Tshepiso Makhele
4 minute read
8 Apr 2019
1:51 pm

Being a parent is hard work

Tshepiso Makhele

Parenting can prove to be a bit more strenuous than a nine-to-five job, but being a parent is a labour of love.

Picture: iStock

Parenting is no playground. Trust me. I’ve recently came to terms with this and, no, I’m not a first-time mom, but mother of two little girls now.

With the first, it looked easy, but that was probably not the case. Perhaps because my excitement at becoming a mom dominated my emotions.

It’s a blissful journey, women are often told. But it does come with a lot of work – and parents don’t get any formal training. The hard work is part of the package called parenting, together with the unexpected kisses, hugs and thank-yous you will get from your bundle of joy.

Picture: iStock

The first role, any breastfeeding mother will tell you, is that of a pantry. From just after you hear that first cry and your little one graces you with his or her presence, you become the only source of food; a pantry, storing the baby’s favourite beverage, milk.

Breastfeeding has well-known health benefits, such as protecting the child against common childhood infections, reducing the risk for certain allergic diseases, obesity, type two diabetes, asthma and improving a baby’s cognitive development.

However, you will soon wave goodbye to your “me time” – those quiet moments by yourself. You’ll find yourself trying to find a comfortable position for holding a crying baby and breastfeeding him or her. In my case, I’m blessed with a little girl who loves her milk. If she is not sleeping, she is feeding – so I’ve had to cut my long luxurious baths to a five-minute shower, just so that I can return to my role as the pantry.

The other role is that of a rocking chair. You will be amazed at what your ability to rock back and forth can do. The gentle rocking motion can soothe babies – and as a mom it will serve you well to understand that this motion has the power to provide faster onset of sleep than remaining stationary.

Picture: iStock

Add a bit of humming, voilà, you have a deeply sleeping baby. With my second child I have learned to listen to my mom about not holding her for too long after she has fallen asleep. This, she says will lead to having a baby that refuses to be put down to sleep.

You don’t want to take on the role of being the baby’s crib and have her only remain asleep when held. So rock baby to sleep and put him or her down for a comfortable snooze on the bed or a crib, but never too long in your arms or lap.

Neurologists will tell you pregnancy fiddles with the structure of a woman’s brain. The grey matter becomes more concentrated, and activity increases in areas that control empathy and anxiety. This results in mothers being concerned about the well being of their babies and could make them take on the role of doctors during desperate times.

My helper and I often try to figure out what might be wrong with the kids before we consider taking them to a medical doctor. Putting our palms on our kids forehead to check their temperature is something every mother has tried. Somehow we feel that because we gave birth to them, we can know what is troubling them – typical of us mothers.

Picture: iStock

You can never stop being a mom, I was once told. Once you hold that little one in your arms, a lifetime job titled parenting begins, and as they grow older, you take up the role of a cheerleader.

This comes with recognising their skills early on, but also being realistic about their abilities. Every child needs a parent who believes in their talents and cheers them on when they do well. However it doesn’t end there.

Parenting also comes with playing disciplinarian. Similar to my neighbour’s kid, there are sometimes children with headstrong temperaments who will go against a parent’s direction, forcing them to stand their ground and be firm without losing their patience.

While parenting can prove to be a bit more strenuous than a nine-to-five job, every parent will tell you they are hardly conscious of the many roles they play, proving just how being a parent is a labour of love.

What you as a parent are not responsible for

Picture: iStock

1. Making certain your child is always happy: While it’s good for your child to be happy, you do not have to make decisions based on what they like but rather what is best for them.

2.Controlling your child: Rest assured there is no possible way you can control every move your child makes, so don’t frustrate yourself by trying.

3.You don’t have to be She-Ra or Superman: Pick your battles. Rather focus on addressing every behavioural issue, and don’t play the superhero because you really can’t do it all.

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