Did you have an idea about the sort of parent you would be? You know, before you actually became one? I did. And I have to say that, most of the time, I feel as though I’m a world away from that perfect parent that I was going to be!
It’s so easy to be a parent when you’re not one, by that I mean, have ideas about how you would do things. I knew it would never be quite as I imagined but I now understand so much more why parents do what they do and why ideals don’t always work out that way.
Take screens for example. As a non-parent I was completely against them, and to be honest in many ways I still am. I even toyed with the idea of not having a TV in the house at all, my husband had no problem with that, then I realised that I did – after all how would I watch Strictly Come Dancing, Call the Midwife, Neighbours (yes, I’ll admit I’m still a fan), Wimbledon, The Great British Bake Off …? The list was pretty endless. And there was no way that my child was going to go anywhere near my phone to watch anything at any point. Erm… fast forward to the other day when I was sat in a coffee shop with my mum, we’d just got our drinks and my very tired little man decided that he was going to fight sleep in the way that he always does by crying as loudly as he can. This isn’t so much a problem at home, but in a coffee shop where people have come in for a chat, a coffee and a bit of time out? I don’t think it’s fair that people should have to put up with a screaming baby so when this happens my answer is to leave but we’d just got our drinks. So I cuddle him, rocked him, sang to him, gave him his toy, used white noise but nothing worked, I was on the verge of leaving but it was freezing cold outside and I knew my little man needed a sleep. So I did what, to me, would have been the unthinkable pre-motherhood, I reached into my pocket for my phone, quickly found YouTube and searched for my little man’s favourite TV show (yes, I know, I know, I’m ashamed that he has a favourite TV show already but he does – although he only watches anything about once a week but still…) – Raa Raa The Noisy Lion and I put it on. What would Colette the non-parent have said? Well, I know exactly what she would have said but she hadn’t a clue! To be honest it seems to be the theme tune he loves more than the programme, but it’s still a screen, something I said I’d never use with my baby and I have. But it worked. And I’d exhausted everything else.
Another thing I remember thinking before I had my little man was that, as I was no longer going to be working evenings, I would have time to keep an orderly house and have dinner ready for my husband when he came home from work. I know, I sound like someone from the 1950s, and anyone who knows us would know I’m not exactly Mary Berry! In our house it’s always been my husband who’s done the majority of the cooking but I thought that because I was working only three short days a week I’d have time for all this! I seemed to forget that there would also be a baby involved who would take up most of my time which is exactly what’s happened. To be honest my dream at the moment is to get just one day to myself where I can put our house in order as I feel so disorganised. A world away from this perfect housewife that I thought I’d be!
So there you have it, a perfect parent pre-children and a pretty ordinary one now that my little man is here! I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I also know that there will be more of my ideals that in the future will be turned on their heads, after all I spent so many years dreaming about becoming a parent I’ve come up with an awful lot of ideas about how I would do it!