UK parenting blog

Things People Say About Parenthood That Are Blatantly Untrue

People say a lot of things about parenthood. Not all of them, however, are true – and even those that are, aren’t necessarily true for everyone

Here are 5 things that weren’t true for me…

Amber and Max

“I just don’t know what I did with my time before I had kids!”

Really? Because I know exactly what I did. Before Max was born, I read books, did exercise, worked at least 8 hours per day, watched entire TV shows without being interrupted, cleaned my house, washed my hair every day, saw friends, stayed up late as often as I wanted, slept late the next morning, went shopping, read more books, went on days out … just SO many things, most of which I either don’t do at all now, or just don’t do nearly as often or well as I’d like. I’m convinced the people who claim not to know what they did with their time are either lying, or are just doing some weird kind of Smug Martyr act to prove that they’re much, MUCH busier than you, SO THERE.

They know what they did, though. Trust me: they know

“You just won’t care about the pain / the mess / your appearance / any other aspect of motherhood that kind of sucks, really.”

When people told me I wouldn’t care what I looked like after the baby was born, I just smiled politely, and thought, “You have NO IDEA how vain I am, do you?” Then I double-checked that my makeup was definitely in my hospital bag, because I would 100% be layering on the mascara the second I was out of surgery FOR SURE.

Now, as it happened, I DIDN’T actually put my mascara on in hospital: because I might be vain, but I was also really freaking nauseous, and, OK, yes, you’re right, I did not care about my appearance in that moment, you win. I DID care when I looked back at the photos from that day, though, and I really, REALLY cared for the next couple of weeks, when a steady stream of visitors poured through the house, and there I was, looking a bit like a partially deflated balloon, and wearing a pair of white support socks over my worn out maternity leggings, which were the only things that fit comfortably over my scar.

Some other things I continued to care about after the baby was born, even though people swore I wouldn’t: 

01. The constant mess in the house.

02. My favourite clothes getting covered in baby sick.

03. That weird stain on the living room rug, which, what even IS that, and why can’t we get rid of it?

In a development which I’m sure will shock everyone who knows me, then (Note: not really…), having a baby did not turn me into some strange, selfless version of myself, who suddenly stopped caring about all of the things she’d cared about before, having realised that none of them were even half as important as the precious new life she cradled in her arms. I mean, I DID realise that, obviously: but I still wished I’d been wearing something other than white knee socks when every single person I know filed through my living room, and that I had even one photo of me holding Max as a newborn in which I don’t look like I’ve just been exhumed. 

I’m not saying I’m currently in a position to actually DO something about any of the things I care about right now, obviously, but I DO still care about them. Don’t be surprised if you do, too…

5 lies people tell about parenthood“Just trust your instincts: it’ll all come naturally!”

Look, you’re talking to the woman whose instincts regularly tell her to cut a fringe into her own hair, here, even thought there’s literally not been one SINGLE time when that’s been anything other than a total disaster for her. You do NOT want me following my instincts, trust me on this. 

(Also, while we’re on the subject, I’m not actually sure I HAVE any instincts about … well, ANYTHING, really? Like, I can’t think of ANYTHING that “comes naturally” to me? Other than complaining, I mean: I’m pretty good at THAT. When Max was born, though, I had no sudden rush of maternal knowledge telling me what to do and when. I loved him – and that DID come naturally, so, hey, I guess that’s something! – but I had absolutely NO CLUE what I was supposed to do with him, so when people told me to trust my instincts, I never knew whether to laugh or cry, really. See? NO INSTINCTS. NONE.)

“You’ll get used to it!”

So, it’s been 908 days, and I’m STILL not used to the early starts, or occasional middle-of-the-night interruptions. I guess I AM used to some other aspects of parenthood (Changing nappies, constantly being asked for snacks…), but there are some things you NEVER get used to, and being woken up at the crack o’dawn by someone telling you that elf rescue helicopters have crashed in the garden again is one of those things. 

“It gets easier!”

I’m actually cheating slightly with this one, because, the truth is that NO ONE really tells you parenting will get easier. In fact, when I published this post, asking when it WOULD start to get easier, the resounding answer was “NEVER”. NEVER is when it will start to get easier, according to my readers, and every parent I know. So that’s reassuring. 

Joking aside, though, I suspect the truth is a bit more complicated than that. There are, of course, some aspects of parenting that have definitely gotten easier with time, while some things have gotten harder. I’m currently working on the assumption that it’s going to continue like this for the rest of my life now, because “You never stop worrying about them!” seems to be one of the things people say that IS true. 

What do you think? Which pearls of parenting wisdom do you find blatantly untrue?

Amber

COMMENTS
  • Leah Steele

    REPLY

    Not a parent, so I’ve never had to go through (this round of) patronising advice about how I know more than I know and how I just won’t care, but something comes to mind.

    Why is it that the concept of the mother as nothing more than a benignly smiling, all loving and otherwise vacuous concept is so reassuring to so many people?

    Being told ‘You won’t care’ seems as much a ‘you SHOULDN’T care’ as it is as erasure of everything this person was before they fulfilled this one role and some kind of smug, satisfied ‘oh but I’m so much more evolved that you and that’s why I don’t care whilst darling little Herbert smashes my collection of Royal Doulton and smears my former hopes and dreams into the carpet with the chocolate spread’.

    Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this and have drunk too much coffee?

    June 24, 2020
      • Amber DeSadier

        REPLY

        People definitely believe that you should entirely subsume who you are for your child once they arrive. That you will have and should not have any time for binge watching TV, playing games, parties with friends, reading books and the like. I once had a friend’s kid come up and use her skirt as a napkin and she did not even blink. (this kid was definitely old enough to know better.)

        I lost it when she told me I would be like that too. Like no lady, I will not be okay with my kid using my clothes as a napkin. Teach your kid how to use a napkin for goodness sake.

        June 24, 2020
  • Steph

    REPLY

    Ugh, the ‘motherhood comes naturally’ myth is such a harmful one. I have found every stage completely baffling, and I’m someone that would have previously considered herself rather ‘maternal’. I hate the ‘baby bubble’ myth too, I mean don’t get me wrong, we were blissfully happy a lot of the time, but I have also never cried more or worried more about my mental state than in those first few weeks after Bailey was born. I think we romanticise a lot of it and barely talk about the recovery, which can be traumatic whether it was natural or a c-section. I felt prepared for birth (I wasn’t though!) but was definitely not prepared for what came next! I completely fell for the ‘it’s awful, but then they hand you your baby and you forget about everything else’ vision. No one tells you how temporary that feeling is! I think half the problem is the way we try to make everything one extreme or another. You’re #humbleandblessed every second or you hate it and resent your child. It will be the best thing that ever happened to you or the worst. It’s actually both, always, but we never seem to describe anything as having shades of grey!

    June 24, 2020
  • Sarah

    REPLY

    Yes! To all of this! I thought I’d transform into some sort of breastfeeding earth mother. Nope. I HATED doing night feeds, I mourned my old life for ages and I was petrified of getting it wrong. My husband was more of an earth mother than I was 😂

    June 24, 2020
    • Alice

      REPLY

      I’ve actually ended up being much more of a “breastfeeding earth mother” than I expected, and a lot of it HAS come naturally. BUT I took make up to the hospital, put it on the day after delivery, and have done ever since! I don’t understand the people who say they don’t have time to get dressed or put on makeup with a newborn, newborns stay where you put them, it’s much harder with a mobile child!

      I remember a particularly patronising post by a health visitor along the lines of “I’m sorry new mothers feel they have to get dressed and put on makeup for my visit”, and lots of people thought it was wonderful. Nope – I get dressed every day not just for the health visitor.

      June 24, 2020
  • Liz

    REPLY

    All of these things are why I almost didn’t have a child. I kinda realized one day though that things can be however I like, thank you very much. I might have a toddler but I still get dressed in real clothes and do my makeup everyday because I want to! I like it! I guess the actual whole “loving your kid etc” did sorta come naturally, but IDK; I’ve always been a fairly flexible person.
    I also happen to know damn well what I did with my time, too! And I miss it. I love my son but I miss being able to sit and read more than two pages without interruption.

    June 24, 2020
  • Myra

    REPLY

    You always make me laugh, and that is your instinctive gift. Girl you can write, with your sense of humour intact
    I think if a new mother isn’t scared ,******** at th thought of taking that tiny person home with them , there is something wrong with them, or they’re lying. And you’re right, we never stop worrying about them, but oh the good times, the funny times, the proud times, the loving times. They’re all worth it.

    June 24, 2020
  • Hayley Lawrence

    REPLY

    From a different perspective, one thing that people never mentioned to me was boredom and it takes a lot for me to admit this because it makes me sound like a really bad person and parent, I know. I really love my kids but I did find things like sipping imaginary cups of tea, repeatedly dressing up Barbie, assembling Thomas the Tank Engine tracks and reading stories every night boring (I often made the stories up and my kids would call me out on some minor differing detail from a previous rendition). Much of that may have been due to being a stay at home Mum to 4 kids and feeling quite isolated. When some of the kids started school it felt like everyday was on repeat until they all were at school and I started studying. I suppose I had lost my identity. Surprisingly their Dad, my ex-husband, has subsequently described me as a good mother to them so I must have disguised my boredom well. In addition, they’ve all grown up to be well balanced, law abiding, hard working people but I still have Mum guilt about about my boredom.

    June 24, 2020
    • Miss Kitty

      REPLY

      THIS is actually what has mostly put me off having my own kids. The rest of the stuff I read about I am pretty sure I can handle (or at least tolerate, if we’re talking about broken nights or early mornings), but I get SO SO bored just playing silly repetitive games with my nieces and nephew, I can’t even imagine having to do it every day. I am scared I would be far too tempted just to plonk my kid in front of the TV or computer screen all day just so I didn’t have to play boring games with it, that really would make me a bad mum 🙂

      June 24, 2020
      • Miss Kitty

        REPLY

        Also meant to say, that if you think you can handle any negative criticism coming your way, please go ahead and publish that post on boredom! I’m sure you’re not the only mum who has felt like that, maybe your starting the conversation will help more mums feel like they’re not alone in it. It’s a shame anyone feels the need to criticise anyone who’s opinion is different to theirs though!

        June 24, 2020
  • Erin

    REPLY

    Thank you! I am child-free, but I hate when I hear parents minimize things and say this kind of stuff that clearly isn’t true. A lot of these statements are used as an argument to try to convince child-free people that they clearly want children because being a parent is so magical that you forget your life pre-kids? No. Having kids is amazing, and so is not having kids. It’s just in different ways and that’s totally OK <3 Incidentally, I love reading about your mom-life. As someone with way too much anxiety, it makes me alternately envious and relieved.

    June 25, 2020
  • Emma

    REPLY

    Love this. Currently on maternity leave with a 15 week old, and a lot of it is very dull and boring! I do feel guilty for that but it also reassures me that my whole personality hasn’t completely changed because I have a baby. Yes I am a mother, but I’m also still me, and I do miss my old life (although this life was also pre lockdown so could not have been more different anyway!) I still care about all the things i used to, and remember vividly how i filled my time😁 and i wish I had known I wouldn’t know what every cry means etc, and thats ok! Would love a post on the boredom of children. Thanks for a reassuring post! X

    June 25, 2020
  • DublinerInDeutschland

    REPLY

    Yeah the constant mess bugs me too. I have to try my best to actively ignore it when there is no time to clean but I feel calmer when it’s tidy (which is rare). I hear you on the “trust your instincts” comment. When my daughter was a newborn, I remember not having a clue how to stop her cying. Like I thought just picking her up would work by magic but unfortunately it didn’t and I ended up feeling like something was wrong with me that I couldn’t calm my own baby down. It took awhile to learn “tricks” such as bouncing up and down while “hushing”. I have heard from a few people that things start to get a lot easier from age 3…so here’s hoping! x

    June 26, 2020
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