There are certain inalienable truths about parenting, I know because I've shouted them at my own parents on numerous occasions from teen to twenty something (still shouting).
YOU DID IT WRONG. Is still my all time fave, and gets straight to the point. Forget the science involved in the "You didn't breast feed me therefore our relationship is shit". Or the opposite "You breast-fed me for far too long and now I am a moron unable to leave home". Let alone the intricacies of the "Your own failed relationships/personality defects now mean I'm destined to have failed relationship after failed relationship and its all your fucking fault".
No. Shouting "you did it wrong" at the top of your voice then throwing yourself to the floor in a helpless heap is by far the most simplest and easiest way to deal with the truth about parenting. Philip Larkin had it spot on, "They fuck you up your mum and dad they don't mean to but they do"
I don't believe when you become a parent you set out to intentionally fuck it up. In fact the opposite you set out with the idea "I'm going to do this differently" but what is it about parenting that almost insists you transfer your own horrible flaws onto your children in a transfer of issues wider than the spread of Chlamydia among my own generation?
What is even worse is the undeniable fact, I will, 'fuck it up' too, one day. Hopefully.
Thankfully I've got more than my own reflective childhood experience, I have my experience as a nanny throughout univeristy and the many unpaid labor exploits of a budding broadcaster which have taught me wonderful things about parenting, its allowed me to see how awful and scary it is with the unrealistic joy of handing them back at 6 o'clock and going home to download american TV series. Sans responsibility.
Its allowed me to experience the buying of nappies, the paying for music classes they hate but you pretend they love so they become the next Mozart, and the luxury of having lunches with baby chinos, without the added fear of it being my money I'm spending while we're in a global recession. The expense of children is enough to make fucking it up even more likely. Queue the...... *what if I can't pay for the hippy music classes panic and sense of parent failure.
What about feeling the hideous I've turned my back for two seconds and they've disappeared, shit shit shit shit, I've lost your children shit shit shit * scream * panic. Only to find them in a bush laughing about making you so scared you've turned see-through. Only then do you understand what its like to feel a sense of grateful rage.
Its allowed me to see things I want (a nanny) please god make me rich enough and send Mary Poppins into my life, and the things I don't want. Its also taught me the lovely side to parenting, yes I admit there are clearly rewarding sides, like the funny things they say, or the joy you get from seeing them grow and become mini people with personalities knowing you did that, and the moments of pure love, not the 'I want a extra biscuit before bed time so I'm going to kiss you' love, but the spontaneous moments of magic between a parent and a child.
When I think about one day having my own children, which at the moment I do still want, I can't help but think about the inevitable fact, my grown up child/children will one day be shouting at me "you did it wrong" . This my biggest fear.
Follow Rosa Doherty on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Rosa_Doherty