"Does anybody have a map?
Anybody maybe happen to know how the hell to do this?
I don't know if you can tell
But this is me just pretending to know
So where's the map?
I need a clue
'Cause the scary truth is
I'm flyin' blind
I'm making this up as I go "
- Anybody Have A Map, Dear Evan Hansen.
Parenting is one of those strange things. Despite the huge responsibility that lies in your hands (quite literally) you never really get told how to do it. You fumble through the years and hope that you are doing a good job. There is no grading sheet, no exam and at the end of each year you sit back and wonder if you are doing okay, if your child is growing into a wholesome young person.
I never really expected to be a parent. I knew at some point I would probably have a child, but the whole concept of parenting was alien to me. And I still think it's pretty strange. I stumble day to day pretending I know exactly what I'm doing. Pretending I have it all together, when really I have no clue if what I'm teaching Max is a worthwhile lesson, a sensible life tip or just plain nonsense.
To the outside world, mums on the school run or even someone in the supermarket, I probably look like I have my shit together. But really I spend half the time wondering if there is a map or manual for parenting that isn't condescending or pure ludicrous. I'm not too sure exactly what I'm getting at with this post except that no one is a perfect parent. We all have our flaws, we all have the moments of sitting on the bathroom floor, gin in hand wondering how the hell we can get through it.
But I'm putting my hands up and saying I need a map at times as I'm definitely making things up as I go along. But along the way I have learnt some lessons that are vital to coping as a parent:
- Having a tribe/gang/group of mums/whatever you want to call them that just get you. That you only need to look at them over your kid's head for them to know you need a hot chocolate and a rant. Those mums that you will lean on in times of darkness and times of happiness.
- Trusting your instincts. At least to a certain extent. I've had moments where Max has pushed me to his absolute limits and whilst my head says to shut him in his room until he's an adult, I know that I should take a deep breath, a moment to myself and work out how to deal with it. I followed so much "advice" from others when he was little that was frankly rubbish. You are the mum, they are your child.
- Don't worry if you don't know. As I mentioned earlier, I will raise my hands up and admit I'm making this parenting stuff up as I go along. I'm still not sure if showing Max Jurassic Park at 2.5 years old was a wise move, but he's not mentally scarred from the experience.
- Always have alcohol/chocolate/mum food in the house. You never know when you will need that G&T or a friend will be having such a rubbish day that the ice cream needs to come out. Trust me, your cupboard will thank you.