For many of us, we dream of having babies from the moment we own our first doll. Well, for the moms reading this anyway! For the dads, it may have taken them a little while longer (about 25 years to be exact) to get on board the baby making train.
But let’s be honest, the pictures we had in our heads of raising kids are vastly different to the reality that has presented itself to us since becoming parents. While we had all the romantic and idealistic ideas about having a baby, there’s nothing quite like actually having one to bring you back to reality.
- Family holidays. The dream: It’s all fun and games and heartwarming banter as you sing happy songs in the car all the way to your holiday destination. The kids chat and play quiet games in the car and have a long 4-hour nap ensuring they arrive in a FABULOUS mood. They help unpack the car and the rest of the holiday is spent enjoying each other’s company, sharing toys and getting along. The reality: They spend the entire trip whining and bickering and asking the dreaded Are we there yet? at 5-minute intervals. The only time they are quiet for longer than 5 seconds is when they are eating sweets, which you regret giving to them precisely 10 minutes later. They are bored, restless and moody and make you question not only your sanity but also your decision to plan a vacation in the first place.
- Going shopping or for a walk in a pram. The dream: You place your calm happy baby into their pram and they smile at you with gratitude as you strap them in to make sure they are safe and secure. Even though they are only 15 months they look at you and say Thank you mommy They sit quietly in their pram for 3 hours while you meet your friend for coffee, buy groceries and run errands. They don’t need to be fed until you get home and you have unpacked everything from the car and enjoyed a nice hot cup of tea. The reality: They squirm from the second they see you take the pram out the boot and by the time you have unfolded the heavy monstrosity they are having a full-blown melt down. You try to remain calm because there are people in the car park looking at you with questioning eyes. – Is that baby safe? Is that her real mom? – As gently as you can you try to negotiate your squirming child into the pram but soon realize there’s better hope getting a live octopus into a straightjacket. You meet your friend for coffee looking like nervous wreck and spent the entire time trying to keep your baby happy in the pram she despises. You take her out only get up approximately 293 times to run after her. Your friend tells you “It’s just the sweetest thing she is now walking!”, but you know she is really just feeling sorry for you and swears off babies for at least another 6 years. You abandon the rest of your shopping plans and drive all the way home with a tired, hungry and pissed off baby who needs to be fed, changed and put to sleep before you can even think about a cup of tea.
- Baking: The dream: You find a beautifully decorated cake on Pinterest and tell your daughter you will make it together. She calmly looks at you and says, That’s a lovely idea mom. You work well together with mindful determination and minimal frustration and at the end you tease her by smearing a little dollop of icing on the tip of her little button nose. She giggles and tells you are the most amazing mom in the whole world. Your cake of course, is nothing short of perfection. The reality: Your child insists on helping with everything, which makes perfecting your cake utterly impossible. You fight from beginning to end and eventually she runs out the kitchen screaming, You are the YUCKIEST mom in the world! Your cake looks like it’s been struck by a meteorite. So does your kitchen.
- Photo shoots. The dream: You are going to capture perfect and beautiful family moments with rainbows and unicorns in the background. The reality: There are no such things as unicorns and it’s easier negotiating a pack of wild pigs than it is getting your kids to smile when they are told to.
- Buying and owning your first family pet: The dream: Your kids will one day wake up and say, I’m ready to look after an animal! You go out and source the cutest puppy known to man. They love him instantly and you bring him home to your beautiful house where they play with him, feed him and pick up his crap every single day. They never ever get tired of him. EVER. The reality: They beg and plead to buy a puppy for two years before you go against every warning bell going off in your head and agree. You take them to pick a puppy from a new litter and they ugly cry when you tell them you can’t take it home right away. When the puppy arrives 6 weeks later they are upset the puppy is not as small as they remember and question if it’s the one they chose. Eventually they accept it and fall in love with the puppy, only for the novelty to ware off after a few weeks. By the time the puppy is 4 months old they would rather watch TV and play video games while you are forced to feed them, pick up their poop and train them to stay out your garden because the kids don’t like to play with him anymore and he’s eating his way through your herb garden.
- Sitting in a perfectly made nursery with a perfectly made up face while staring into your sleepy newborn’s face. The dream: Everything is immaculately in its place and the nursery, no doubt something off a celeb’s Pinterest board. You look beautiful and fresh with a wonderful radiating glow and your figure looks even better that before you fell pregnant. The atmosphere is relaxed, calm and serene. The reality: There are half empty milk bottles, breast pumps, burping cloths, used wet wipes, filled nappy bags, unmade beds and half drunk cups of cold coffee strewn all over every surface. You are tired and have the bags under your eyes to prove it. You are a little on edge and have too much you are trying to work out in your head: How many hours till the next feed? If I express now will I have enough milk for a feed? Will I still have time to put a load of washing on if I take a shower? What is that mark on the wall?
- Enjoying family movie night. The dream: You choose a movie that appeals to all your tastes. Dad fills popcorn boxes with warm buttery popcorn and you curl up under a vintage handmade quilt. You watch the movie and giggle, hold hands and talk about what the movie meant to you at the end. The reality: Mom chooses a movie because if given the choice, you would be awaiting the end of the world. They put up a stink anyway and put on a world-class performance explaining why ‘How to Train your Dragon’ is the worst movie in history even though it was their favorite movie last week. In all the chaos Dad burns the popcorn and like monkeys they sit around the bowl picking the pieces they can salvage. 5 minutes into the movie, they start talking. PAUSE. 7.4 minutes into the movie, one needs a wee. PAUSE. 11.2 minutes into the movie the other needs a pooh. PAUSE. 12.8 minutes into the movie, they declare they are bored. You turn the movie off and they cry while explaining to you they didn’t really mean they were bored, they just needed a break. Dad explains he needs a break too and tells everyone they can find him in his bedroom drinking beer. Mom follows suit and heads to the bathroom with her wine. Kids fight until they are sent to bed.
- Beach missions. The dream: You wake up ready to enjoy a glorious day in the sun. The kids dress themselves and get all their cute beach paraphernalia ready at the door. Mom makes homemade chicken and mayo sandwiches without the crusts, freshly squeezed orange juice and fruit skewers made with only the freshest seasonal fruit. She packs it into the cooler box that is always clean and where you last put it. Dad packs everything into the car without moaning and off you go to enjoy a day on the beach. The reality: You wake up looking like a zombie because your kids kept you up all night yet somehow muster the strength to get up. You can’t find anything you need to actually make beach day a reality: The cooler box is NOT in its usual place, the umbrella you thought you had is broken from the last windy day on Muizenberg beach and your buckets and spades are at the bottom of the toy box. There is no fresh bread in the house and the kid’s cozies are still wet because you forgot to hang them up after yesterday’s swimming lesson. You eventually get to the beach and they complain it’s too hot or the sun is too bright or the water is too cold. You get a full-fat, full-gluten pizza takeaway on your way home and eat it on the couch while drinking wine straight from the bottle. (Alone, while the kids are locked in the bathroom).
Two sayings always come to mind when the dream bubble bursts and I’m stuck in the reality version of life – Have kids they said. It will be fun they said and It’s all fun and games until somebody falls pregnant!. TouchÃ©.
As it turns out, it’s not all that bad but you can really never be too prepared for having kids. That’s if I haven’t scared you shitless and put you off having babies all together. And for all the parents who are living the reality version of life with kids, I see you over there. I feel you and I salute you. For you my friend, are not alone.
Did you enjoy this? Please feel free to share it with a friend! And let me know what other things you would add to this list of Dream Vs. Reality. I’m sure there are many many more!!! Comment below!