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I thought parenting was supposed to get easier with practice?

Rather stupidly I had imagined that parenting got easier as the children got older – you survived the awful early days with new babies, navigated the tantrums and tricks of the toddler years and emerged into a wonderful new world where you had worked out this parenting lark and were able to demonstrate a certain degree of proficiency at the thing

Strangely, like the vow of silence around how much labour actually hurts, nobody mentioned that parenting doesn’t actually get any easier as your offspring grow up – it’s just that the challenges change and evolve, generally just after you think you’ve managed to find a way to cope with something the whole landscape changes and you’re back at square 1 with no idea how to deal with this new perspective

At no point do you suddenly realise that you have got this thin g sussed, instead you find yourself trying not to descend to their level and to argue the toss over whether green or yellow leggings are inherently better or why today they have suddenly decided that raspberries are no longer their favourite fruit

Instead of finding that you are able to enter into a reasoned conversation about what they want and how they are rather than trying to decipher random squawks of rage, you find yourself engaged in an in depth debate about why we don’t put our feet on the table during meal times and why knickers are considered an essential item of clothing

Things that are incredibly cute in a toddler suddenly become a whole lot less adorable when translated into a larger child – I don’t know if it is the fact you can look at them and see the shape of the adult they are going to be but I feel more pressure now to try and moderate behaviour to balance the thin line between letting them have self expression and exuberance and not wanting to raise a pair of brats

For Bigger this has been an incredible year of change – she has now finished reception and has grown into a proper school girl, a little person who is sucking up learning like a sponge and who can really nearly read. I struggle to articulate how proud she makes me – that she has turned into this tall, slim, serious girl who has done so well at school but still sometimes needs to curl up in bed with us for a cuddle and some close time to cope with it all

I keep looking at Littler and being surprised by how grown up she has suddenly got – my little baby, my vulnerable little second baby is a little girl and it seems to have happened without me noticing. She is funny, opinionated (oh so opinionated) and feisty and yet has suddenly become incredibly loving – I must have turned my back for 5 minutes and it happened then

Part of me resents the increasing outside influences that I can see starting to have an effect on them, part of me still wants to wrap them in cotton wool and keep them locked up safely as my babies

And yet, and yet it is incredible watching them start to blossom, to start to grow up, to start to be independent and to think independently of me

I’d just like that independent thought to not be around tidying up and table manners – the prospect of a long summer holiday filled with falling outs over tidying up lego and dolls fills me with dread (as does having to live up to my threat that if they don’t tidy up properly then there’ll be no TV for a week…)

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