Today marks the anniversary of me being a parent for an entire decade.
It's not a very long time.
It's quite a long time.
I was so organised for parenting. I read every book available before my babies arrived. The books tell you exactly what you need to know, as long as you read as many as you can. Sooner or later you'll get the answer you want to hear.
Having a baby knocks your brain about, and your heart. It does things to your body that you can see physically on the outside but it does even more to the bit that you can't.
Over the last decade I've learnt things that no book in the world will teach you.
Kids have certain sounds that require different parenting reactions. There is the loud bang that's followed by silence. This is a bad one. If a loud bang is instantly followed by crying and screaming, it's ice pack/band aid time, when it's silence, parents manage to run faster and breathe differently.
There are noises in the night. You can hear little tiny feet scampering around the house and you can instantly tell if it's just a child running to the toilet or if it's a child sleep walking in random places.
Parents can hear the sounds of a bad day at school in the silence of the car on the way home from pick up. Parents can hear the sound of 'I need help with something but I don't know how to tell you.' There is no chapter on learning this in the books, you have to teach yourself, you won't even know that you have. One day you just realise that you know these things.
When you have a tiny baby you know you're going to do EVERYTHING to protect that bundle from pain and suffering. And then along the way, some other persons shit kid utters the words to your beautiful child along the lines of "No! You CANT PLAY WITH US." Whatever age your kid is you want to stick chewy in that nasty kids hair and spit in their lunch. But you won't. You'll slowly realise that you can't keep the pain and suffering away forever. You can't live in a bubble where your kid never ever has to deal with the world. It's at these moments when you know you have to do something even harder. You have to prepare your kid for shit times. Because they are coming. It might be shit kids in the playground, it might be that your beautiful child is not going to be attending a party that every other kid got invited to or it might be Fluffy the bunny has gone missing. One day it's going to be the death of someone they knew and loved. The pain will come along for your kids and as a parent it will hurt your heart that you can't protect your child.
It will make you breathe differently.
Then you will learn about being a proud parent.
At first - YAY - I made a baby that cries and poos and looks cute in photos will be all you need. You'll be so proud that you got that baby out of you and that you're both still alive. Phew, what an effort. So proud. The world around you will be thrilled too. It's exciting to be a part of a new life. People will send cards and gifts and food. It's so amazing.
And then. Your baby will start to walk/talk/eat/roll/sleep/read and it will be better than any other baby that ever lived. No one will care. No one will be as proud as you. Only you will see what it took for your baby to achieve that thing, to ride that bike, to conquer that fear. But you will be proud of them. When they win that race, finish that novel, play the game, attend the concert, get invited to the party, make a friend, cook a meal, ace the test, you'll be so proud, they don't need anyone else to be.
There are moments you look at them and you're so proud for that brief moment, you'll take a deep breath and breathe a little bit slower.
No one tells you the stuff that you are going to learn either. All you read about is what you should be teaching your kids, like manners, kindness, reading and writing, to be a tennis star, a Master chef, blah blah. No one says that your kids will end up bringing new people into your life, new friends and new interests. They don't tell you that you will learn to sew sequins on outfits and to braid hair in many styles. That you will learn about every highly contagious disease and know the best way to administer foul tasting medicine to toddlers. That you'll learn the name of every dinosaur and how to play minecraft. You'll build more lego and read more books, learn how to install a trampoline in the dark of night and how you can creep on your hands and knees to ensure a floor board doesn't creak.
It's possible you'll sit up hours and hours of the night helping your child to breathe.
Sometimes, you might even hear that moment when your child can't breathe and you'll learn the tips to help a child with whooping cough or croup or asthma to catch that next breath.
A decade ago no one told me any of the fears I'd conquer just because I had no other choice but to do so.
It's surprising how much parenting you do in a decade, it's surprising you even get a chance to breathe.