They said we'd fall asleep nicely in bed with the dog at our feet. All napping happily away.
They told us we'd look wonderful in our matching outfits and headbands. They said we'd have rocking chairs and rock our docile, sleepy babies to sleep before putting them in their tidy cots to sleep for the night.
They said our older two children would play ring-o'-roses on the lawn, smiling and giggling away.
They told us my husband and I would stand at the baby's nursery door, smiling at our good fortune before closing the door and going to bed every night.
Lies! Well, lies for me! Don't believe them!
My daughter can't match the stain on my top from her brother's butternut. Instead of matching me, I made her match her big sister. Except she wasn't wearing any matching clothes today. Today she stayed in her sleepsuit. It matched her slippers though!
There was no napping with the family dog. One, I'm allergic to dogs and two, when one baby naps, the other is awake. I spent most of my day going from one to the other. Miss Toddler has come with her own nap time schedule. It's "whatever time I wake up deciding I'll sleep at" o'clock.
Little brother woke up this morning already wanting a nap, so he also made up his own routine. The first thing on his schedule was, "Complain as if someone else woke me up while I was dreaming blissfully."
There was a time they both wanted me to carry them. At the same time. One screaming because he's got terrible separation anxiety so wanted me not his sister, "RIGHT NOW!" and the other one screaming at him and wanting me because she's teething. Don't ask me what she was saying. I just recognised his name in that diatribe.
I don't have a rocking chair. I don't think I ever will, even though I dreamed I would from baby number 1 all the way to number 4.
Yes, there are gummy smiles, but there's also drool. Lots of it. In my mouth when I'm holding him high up. Lovely drool. Also there when he's meant to be docile and sleepy. He prefers to gum my chin and smack my face instead of just putting his head down like they do in fiction.
My elder two, instead of playing on the grass spent all their time playing in the mud the weekend storm brought in. If you'd seen my son's T-shirt, you'd think he swum in the mud! They only sing ring-a-roses when their little sister is with them. And they come in dragging grass and sand with them.
My husband and I did not stand at our son's door and gaze beatifically at him as he fell asleep. Instead we realised that he wasn't satisfied with the full bottle he'd had with me so his dad had to give him another one. At this point, I was lying in bed, back aching from wearing his older sister.
Yeah, that's another thing they don't tell you. Baby-wearing isn't all sunshine and roses if you've got a spine problem!
The reality isn't like the lie they sold us.
But it's so much better. Watching someone else cuddle their baby is not as satisfying as cuddling your own. Laughing at your toddler trying to put her bottle in your mouth or your nose is so much more fun than matching outfits. I feel more alive laughing
Having her baby brother nuzzling into me as he lets me know he wants to go to bed...Laughing at his drooly, gummy smile as he flashes his big eyes at me. That butternut stain? Hey, it means he ate!
Them both wanting me? Who doesn't like being in demand?
And who knows what new thing baby girl will find to
Those lies don't change. Reality does. You have good days. Bad days. Bad nights. Good nights. The babies in he print ads stay the same age. Our babies grow. The toddlers grow. The children playing on the grass grow up to maybe have their own children. Each milestone bringing its own moment of joy. Reality is so much better than the lie. We change, we grow, we improve. We watch our children doing the same. Changing, growing, improving.
It's messy. It's dirty. It's tiring. It's tear-stained. It's real. It's awesome. It's amazing. It's cuddly. It's smiley. It's joyful.
It's parenting. Real parenting.