I never knew how tough it would be to be a parent until I became one. I was naive before children and thought it was something I would find easy as I was certain I had maternal instinct. In truth the maternal instinct kicked in straight away and I learnt quickly how to nurse with minimal nipple on display, how to pull a vest down rather than over after an explosive poo and how to ninga move out of a sleeping baby's room. That stuff is hard to some extent and takes time to learn but parenting is so much harder than I had ever imagined and something no one could have really prepared me for.
Parenting through sleep deprivation is hard. I have had to function on little to no sleep many times. I have been so tired I have walked around like a zombie unable to complete the easiest tasks like adding orange juice to tea instead of milk. People always assume you are most sleep deprived with a newborn, which can be true and you tend to get some sympathy, but when you have a two year old who won't sleep because of his teeth, unfortunately you are own your own and just have to suck it up.
Parenting whilst adding an extra child. I thought it was tough, but manageable when I had one child. I could still get the washing done, have a shower and do my make-up with just a little juggling. When you have two or more there is no respite in between and they have a tendency to tag team you. Mr T is great at destroying something just as his sister needs to help having her bum wiped after a poo. Some days I literally feel touched out by having constant contact with one little person and I feel like hiding in the kitchen cupboard, unfortunately that is not an option as I'm too fat.
Parenting through sickness is bloody tough. My children have a knack at throwing up directly down my top so my bra catches it, coupled with Mr T doing an explosive poo and me being sick myself, things can be a bit minging and extremely exhausting when you are ill, but when you have children sick too is just relentless.
Parenting alone is something all us mums have to do to some extent but lots do it every single day, with little, or no break. I can't comment on being a single parent as it's not something I have been, but I can comment on the loneliest of having a husband who works twelve hour shifts, often nights. I have spent many a long day with the children just wishing he was there to take over for ten minutes so I can have a quick shower without my daughter watching, commenting on the size of my big wobbly bottom. It can be extremely isolating and the best way to deal with it is to complain with other mummy friends through play dates and the powers of social media.
Parenting through a mental illness is by far the toughest thing I have ever had to do. Dealing with postnatal depression after the birth of my second child was really tough and something I am still struggling with now 20 months later. On days I feel emotionally and physically weak, I still have to get up, still need to feed the children and still be a mum. I can't just take the day off or hide under my duvet as much as I want to. I have hidden in a locked bathroom more times than I care to remember with tears pouring down my face, wondering how I will make it to bed time, but I always do.
Through the days of tough parenting I try to remind myself that I have a 100% success rate of completing these days. I have survived and I will continue to survive these days.