My 2 year and 9 month old son started preschool today…this is the first time we have left him with strangers ever. For years we have said that he will start preschool when we all feel the time is right for him. For months we have said we think he’s ready and will start preschool very soon. For weeks we’ve all been excited and happy and waving at the preschool if we drive past…
Then yesterday happened…the day before preschool…nothing had changed for him, but I was suddenly nervous, sooo nervous – how would he be when I left? What if he’s not ok? What if he’s not ready? Then it all struck at bedtime…he was peacefully asleep and I was sat next to his bed; a silently weeping emotional ball of sentimentality, contemplating how my little baby is growing up so fast.
How did that happen!? What happened to my confident ‘oh we’re all completely fine about it’ approach!? It got me thinking about how vastly different the reality of a situation can be compared with the expectation…here are a few other examples I’ve come across in the last couple of years with my son, where the expected breeze turned out to be a little bit more 1987 after all.
Name labels: I had grand visions of my son trotting off to said pre-school with beautiful hand-sewn labels in his clothes and me smiling smugly knowing nothing will ever get lost.
The reality? Me this morning shouting ‘where’s the sharpie!? I need to name his clothes! Pass me that biro, it’ll do’. Oh the shame. I even had to downgrade the stationary.
Vaccinations: most people accept vaccinations, nay welcome vaccinations, as part of their child’s life. I am fully of the mindset that I’m doing what’s best for my child and protecting him from protectable nasties. Easy. And so I waltz in to the doctors full of self assurance.
The reality? The needle stabs my precious little bundle and those big eyes look up in confusion to mummy and all he feels is shock and pain (admittedly not that much though, come on!) and suddenly it becomes a tad more harrowing for the easy breezy parent than it was five minutes ago. You find yourself caught in the moment knowing you’re doing what’s best but having to face the not-so-trusting-now gaze of your offspring as you pin their flailing limbs into position and frantically promise icecream.
Breastfeeding: I think I need to upgrade this from a breeze to a bit of a hooley…I didn’t expect it to be completely easy…but seriously? I did NOT expect it to be that hard. The physical complications, adjustments and pain; the emotional upheaval; the responsibility…you get the idea.
Weaning: It’s fair to say I was a little clueless about parenting when I had my son. I got through the tumultuous initial few weeks of breastfeeding and fell into my stride, happy and relaxed that I’d only have to do it until my baby was six months old and then he would start eating proper food.
Yes I thought that. Yes it’s a bloody good thing I went to a ‘weaning workshop’ and was educated on the matter.
The reality? an additional 12 months and a long process of dropping daytime feeds followed by a mildly impatient wait for my son to decide to nighttime wean, which he did at 17 months….actually relatively early but a tiny windy bit later than my expected 6 months!
Mealtimes: Sunny, happy, advert-esque family meals – all sat round the table, all eating the same food (because our child would not be a fussy eater, not with our thoughtful introduction of food), all engaging in some level of conversation, soft background music, tinkling children’s laughter and ahhhing adults…
The reality? We may get to be in the same room, maybe even at the same table, but our two and a half year old is likely to sing Goosey Goosey Gander loudly through conversations, laugh in the face of fresh fruit and vegetables, launch sporadically into his Cookie Monster impression, break down if the blue bowl is not red and sometimes, sometimes only eat if standing on his toy box, on one leg wearing wellies and a cowboy hat…sometimes.
Dressing a baby: harder than I thought, he might break
Dressing a toddler: harder than I thought, he hates clothes
Leaving a baby overnight: pre-baby I was opens to advice about leaving my baby once a fortnight from, I don’t know, six months, so he ‘gets used to separation’ and ‘learns how to be independent’. ‘Yes, I could do that’ I thought, ‘it will be a breeze’.
The reality? I became a mother and so bollocks to that…dependence breeds independence. And why would I want to leave him? Unless I’m much mistaken I do believe he’s only little once and for the first however many months he thought he was me, poor child. Also doing the aforementioned breastfeeding thing, you know the feeding glands are not hugely transferable. I eventually left him for one night once at seventeen months after much umming and ahhing, worry and buildup…it was not ‘easy’.
Life: I clearly remember saying when I was much younger, many years before I had my son (when my brain was obviously still developing) that if I had a child they would absolutely fit into my life, my life would not change because of a baby and I would still do all the things I used to do but with a baby in tow.
The reality? Pahahahahaaaa!
I’d love to hear your experiences of things not being quite as straightforward as they first seemed…I have deliberately left out the minefield of choosing car seats and you may also notice that sleep doesn’t feature. I don’t understand my son’s sleep enough yet to know if we’re feeling the whisper of gentle summer’s air or if we’re stuck in a tornado. I’m tired a lot so probably tornado…
There is one little thing recently that bucked the breeze to hurricane trend…the BiBs. Low to no expectations…and the reality? Well someone at Britmums has clearly made a terrible administrative error and are too embarrassed to say because I’M ON THE SHORTLIST FOR READERS’ CHOICE (yes I shouted that). I’d love it if you would consider voting for me. You can click the below badge or read my post about it here. And yes I’ve apparently mastered the art of shoehorning…