Monday 12 December 2011

The Truths of Motherhood

Listen up, grasshoppers.  These are the truths of motherhood.  Mark my words, you will be eating yours if there aren’t one or two things down here you don’t identify with.  And in the immortal words of my tummy and thighs instructor - here we go!
You, as the mother figure, will end up doing all of or most of the work.  Be it through default, design or no fault of your own.
There will be days where you won’t actually like your child.  You will always love him or her with an all consuming passion, the likes of which you have never experienced before, but there will be days where you will not like your child.  At all.
You will understand what real tiredness is.  You think you know just because you made it into work (but only just) a couple of times after being out the night before, and were still able to go to that concert.  Hah!  You’re in the real world now.
You will develop a newfound respect for your mother.  How did she manage it? There was always dinner on the table.  At the same time every day.  And it consisted of items that required peeling before boiling, none of your oven chips variety and Donegal Catch with a few micro-waved beans job thank you very much.
You will multi-task like never before.  So, once upon a time you managed to type a document, answer the phone and sign for DHL all at the same time?  So what?  Big whoop-de-do!  Wait till you’re breastfeeding whilst grilling rashers and sausages with the phone jammed between your ear and your shoulder. That’s multi-tasking!
You will strike up conversations with complete and utter strangers.  People who bear a striking resemblance to you – fully accessorised with buggy, changing bag that suggests a week’s holiday rather than a quick trip to the shop for milk and chocolate.  And you don’t need to look any closer to see that the go-faster-stripe down the leg of her tracksuit bottoms (yes, you’re wearing them too!  You swore you never would but there you go) is actually a trail of baby puke.
It’s day three in the Big Mutha House and your hair is still unbrushed, you haven’t washed your face and/or your teeth and you’re still wearing the same clothes. Including underwear.
You are shocked when you think about how you used to spend up to 100 euro a night socialising.  That’s a weeks groceries for crying out loud!
You get to know your town in a completely different way.  You know the best parking spot in your multi storey if the parent and child space is taken.  And it always will be.  You know the best café in which to get your buggy through the door without taking it off its hinges. Also you’re on first name terms with the girls who work there and they know your baby’s name and how many teeth he has.  It’s mother and toddler social club at the supermarket, and you recognise the same faces in the aisles before 9am on any given day.
You know what, if anything, is on telly at 4.30am in the morning.
You go through a stage, a long one, where you will be in your bed by 8pm of an evening because you will be forced out of it at precisely 5am the following morning.  And several times in the hours between!
You not only welcome door to door sales people, but buy special packets of biscuits to have with the cup of coffee.  You don’t want life insurance, cannot afford to fork out several hundred euro for an aerial photo of your house with the option of airbrushing out your clothes line.  All you wanted was adult conversation.  And those posh Elite chocolate biscuits were nice!
The chances of being in your local pub before midday will become highly likely.  Hold on, don’t get too excited!  It will only be to use their “facilities.”  And you will be greatly offended when they eventually point out their “Toilets are For Customers Use Only” signs.  You’re indignant - you spent thousands in there, once upon a time!    But they don’t recognise you any more!
Your GHD will be hidden under a pile of dust/clothes/shoes or forgotten about altogether.  Along with your waistline and highlights.
The window cill and your bedside table house nappy cream, various bottles of baby medicine, teething stuff and the odd toy.  Your chick lit favourites are replaced by titles such as The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, How to Baby Proof Your Marriage, and Toddler Taming.
Your sexy lingerie is now “sensible” knickers and nursing bras.
Your favourite items of footwear are runners (winter) and flip flops (summer).  Suddenly your gorgeous heels, mules, peep toe shoes and FMB’s are accidents waiting to happen when carrying your baby.  To add insult to injury only the right shoe fits now as your left foot has gone up a size since the arrival of your second baby.
Your favourite item of clothing is your baby sling.
You don’t care anymore that it’s the weekend.  It’s not like you’re going to get a lie in anyway.
There are days where it is unclear who has cried more – you or the baby!
You will, and this is 100% guaranteed, head into town wearing soiled clothes, matted hair and wearing odd shoes, only to run into someone you knew from your never a hair out of place BC (Before Childer) days.  This person will be perfectly groomed (naturally) from head to toe and say something clichéd like, “you have your hands full there,” (ya think??!!) or “you look great!  Motherhood suits you!”  (You don’t and it doesn’t!)
Instead of being up to date with Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Gray’s Anatomy, you will be more familiar with The Afternoon Show, Party of Five repeats, Dawson’s Creek (I hate those pesky kids!)  The Gilmore Girls and Charmed. 
And the biggest truth of them all?
Parenthood is the biggest, most challenging job we will ever undertake in our lives. It’s sexist because only women can give birth.  It’s discriminatory because women receive paid maternity leave and men don’t.  It’s the only job that doesn’t require qualifications. In fact, if it went before The Equality Tribunal it would most likely be thrown out of court. If you saw an ad for it in a paper, you’d distance yourself as far as possible from it.  So why do we do it?  
Because we don’t know any better, that’s why, and when we do, it’s too late.  You’re home with your life sized bundle of responsibility and there is no turning back.  Bring on the sleepless nights, the petty arguments with your Other Half, the incessant flow of visitors for the first month or so and the sudden drought when you’ve just gotten your head around things and are gagging for some adult company.  Let’s not forget the alarming rashes that appear on your baby and the mysterious way they cry even when they’re clean, fed and warm.  But it’s not all doom and gloom. 
It may seem like a thankless job.  There certainly won’t be cheques, but in time you will receive countless spontaneous bear hugs and sloppy kisses.  It may not be as good as money, but it’s a whole lot nicer!

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