe of trainers, ‘crop’ tops (she hates the fact I always buy them way too big so they aren’t technically crop, ha!) and leggings/skinny jeans. Gone are the party dresses and me being able to choose what she wears. Heck, who am I kidding, the child spent the first few years of her life insisting on only wearing “leggy leggings” and wellies with no top so not much has changed there really. And I realised the other day in horror that she is only one shoe size away from me now….and then the penny dropped!!! Hmmm, this may not be so bad after all lol.
— The lip. The ‘tude. The mock American “guuuuuurllll” sass that she likes to drop as if she’s some ghetto superstar from the US rather that an over protected ten year old from Kent. To be honest, the eye roll has started to make my right palm itch and I find it increasingly hard to calmly and quietly not lose my shit (OK I lose my shit…sometimes….maybe a bit more than that). To be fair she is essentially the nerdiest, most rule abiding kid anywhere else but at home and that’s what makes the whole ‘trying out a new persona in her safe space’ so hard to watch. And a bit cringe. I’ll take the rigid toddler tantrum any day, I think. At least I could pick her up and put her in ‘time out’ back then even if it was like carrying a surf board. I say this even being able to vividly recall that god-awful day I put myself on the time out step instead (yup, that happened and you can find out more here if you fancy it).
— The independence. My girl can cook and has successfully been cracking eggs since age 2. She would fxxking ace Home Ec if it was still a thing, and it is lovely being able to ease up on the pedal sometimes and allow her to do things herself. It still goes wrong – often – as she is forgetful, clumsy, and the messiest child known to man. But I can now do things like pop to the shop for five minutes and leave her at home AND I mostly now go to the loo in peace!!! But with the independence comes the distance and that I struggle with as she is now just as inclined to disappear upstairs to Facetime a friend as she is to want to sit and cuddle me. OK, let’s move swiftly on as I’m clearly not OK with this one…
— Friendships. I miss the days of watching my baby/toddler navigate relationships. The way they play and learn from each other is cute as, although I’ll breeze over the stage when Moo was about one when she would lull her peer into a false sense of security, let them get close, and then just slap them round the face. Nor, will I dwell on that day intervention was needed when toddler Moo decided she wanted the car at soft play and promptly dragged a much bigger boy out of it. Through the window. By his face. OK, so I no longer need to ‘helicopter parent’ for fear she may assault someone but tween friendships can be insidiously hideous as just when you think it’s OK and everyone is “bezzies” she suddenly gets left out of a ‘BFF handclap’ and it’s the end of the mother fxxking world. Give me the role of bouncer any day over that!
— Cuteness. The cuteness is gone people. Yes, she can still be cute but she is no longer cute just for being little. Because she ain’t. She’s almost my height and MAN I miss being able to pop her on my hip or snuggle her onto my lap. It’s the pocket sized cuteness I miss and the way she would say “potsits” for “pockets” and how she looked when asleep. All those little things that give you the warm fuzzies. Oh man **starts sobbing**
— The emerging adult. The trade off for the cuteness disappearing is seeing all the amazing things that develop in its place. Like the chats we now have and the way we can laugh like drains. And the pride, oh my gosh the pride. Literally just this minute my girl has bounced downstairs (where she’s meant to be sleeping) and shown me a poster she has made to pitch an idea to her Head Teacher to raise money to save rhinos. How bloody cool is that?! Every day I see a slice of how I wish the world could be in how my girl views the world. She’s at that age where she has a passion project every week and her enthusiasm and world view often leaves me astounded and inspires me. So, yes, that’s why the cuteness goes because it has to. To make room for the greatness. And I’m hanging onto this ride for all it’s worth 🙂
So Happy Decade my gorgeous girl. You always have been – and still very much are – the best part of my every day.