A Double Celebration by Georgia James
Tomorrow, my husband Dave and I will be celebrating a momentous occasion — our second anniversary of parenthood. The official celebration will be trading under the name of Elliot’s Second Birthday Party and will be entirely focused on our son and his pint-sized cohorts. But once the sugar rush has worn off (this will be a strictly non-organic affair), the last weary toddler has been escorted off the premises and the birthday boy himself has finally surrendered to sleep, all sweat and tears, an exclusive after-party will take place.
The popping of party poppers will be replaced by the popping of corks as the entire guest-list at this VIP bash — that’s Dave and me — toast our greatest achievement yet: making it through those first two years. I can’t say we made it unscathed, but we made it nonetheless, which is a good enough reason to crack open a bottle (or two) of Prosecco.
If you’ve already passed the two-year mark, you will no doubt be rolling your eyes at this. “Oh, you’ve got it all to come yet… Just wait until you hit the terrible twos…” But I won’t let you rain on our parade, because whatever life (or Elliot) throws at us in the coming years (last week it was a fire engine aimed at my head because I wouldn’t let him eat a potato from the kitchen bin), nobody can take away the pride I feel right now.
If, however, you’re a mum-to-be, teetering on the precipice of parenthood, you’re probably wondering what the heck all the fuss is about. If you’re anything like I was at the ‘carrying a watermelon’ stage of pregnancy, you’ll be sick to the back teeth of parents banging on about how you’ve never experienced true tiredness — or true love — until you’ve had kids. Personally, I’d say that if you’ve ever been to work the day after Glastonbury, or experienced that obsessive, doe-eyed honeymoon period with your partner, you’ve already experienced tiredness and love to rival any parent.
Every parent’s experience is completely unique, but there is a reason why the subject lends itself so well to clichés (“parenting is the best thing and the hardest thing you’ll ever do”) and analogies (“toddlers are like tiny drunk people”) because while everybody’s journey is different, there are also a number of universal truths—those inevitable rites of passage every parent must go through.
From forgetting to pack a change of clothes the one day your little darling decides to do an explosive poo in Sainsbury’s, to fantasising about having a minor hospital procedure just so you can get a couple of days away from it all (or is that just me?), we’ve all been there, done that and got the snot-and-puke-stained t-shirt. And that includes Smug Mum from Stay & Play.
I’d like to share the top five ‘truths’ I have uncovered on my journey so far.
- You’re a good mum (seriously)
Every mum thinks she’s a bad mum. But remember you’re learning on the job here — those mistakes are just part of the training. Let go of your guilt. And I speak as someone who accidentally left her two week-old son in a café.
- Everything is just a phase
Baby waking in the middle of the night for three hours? It’s just a phase. Toddler sticking his fingers down his throat to make himself gag? It’s just a phase. Eighteen-month-old refusing to eat anything green, orange or white? It’s just a phase. It might feel like it will never end, but I promise: It. Will. Pass.
- Perfect mums are faking it
You’re the flapping, crazed duck, she is the elegant, graceful swan—but beneath the water her feet are going like the clappers just like yours. The best thing you can do to conquer your Perfect Mum hang-up is to get to know one. They’re exactly the same underneath. They’re just better actors.
- No mum is an island
Bad mum paranoia (see point one) turns sane women into defensive wrecks. Offers of help are taken as judgements, advice as undermining, and innocent questions as accusations. Word to the wise: nobody is judging you but yourself. Take every bit of help you can get.
- Envelope-neck vests can be pulled DOWN
Parenting’s best-kept secret: Those multi-pack vests every baby lives in for the first 12 months can be pulled down over the shoulders as well as up over the head—so your baby need never get a face full of poo in an explosive nappy situation.
Has your little one turned two yet? For some great ideas of how to celebrate a 2nd birthday click here.