What All Parents Want To Tell You — But Dare Not To
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  • Post published:30/07/2021
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As a parent to three kids under 11 at the young age of 33, (yes I’m young — don’t argue with me), I am at a time in my life where many of my friends are having babies and asking me for advice.

My advice to them though, isn’t necessarily what they always want to hear. 

Them: “So what’s your advice on parenting?”

Me: “Keep them alive.”

They laugh. Oh, how they laugh. They laugh until they see my straight face, and realize that I am serious.

Me: “Seriously. Don’t kill them — because there will be times when you want to.”

I started having children quite early in relation to my friends. When they were out partying, I was writing my dissertation while cradling a stomach the size of the moon and wondering how I had aches in places I didn’t know existed.

When friends were having huge, lavish weddings, with hundreds of guests, I was panicking I couldn’t attend. What if I didn’t have someone to watch the kids overnight so we could spend far too much money on a hotel room to attend said lavish wedding.

(FYI — the expensive hotel was worth every penny because it was, and still is, the BEST sleep I have ever had. Seriously, in the 11 years that I’ve had kids, I can still remember the feeling of a solid 9 hours of sleep without any kids present. Weird what stays with you, eh?)

So back to the ‘keeping them alive and not killing them’ advice.

Everyone is always shocked when I say this, everyone, that is, apart from other parents. From other parents, you get a nod of acknowledgment, an appreciation of your honesty, and a mutual understanding of exactly what it is that you mean.

If you didn’t know already, raising kids is hard work, and there are times when they will test every ounce of patience you have in your body.

In the early days, it’s the lack of sleep and the constant crying. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a baby that sleeps through the night, and that’s great, but the majority of them don’t. The majority of them wake you up every few hours, consistently, for the first few years of their lives.

At first, it’s because they can’t help it. You need to feed them, wind them, change them.

But then, they reach age three or four, and suddenly they wake you up for a wide array of things, all of which are not worth waking you up. Some of my favorites:

“Mum, my bum is itchy.” (This was 3 am)
“Mum, I’ve lost my sock.” (2 am — child did not need socks)
“Mum, if I hold my breath, my head hurts.” (Yep.)
“Mum, the man in the curtains keeps staring at me…” (Ok, this one did freak me out and I did go to check. There wasn’t a man, although I’m not convinced that we don’t have a ghost in the house.)

The point being: kids test you, constantly.

After the sleepless nights are the tantrums, and then the refusal to eat vegetables. Now we have the refusal to hold your hand when crossing the road. Their inability to forgot how to put shoes on when you are already running late for school is a particular bugbear of mine.

They like to fight in the back of the car when you’re focussing on a busy intersection. They like to leave Legs on the floor for your freshly-bathed bare feet to stand on in the dark. They like to leave socks EVERYWHERE.

They are, in short, a nightmare.

And so this is what I tell my friends — sometimes kids will test you so badly, that they will push you to the end of your line — but don’t kill them.

Despite the many sleepless nights, and the Lego injuries, and the tardiness with the school run, there is so much more to them.

Their hands fit perfectly in yours. Their heads lay gently and perfectly on your shoulder. Their breathing as they sleep can send you into a relaxed state that beats any bath (or hotel sleep). Their cries will cause your heart to ache in a way that you never knew could happen. The love you will hold for them is both beautiful and overwhelming. You will never be able to imagine your life without them.

Even the 3 am wake-up calls. Every one of them is worth it.

As my children grow and start to need me less and less, I crave those middle-of-the-night cuddles. So yes, don’t kill them, despite how hard they push you, but appreciate every damn second of it. Because they are the most wonderful creatures that ever existed on the earth.

Haley reigns from the slightly damp North Yorkshire coast in England, where she writes about topics close to her heart. An English graduate with a love of words, Haley writes mainly within the parenting and mental health space but enjoys a side helping of true crime. When she’s not battling her three children, you can find her on the beach, or at the bottom of the garden, reading and writing her life away.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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