Monday, April 26, 2010


Carly over at asked to do a guest post and talk about becoming a parent. Check out her site, some amazing ideas, suggestions and advice. Go on!

There are some people out there who make plans. And then they go ahead and stick to those plans and all is peachy.

Not me. It seems every time I have even entertained the idea of sticking to a plan, the Universe has given me the giant forks and basically said to me “Not on my watch Sunshine!!”

But you know what? If what I’ve got right now is an indication of plans can go awry, then that’s ok. Because with three kids, a mortgage, a Bunnings addicted husband and the odd chance to pee in peace, I feel like life is pretty sweet.

When Carly asked me to do this guest post and talk about my journey on my way to becoming a parent, I was stumped at first. My eldest is now ten, my youngest three and the middle one, eight. I can say, with all sincerity and without meaning to use a well worn pun that it’s all happened in the blink of an eye.

It seemed like one minute, we were spending every waking moment consumed with choosing the right cot and change table, and the next, neck deep in spelling bees and Justin Bieber.

And when you start that journey from single person to parent, it doesn’t matter what you’ve read, who you have spoken to and what you think you know, you will still bring that baby home from the hospital and wonder out loud “What the fuck do we do now?”

I was 23 when I first got pregnant and although the church was booked and the wedding dress purchased, we didn’t quite make it. Instead, we pulled our wedding forward and got married on the rainiest day in over 16 years. I was 5 months pregnant. We had lived together for just over a year, yet didn’t own our own house and wouldn’t anytime soon.

So, I know, there are lot of people out there, who put off having a family because they want it all to be in place. You know, the career, the house, the finances etc. I can tell you right now, if we had waited for all that, we would still be childless today.

And to be honest, it was a massive shock to our system. One minute our lives were all about doing what we wanted, when we wanted and sleeping in, the next it was about the time between feeds, mastitis and controlled crying. I remember the best bit of advice I received was, “Don’t expect much from yourself in the first 3 months”. Hell, if you make it out of your Pyjamas before dinner time, good for you. If you make it to shops and mop your floor, declare a public holiday because you are a bloody legend.

And look, our first child was textbook. Of course we didn’t know this at the time, but when number two came around with all kinds of feeding and sleeping problems, we became well aware of our previous good fortune. After Sam, our middle child had literally not slept more than 4 hours at a stretch for nearly two years, I sought help. Why did it take me that long? Pride? Exhaustion? I honestly can’t tell you, I guess, like the rest of my life, I thought I could just muddle my way through it. Turns out I couldn’t and learning a few sleeping techniques virtually saved my life and if I’m honest, my marriage. Such was our level of exhaustion.

And the baby stage is only the beginning. Next you have the toddler years. Again, the first two, once we sorted a few things out with Sam were fine. Not so with number three. Jack, often referred to as Hurricane Jack is destruction and an unbridled challenge on two legs. He is just damn hard work. There are tantrums, there is defiance and it does not matter what I do, not a great deal deters him. So that’s where I’m at right now. Finding the best strategy to outwit a three year old.

And then of course, Sam has Aspergers. We always knew Sam was a little different. But he wasn’t different in a bad way. He was incredibly well behaved and loving and just well, easy. He has a great wit and an infectious way about him. At school though, if he’s not learning his ABC’s and melting down because his hat wasn’t packed in his bag, infectious wit means jack. So we were pulled aside and after a little while, well a long while, my husband and I got over ourselves and realised the best way to help Sam was to acknowledge his condition and do our best to help him. He goes to a fantastic school that has a dedicated Special Education Unit so he can attend mainstream school and attend the unit when necessary. He also gets a full time teacher to be with him ALL DAY LONG. I’m realistic to know that life will often be a challenge for Sam, but show me a person who doesn’t face a challenge now and then.

I guess you never think for a second anything other than the norm will affect you as a family. Again, the best laid plans.....

And right now I’m not entirely sure I’ve shared any new information about parenting or taught any potential parents anything they didn’t already know. My best advice is to go with the flow, enjoy the ride and only buy stuff that can be wiped off with a chux and some gumption.


Linda T said...

In the blink of an eye you'll be battling through the teenage years, blink again and they'll be moved out.

Nice post Bern, you are so right, nothing can prepare you for parenthood, you just have to roll with the punches.

Chiaki in here said...

Being honest bern..Im 26 now and still afraid become a parents tho :)

But maybe U were right..just follow the flow..but still I worry so much bout being a parent..

I afraid I can't become a perfect parent in the future. Somehow remind me of the incident of a boy who suicide becoz the mom can't fulfill what he want. Its just make me more move backward to consider have a child in the future.

Carly Findlay said...

Wow, Bern, the honesty in your blog entries amazes me.

You come across as such a strong confident woman, and I bet you are.

And I believe that becoming a mother developed that strength and confidence.

I don't know how parents do it sometimes. Juggling kids, work, partners, social lives and money. It is pretty amazing.

And your experiences raising Sam must be difficult, though so very rewarding. I know my parents had such a jolt when I was born with special needs, but they have always said it brought them closer together.

And at 28, I don't believe I am ready to be a parent. Even if I was married to that particular C man...

On a serious note, when I was 22 - 23 I went out with a total deadbeat. Though I loved him, this guy didn't have ambition, commitment or drive, he had no job, no money and his Mum didn't like me. A few weeks after he dumped me 'didn't I tell you I didn't love you anymore?' was his way of dumping me, I missed a period, and I was freaking out. I was not ready to be a mother - this guy had no job, and I was not good with money, but what I feared the most is that by having a baby, I would be tied to his mother who hated me, for life. Anyhow, fortunately that period came a few weeks late, and it meant I didn't have to keep in contact with him for any longer.

Wow, I've never told anyone that before. I think your honesty makes me open up too.

Thanks for posting :)

Terry Hands said...

As always Bern your honesty is comforting.

My 2 boys are 18 and 19, and when they were born I was looking for the instruction manual. None turned up. Plenty of advice from relos and friends but nothing like your real life experience.

I have 2 great boys and a wonderful wife of 24 years. In the end the vast majority of us survive. Enjoy the ride people. and if you do get a bit breathless about it, ask for help, there is plenty out there.

Thea said...

Oh yes, life is what happens to you while you're busy making plans!

I love the 'go with the flow' theory. That's what I try to do, too.

And always remember my motto "This too will pass." That has got me through many, many parenting nightmares!

In Real Life said...

Oh my gosh, I always enjoy reading your posts!

Kristy said...

You've said it sista! Nothing much you can do but go with the flow, and that has been the hardest lesson to learn for me to learn, a natural born control freak.

tiff(threeringcircus) said...

The teenage years are a whole new set of challenges too, I'm finding.

Also; nobody warned me that toddlers and teens together sometimes causes insanity at a mind boggling level.

Also; I agree with you, planning is fine if it works but I'm like you no amount of planning ever payed off and I'm still very happy with my piece of life.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

When the 8yo was 4mths old, a guy at the shops told me to, "Enjoy it while it lasts. Before you know it, he'll be in school and the baby days behind you." I thought, 'Yeah, yeah...whatever' and BAM. He was right.

Darn it.

Our first was the challenge, which I think the easiest really. You have no high expectations for the second. Our 6yo came along and was like a dream in comparison. A nice surprise!

It does fly by. And you're right. You can't have a full-proof plan for the future. It doesn't always work out the way you intend it to.

kurrabikid said...

A lovely post - we're all just winging it, really.

Bronnie Marquardt said...

I always think my kids taught me to be a parent ... and like you, if I'd waited for it all to be perfect, ready and with all the boxes ticked, I may never have had kids! And that is something I just can't imagine ... Not that I don't respect those who have chosen not to have kids, or who can't have them. Just that for me, personally, they have helped me become a better person. With all the crap, the doctors' appointments, being called up to the school, the sickness and the health, I wouldn't swap it for the world.

emlykd said...

Bern.. I love this.. and you inspire me.. You inspire me to pick up and move on... Thanku... xxxx