In a former life, long before In The Night Garden marathons and synchronized bacon sandwich and Peppa Pig viewing sessions, I used to have a responsible job where people listened to and acted upon what I said. These days I find myself in the centre aisle of the Co-op pleading with my son to stop crying because I won’t buy him a full-sized carpet cleaning system.
Yes, that happened.
As a parent, I’d worked my way through all the stages that are supposed to be hell on earth: sleepless nights, teething, separation anxiety, having your shoes filled with sick… the whole gamut. And the thing was, that despite all the hype, none of these events was quite as bad as I’d expected. Like the worst type of film – all the best bits were in the trailer, leaving my partner and I feeling slightly underwhelmed to experience the supposed horror of the real thing.
It was with this (understandable) sense of over confidence that I greeted the my son’s (inevitable) turning from 1 to 2. It was simply a number, I told myself. A personality doesn’t change THAT much as the result of just getting a little bit older. What was the worst that could happen? After all, we’re just talking about a tiny tot.
HOW WRONG WAS I?
In boxing, the fight is grueling, no doubt about it. But even in this most demanding of pursuits, there are little breaks, where the pugilists sit at the side of the ring, have a drink and try to regain their senses. It’s only as a result of these intermissions that the fight will ever have the chance of going the distance.
For me, it was the same with parenting a little one. For hour upon hour your senses are pummeled as tears, food, poo and puke fly. The parent becomes totally punch drunk, but clings onto their sanity in the knowledge that there’s a nap around the corner, the child will be sleeping any time now. This sleep is, I feel, far more restorative to the parent than it’s ever been for the child. It’s a chance to catch your breath, wipe down the walls and consider a few winks of sleep for yourself.