Parenting is…

… 60% laundry, 10% a niggling feeling that you should be doing laundry. It’s waking up after two hours of sleep ready to get into the day or waking up after six hours wondering how you’re going to zombie yourself through the morning routine. It’s somehow managing to get through regardless. 

Parenting is laughing along with your three year old’s shenanigans – pyjama top half off or feet kicking away the socks you’re trying to help put on until it’s suddenly just not funny come on now we have to go. It’s a tiny hand in yours as you walk around the block marvelling at the bees in the weeds or a small piece of rubbish that sparkles in the sunlight. It’s that same little hand breaking free from you to fix a slouching sock when you’re in the middle of crossing a road. 

Parenting is back pain. Sometimes from lifting and rocking and patting and shooshing and jiggling, sometimes from being climbed on like a horse or scaled like a mountain or just from waking up huddled and scrunched. 

Parenting is a small collection of rocks at the bottom of a school bag, a handful of leaves carried faithfully then discreetly discarded, it’s a pocket full of things you’ve picked up off the bedroom floor intending to put in the bin at some point. It’s an assortment of sticks around the house that look like letters or dinosaur bones.

Parenting is finding a moment to go to the loo and on the way clearing dishes from the table, while I’m here I’d better sweep those crumbs up, take that discarded sock to the laundry – should I be doing laundry today? Checking the weather on your phone and reading three new messages before remembering you really need to pee as someone calls you to their own urgency. 

Parenting is a series of urgencies.

Parenting is a pattern of rushing chaos followed by eery calm. Moments of never having enough time interspersed with moments when everyone is finally asleep and you’re not sure what to do with yourself. Parenting is sometimes just not knowing what to do with yourself when you’re finally and briefly alone.

Parenting is calling your own parents to describe the quirks and frustrations of the stage you’re enduring – the explosions of emotion, refusals of certain foods, usually green – and being told I remember it well, unable to decipher the tone as wistful, empathetic, regretful or… vengeful?

Parenting is simultaneously looking forward to the next stage while scrolling through google’s remember this day? photos whispering to yourself, yes! How was that three years ago? or no, no, no, I don’t remember that day at all. It’s an exercise in letting go, farewelling each phase of the small person as they change before your eyes the way the sun sets just slowly enough to make the clouds pink around the edges, both brighter and darker at the same time. 

Parenting is watching a sunset and knowing you still have a whole night of maybe sleeping, maybe waking to get through before it will rise again. Perhaps the morning will be pink too or foggy with condensation and sleep deprivation, or perhaps the sun will rise above the clouds and stream down like divinity on the clothes line and tomorrow will in fact be an excellent day for laundry.