PARENTS

What We Thought Motherhood Would Be Like - And The Reality!

03/02/2015 16:03 | Updated 20 May 2015

Toddler crying in high chair

Taking them swimming

What you imagined:

Joyful and serene quality time together in the womb-like waters.

The reality:

The bit in the pool is lovely. But then there's the other stuff. Forgetting the code for the changing rooms, and, in the rush to get there on time, leaving your towel/swimsuit/padlock at home, always get things off to a good start.

After the swim, she is afraid of the shower and also won't let you put her down, so you have to wash yourself over your swimsuit and she will have to have a proper bath when you get home.

Next you have to dodge grimy puddles and find a space to dress your child on a tiny patch of bench in between ten other writhing infants. Naturally she refuses to sit on said bench, so you have to get down onto the damp floor, and she starts to scream. Meanwhile you're desperately yanking up your tights over your still wet legs.

Baking together

What you imagined:

Both of you in cute little aprons with matching big and small rolling pins, laughing and singing as you stir cookie mixture in a Mason Cash bowl.

The reality:

Making him wash his hands first sets off a tantrum. Then, as you begin by creaming butter and sugar, he already wants to eat this 'dough'. No matter how many times you explain it doesn't taste good yet, every time you take your eyes off him – to reach for another ingredient, spoon or scales – he's got his fingers deep in the mixing bowl. He particularly insists on eating neat flour.

Once the dough is finally ready and you're cutting out shapes, he's eating the raw ones faster than you can roll more out, and you're trying to stop thinking about the risk of him catching salmonella from the raw eggs.

It's 11am and you've eaten so much dough yourself you're going to be a jeans size bigger tomorrow. Finally you're faced with a mountain of washing up, just as your child is coming down from his sugar high.

What you imagined:

You and a friend leisurely catching up over mugs of tea while your children establish a lifelong friendship.

The reality:

You and your friend manage to exchange a few unfinished sentences in between changing pooey nappies, fetching snacks and drinks, and comforting wailing toddlers. By the time you have time to finish each sentence you've both forgotten what you were saying.

James is alternating between whining to go home and hoarding Freddie's trains, while Freddie is shouting 'Don't like James'. You and your friend end up nursing headaches in silence while the children watch Peppa Pig.

First trip to the theatre

What you imagined:

Your little girl being captivated by the singing and dancing on stage. It awakens a deep love of culture and music in your child. Perhaps she will be a ballerina one day.

The reality:

The best you can hope for is that you get to check your email on your phone while she watches the show. But that's highly unlikely. You arrive too early and by the time the curtain opens, she's restless and bored.

Then a scary character appears and she starts screaming at the top of her lungs in fear and will not calm down. You have to disturb all the other people in your row to get her out, while the actors give you dirty looks from the stage. Your child refuses to go near a theatre again for the next two years.

Walking in the woods

What you imagined:

You and your children enjoying traditional nature play as you stroll through the woods, the baby in a pram gazing at the light through the trees and the toddler splashing in puddles and collecting sticks to build a den.

The reality:

Baby cries because the ground is so bumpy and you end up having to breastfeed her in a clearing with young male joggers trying to avert their eyes. 'Isn't this a beautiful place?' you say to your toddler, but he's not listening.

It starts to pour with rain and he lies down in a massive puddle. You're miles from home, a baby attached to your nipple and the toddler yelling 'Carry me!' He says he's too tired to walk and of course also insists that you carry his tricycle.

The tears roll down your cheeks as you call your husband and say 'I just can't cope!' But he can't help you now! With the baby now screaming at being back in the buggy, you power-push it while carrying the toddler and his trike through the wind and rain. Of course, you also left the rain cover for the buggy at home.

Weekend afternoons at home

What you imagined:

Cosily doing jigsaws and reading together as a family.

The reality:

Your husband snores on the sofa – you're effectively on your own watching the children, so it's no different from a weekday.

The kids have no interest in jigsaws or reading. Your son insists on watching screeching cars on your laptop, and the baby won't let you put her down for a second. You try to read the same story in the newspaper over and over again. You're climbing the walls – this isn't cosy; it's claustrophobia!

Working while the baby sleeps/your toddler goes to preschool

What you imagined:

Two-and-half hours a day is plenty of time to write a novel/crochet a blanket/start your own business.

The reality:

You're so tired that you conk out – either that, or you're trying to catch up on all the cleaning, or collapsing slack-jawed like a zombie in front of The Real Housewives.

Of course, parenting isn't all tears and exhaustion. In spite of it all, nothing we imagined could be as wonderful as the reality.

What you imagined:

You – with a baby? You – with a toddler? You – with both? You can't even begin to imagine what parenthood will be like or how you will possibly manage.

The reality:

No matter how difficult parenting is, the way that your children are always ready for a cuddle, to learn something and to share a silly joke makes it all somehow good again. That, and the sight of them peacefully sleeping.

Suggest a correction