Nothing prepares you for parenthood, they say. But is it true? I’ve given this quite some thought recently and I think there’s one time in your life that really actually does. And that is your own adolescence. Because the two times of your life have more in common than you might think:
- Feelings rule: Teenagers feel things very deeply indeed. I’d say it was the most intense and feely time of my life. But when motherhood kicked in I realised I’d barely skimmed the surface of life’s feelings… and it was like being a teenager all over again. The roar of love, the raging fears, the now-now-nowness of it all … everything is turned up to 11. It’s so intense sometimes it feels like I am actually melting.
- Hormones, hormones, hormones: I have only believed in hormones for 18 months. Before that I thought ‘hormones’ were a thing fabricated by the patriarchy to hold women down and something parents invent to explain why their teenagers hate them. Now I am very much going: ‘Oh, Hormones… I see.’ I love them, but I hate them. They are basically like taking both the good and the bad drugs at the same time. Toxic.
- Your body’s not your own: Teenagers bodies stretch, strain and do amusing things that are out of your control. Same goes when you’re pregnant. And then when it’s all over you’re a virtual humpty dumpty of womanhood. Your internal organs are all in the wrong place, your bits resemble extras from a freaky puppet theatre, and this post cannot possibly do justice to the feelings you may have about your boobs. Love & respect yes, but fear and hate also (see also: feelings) The whole thing is savage. And just like adolescence, there’s no short cut.
- You can’t take your drink: I spent what feels like a lot of my teenage years drunk on sweet martini & telling my besties that I was going to marry Morrissey. Despite your best attempts, booze is your enemy - and after having my son, my resistance to alcohol was reduced to teenage levels once again. The first time I dared have more than 2 drinks it went all WTF on me. Oh, and if your NCT teacher suggests packing champagne in your hospital bag but neglects to mention the fact you’ll need a blanket for your baby, just chuckle and ignore her. Don’t actually pack the champagne and forget the blanket. You idiot.
- You think people don’t understand you: As a teenager you give this simple ‘fact’ great, concerted thought and the same goes for the new parent. The woman who didn’t struggle with breastfeeding? She doesn’t get you. The dad whose baby burps without fuss? He’s got no idea. And don’t get me started on how misunderstood you feel by your friends-without-kids. I could have got about 23,000 more hours of sleep if I’d just dropped this internal ‘nobody understands me’ monologue earlier on. If only!
- You move in packs: For a species who claim to be so alone teenagers spend an inordinate amount of time shuffling about in groups. Same goes for parents. Together, we’re stronger guys… and never happier than when we’re having a detailed five way conversation about nappy rash in a busy coffee shop. Honestly.
- To other people, you seem ridiculous: Have you overheard a group of teenagers recently? They talk in a weird culty language only they can understand. Exactly. The. Same.
- You spend a lot of time judging: I was a very judgey teenager. My own mother called me on it one day and I can still hear the ring of truth in her voice, echoing in my cochlea. I can only fear this makes me excellent at judging other parents. Which is absolutely nothing to be proud of. But still, I got skillz.
- Once it’s over, you forget the true horror: Both adolescence and early motherhood are all too easy to rose tint… until you remember the awkwardness, the lack of sense and total obsession with your own genitals. And that’s just the new parents, hah! No, seriously… and older parents are all ‘what’s the fuss about, guys?’ and ‘it’s over in a flash, best enjoy it!’ about these early days. They’ve forgotten the terror and sheer outrageousness of it all. Rude.
- Sleeping is pretty high on your list of vices: Life can be dull when you’re a teenager, but there’s always your festering pit in which to lie… considering your options. I’ve re-acquainted myself with sleep-as-vice since procreating, now that options are limited. And it’s really nice.
So there you have it. I have categorically proved that being a new parent is akin to being a teenager in at least eight different ways. And thus it is so.
Photo courtesy of Ssosay on Flickr