1 Parenthood does not complete you. It is a precious, precious gift; but it doesn’t make you less or more of a woman or man, or more or less valuable. This is easy to say when you’ve got a child, (just like it’s easy to say that “singleness is good” from the perspective of marriage), but it is true. It was true during the thirteen years we tried to conceive. It was true when IVF failed and it was true on the day I gave birth. I needed to know the truth of it before I had Ruby and I need to know the truth of it today. If I rely on my child to give me meaning, I’m building on something that is not Jesus. Anything that’s not Jesus will fail me. Anything that’s not Jesus can be taken away. And the weight of needing to be my world will crush that child.
2 Toddler groups are terrifying. Children pushing biscuits into each other’s eyes. Noise levels to rival take-off at Heathrow. Other parents who seem to know what they’re doing. Other children who are better behaved/more advanced/kinder/smarter/less feral.
3 You don’t have to be friends with every other parent. Some will be like you and some will not. That’s fine! There’s room for you both and this is not a competition.
4 Your child is not your best friend. Your best friend is your best friend. Your child needs a mum, not a mate. Someone to teach her and fuss over her catching cold and worry when she’s out late and comfort her and get on her nerves and fail to understand her and understand her better than anyone else. You’re raising them to love you and to leave you.
5 Good parents do not look the same. Some of us knit; and some of us natter. Some dice carrots and some love McNuggets. Some are sergeants and some are softies. Some go to work and some stay at home. Some have an army of helpers; and some have a skeleton staff. Some read stories and some read riot acts. Some had great parents. Some did not. All of us make mistakes. All of us are doing their best. And we need one another.
6 We all feel like we’re rubbish parents. I have yet to meet another parent who is not terrified of messing up their child. Or one who doesn’t feel like they should be better at discipline/feeding/sleeping/fun/time management. We all have days when we’re face-down in the ball pond, praying for Peppa to come and make it all better. Or screaming out the window as our child drives off WITHOUT A JACKET. But the perfect parent does not exist. And by grace, our kids can even learn from our mistakes.
7 Sleep deprivation makes you crazy. And FURIOUS. This is why it’s used as a form of torture. So if you feel like you’ve been drugged don’t panic. There’s a reason for it. Ignore the phone and the chores. Kip when you can. And remember that this too will pass.
8 Your can’t live your life through your child. They’re different to you. They can’t carry the weight of our expectations, disappointments or hopes – any more than we can. Nor is it true that once you get everything sorted/cleaned/ticked off you can enjoy your child. Life is permanently messy – and we can enjoy them now, amidst the mess.
9 The internet/TV is not the devil; but no substitute for a parent. All of us have times when we resort to toys/stuff/screens, but we have to protect our children by teaching them how to read these messages and reject the ones that can harm them.
10. You can’t stop bad things happening to yourself or your loved ones. But you can trust in a loving God who holds the past, present and future in His hands – and you can point your child to this same Lord.