After six months of being a mother, Hala shares her tips on how to survive that first flush of parenthood.
Top five tips on how to cope with being a parent
I’ve only been a mother for six months (because I refuse to count that gestation period when I addressed my unborn child as “alien”). It’s nothing compared to my mother (32 years) or my grandma (57). They’re the ones with the invaluable experience, the ones who know about toilet training, about how to speak to a child that is being bullied, about how to help a son or daughter navigate a difficult relationship with a boss at their very first job. I have so much to learn still, so many mistakes to make.
Still, six months is no blip on my own, personal timeline. The past six months may just be the most monumental of my life; eye-opening, life-altering stuff. Those challenges Mr T and I had to navigate as newlyweds such as learning to share a home? Ha. Learning to share a home (and a bathroom sink, fridge and remote) with a boy is peanuts compared to learning to share my life (and my sleep, body and every waking thought) with a pint-sized dictator. So, for those of you on the cusp of parenthood, here are my nuggets of wisdom, gleaned from six fleeting months with my Baby A.
One. You can survive on so much less sleep than you ever thought possible, I swear it. I was the biggest sceptic of this so-called “fact” and yet here I am, repeating these oft-heard words. And, no matter how many times you are roused from a deep slumber, you’ll be able to go back to sleep within seconds. You acclimatise and adapt – words that are synonymous with “parenthood”.
Two. If you have a complicated, time-consuming beauty or grooming routine, you are in so much trouble. You will cheer if you manage to leave the house with your teeth brushed. Your priorities shift; brushing my hair is so low on that list that it’s almost a footnote. Mr T, king of the 45-minute shower, is now done in five minutes, max. You learn to live with your body odour, no joke.
Three. You once thought there’s just no time in the day to work out, to cook, to read. And then baby comes along and you realise how much time you used to waste, how much more you are able to juggle once you hone those organisation and time-management skills that were once left gathering dust. You could have learnt Mandarin, gourmet French cooking, the cello and a complicated form of martial arts in all that time you used to waste complaining about how little time there is in the day. Now, your chance is gone. Mourn.
Four. You will cry. Crying is normal. Crying is cleansing. Crying is your brain’s way of coming to terms with all the fatigue that comes with all this love that doesn’t seem to stop growing. The crying thing doesn’t really go away. Continue to blame it on hormones.
And finally, five. You will become a cliché. You cannot help yourself. All you know to do, suddenly, is talk about baby. You will whip out that smartphone at the tiniest prompt, to show off pictures to a stranger in the lift. You will be personally offended when the cashier at the grocery store does not make a big deal of your baby. You will crowd your once pristine workspace with pictures of the kid and idle away precious working minutes staring at the pictures, daily.
And you won’t mind any of it.
Hala Khalaf is deputy Arts&Life editor at The National
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