Parenting is hard. Like really hard.
No one prepares you for it, you can read so many books, articles and advice but nothing will prepare you for any of it.
When you have a newborn, there are hundreds of pieces of advice on what do when they won't stop crying, how to get them to sleep through the night, how to make sure they feel loved. But seriously, you just have to struggle through it and see what works for you. Sucks I know, but kids are different and they will all like and want different things.
The hardest thing for me to let go of was my freedom. I don't mean the time you lose to spend with friends or to go out for dinner at your favourite restaurant. Because you can forget that!
It's the little things you don't expect. Like how you have to pack an ENTIRE luggage bag just to go to the shop. To just walk around to the corner shop, you know (from experience in my case) that if you don't your lovely, bouncy baby, will hurl EVERYWHERE, crap through every item of clothing they are wearing and suddenly combust into a ball of fecal matter. Serious, it's like they know when you are at your most vulnerable and unprepared and take great pleasure in turning your quick trip to the shops into a living hell.
So you struggle through the newborn months and then all of a sudden they are a toddler. Now you have to prepare to lose everything, nothing is sacred and nothing remains your own. Toilet trips, make-up, shower times. You name it, it's no longer yours. Get used to weeing with the door open and an avid viewer. This is when the fun really starts. They start learning to talk. Oh so cute! No. It really isn't. They are like walking sponges, you think you swore quietly under your breath when you spilt their milk on the floor? You didn't swear quietly enough. Just wait until you are in a very public place and it will come tumbling out of their mouths. You just have to get used to the 'what a bad parent' looks. Clearly they have the perfect children who never push them to utter a single profanity. I doubt it.
Now your lovely bundle of joy (coughs) can talk, get ready for the ground opening, embarrassments. A particular favourite of mine was Marcus, he was about 3 and we were in the local Co-op. There was a kind, old lady telling me how cute he was. He turns to her, gasps in horror and asks 'Ewww what have you got all over your face?' How do you explain varicose veins to a 3-year-old? Yeah good luck, I hope it goes better for you then it did me.
Time to start school. This is a wonderful time, you think that you will LOVE having time to yourself, you make lists of everything you can get done in that precious time of 9-3:30 that you have all to yourself. You could nap! Get your nails done? Go for coffee with friends? Ah no, you are so crippled with the empty feeling and the silence it makes it hard to enjoy any of it.
The first week is grand. You skip around town, free as a bird, clutching your small bag that isn't full of milk bottles and nappies. Then you suddenly panic, are they okay? Did you remember to send them with their packed lunch? Do they have their PE kit? Ah, I will text them and... oh yeah, they are four, they don't have Whatsapp or a phone for that matter. But can you ring the school again? Is there such thing as a restraining order for needy mums?
So now they are 7 going on 17. They have attitude, they stomp upstairs and huff at you. This is when you really feel like you're turning into your mother. Phrases you despised come so naturally to you now. 'I don't want to have this conversation with you again' 'just because James has one doesn't mean you can' you get my drift...
Where are the tips for dealing with this age? Because I haven't seen any! Where are the books labeled "dealing with a 7-year-old and their constant need to push their boundaries?" Seriously, as I am writing this my childminder just text me to tell me that Marcus' school teacher has spoken to her about him not doing his homework. So all those nights I spent trying to help with maths problems (not my strong point) have gone completely to waste. Where on earth did his homework go between me putting it in his bag and dropping him off, to getting into school to hand it in? Did it magically vanish? Did the dog eat it?
So you look like a terrible parent. My child is the only one at school that hasn't done is homework for weeks. How do you tell them that you do it with them religiously and it has just disappeared, without looking like A. a crazy person or B. a massive liar?
This isn't the first time he has made me look like a bad mother either, once at nursery I was taken to one side because he told them he had never eaten a vegetable and hadn't washed in 2 months. I mean COME ON. REALLY??
I am serious here, you have to take it all with a pinch of salt. I constantly worry that I am not good enough, that they don't have the most incredible childhood. But they are both happy, kind and content little kids.
So I guess what I am saying is that you are doing a good job. Give yourself a break and just live it. There are no books, no wonderful pieces of advice that can show you how to be the perfect parent. We just stumble along, doing our best and hoping that they come out alright in the end.