I never get woken up at 6am on a Sunday by someone shoving a Barbie into my face, I never have to wrestle a screaming toddler into a car seat and I haven’t done a school run in years. Not a proper one where I have to stand awkwardly on the playground pretending I don’t care that the other parents don’t talk to me.
I was about to say I don’t have to worry about whether I cut sandwiches into triangles or squares, but then I remembered that Belle doesn’t like it when I cut grilled wraps at odd angles to the grill lines, so perhaps that one is still a thing.
When I found out that I was a finalist again this year in the Vuelio Blog Awards, in the ‘Best Parent Blog’ category, I felt like a bit of a fraud. My ‘children’ are 23 and 16, I thought to myself, does that really count any more? I checked on what day the judging was going to be taking place and made sure I had a recent post with the word ‘parent’ in the title, as though that would be the thing that proved it.
On the night of the awards, I packed my sequinned jumpsuit and set off for the train station, but had to turn back because Belle needed me at home. There was some crying. We watched the awards unfold on Twitter instead and there it was:
— Vuelio (@Vuelio) November 30, 2018
It felt ironic really. All that worrying over whether I still really counted as a parent, and then I couldn’t collect the award because I was at home, parenting.
I spent quite a lot of my time in the early years of parenting feeling like I was counting down the time to the next stage. Checking off the months until they started school, then counting down the weeks and days, (desperately in Belle’s case), until they finished school. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just that at the back of my mind was the thought that parenting was something that got easier as they got older, that with each milestone they reached, I would take a step back, until they didn’t need me any more.
Turns out that’s not how it works.
Parenting changes, that’s all.
(Apart from the grilled wraps. Some things don’t change that much.)
I might not get woken up with a Barbie in my face at dawn, but those physical demands get replaced with emotional ones. The last couple of years particularly have been challenging, particularly being on my own, and as much as I might have hoped for things to change with each passing milestone or new achievement, I have to accept that it’s not as simple as that, but that that’s okay.
My children might be older now, but I’m always going to be a parent, no matter how many school carol concerts I check off. On the plus side, I might still have the responsibilities of parenting, but I also still have the love and affection, so that’s okay too.
Oh and the actual awards.
So not too shoddy.