The seven ages of parenthood
The seven ages of parenthood
Phase 1: The Twinkle in Your Eye. "Shall we start a family, darling?"
The biological clock ticks, the maternal instinct weighs heavy. Seeing babies everywhere prompts a sigh, "isn't she so cute?". All helped of course by the tiresome chore called "making babies".
2: Heavy with Child The missed period - am I, aren't I? Soon confirmed by the morning trips to the bathroom to meet with you new acquaintances Ralph and Huey. But it is all worth it when you feel that first flutter - was that a kick? Was that his, you-know, on the ultrasound?
A few months later and you know all about those kicks - and the elbows. Plus backache, piles, swollen ankles, varicose veins - who was responsible for getting you into this state???? Wow - was that you swearing like a trouper? Puff puff, pant pant, "you *****ing *****, I'm never **** going to **** with you again! Oh, Oh, Oh, Ah... isn't she sweet? let's see. ten fingers, ten toes, Oh she's just perfect, isn't she, darling?"
3: A first time for everything Sleepless nights, sore nipples, dieting to lose all those extra pounds. Meanwhile, the little darling can do no wrong. Look! She smiles! And she has discovered her toes!
I wonder if they really taste so good?
First time: sitting, crawling, standing, walking. First word, First solid food. First potty. First full blown, lie-on-the-floor-and-kick-the-feet tantrum. Each a major achievement to celebrate. Nursery rhymes and pat-a-cake - crucial for child development but, all too often these days, delegated to the TV. First kindergarten or school: a mixed blessing. Where did my baby go?
Phase 4: Playgrounds, parties and alphabets. How fast they change from being cuddly babies to young, independent, school kids. In some English private schools they even wear a uniform with cap and tie (for the boys)! Toilet jokes - everything and anything to do with pooping and peepee is absolutely hilarious!
Their first best friend, and first rejection. Scraped knees in the playground. And, of course, their first "it's not fair!" How hard it is to let them go - but you can't protect them from everything.
Phase 5: - Reading, Riting and Rithmatic Time to put the play aside for a moment. There's letters and sums to learn. For some, it is just a walk in the park, for others it is climbing Everest. It is at this time that the differences between children become apparent.
Those with easy kids can't see what all the fuss is about, yet for others it is the beginnings of years of stress, worry, tears and heartache. Even so, there are always the little events to remember - All she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth (along with Barbie and a puppy dog!) Time too for rules and chores, they're not your little babies anymore!
Phase 6 - Pre-teens and Puberty Girls will be girls and boys will be boys - and never the two shall mix.
Well, why would they?
The girls are all into pink and giggle too much - and the boys are just too cool for such silliness. Clothes. You are just SO out of date mom! No one wears that anymore! And why should it matter if my pants are hanging down by my knees? Mom, these clothes are too small! Language. Well cool. First bra, first period. Lipstick and makekup. Squeeky voice that breaks. Anti-perspirant.
Phase 7: - "Kevin goes Large" Suddenly boys and girls are not so alien after all. Does (s)he fancy me? Suddenly too, your precious child, whom you taught everything, knows more than you. In fact, you apparently, know nothing, and they knows everything! Parents are out, friends are everything.
So is music and fashion. And late nights. "Aw mum, why do I have to be back so early - everyone else is staying until 3 am!" Oh yeah? Are they really? But, every now and then, you can have an amazing conversation with your new young adult - as long as you aren't trying to lecture them.
Then, one day, the fireworks settle. The grunts turn into English again and like a phoenix from the ashes, and new (adult) human emerges - full of ideals and dreams and visions, but perhaps a bit short on confidence and wisdom.
Phase 8 (well, who said I could count?) So they've left home - but they are still your little darlings. Your worries and hopes for them continue. "I'll love you, forever.
I'll like you, for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be" - Robert Munsch The years will pass so quickly. Make the most of every one of them along the way.
author of The seven ages of parenthood is Dr Noel Swanson MD
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