Carrying someone else's heart is heavy labour. Here's what I wish I'd known...
1. Your Littles are their own selves. With a life path that's got surprisingly little to do with you.
That's all. Understanding this truth is everything.
2. Sleep. I never got ANY with babies. And I was crazy.
Crazy. I cry to think of it now. If you know a mother who isn't sleeping, go to her house, take the baby from her arms, send her upstairs with a stiff gin and tonic and force her to sleep. Feed the baby pumped milk, formula, green smoothies, anything. Take it outside if it cries. Just HELP. (And do not ever, under any circumstance, say IF YOU WERE MORE RELAXED, YOUR BABY WOULD SLEEP MORE.)
Honestly, if you are one of the people who said this to me, I still haven't gotten over it. Sixteen years later.
3. You're not their Teacher or their Parent-er. You are their Mum.
Whoa, Lordy, I got this one wrong. I still do. I didn't know HOW to be a mum but I knew how to be a Teacher. So I taught. Proper names of flowers. Latin words. Poems in the playground (Blake and Keats, not nursery rhymes). And whether it was my exceptional parenting or who he was or what, I do not know, I took my oldest son to preschool at age four and thought the other kids were... this is putting it nicely... UNEDUCATED.
I was way way way too proud. And then one day, when he was 13 and truly fed up with me, my son said, "Just be my mother, okay?"
(Pause with me while I get a little teary.) While I was doing all this Teaching, I was also trying really really hard to do Perfect Parenting. But now I know: all they want is a mum. Not someone to foresee any future difficulty and prepare them for it, not someone to read them Julius Caesar when they are 12 so they'll be ready for high school, not someone to core every apple before they eat it. Not someone to guarantee that every adult will say, "Wow, you have really nice manners."
My advice (to you & me): ditch the Parenting. Be yourself. Your real self. Margarita drinker. Lazy on occasion. Overlooker of whether fingernails are too long or your kids are perfectly polite to adults. It's okay. It's probably better if you're this way. The worst thing that can happen is your kids will think you're human & imperfect.
Because we are. Human. Imperfect.