When that faint blue line appears on the pregnancy test, most new mothers only really consider the next 12 months: the wonderful scent of newborn baby; the daunting prospect of sleepless nights; the promise of unconditional love from a helpless babe.
What no one realises (at this stage of blissful naivety) is that the gorgeous, defenceless, newborn bundle will one day become a demanding toddler, opinionated five-year-old, unreasonable tween, and finally... stroppy teenager.
Over the last few weeks, I have been contemplating the various transitions of childhood and wondering where us mothers fit in to these ever-changing phases, inflicted upon us....
1. The 'I need you every waking (and sometimes sleeping) moment' Phase - aka life with a newborn.
I know that some people find this phase of motherhood so all-consuming and unpredictable that they can't wait for it to end. You might be surprised to learn that I actually miss it, mainly because it is probably the one and only period when my child needed me for everything. Newborns can quite literally do nothing for themselves (apart from cry, poo and be sick of course) but there is something quite special about the helplessness of a newborn infant. Then almost without warning, you are thrown into....
2. The 'I only want you when I can't reach something' Phase - aka the toddler years.
And boy what a toughie this stage is. For everyone concerned. The infuriating struggle between independence and not actually being able to physically do everything they want, often results in extreme meltdowns and regular bouts of hysteria. And that is from both parties! Or is that just our house?
3. The 'My teacher is my world' Phase - aka parenting an infant school child.
The first day at school is certainly a momentous occasion: your child leaves your side for the first time and you are entrusting them into the hands of another human being. It doesn't take long for your precious offspring to discover that there is more than one person in the world who will nurture them, encourage them, tell them everything they need to know and comfort them when they fall over. In other words, you (as mum and primary carer) are no longer the centre of their world. It's a harsh lesson to learn but you do get them back eventually....when they reach junior school and a strict teacher takes over!
4. The 'You know nothing, I know everything' Phase - aka living with a tween.
This is where we are at right now and let me tell you, there is nothing that a tween doesn't know more about, than you. Take last week for example, when discussing the merits of a healthy diet....The Tween profoundly announces that cheese is a dairy product. There's no disputing this fact, she is absolutely right. When I tell her that cheese has protein in it, of course I am totally wrong, know absolutely nothing and in fact need to go back to school. "Cheese is in the 'Dairy' food group, not 'Protein' group - duh!" At which point I turn to Google for sanity (fast becoming a regular habit) but as I said, there really is no telling a tween.
5. The 'Don't call us, we'll call you' Phase - aka the teenage years.
This stage is particularly hard on us mums. The tiny baby that we have nurtured and guided through life thus far, now seeks independence and we are seemingly surplus to requirements. Our job is largely to pick up the pieces after the event and keep our opinions to ourselves. Although we've not quite reached this stage yet, we are definitely on the brink and I'm not sure I am going to like it much.
I am told there is another stage, which I have yet to experience....
6. The 'I only need you when I've run out of money' Phase.
I shall come back to this one in five years time...
Some days I feel a bit like a chameleon, only the terrain I am standing on has been chosen by my child and if I'm to survive, I need to change colour pretty darn quickly!
This blog was originally posted on 3 Children and It