I cant tell you how many times Ive heard other Mums claim that they stopped learning when they had kids, stopped being able to converse in anything but baby language and feel that they were not fit for adult company. In fact, I heard this so much before I had children that when I was expecting my first child I was also expecting this to happen to me.
I admit that there are times when I am tired and my brain doesn’t function as well as it would if I’d had a great night’s sleep, and that at other times, when one of my children has a problem, I obsess over it and can think of nothing else. I’ll even admit that when I meet up with old friends who don’t have children our once close relationship is not quite as a close without the shared experience of being a parent. It feels like our lives have moved worlds apart. But I’ve hardly stopped learning. In fact, learning is part of the job, especially in a society like ours where the first time many of us have cared for a small baby is when we have one of our own.
My first self-led course was during my pregnancy when I learned everything I could from books about the reproductive system, the development of a foetus and the appropriate diet for a pregnant woman. I realised I may be over doing things when I started having strange dreams about internal organs and babies the size of walnuts (approximately six weeks’ gestation if memory serves me).
On to the study of childbirth and caring for a newborn, I’d have to say that all those hours of having my nose firmly planted in a book really did nothing to prepare me for the reality of my very own real life baby. He hurt quite a bit getting out of my body, didn’t like getting dressed, produced real life poos and needed to eat when he was hungry and not during the hours of daylight only.
Since then I’ve found parenthood to be demanding in various ways, not least of which was the fact that I had to keep on learning. Children get sick and without becoming a fully accredited nurse I have learned a fair amount about how to care for a teething, rashy or chicken poxy baby. Not to mention how to remove splinters, treat a swollen ankle, prevent infection and that sometimes, it’s better to remove a bandaid slowly.
I was once happy to feed my own face with what ever was filling or satisfied my cravings. I now have a pretty good grasp of what makes a nutritionally sound diet for a growing body. This comes in handy to avoid the resulting emotional and sometimes technicolour upheaval that inappropriate food can create.
I’ve learned how to entertain a two year old, get the truth out of a four year old, educate a six year old and make a decent skatie ramp. In between I’ve completed a diploma of massage, invented ways to earn money with a child in tow, graduated from a novice gardener to a person who can produce a decent harvest of vegies for dinner, and taught my husband that he likes to cook.
I haven’t had to deal with a lovesick teenager yet – which reminds me I’d better get moving on Relationship Counselling study before too long, as that might just come in handy soon.
Most of all I’ve learned that there’s a lot to be learned when you’re a parent, and when it’s your job to listen to the heart of a child you learn so much more about yourself and the universe we are part of.
None of this is what I was expecting but I’ve learned so much more than I ever dreamed.