parent opinion

'I wrote a story about the unexpected parts of motherhood. These are the 11 things I've learned since.'

I thought that parenting was going to get easier the longer I did it.

Except that as soon as you think you have something figured out, the baby goes and changes it all. Then like me, you're left standing holding their formerly favourite toy that now makes them scream, wondering if it's possible someone switched your child for a gremlin in the middle of the night.

In November 2022, when my son Patrick was just four months old, I wrote an article about the 10 things I did not expect about new motherhood. Since then, I've learned a lot, and here are 11 more unexpected things I have learned since. 

1. I have very strong feelings about nursery rhymes. For example, when one is doing the hokey pokey, one must specify which limb to go “in”, e.g. “right arm” or “left leg”. Simply saying “one arm” is insufficiently specific and invites chaos. Also: “Poor Incy” was washed out, not “the spider”. Can we have some empathy for the little creature?

2. Strawberry-flavoured medicine tastes better than cherry flavoured.

Watch: Mia Freedman on being the mother of a son. Post continues below

Video via Mamamia

3. Raising a baby shares a surprising amount of similarities with raising a puppy. About the same time I gave birth, my best friend got a puppy. So far Patrick (human) and Monty (dog) have gone through separation anxiety together, learned to eat books the same week, both wound up in their parents' bed despite their parents' determination that would never happen, been kept inside until fully vaccinated, been added to wait lists for absurdly expensive and competitive daycare, and caused their parents numerous sleepless nights.


4. It is really hard to clean projectile baby spew out of the gaps between floorboards. People tell you that living in an old house comes with constant maintenance and the threat of ghosts, but they leave out the bit about projectile baby spew getting stuck in the floorboard gaps where the mop can't reach. My passionate hatred of tiled floors is rapidly diminishing.

5. Boomers all have shares in sock companies and rice cereal manufacturers. It’s the only way I can explain their obsession with both.

Image: Supplied.


 6. My husband and I are weirdly competitive about whose side of the family our son resembles more. "Babe, he's got my curls!" "Actually, I think his hair looks more like mine did at his age." "Don't you think he looks like my little brother?" "I'm not sure, I can see more of my Mum in him."

7. Nothing terrifies me more than a whole grape. I have literal nightmares about being chased by the darn things, Indiana Jones-style.

8. Getting antibiotics into a baby is a job that requires six fully grown adults, a professional crocodile wrestler and the jaws of life. And can I just make it clear, I checked. It does *not* taste that bad. It's probably the closest thing to confectionary my baby has been able to taste thus far, but you'd think we were trying to pour battery acid down his throat.

9. I have been doing this for nearly a full year and remain utterly incapable of accurately estimating the time it will take the small human and I to get ready and leave the house. I am beginning to fear I will never develop this skill.


Listen: “It’s Okay To Miss The Person You Were Before You Had Kids." Post continues below.

10. As a species, human beings have built the pyramids, sent man to the moon and invented super computers so small that we all carry them around in our pockets. But we are yet to create a substance capable of controlling the naturally curly baby hairs of a postpartum woman? No.

11. I worry about EVERYTHING. I worry about one day being the “grandma on dad’s side”. I worry about how to make sure he makes good friends and good choices. I worry that one day he will want to play cricket and I will have to spend entire summers on the sidelines of the most boring sport known to man. On bad days, I worry that I will never be able to cope with another child because I can barely cope with one. On good days, I worry that I will never be able to cope with another child because this one has been so good and given me unrealistic expectations. I then worry that I have spent too much time worrying and not enough time enjoying my son.

There are many unexpected things about becoming a mum, but hands down the best part of motherhood so far is STILL Patrick's little giggle. It’s magic.

Elizabeth Olds is a full-time lawyer and part-time Christmas movie reviewer (not really, but if you build it they will come, right?). She's currently also a tiny person's snack bitch.

Featured Image: Supplied.

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