COMMENT

My husband and I were often brought to tears of happiness and gratitude watching our baby.

Four years on, we still are. That being said, there are parts of parenthood which are tough but only one which I frankly despise. I try not to dwell on it, however, it is my nemesis. It is the playground.

My dislike of the playground is so strong. Recently on holiday we stayed across from one. I went to the playground more times than I care to remember, following my daughter as she tore around like a headless chook. Cold. Staying off my phone so I was present in the moment, using Mummy's bad back as an excuse to not burrow under some filthy structure.

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Of all the things about parenting a small child that are difficult; the tiredness even after a full night's sleep, the lack of time, the lack of personal space, the noise pollution of hearing "Mummy" on repeat, the park is fairly innocuous. It got me thinking whether I am alone in my most loathed part of parenting being something so small. It appears I'm not.

I put out a few texts and had immediate replies. A common thread and indicative of the times we live in was co-parenting, yet a friend with a truly heinous co-parent opted for the twice daily tooth brushing battle. My Mum said that it was the car seat fiasco which made going to town with three children completely unpalatable. I was shocked. Were car seats even a thing in the 80's?

People said board games (or should that be bored games?). Having your kid's friends over for sleepovers and having to pretend you like them when really you can't wait for them to leave. That's brutal.

There was a theme of children acquiring pets and then parents having to look after them for the rest of their astonishingly long lives, feeling like it's for the rest of your own natural life. The mother of two curious children said public changing rooms, in fact, public anything's, because the questions she knows that will be asked are just too much to bear.

Having to play Barbie yet being assigned Ken or Skipper infuriates a friend although I was unsure if it's the role playing or that my friend doesn't get to be Barbie and has to be Ken. As a kid with short hair I was always the horse never the princess, so I get that. My TV producer friend said she can't read her daughter's mind, so she never gets the script right when playing Barbie. Cue meltdown.

Whining about food, whining in general, incessant tapping on the arm to get attention yet speaking to you only when they want something, being your kid's PA and surrendering your social schedule to theirs, not having listened to adults' music in the car since 2016, getting a pushchair through a mall, a door or into a toilet cubicle, homeschooling in the times of Covid, excessive amounts of after school activities that require your transport and even worse, your attendance, pretending to older kids that you were and still are a saint, kids waking up at the crack of dawn on weekends yet having to be forcibly dragged from bed on school days and the never-ending preparation of meals and snacks. Always snacks.

Turns out I'm not alone with a petty frustration marring the otherwise immense joy and pride I get from being a parent. As one friend said, your kids can be little fish and chips, but you love the sauce out of them. Get it?