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Parenthood - an amazing experience
Being a Parent
Member Name: KLockwood75
Being a Parent
Advantages: Different every day, special bond with your child, endless entertainment
Disadvantages: Hard work and lack of sleep
Being a parent is one of the toughest things that I have ever done, but it is also by far the best. I have one little boy who is two years old, and he really is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I didn't understand the meaning of unconditional love until I held him in my arms and looked into his big blue eyes - yes, I love my husband and my family but the bond between mother and child is something completely different.
Parenthood is both terrifying and rewarding at the same time. It is the biggest learning experience of my life - sometimes I'm so scared because I don't know what I'm doing, sometimes it seems to just be an instinctive thing that I know what to do. And I know that there are times when I get it completely wrong, but it makes the times when it all goes right so much more special.
The sleep deprivation of the early days (or years if you're one of the unlucky ones) means that those first few months are a real challenge. Nobody can prepare you for what it's really like to survive night after night on just a few hours sleep, usually in chunks of 2 hours or less each time. Being up at 3am trying to comfort a crying baby when everyone else is asleep can feel so lonely, but it can also be a time that you cherish - when it's just you and your little one, all alone with no interruptions. I was lucky in that my baby was fairly contented and would happily just lie in his carrycot, looking at the Christmas lights flickering on the ceiling (we favour the over-the-top approach to Christmas decorations in our house, even with a newborn), and I didn't need to hold him all the time - but if your baby needs an extra cuddle or two, then try to appreciate the moment, they grow up so fast and suddenly they're not cuddly newborns anymore.
Looking back, I think the easiest stage of my son's babyhood was the bit from three to six months. He'd settled into a reasonably predictable routine - an hour's nap in the morning, an hour and a half after lunch, and a short power nap late afternoon - and I knew that I'd get a bit of time to myself at those times, whether that meant a chance to catch up with the housework, get the dinner started or just put my feet up with a cup of tea. Even when he was awake, he wasn't mobile so I could happily leave him gurgling away under the baby gym if I needed to do something. If you're a new parent, appreciate that stage - it won't be long before they're into everything and you can't even go to the loo in peace!
The second six months of the first year was a time of constant change for us. Rolling, crawling, cruising... suddenly nothing was safe! I went back to work when my son was 8 months old and I felt like I was being pulled in so many directions at once. I don't think I was giving anything my full attention - on my days at home I was trying to entertain my son while preparing endless batches of baby food for him, at work I was feeling guilty about leaving my baby and worrying about missing his achievements. I wanted to be the one who saw him crawl for the first time, pull himself up and take his first steps - luckily I did get to see all those milestones first (or nursery let us believe that), but I found it so hard to leave him three days a week after the intensity of those maternity leave days.
And then he was one! It was a whole new experience, all over again. At times I was glad to escape to work to get away from the tantrums, the frustration at not getting everything his own way. At home, I struggled to entertain him - his concentration span was so short that I'd get everything out for an activity, only to find he'd crawled off in search of something else before I'd even finished. We discovered the power of cBeebies... I swore I wouldn't use the TV as a babysitter but it was the only way to make him sit still. It felt like a long, cold winter that year - we went to a music group and a toddler play group each week, but the rest of the time it felt like I was either struggling to find something to do with him at home, or pushing a buggy endlessly round in the cold. Once he was walking, and the weather improved, it did get easier - we'd spend ages in the park, or just playing in the garden, and by the time he reached his second birthday I was loving being a Mum.
Now, at nearly two and a half, I am loving the time I get to spend with my little boy. He's funny, affectionate and independent, and it's so much fun to be with him. He can communicate well and the concentration span is growing - we can sit down and draw pictures, bake cookies, play simple card games, do puzzles, build train tracks and zoos with his Duplo, have tea parties and kick a ball around in the garden... ok, so I've lost the me-time as he doesn't nap anymore (although I do shut him in his room for a 'rest') but it's this stage of parenthood that makes everything else seem so worthwhile.
So, my advice to all parents is enjoy it and try to be relaxed about it all - however hard it seems. There are always going to be trials and tribulations along the way, nobody ever said that this is an easy option but when your child comes running up to you and says 'I love you SO much Mummy' like mine did the other day, none of the bad stuff will matter. I honestly believe this is the best thing I've ever done and I want to appreciate every minute.
Summary: A completely rewarding experience
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