Advice. It comes from all sources. From your mum to your next door neighbour, well meaning friends and family to the random old lady in Boots tutting that your baby has no socks on. It seems that the second you get pregnant you, your bump and your resultant baby are hot property for little gems of advice. Sleeping. Eating. Too many cuddles. Not enough cuddles. Pram. Baby wear. Everyone has something to say. “It just get’s harder” was the advice given to Katy from Hot Pink Wellingtons when she had her baby. A new mum, 6 weeks in, “it just gets harder.” Katy’s response was brilliant, and then it got me thinking about that one little sentence.
It just gets harder.
Now, there is no denying that parenting is hard. Parenting is tough. Parenting isn’t always a walk in the park. But alongside the tough days, the tough hours, minutes and seconds, there are the joyous times. The first smiles, giggles, words. The first crawling, walking, running. The jumping, skipping and hopping.
The sleepless nights, the long days. Creeping in at night to marvel at your baby sleeping. Or nap time.
The crying. Then watching as only you can make everything alright again. As only you have the magic touch to soothe your troubled child.
Yes parenting is hard. Each day is hard. But to say it gets harder as time goes on? No.
It doesn’t get harder, it just gets different
The newborn days. Those all consuming days where, sometimes, even lifting your head off the pillow feels like too much. Days where a small person seems to be sucking the life out of you, sometimes quite literally if you are breastfeeding. This tiny, mewling, human who has quite literally changed your entire life is utterly dependent on you. For everything. To eat. To sleep. To poo even. For entertainment. For comfort. All consuming. Hard.
The days pass by, some days you are nailing it, some days you aren’t. Some days you get out of the house, both dressed, make up on, smiling. Some days you sit on the couch and sob. Most days I ate cake. And drank coffee. A lot of coffee. Before you know it, the newborn days are over. You are hurtling towards first smiles, routine and more interaction. You are heading towards people thinking that you should be back to being you, not realising that your life has changed forever, that you will never be the you before children again. Life starts to speed past at a rate of knots. You start to get yourself into a routine, then question the routine. Are they sleeping enough? Too much? Through the night? Why aren’t they sleeping through the night yet? Hard. But a different type of hard, a different type of challenge to the newborn days. Not necessarily harder, just different.
A baby on the move. Sitting up, crawling, getting into everything. Frantic dash to babyproof and your baby proving that no matter what you do they can still find a way around your babyproofing to hurt themselves. Finding out that a mobile baby is very different to a newborn baby, or even the baby you had just a few short weeks ago that was desperate to be propped up to watch the world around them. Hard. But a different type of hard, a different type of challenge to the early days. Not necessarily harder, just different.
A teething baby. Angry red cheeks, bulging gums, snotty noses and utter misery. Attempts to placate with Calpol, with Ashton & Parsons, with frozen flannels and teething toys, with amber necklaces, with distraction. Feeling like you want to sob alongside them, their angry little face willing you to make everything better, questioning as to why you can’t. You questioning why you can’t. Hard. But a different type of hard, a different type of challenge to the baby on the move days. Not necessarily harder, just different.
Learning to walk. Learning to talk. Asserting their independence, pushing every boundary you could ever set. And then some. Tantrums over shoes. Tantrums over dinner. Tantrums. Tantrums. Tantrums. Carrying your stiff as a board child through the shops, tucked under one arm, still wailing because you said no to a kinder egg. Holding your head high as the tears threaten to spill. Hard. But a different type of hard, a different type of challenge to the teething baby days. Not necessarily harder, just different.
Introducing a sibling, pregnancy hormones running wild, then maybe a dramatic birth to add to the mix. Changing dynamics, routines. Mixing in the newborn days with the tantrumming toddler days. Then the early days with a child testing boundaries. Going forward. Growing. Learning. Knowing you’ve survived it all once, and will do again, whilst realising that all babies are different throwing different challenges your way. Hard. But a different type of hard, a different type of challenge. Not necessarily harder, just different.
Days passing by. Challenges changing, depending on the child, on the baby, on the stage. Each challenge different. Each challenge unique, not only to the stage of development, but the child. Surviving each day, thriving through some, clinging onto your wits through others. Some days a breeze. Some days hard. Some days harder. Each day unique.
And yes, I know I have hard days ahead, the start of school, the politics, the fact that I am going to have two boys filled with testosterone under my roof with all that entails. Different challenges. Hard challenges.
But no, it doesn’t get harder. Parenting and parenthood is always hard. You have an element of self doubt. Your children push your buttons. You face different challenges in your circumstances. Parenting is hard, but rewarding. To say to someone that it gets harder isn’t true. The challenges just get different.