There’s an idealised image of your own parental prowess in mind, even before the sperm hits the egg you fantasise of the model citizens you will bring into the world. Screaming children in roadside cafes make you roll your eyes, “I would never let my children behave like that.” You think, as you sip your latte in the obnoxious tranquility bequeathed you by childlessness.
Then the literal shit hits the fan. Mountains of the stuff.
It no longer becomes imperative that your children behave well in cafes, as you just want them to eat the lunch you wasted a tenner on instead of smearing it all over the table. Some days are a countdown until bedtime, as you can’t stand another second with the creatures. Wrinkles start to appear on your forehead and you’ll be damned if you remember to moisturise .
All the things you said you wouldn’t do, you have done. Your one year old has most certainly had a happy meal (even though you once saw a woman hurriedly shoving the boxes into the back seats for her gaping chicks and shook your head. “No nutritional value at all, I would never do that!”) Your children have spent far too long in front of the television on occasion as you couldn’t be bothered to take them to the park (Because let’s face it, lounging in your pyjamas sounded like a better idea).
The parenting books grow dust on your shelf. Aside from not taking intravenous hard drugs, you consider that you are probably failing at this parenting lark. As long as the little shits are still breathing by 7pm each day, you’ve done your job.
Yet there a few gifts you can give your children, that will cancel out all the TV days, the happy meals, the moments you lose your temper over standing in a splodge of Ella’s Kitchen…
Some of the greatest tools a person can have in life are oft missed by a large chunk of the population. Depression, anxiety and a plethora of mental health issues are interwoven into society like barbed wire. Thousands of people report daily to their therapists that they are suffering from low self-esteem, lack of motivation and so forth.
There’s the thirty year old man who’s so preoccupied with being “uncool” that he didn’t realise high school was fifteen years ago, there’s the hoarder living among the leaning tower of pizza boxes- the physical representation of her crushed mental state, there’s alcoholics and drug addicts replicating a love they never felt through substance abuse. There are broken people everywhere, who spend most of their lives trying to fix themselves. I’m sure I’m one of them, but I’m going to try my damnedest to make sure my children aren’t.
Determination, positive mental attitude, confidence and compassion lay the foundations for a happy life. Of course, the road will never be smooth and who knows what’s around the corner, but at least these tools ensure survival through the tougher times. I want to teach them never to give up. Even when they tie their shoelaces. Keep tying them until you are the motherfucking shoelace expert. Who knows, once day you may have a shoelace empire.