Mr. P and I celebrated 10 years of parenthood last weekend. We've been chatting about the ups and downs and having a chuckle about the nutty stuff we did. If I was able to steal MJ Fox's time-machine and go back to 2007, these are some of the things I would tell my rookie parent self...
Choose your girl gang carefully
I felt a huge pressure to socialise my children regularly. If I wasn't attending playgroups. gymbaroo (?) or god awful singing in the library, my kids were definitely going to be sociopaths or psychopaths right? Subsequently I ended up hanging with some quite judgy women and through the fog of tiredness/PND and trying to navigate my way through the early years, I didn't recognise that this wasn't a supportive or healthy place for me and the sprogs. Thankfully, I had a couple of amazing queens on my side. They always lifted my spirits and didn't give a monkeys if you bribed the kids into the bath with jelly babies.
Always chose fun
I missed out on seeing the late George Michael sing Wake me Up Before you Go Go because I had to do the night feed. There is so much boring shit that you have to do as a parent. The housework is endless. Given another chance, unless the house was about to be condemned a slum, I would ditch the dishes in favour of drinks with the girl gang and give the babe a bottle so that I could shimmy on down to Club Tropicana with George.
Mummy - tummy? Whatever.
It is a bloody shock to see your post pregnancy stomach. I can liken it to the dimply party pasty available in our Cornish bakery. Tip to former self- don't look at it. There are so many more important things to do (like have fun) and you are so much more than a wobbly tum.
Stop analysing the elusive 'bond'
I bought into the idea that I had to feel an automatic, unstoppable, all-consuming connection with my babies as soon as they were born. Subsequently I spent such a long time looking for this and became more and more anxious that it just wasn't there. Given the opportunity, I'd definitely tell my former self to take a step back, be patient and watch the relationship blossom over time. My big kid was recently very poorly, we spent the whole time together watching telly and having fizzy drinks. There is no doubt in my mind that we go together like a good gin and tonic.
There is suffering in parenting
An SAS soldier recently told me that sleep deprivation was the WORST part of his interrogation training (am not sure that included water boarding). Being kept awake by a baby for years is torture and so is being told to F*** off by children that have been your life's work. The only book I read as a Mum was Buddhism for Mothers. I'm not buddhist but totally subscribe to the idea that as a parent you have to accept a level of suffering.
I can think of million more things, but that will do for now. To all Poppy and Honesty's pixelated young mummies, you're doing a fabulous job. We are bringing out a new grown up range just for you guys, Why should the moppets have all the good stuff when we do the school run with rice crispies in our hair ?