All those complaints we hear from parents of how time and energy consuming children are, and believe to be exaggerations of hard-hearted adults who should never have had children, become a harsh reality when we choose to have our own. All the 6 stages of parenthood are uniquely challenging and hard.
Remember the teething phase, the terrible twos, the awkward adolescent, the rebellious teenager, etc.? Well, these are all real!
Whatever we may tell the world outside, here is Bonobology’s tribute to these cute little angels-cum-monsters who do manage to make us see heaven and hell on this earth, if not every day then every once every few days for sure.
From the time we miss our period and cuddle romantically with our partners as we imagine how the ‘part-him-part-her’ little bundle will look, to the time our children tell us about having those angels of their own and we climb up another step in the ladder as we prepare to become grandparents, it really is quite a journey.
Phases Of Parenthood
The stages of parenting are challenging yet fulfilling and rewarding at the same time. All over the world, people believe that parenting is the most rewarding part of our life. We may love them to death, be ready to die for them but there are also times when we wish for some time without them around!
So here are the 6 stages of parenthood, clearly defined, to help you prepare for what having a child really is like.
1. Even before the baby is actually out
This is for you, you wine loving woman! You hate your hubby because both of you may have come together to make the ‘baby’, yet he can celebrate with champagne while you have to give up wine, beer and vodka and make do with coconut water or whatever the little one dictates from the inside.
And then you have those mood swings making you weepy, over-the-top excited, disproportionately pissed off, deliriously happy and stressed out (and that’s all before mid-morning). While your husband thinks he is an angel because he is dealing with you, you hate him because of what you are actually going through.
Also yes, romance, sex, travel…they all fly out the window. When you are reeling over this, the baby gives you a solid kick from inside to show you how totally worth it they are.
2. Between ages 0 and 2
This is one of the most difficult phases of parenthood, both mentally and physically. You are sleep deprived, exhausted and maybe even in postpartum depression as the baby transitions from crying to trying to communicate to running around the house with the energy equivalent of three Red Bulls!
The hubby works overtime too, to make provision for the extra expenditure. And instead of splurging on each other, the couple spends it on the baby, and often mostly in excess. Neither partner can figure out how overworked the other is!
3. Now that they are in school
Everything has a set time to it and has to be adhered to. From school to off-school days. Mondays to Fridays turn into an automated routine and everything needs to work like a well-oiled machine, akin to following the bells of a correctional facility. None of the other stages of parenting come close to being as busy as this one.
You have neither time nor space for the cute things that keep the romance and fun alive. Instead of sharing the latest gossip, you chalk out carpool pickups. Flirty texts are replaced with messages about groceries. The intimacy after having kids in your relationship is gone.
And where sex nights were previously spontaneous or scheduled, now you bail out even on the nights which are carefully placed in the timetable! The couples move from being lovers and friends to business partners. And the non-execution of the role one has been assigned becomes reason enough to call for dissolution of the partnership!
When both parents are working there is the dilemma on who will be the ‘on call’ parent and wars can start over this. The kid comes back with a B instead of a ‘D’ as the reward and you paste it on your fridge door! But then you argue about which parent gets the credit!
4. That rebellious teenager
If you did not see eye to eye earlier, you will probably think that you and hubby are poles apart and why on earth did you ever come together? Teenagers achieve the divide and rule without batting an eyelid. One parent has to be a good cop, the other, the bad! Now who would want to be the bad cop?
This is almost always a constant until your children become adults themselves and no longer need monitoring. In other words, a perennial source of conflict. Parents need to pick between who supervises what and the biggest divide of whose approach is right.
This discussion for the right approach rings in the parenting outcomes of the extended members of the family and due to no fault of theirs, all aunts and uncles are suddenly put in the judgement box. In the 6 stages of parenthood, this one’s the trickiest to get by.
One insensitive line spoken on the other’s lineage can be like a nuclear missile that emits toxic fumes sometimes up to 3 decades within the relationship. Your teenager in response would simply shrug on how silly and immature the two of you can get.
5. When they fly the nest
Apart from sweeping you clean for their college fund, apartment-setting fund, wedding fund etc., you are suddenly alone with your spouse with no clue on how to spend this alone time together. You missed two decades of knowing each other, and you might just wonder ‘who’ that person occupying the place next to you in bed is.
In fact, you may have forgotten who you are too. Even the restaurants you go to have usually been your children’s choice. Shopping for kids clothes was the only shopping you did.
And you have been successfully sweeping major marital issues under the carpet; long periods of time without sex, without intimacy, without communication and now those are everywhere like that elephant in the room.
But when your grownup kid calls you and tells you, ‘Mom, I want you to meet someone!’, you wonder where the time went, and that you need to accept they are adults now. Being a loving mom, you ask if she is from a nice family or if he is earning well and you go running to look for your husband to break this exciting news!
6. When the student becomes the master
Time flies, and before you know it all the phases of parenthood have passed by, and now your child needs help with raising their own kids. Grand-parenting is definitely more laid back, as you watch your children inculcate family values into their own kids, and you spoil the mini versions of your child rotten.
All the stages of parenting are so wholesome, yet so physically and mentally draining at the same time. No matter the hardships, once you witness your offspring become an individual with their own set of thoughts and beliefs, with a family of their own to raise, you feel nothing but pride and happiness.
Image-making, nurturing, authority, interpretive, independent and, finally, departure.
Many people think that the period between toddlers and tweens is the golden age of parenting.
This begins with the pregnancy, as you nurture and care for your child as it grows in the womb. If you’re irresponsible, the child’s life can be seriously affected by your reckless actions.