What Is Parenting?

Life as a parent is such a subjective thing. It means something different to all of us. It all depends on how many children we have, our life situations, our own childhoods… A plethora of variation!

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I have compiled a little list of some of the things that define my adventures in parenting. Have a look and see, maybe some of them will resonate for you. And maybe you’ll have some of your own to add. If you do, add them in the comments!

What is parenting?

Parenting is thirteen dandelions slowly decomposing in a murky glass of water in your kitchen.

Parenting is explaining how babies get into a woman’s stomach on the way home from school.

Parenting is saying, “Stop picking your nose!” All day.

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Parenting is googling ‘how to remove lava in Minecraft,’ in order to fix your seven year old’s whole freaking life.

Parenting is knowing just how your children smell. Oh, and recoiling instinctively when they smell ‘wrong.’

Parenting is defining the word ‘pulverise.’ And then ‘pulp.’ And then ‘mush.’ And then concluding that you make a crappy dictionary.

Parenting is cautiously identifying the picture your child has drawn. Get it wrong at your peril! (P.S. It’s a squiggle.)

Parenting is sympathising over invisible, yet agonising injuries.

Parenting is yawning three seconds after your child.

Parenting is dancing the tango with a giggling child in your arms. You don’t know how to dance the tango.

Parenting is sorting through your child’s entire Lego collection for her favourite pieces (which are, of course, the smallest ones.)

Parenting is then going through the whole bloody lot again because the one child destruction system you call ‘Squeak’ dumped them back in. On purpose.

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Parenting is knowing all the words to ‘Let It Go.’

Parenting is seventeen conversations about the vulva, in context, before you’ve left for school.

Parenting is spending twice the time you actually need on the toilet, just so you can have some peace.

Parenting is comforting a child who says that, when she is running, it feels like she has a penis. How do you comfort somebody about that? I don’t know!

Parenting is researching the formation of glaciers just so you can answer your child’s burning question with something approaching accuracy.

Parenting is explaining that no, you were not born in 1919. Or 1899. Or 1912. Goddammit, I’m not looking good right now.

Parenting is the heavy sound of a sleeping house in the evening.

Parenting is regretting buying different sized children matching socks.

Parenting is mistaking a yowling cat in heat for your screaming baby and running for the stairs.

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Parenting is mistaking a seagull for your screaming baby and running for the stairs.

Parenting is idly pondering whether your child’s cough is croup.

Parenting is knowing that if your kid has croup, there ain’t no pondering about it!

Parenting is sleeping with a child’s arm across your face.

Parenting is knowing how to get vomit out of the carpet.

Parenting is the delicate touch of a child’s loving lips against your cheek.

Parenting is finding laughter, even in sadness.

Parenting is being awoken to a copy of Animalia being waved in your face and a demand to “find the boy!”

Parenting is knowing the difference between the sound of one child going upstairs to the toilet, and one child going upstairs with an unruly toddler sneaking up behind them.

Parenting is loving three small people so deeply, despite their insatiable urge to fuck. your. shit. up.

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What do you think, guys? Did I nail it? Don’t forget to share your experiences!

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The Bedtime Routine Of The Dazed Parent

Yet again, I am posting from a house that is positively swimming in germs and bacteria. In the last few weeks, we have been hit by more viruses that I believe to be truly acceptable.

Although apparently, my opinion is of no consequence in this situation.

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The other day, I finally succumbed to the stomach bug that had successfully overtaken two of my three children. As the waves of nausea swept over me, my first thought was, “Ooh, better get the dishes out of the way if I’m going to be ill!” And it got me thinking how much our reactions to everyday situation change after we have children. Before I procreated, my instant response to impending illness would have been “BED!” But now here I am, prioritising essential housework over much needed rest!

It’s a weird old world.

One of the situations where I’ve seen the most change is the bedtime routine. No, I’m not talking about getting the children into bed. I mean me.

When I only had myself to take care of, my bedtime routine probably looked something like this:

  1. Get into bed.
  2. Read for a while,
  3. Go to sleep.

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Oh, blissful simplicity!

Without a doubt, parenting brings a whole swathe of changes and challenges into your life. Now, my bedtime routine looks a little more like this:

  • Drag myself up from the couch after realising I have dozed off and missed the last twenty minutes of my TV programme.
  • Spend ten minutes searching for the front door keys in increasingly imaginative places before discovering that they are, as always, in my handbag.
  • Lock front door.
  • Get halfway up the stairs before heading back down to switch the heating off.
  • Second try!
  • Reach the top of the stairs before having a crisis of self-doubt about whether I remembered to lock the back door.

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  • Nip back down to check.
  • It’s locked.
  • Finally get as far as the bathroom.
  • Brush teeth and attempt an almost silent wee (Squeak’s bedroom is right next door to the bathroom.)
  • Ponder reason wee needs to sound like a professional grade power washer at the most inconvenient of times.
  • Hold breath and listen for signs of Squeak waking.
  • Remember to breathe.
  • Creep to Squeak’s doorway.
  • Check for breathing.
  • Can’t hear her. Listen harder.
  • Gingerly step over safety gate and edge closer.
  • Lean over Squeak, only to jump back as she takes a loud breath and begins to stir.
  • Make a hasty exit, acquiring painful gate-related vulval injury on way out.

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  • Swear under breath and do elaborate ‘ouchy’ dance on landing.
  • Tiptoe up to big girls’ bedroom.
  • Trip over three teddies and land on a Lego block. In bare feet.
  • Engage in silent scream.
  • Give Big Girl a kiss and tuck her in (kid snores like a steam engine, no need for double checking here!)
  • Listen for Little Girl’s breathing.
  • Wonder why she appears to hold her breath the very moment I go to check on her.
  • Bring my face closer to hers and strain ears.
  • Still nothing.
  • Lightly poke her cheek.
  • Get smacked in the face as she violently turns over.
  • She’s still breathing.

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  • Tiredly drag myself into bedroom and collapse into bed.
  • Speedily leap back out.
  • Remove six soft toys and a day-old kids’ sock from the bed. Oh, and something… pointy.
  • Lie down with a sigh and snuggle down.
  • Get out book for some late night reading and relaxation.
  • Check alarms for the next day and put phone on to charge.
  • Turn over and strangle myself with charger wire.
  • Begin making a list in my head of all the things I need to do tomorrow.
  • Recall all the things I forgot to do today.
  • Dammit!
  • Suppress urge to go and see if I remembered to lock front door.
  • Read.
  • What’s that noise?

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  • Read more.
  • Ok, what’s that noise?
  • Roam house hunting for burglars.
  • Admonish myself for being a damn idiot.
  • Sink back under covers.
  • Weep inside as Squeak chooses this moment to wake up.
  • Settle her back down again and sneak away.
  • Get back into bed.
  • Read.
  • Fall asleep still wearing glasses (always).
  • Wake with a start as child climbs into bed.
  • Listen to detailed account of distressing nightmare that brought her there.
  • Forcibly remove glasses from muchly dented face.
  • Rub aching nose.
  • Go back to sleep.
  • Groan as Squeak wakes again.
  • Tuck her into my bed.
  • Unleash breast from top.
  • Fall into haze of unconsciousness.

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  • The end <yawn>

I have to say, I’ve experienced slightly more relaxing bedtime rituals in my life. And I live in hope that one day, one day, I may again!

I’m not feeling massively optimistic, though.

How about you? How does your routine measure up?