Sunday, 6 September 2009

You've got to want the whole package...

My husband took me to see 'Sister Act' at the London Palladium for my birthday. We had a wonderful time, with our enjoyment only slightly marred by the appalling behaviour of the teenagers sitting in front of and behind us.

It did get me thinking, though. So many people (including me) talk about wanting a baby.

But a baby's for life, not just for the cute period. You've got to be prepared to love your child when it's throwing toddler tantrums, learning eschatological humour at primary school (or possibly earlier these days), defying you as a stroppy adolescent, playing horrible music at top volume half the night, refusing to do homework, throwing up all over your bathroom after the first experiment with alcohol, and generally making all the mistakes that you made in your youth and have warned your children about until you're blue in the face, because they think they're invincible and have to learn that they're not through their own experience and not through the benefit of being told about yours.

You need to be prepared not just for the sleepless nights when your children are babies and need to be fed every three hours, and the later sleepless nights when they get croup or have nightmares, but also the sleepless nights when they've promised to be home by midnight and it's now 2:00 in the morning and their mobile is switched off, when they've been dumped by their first love and think their life is over, when they don't get the exam results they wanted, the job they wanted, the house they wanted...

My father always says that the earliest years of parenting are the easiest, because you can usually ease your children's fears, make them feel better with a kiss and a cuddle, anticipate many of their needs and react to most others. As their lives get more complex and they spent more time outside the home, you have less and less control over their happiness, and yet your own happiness and peace of mind depends to a great extent on theirs.

Parenthood's a scary thing - a lifelong commitment to someone who doesn't always appreciate it and will certainly grow up to remind you (in some cases over and over again) of some of the mistakes that you've made.

I know it's not all going to be cuddles and smiles, and I know I'll make mistakes and go through times when I'm frustrated beyond belief.

But knowing all that, I still want it - sleepless nights, stroppy teenagers and all.


  1. You do have to want the whole package, but you can also rest assured that, unless you foster teens, you generally have about ten years to get used them before the dreaded hormones kick in and they turn into monsters! I think the trick is to cram as much love, fun, and sensible boundaries, into those ten years as you can, and spend them making sure your kids know they can talk to you about anything and that you love them regardless (even if you may not be too pleased with whatever mischief they've committed!) and then cross your fingers, hold your nose and dive into teenagerhood with your eyes open!!

    I'm so glad you had a good birthday. Here's to this month, and the whole of this year!! XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  2. True, and it's also true that I know some very nice teenagers too - listening to the way the parents were responding, I think this bad behaviour wasn't entirely down to hormones... xx