Today I’m talking anal.
I’m talking anal retentiveness. That kind of anal. It is a well known fact (in my household) that the more you like to control situations, the harder you find it to parent. Some people like to parent as a dictator, think Kim Jong-un, Hitler, Mugabe, Gina Ford. Some people take a more ‘we think this might make the child incandescent with rage but y’know, lets wait and see what happens’ approach. E.g my husband. (Private note to husband: NO. DO NOT WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS, I AM TELLING YOU NOW WE ARE SLOWLY LOSING THIS CHILD TO A TANTRUM. WELL DONE, NOW HE WANTS JAM ON HIS TOAST TOO ‘SAME LIKE YOU’. THE SUGAR CONTENT IN THAT SHIT WILL MAKE HIM CLIMB THE WALLS. GET HIM DOWN OFF THE WALLS)
I am more in the former camp of parenting (but less murder-ey. Not you Gina. I’m sure you’ve only ever had murderous thoughts. About clocks and stuff). But I’m not sure that my blood pressure can take it to be honest. I am trying to be laid back, I think I do a pretty good job of appearing laid back. But even the control over appearing to not be controlling requires quite a lot of effort. And if you are not already aware of this fact let me make something absolutely clear to you- if you think that you have ‘control’ over situations involving children you are (a) deluded (b) drunk or (c) looking at someone else’s kids- yep yours are over there- running out of control.
It starts with conception. You can’t plan it. For some it happens when you don’t want it to. See Teen Mom on MTV. Not that I watch it. Except I do, it’s ace, don’t judge. (If you do too then Teen Mom Original Girls -OMG- Ambers boyf?? WHAT is she thinking??) I digress.
For others, conception is a heartbreaking sequence of ugly effing periods reminding us that for all we can adjust on the outside, we have no control over what is happening on the inside.
And if we fall pregnant we are given a ‘due date’. This is a date for us to plan to deliver our baby on. We can aim to have a little bag packed full of pointless things we believe will help us when our baby comes out. This ‘due date’ is accurate in 4% of cases. There is a 96% chance you will deliver on one of the other 364 days of the year. I am yet to deliver a baby on the day they are ‘supposed’ to arrive, and it has been an indication of the lack of control I was going to have over my life in the days to come.
And as for the birth plan. I don’t like to give advice on the basis that I change my mind A LOT, and I have a VERY bad memory. So I can end up giving conflicting advice on the same subjects after a relatively short period of time. You know – a lot like the government issued advice (see previous contradictory government policies on co-sleeping, dummies, swaddling etc etc). But if I was to give one absolutely essential piece of advice re the birthplan it is to just to plan to get the baby out. Via any exit and using whatever means. Planning for anything else can become stressful for the the more controlling types (me). 3 labours later I am yet to have the water birth that I have ‘planned’ for ever since seeing a lady on ‘One Born Every Minute’ in a v nice bikini pop her baby out with such little effort you could be forgiven for thinking she’d just let out a cheeky fart. Clutching my birth plan in one hand, the gas and air in the other and flailing around the birthing pool like a entrapped whale I had to concede defeat for the third time. The baby wasn’t coming down. I had to get out. I forgot to put on my v nice bikini I had packed for the occasion. Shambles.
So the baby is out. Now I no longer have a baby growing inside me at least I can regain some control over my day to day life. Now I don’t want to laugh in the face of my former self but HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Former self, you total dickhead, you have relinquished control over your day to day existence for the foreseeable future. Baby naps in the morning do they now? Tell everyone, call your mum- tell her you got the washing done, tell your neighbour- ‘it’s not so bad now baby always naps in the morning’, hell, if you’re feeling brave write a freakin’ Facebook status about it. Then watch it change. At least with the Facebook status thing Timehop can give your future self a good laugh HA HA HA HA HA.
If you too are a ‘control geek’, (freak seems a bit harsh, I mean I haven’t grown an extra head, I just like to have a plan for the day), then the constant change and lack of ability to control how things are changing is hard. By all means take the kids to a theme park for a fun day out. Plan the fun times, oh how we’ll laugh and play and tickle each other… And then the baby gets the shits, the two year old cries because you don’t want to spend 5 quid on a balloon he’ll let go of straight away and the five year old decides she is petrified of statues (and you have to pass 284 to get back to the car). So you change the babies nappy for the 100th time, buy the 2 year old a balloon (that he lets go of straight away) and have to carry an abnormally heavy five year old back to the car whilst she covers her eyes. And you cry all the way home because you wanted to have fun and because of variables you had no control of you just spent the best part of 80 quid on quite frankly, a (literally) shitty day out.
But, my fellow control geek, take heart. Crap things happen you can’t control and didn’t plan for. But do you know what? It works both ways. Sometimes we wake up and realise we hadn’t been woken by a toddler at 5am. Sometimes we go to the supermarket expecting chaos and end up having a really good time. Sometimes you realise that not knowing how the day is going to pan out is not such a bad thing because it keeps you on your toes and makes you feel real. As quickly as that tantrum starts it can stop.
So, in summary, It’s hard to parent. It’s hard to be a control geek. It’s hard to be a parent and a control geek. You can’t control when you get pregnant, when you go into labour, or when your children have good or bad days. But you can plan how you’ll respond to it. And in my experience it is best to respond by thinking ‘we’ll have a better day tomorrow’ than the mass genocide that is typical of the average dictator (still not talking about you Gina).
And we will have a better day tomorrow. Or maybe we won’t. And I’m ok with that.