Parenthood. It’s not *that* bad.

Our latest ‘house guest without kids’ has left.  And we have done our duty to help reduce the risks of overpopulation.  Again.

‘It’s really not that bad.’

Within minutes of leaving, he had posted on Facebook, ‘I have a new respect for parenting.’  I wanted to comment and say it’s really not that bad.  We just make it look that way.

The thing is, I think it probably is that bad.  At least to the uninitiated, it must look bloody horrendous.  It doesn’t matter how many times you say, ‘Oh they’re not always like this, they’re just a bit overexcited,’ the reality is a couple of wild (bordering on rabid) animals running around that you can’t control.

We made the mistake of taking the kids to the park with house guest.  He got to practice his repertoire of (horrified) expressions as Beaver cried because she no longer wanted the bike.  And then nicked the scooter.  Which made Godivy cry.  We placated Godivy with the bike.  Before Beaver decided she wanted it back again.  This sorry cycle repeated itself about 103 times during our two hour park trip.  Meanwhile, house guest did various, helpful things like hold the bike helmets (which everyone refused to wear), drag the bike, carry the scooter and politely try not to look quite so appalled by our hideous children.

But the low point was house guest being left with Godivy because Beaver needed a wee and Godivy screaming for the entire five minutes, causing passers-by to wonder if she was being abducted.

‘They’re not always like this.’

The afternoon deteriorated rapidly from there.  When we got home, there were more tears.  Just because.  Beaver wiped her greasy pizza fingers on the wall, whilst Godivy smeared herself in fromage frais.  They bickered.  And I couldn’t even be bothered to defend them.  I mean, who would possibly believe that they don’t always behave like this?

House guest stayed overnight.  Something, people only tend to do once in our house.  After four hours sleep and a skinful of beer, the kids woke him just after 7.00 AM.

‘They don’t wind up gradually, do they?’ he said.

‘That’s what happens when you have 12 hours sleep,’ I said.

‘Perhaps, you should give them less.’

I didn’t say, ‘Oh they’re not at their best when they’re overtired.’  I didn’t want to imply that there is a level that is worse than THIS.

When everything is how you thought it would be.

After he’d left (mentioning something about Christmas), we sat in the garden and had an ice cream.  The girls, clearly realising that their audience had gone, sat nicely.  Beaver put her arm around Godivy and asked her if she’d like to sit in the playhouse with her.  They made appreciative noises and said how yummy their ice creams were.  They smiled.

It was a short-lived moment, lasting maybe only minutes before someone was bonking someone over the head with a wand again.  But it was a moment nonetheless.  A moment that sums up why you had kids in the first place.  Because sometimes, in the midst of a hellish day, there is a picture where everything is perfect.  Where your kids display signs of humanity.  And everything is how you thought it would be when you chucked away the condoms.

Of course, you can’t explain this.  It sounds utterly bonkers.  ‘Yeah, having kids is great because every once in a blue moon they stop screaming and biting each other and sit happily with an ice cream.’

Erm, ok then.

The subtlety would be lost.  Only you know.  That it’s these moments, often few and far between, that get you through the other moments.

The ones that leave you with a little less hair than you started with.

Thank you to all of our friends without kids who are brave enough to come and stay.  Put up with the chaos.  Distract US from the chaos.  Help with the chaos.  We love you.  

If you fancy sharing some of your own moments (from either side of the fence) leave a comment below or come and join Surviving Motherhood on Facebook.  Tell me how you survive your friends’ kids.  Or how much hair you have left and what moments make parenting less hellish for you.

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