I imagined I would not be a slave, neither to nappies nor to nap times, not to toddler tantrums or brimming laundry baskets.
I resolved that there would be no snacks-cum-bribery and no electronic devices before the age of two. (Are you laughing yet?)
I pitied, with barely hidden disdain, the mothers who ventured outdoors with stains on their clothes and biscuit crumbs in their handbags - not me who would "let herself go".
I pontificated about the merits of fine motor skill activities and reading nooks, certain my child would master "playing by himself".
I determined that there would be monthly date nights with Mr P&P, during which we would discuss more worldly and important issues than the latest in washable training pants.
And worst of all,
I preached. To mothers whose children were not sitting nicely, who couldn't keep an adult conversation going for longer than 30 seconds, who'd bail on nights out. I suggested ways in which they might do better, appear calmer, remain more self-aware and less consumed.
Well no-shit-Sherlock, the sheer banality of this should come as a surprise noone, least of all me. What right to complain do I have, really, when every parent the (Western) world over goes through the same thing.
But sometimes brick walls are hit, and the “advice” you so magnanimously bestowed on others in The Days Before comes back to bite you in the ass. Already vulnerable, already tired, already weary from weeks of living past my husband without the energy to even think about his issues lest they distract from the endless will-never-get-done lists swirling in my head, I was told How To Do it Better. By someone who meant well but doesn’t have children, who didn’t know that keeping the Bean up late and going out (OUT!) together for a drink (A DRINK!) was already a big deal as it was.
But never fear, because we know we’ve been here before. Last summer was the same, and my twitter feed tells me we’re not the only ones who long for this school year to end. Who’d have thought this would apply to tiny toddlers, but there you go.
In a few days we’ll go to stay with the grandparents, get some rest, be fed. It will all be okay. I will remember with my head as well as my heart that we are very, very fortunate to have each other. I will realise once more that the best way to parent is, indeed, to let the toddler in your bed at 3am if it feels right. I will stop caring, just a little, that the current version of me is not immaculately groomed but perpetually late, creased, baggy-eyed and always on the look-out for a sleepy toddler cuddle.