I was the perfect parent. When Mother Nature was handing out maternal instinct she evidently gave me a huge double helping. Obviously I’d been to a few parenting classes, read a few magazines and it did help that I was on a first name basis with a few parenting experts (my mum and my mother-in-law). But in general when it came to parenting I excelled. And I had Isaac to prove it. My sweet, angelic, never threw a tantrum in his life, toddler. While my friends struggled to maintain their sanity and reason with their tiny Hitler’s, I spent my days sipping tea while my angelic charge played contentedly with his playdoh.

I would take Isaac out shopping and he sat so patiently in the supermarket trolley that total strangers offered to buy him treats. I took him along to important functions, like weddings and work dinners; no one even noticed he was there. While parents around me were going into lock down, in a last desperate bid to salvage any precious ornaments, my cupboards remained lock free. My knick-knacks never migrated to higher shelves. And at Christmas time my finely adored tree remained as picture perfect throughout the season as the day I put it up. Sure every now and then Isaac would wander over and play with the decorations. But he was always so gentle. A far cry from the 24 hour security guard and iron clad fences that my friends had custom ordered to protect their Christmas tree.

Of course I never blatantly flaunted my supernatural parenting abilities in front of other mothers. I may have occasionally offered suggestions to parents whom I thought needed a little guidance. Okay, truthfully, I was like some sort of obsessed parenting guru. I thought all mothers the world over should gather in huge temples and listen to my teachings on the fine art of child rearing. I saw at least several potential book deals and perhaps an infomercial or two on the horizon. I held up my son like some kind of sacred token, an example of the miracle parents could create if they simply headed my advice. I brushed aside comments made by obviously, insanely jealous types about my luck not being so good second time around.

When Isaac was two and a half I discovered that I was pregnant. An ultra sound reveled that I was having a baby girl. I was elated. I was home free, everyone knew that little girls were easier to handle than boys. I was certain that I would be able to do it again, to mould and shape the perfect child. And after two perfect children I was destined to be a “Mother of the Year” nominee. I was on cloud nine. And then I gave birth to Charli!

Charli looked deceivingly like any other baby at birth, but within a few days I realized that I had baby Lucifer on my hands. She screamed constantly and demanded constant attention. She didn’t slowly and methodically reach the milestones like Isaac had, she flew through them. At seven months, she developed this ability to drag her body around the floor, like a wounded soldier. Although it looked awkward she moved at lightening speed. Charli would lay in wait and then attack passing ankles. By nine months she was walking. At ten months, Charli ran for the first time. She has not stopped since.

Now at 13 months, Charli leaves me emotionally and physically exhausted by mid morning. She can empty the entire contents of the kitchen pantry in the time it takes me to answer the telephone. Charli has all the skill of a trained SAS officer; she can come from nowhere and attack without warning. She wears enough grime on her face to camouflage an entire armed service. She recently beat her eight year old uncle in a wrestling match. My beautiful, petite, little princess is more at home in a pair of jeans than a frilly party frock. And she is a veteran temper tantrum thrower. However, even though Charli is not what I would have once considered an ideal child, she is PEFECT.

Charli has the most amazing personality; she can put a smile on the most reserved face. People are instantly drawn to her. When she smiles her whole face lights up, and she has the most gorgeous dimples. Charli is most inquisitive and has the ability to retain knowledge like a thirsty car guzzles gas. She also has the kindest heart and delights in giving strangers kisses and hugs. And although I have never cried so much in my life, as I have these past 13 months, I have never laughed so much either.

And although for now, I’m leaving the book writing to the real child experts, Charli has taught me a few home truths. She’s taught me that there is no definition of the perfect child. That each of us is perfect in our own individual way, and we should celebrate these differences. I’ve learnt that perfect parents only exist in Disney movies. And even those parents struggle at times. All we can do as real parents is seek out advice, ride through the rough patches and above all else follow our hearts.