When my partner and I decided to have children I had this image of what a perfect child should be, what kind of parent I was going to be and what kind of family I was going to have. All the things we were going to do together, activities and interested we would share. And my does life throw a spanner into the works.I had a jaded perspective of parenthood. I thought it would be easy, and seeing the over stressed parents who were constantly running around with bags under their eyes, shouting from exhaustion made me laugh and snicker because I was not going to allow that to happen to me.
I did not have a clue.
When my first daughter was born I was overwhelmed with joy, I knew my life was going to change but never realised to what extent. I was so green to this, I didn’t realise they fed every two to three hours for the first month. Especially when they breast feed.
Then the winding/burping began. If there’s the tiniest bit of wind you can kiss your two hours of sleep goodbye. And this nonsense of sleeping when your child does? Whose going to cook, clean and keep the house tidy? When do you go shopping? They obviously never had children or they live a very charmed life.
The baby would not latch on properly, even the midwife couldn’t help so we had no choice but to go onto bottles. My partner and I decided to tag team the night feeds to make things easier. This consisted of one of us elbowing the other in the ribs, hardly able to move saying “it’s your turn.”
“But, but, but….”
“I’ve done the last feed”….”I’ve just got to bed.”
Anyone of those answers? …Battle lost.
It would take all the energy reserves to get up, feed and try not to fall asleep whilst winding. And it always felt that by the time the baby had winded, it was time for the next feed.
The baby was always okay, she would sleep whilst feeding and burping, nappy change and change of clothes…. I understood why we would use the term ‘sleeping like a baby’.
Just as we were recovering from our lack of sleep, we were doing it again. This happened a total of five time.
Five children, five girls.
My god, they were all individual from the moment they were born.
Our first stopped napping at eight months and she still fights sleep, eight years later. She falls asleep when her body ceases to function.
The second spoilt us, by six weeks old she was sleeping through the night and if she had trapped wind, she would wiggle until she was comfortable.
For the first two months of her life, between the hours of 5 and 7 she would cry non stop. There was nothing we could do to soothe her. Until we found out that she liked sleeping on her side. When she found her sleep, there was nothing that could disturb her. She’s the only one that napped up to the age of three.
Number four had acid reflux. The amount of times we fell asleep with her lying on us. In the end we ended up propping up her cot just to make her comfortable. Things only got better when she started getting older.
The fifth was really good, almost as good as our second child. The only time she doesn’t sleep is if she’s not well or teething.
Individual from the word go.
At first, to fit with my ideal of a perfect family, I tried to shape and mould them to what I wanted them to be. It doesn’t work without the child losing their individuality and sense of who they are. All I can do is guide them and do my best to teach them right from wrong. The lines are so blurred that I get confused with what is right or wrong the older they get, and for how hard anyone can try, no two children can be treated the same, only treated according to merit and behaviour. I find that I have to make a lot of things up as I go along, blagging my way through situations. The older I get, the more parents I talk to, the more I realise that my parents must have done the same thing.
They are all individual and I can’t believe how different they are even though they come from the same parents. We have the one that tries hard, not so academic, a good athlete and a really tries her best. I have the brain box that doesn’t even have to try. The arty one and the over active, jump on everything and never stop child.
I don’t think…
Actually, we just don’t fit the usual model of a modern family and I love it this way. Every time I start to think otherwise I read an extract by Khalil Gibran that reminds me that I should enjoy my children for who they are and guide them in the best way I can. Here is the extract:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.