26 Apr 2016

No Owners Manual

Before or during deciding to start a family I wasn't aware of being warned at any stage of what was to come. You know like those old adverts explaining a dog was for life and not just for Christmas, when you first visit the doctors to have your pregnancy confirmed there should be a warning. A sort of "this may be fun at times but it's going to get really scary and worrying in equal measure"

The fun times are fun, like chasing bubbles around the garden on a summers day with their giggles drifting off into the sunshine. Or running around and chasing each other for no reason and collapsing in a heap of laughter. Showing your child the wonder of something new for the first time and them being blown totally away by it...and made even better when you get that great snap shot of them looking amazed and sharing it with everyone you know.

But the scary shit is REALLY scary when it happens, such as middle of the night temperatures that you can't get down and you are worrying what's best - do you move them and take them to A&E or sit it out for 10 more minutes? It's such a balancing act and traumatic when faced with it and there is no training that could make you more useful when its your own child. No manual to consult or work out what is normal and what is not.

It's never fun when you've got a toddler being feisty and just screaming at you when you don't know what's wrong, if only I could flick to page 7 of my owners manual and think 'oh yes, his live wire is tiring and he needs to be recharged' but no, I have to ask a series of questions that seem to anger him further and gets us nowhere. The moment I take my eye off the subject in question, the extreme distress seems to pass and I'm left staring vaguely into the middle distance slightly exhausted.

A child is forever and that person, even when fully grown and responsible for themselves, will forever be your child, your baby, the one thing you will always be there to look after. It's a daunting thought and one I don't think I really took on board before I started this adventure. Sounds very naive but I've had so many 'god nobody told me!' moments whilst raising my two and I'm not sure who I thought would tell me but thought at least one person might have!

There are a myriad of books telling you how individuals think you should be raising your child, some from people who haven't even got children of their own!  But there is no definitive guide that you can grab for and read through furiously when your 5yr old suddenly says she hates eating chicken "because of the poor chickens" and then promptly explodes in a mess of tears and snot as you are left wondering what you will feed her from now on (considering chicken was about the only safe go to food).

I've thought the sleepless nights so far have been bad but nothing, I'm assured by my own mum, to the feelings when your teenager goes out to a nightclub or on holiday with their friends for the first time. The worry you feel checking the clock several times wondering how cool you need to act when they finally arrive home - this would probably be found around page 55 of the by now well leafed and curling at the edges manual.

The manual would be interspersed with motivational quotes advising you that "You are the best parent you can be" "No one remembers the f*ck ups...just that they were (& are) loved unconditionally" and it would be these that the bleary eyed new mother or the mother dealing with puking children all night long would read whilst nursing their by now luke warm cup of morning tea and feeling all a bit fuzzy around the edges.

The first day at nursery / school / secondary school and then the biggie...first day at work would all be covered in fine detail; from getting the uniform right and ready and washed in time to remembering their dinner money every day. A whole paragraph (at least) would deal with how to best hide your tears and pretend like its the biggest adventure ever and you are just so thrilled to be waving like a maniac as they round the corner into their classroom before hauling yourself back to a safe haven and mourning this momentous occasion.

Nothing would be glossed over and dealt with sparingly and at no point would there be mention of "it's just a phase" as a fob off for a multitude of strange goings on. I, I'm sure, would be a better mother and less of a ball of worry if I had the Owners manual. My husband would not have such a quizzical look on his face when dealing with the emotions of a small girl and I could fathom out my boys strange ideas of what is fun...like banging your head on things.

So if anyone is in possession of this manual that I speak of...please, please can you find the right page and tell me now how I turn the volume down because mine have their switches well hidden and set on extra loud shouty voice, permanently.....oh and the early bird setting - how can I move that from 5am to a nice calm 7am please?

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