After a long day of consultation, I pick up my children from after-school care. When we get home, coats and bags are thrown into the corner. 'Euhh...could we please clean those up?' I shout indignantly. I get a deep sigh in reply from my eldest. 'I have to do everything in the house here too!' he shouts at me from the corridor. Surprised, I stand still and watch him as he angrily hangs up his coat and empties his bag. 'Yes you have it very tough,' I say sarcastically.
If you decide to fulfil your desire to have children, you would rather get pregnant yesterday than today. That's how it was for me. After 2.5 years of fertility treatment, we were pregnant with our first son.
You are over the moon and so is everyone around you. You don't know how quickly you have to go to the first baby park to sort out all your stuff and furnish the bedroom. Assuming for a moment that the pregnancy goes medically well, there are already things you run into during that period that you couldn't figure out beforehand how to deal with. 'That wasn't in the leaflet' we then say to each other. These can be things like the amount of sanitary pads in a maternity package to renting twelve bed risers from the home care shop. We have a box spring at home.
'Did my brother pay that much for a pram too?' I hear my husband say in the baby park. This may have been in a leaflet but then again he doesn't read it.
Bowel cramps, pelvic floor muscle exercises, sneezing without losing urine,
Spraying nappies, teething, sleepless nights and continuously 'baby-proofing' your living room when they start learning to walk. Looking up information on the internet that does not reassure at all, chicken pox, impetigo, nappy rash and wet kisses due to continuous snotty noses. Worries about growth and development, the consultation bureau, well-meaning advice from everyone and other mothers who like to brag about how well their child is doing. Actually, they are proud of their child of course, but it feels like bragging because your child can't do that (yet) and they are the same age.
Waving and hugging in the schoolyard which you want to do longer than your child, friends' books, words they come home with, street language and newly bought shoes that are broken after just one day. 'Yes we went outside to play football and then suddenly they were broken'
That sometimes the biggest challenge is to get your children and yourself clean, breakfasted and on time at a location without having their lunchbox, gym bag, friends book (completed
and with recent passport photo), forgot the crafted flower and present for the teacher (because it is her birthday that day).
Comforting your child during falls, frolics , bullying and making sure they can face the day confidently the next day. A sleep ritual that has a set pattern but is stretched to the limit every night. Finding out in the just-cleaned bathroom that your child has been playing in the sandbox and has taken the contents in
the folded legs of his jeans. It's nice that you get to work then as a mother, because there you can drink hot coffee and tea, but at the same time feel guilty when your child asks, "Do you have to leave again already?
Knowing that they are going to have a "why" phase but sometimes not knowing for a moment how to explain to a six-year-old child topics like gravity, why the earth is round, what tampons are for ("Found them in the bathroom mummy!"), where babies come from and why people wage war.
Never being able to go to the toilet with a closed door again and always having to sneak sweets into the cupboard because otherwise your child will ask: 'What do you have in your mouth?'
And then I have relatively younger children, but what does puberty bring? Moodswings, grumbling at everything, rolling eyes and gum-smacking carelessness. Dirty socks in the corner of the sofa, smelly bedrooms, performance stress and rising hormone levels.
Outside influences that you have little control over as parents...drugs and alcohol...courtship and heartbreak. Sometimes we would secretly have a NO NO sticker want when it comes to these leaflets.
If our parents could cope with this, we should also be able to cope with it, I think. Fortunately, children grow in height and behaviour and we grow with them. We want to keep them from making mistakes and at the same time we realise that they have to make mistakes in order to learn. Fine you we don't know everything in advance and sometimes that's a good thing.
Today is Mother's Day. I wake up to two happy little boys' faces and lots of hugs, kisses and homemade crafts. 'I love you and you are the sweetest mother in the world' it says on a homemade photo frame decorated with painted macaroni bows. As I get ready to go into the service today, I get another big hug from both of them and a wet kiss. My heart melts as they wave me off. That wasn't in the brochure either...unconditional love