What it's really like looking after small children

When I was pregnant I read a blog by a mother who was trying to be honest and who said that she found looking after children "frequently boring and depressing". Like other things I unwisely read in pregnancy it sent a chill through me: what if I felt like this? 

This much is true: there's a difference between the way you feel about your children at the end of the day when they're lying in bed snoozing peacefully and the way you feel about the daily rhythm of childcare. 

Long days, short years, someone said early on. In actuality I don't find childcare depressing nor particularly boring - certainly it can be tiresome and a child who asks the same question again and again or refuses to move from one spot for 27 minutes can be testing, but these wouldn't be the first adjectives I'd choose to describe it.

It can be hilarious. Heart-swelling. It's even fun at times. You see things through new eyes and it's always changing.

And also ... there is the overall requirement to ignore your own needs or put them second. If you're ill or exhausted or just really up for peace or space and your body and mind and soul is craving an afternoon where you crawl into bed and quietly read a book, of course this is just not an option. It can be ... relentless.

It's the fact of your own responsibility, that you're in charge of keeping someone alive and making unpopular decisions or getting a tired person home on a boiling hot train with a load of commuters. 

It's the requirement to fill a long day. It's the CONSTANT clearing up and chaos. It the unpredictability of being with a child (who have limited abilities when it comes to emotional regulation unlike most adults - but there's always some aren't there.)

I feel a little guilty that often I sigh a sign of relief on a Monday morning on the train to work when I get the first moment of real space to reflect for days. But sadly a space to contemplate does seem incompatible with looking after a small person.

If she reads this when she's bigger I will say: darling it was nothing personal. I love you endlessly. It's just looking after small children. It's an adventure and a joy and it's bloody hard.