I always wanted children – it was something that I never really questioned. I like children and I thought I was reasonably good with them.
Did I really give much thought to what my life would actually be like with children in it? Probably not. I imagined myself with a baby – going about my day to day life pushing a pram. I knew there’d be sleepness nights – nothing can prepare you for these but you know they’re going to feature. But what about after you’ve left the sleepness nights behind? I’m fairly certain I didn’t imagine myself struggling through the school run, or doing several laps chasing children around the house just to get them to put their shoes on. Pre-children, I had no idea that the success or failure of a day could hinge on such things as dropped Cheerios, a ripped comic or giving a child the wrong cup.
I imagined my future with children in it, but in this future my children were obedient and compliant. There were no children rolling around on the floor in a rage, and there was certainly no mum slumped in the corner shaking her head in despair chomping on her secret stash of sweets.
Three children later, I’ve realised a few things. Firstly that I didn’t really have any idea what my life would be like with small people in it. I have a feeling this is true for most of us – how can you possibly prepare for the total whirlwind that is life with under 5s? And secondly that I’m not sure I am particularly good with children after all. In fact sometimes I don’t have the faintest idea what to do with them. In particular, I struggle with all of the following:
I have realised that the level of noise I can happily tolerate is far lower than the level of noise usually made by three small children. Nothing prepared me for three little boys competing for attention, screaming ‘I need to talk I need to talk I NEED TO TALK!’ just to tell me that they’re wearing a lion t-shirt. When I imagined my life en famille, I did not picture myself with my hands over my ears begging for some quiet because all the noise sometimes makes me feel like I need to go and sit in a dark room.
Attempting to provide interesting answers to a 4 year old’s non-stop questions
We all know we should encourage our children to ask questions. Questions are good, questions mean you have curious children. Everyone wants curious children, and my 4 year old is super curious. I love the way his little mind works, but sometimes (just occasionally) ALL THE QUESTIONS MAKE ME FEEL LIKE I’M GOING MAD.
Sometimes, i just want to pop to the toilets without entering into a discussion about the brand of the sanitary bin and whether said bin dates from the Ice Age or even before.
“But how do you know it’s not from the Ice Age, mummy?”
“I JUST DO!!!!!!”
General knowledge – mine is really not up to scratch.
The workings of a car engine – not a clue.
Dinosaurs – sorry son.
The solar system – no good with that either.
The Ice Age – I know, mummy’s just rubbish.
When you find yourself genuinely saying ‘Ooh, that’s interesting’ when reading a 4 year old’s encyclopedia with him, you know you need to do some serious brushing up.
Patience – unfortunately, I have very little of it.
People assume I must be patient, as if it’s only patient people who have twins. I have little patience with my children falling over and dropping the biscuits which they’re trying to eat whilst also holding rabbits, monkeys and monster trucks. I have little patience with them squabbling over whether a bus is actually a bus or a minibus. I have little patience when one falls over and hurts his knee because he is trying to wrestle his brother to the floor.
I watch patient-seeming mums and wish I was more like them. I try a little harder every day, but patience doesn’t seem to be one of my natural qualities.
I suppose it’s a good job we enter into parenthood blissfully unaware of most of this. It may be harder than I could ever have imagined but there is nothing I would change about my chaotic life, and we muddle on through pretty happily. There are a few things I’m reasonably good at – we eat nice cakes and have fun making up silly songs. And I can make them laugh hysterically by bursting into a Tommy Steele style tap routine – not a particularly useful skill but it works for us.
Hopefully this is enough for them to forgive my lack of knowledge about the exact diet of mammoths (and other shortcomings).