Nice Life Reminders Pip-Life

More than meets the eye: babies have life-long, shape-shifting superpowers

June 4, 2019
ari and pip

Babies. Oh my goodness. They possess your body (in either a way that you are okay with or a way that is disconcerting or both) and then bust their way out, one way or another.

Then? They are very adorable but also remind you that really you belong to them and they will slough a path across your body and eke out what they need – food, love, devotion, lifelong commitment. All of the above.

As you get used to this/struggle with this it feels like a shock coupled with an honour … and you do what you can to keep you/them alive and thriving.

Then? Just when people think you have sorted it all out things crack on in earnest.

Children who are five-years-old – starting school or ready to start school in a year or so – still have the occasional tantrum, but we don’t talk about it much. Note that they are a) just as difficult b) just as normal and c) fuelled by children who are MUCH bigger than those two-year-old tantrummers.

Thankfully you’ve seen tricky times before so you can meet it with half humour/half horror/half ‘is whisky nice?’

Children who are eight-years-old – in school and sort of used to it – still have big feelings, big dramas, big awake-half-the-night worries.

Thankfully you have had lots of conversations with them and are able to convey the fragility of humans and the deep, deep love that you feel for them which you hope will bolster them through their days.

Children who are twelve-years-old are the babies of the teenage years and you feel like you are beginning again as in some ways the goalposts have shifted, but in others they haven’t because clear, honest, open chatter between you and them about how bewildering others can be might glue you together and get the through.

Children who are sixteen-years-old sometimes seem like they’ve seen a ghost as the reality of the world dawns further on them and it’s up to you to be their anchor even though all you know about staying afloat is that telling the kind truth is what matters most and you have to stick together.

Children who are eighteen-years-old are apparently adults but goodness people who are forty-years-old scarcely are so what are we even expecting of these young people?

At this point – now – we know much more about mental health and feeling like ourselves but the discourse is that these young people are adults and they should know which way they are headed and what is what. Sigh.

Children who are twenty-five-years-old are still your children but they are teetering the tightrope of being adults and taking risks with their future, their hearts, their trust. It’s quite BIG to watch and feel, even if you’re just on the edge of it.

Children who are thirty-years-old. See previous step.

Honestly having babies is such an all-consuming part of parenthood, but the years that follow once the onesies and dummies and blankies are done (possibly) … Gosh they really crack you open and shake you up and show you the very tiny list of dot points that matter most.

They hold a mirror up to you and ask you  ‘who are you and what do you think?!’ They surprise you just when you thought you had it all sorted.

Having a baby is so so so BIG. I KNOW it. But wobbling alongside a tween … and a teenager … and an adult child is also a transformative experience that’s not really talked about enough.

It’s a sort of second and third and fourth birth of a parent. 

A parent to a more fully-formed human who is all seeing and quite a lot hearing and a fair bit knowing and definitely SAYING too.

And – as a parent who has done this three times – every year feels like starting over and re-connecting … and also a chance to grow up a little more myself.

Why don’t we talk more about the non-baby/toddler/preschooler/back-to-school part of motherhood and fatherhood, I wonder?

As the years tick past those early days, parenting life becomes less visible, doesn’t it? I suppose you are meant to know what you are doing by then?!

Imagine that! Because we’re just winging it like way back when.

Love to all the parents, whatever the age of their kids! Teeny or not. Big or not. Smooches, peaches!

x pip


  • Reply Jo October 6, 2019 at 7:22 AM

    I’m afraid I had post natal depression with both of my kids. With my daughter I hated the fact that she was so dependent on me, and I loathed breastfeeding.

    It took a long time for me to settle into parenthood. Because I have a zillion interests I would have felt totally bored even had I been well, despite wanting a family.

    The kids reached the point when I could leave them in order to pop out, and, when they reached teenhood, I preferred it because they were interesting and I didn’t have to nanny them.

    Anyway, they’re fab now that they are adults, and we’re all great friends. Love it!

    And I’ve recovered from depression!

    Jo, Hampshire UK

    Creating My Odyssey – Liberating the Real Me After 30 yrs of Depression & Anxiety uk

  • Reply Jo June 15, 2019 at 12:09 AM

    Ahh, you just confirmed everything I’ve ever thought about parenting! It never stops, it just changes. We’re in the midst of a change as teenagedom has arrived in our house.
    I am considering how I can set up a support group that works as simply as the support you had from a toddler group, as I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling my way in a new era. Thanks for your insights, Pip. x

  • Reply Isabel June 6, 2019 at 11:03 AM

    What a thoughtful post, Pip. As a new-ish mum of a now 11-month-old this is important to read. I have sometimes wondered at all the support available for new parents: people bring meals, ask how they can help, there are all these speciality services for us, mums and bubs groups, mums and bubs yoga, hotlines to call about breast feeding etc.

    Of course, it;s all appreciated and a wonderful testament to our society that we have these services available. But it seems like every man (woman) and his/her dog (cat) is keen to help new parents (especially mums) and babies. Babies are cute and helpless, after all. And they look nice in knitted cardigans.

    At this stage of life, parenting seems fairly simple. You feed them, keep them warm and dry and loved, and they crawl up to you and lie on you and give you sloppy dribble kisses. But what about after that? What about when it gets more complicated, when they are yelling at you that you don’t understand them, why did you embarrass them like that in front of their friends, why are you such an out-of-touch loser and by the way, you’re not even a good cook like X’s mum? Where is the council-supported hotline then? Where are the support groups?!

    None of us parents ‘know’ what we are doing, we’re all just winging it, whatever stage we’re at. So please keep having this conversation about parenting tweens/teens/young adults/older adults! I’ll be listening with ears and heart wide open.

  • Reply Karen June 5, 2019 at 8:21 AM

    A shock coupled with an honour – what a brilliant way to describe the way parenting reality Pip. My darling Mum used to say that a parent never stops worrying about their child/ren, no matter how old they are, and I think she was right. Your post sums it up beautifully – we just keep on winging it with the best of intentions and love for our kids, regardless of their age or stage. Hopefully we get it right at least some of the time, but it always helps to have a conversation like this to know we’re not alone in this shock/honour ‘transformative experience.’

  • Reply Kate June 5, 2019 at 8:14 AM

    Yep Pip.
    All of what you said.
    Mine are all young adults now, and I’m more confused and unsure of myself and my role now than at any other stage. And the feelings (mine) they are just as big as when they were babies.

    Cheers Kate.

  • Reply Michele June 5, 2019 at 8:00 AM


  • Reply Seana June 4, 2019 at 10:19 PM

    I have thought this sooo many times, parenting doesn’t stop when a kid starts school in fact there are so many new tricky things to deal with. My two are 9 and 16 and their Dad and I are separating in a very mixed up complicated way and they need so much support, I can’t help but feel I am doing everything wrong (surely that’s a “mum” think…isn’t it?). We all need more support as parents xxx

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