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Mum's the Word: The eight life stages that no parenting book dares reveal


The 'cross face'

The 'cross face'

The 'cross face'

Nothing can prepare you for the craziness of being a parent. Not even those best-selling parenting books.

For starters, none of them is going to brace you for these eight stages of life that you're destined to experience as a mum or dad.

1 Bathroom hiding

Your bathroom will become your place of refuge during the early years. You'll retreat here to take phone calls, finish cups of tea and get to the last line of that newspaper article.

You will also go here to hide. It's OK to occasionally hide on your kids, especially on days when you're certain your head might explode if you don't.

2 Child-free fantasises

It's common to look back on your child-free days with a romantic filter. They might have been fraught with relationship woes or work stress but that seems positively rosy compared to this parenting madness.

Wishing for a slice of that pre-parenting life isn't a crime, nor is looking forward to a night away, with the same excitement the kids save up for Christmas Eve.

3 Developing a hideous face

One day you will realise, mid-rant, that you are wearing a face that doesn't belong to you. At least it didn't, once upon a time.

It will be a twisted, angry face, with furrowed brow, narrowed eyes and mean mouth. It has become your Angry Mummy default face, the one you revert to when all other threats have failed. And boy, does it work getting the kids to pipe down.

4 Wiping a nose with a bare hand

Just as you arrive at the park or playground or supermarket one of your crew will have a filthy nose. Worst case scenario will see one of those massive trails, running down their lip, over their chin and onto their clothes.

It is on these precise days that you will have forgotten your tissues. Faced with turning around and going home you'll look left and right before using your bare hand and coat sleeve to clean up the mess. It will feel gross and slimy and vile, but you will soldier on.

5 Letting someone watch you pee

Kids own you. Even when you need to pee. Nothing bothers them, certainly not seeing you reach for the toilet paper.

Expect a riveting narrated version of Ben & Holly, scene by scene, as you go about your business. Know that a locked door is no match for a determined child, and will only necessitate you getting up of the throne, mid-act, to avoid a broken door.

6 Finding poo in strange places

You will pick it up off your living room believing it to be chocolate. You will find it on your sleeve at the shop, as you go to take out your wallet. You will discover it on your carpet, lying there like a dropped toy.

It will be your child's pooh and you will squirm in disgust. This is life now.

7 Stupid talk

Expect to doublecheck yourself as you utter such ludicrous sound bites as "Take that sticker off your willy", "Take your finger out of your sister's nose" and "Do not pee on each other!".

8 Fishing in a (dirty) toilet

At some point you will find yourself with a hysterical toddler who has dropped their favourite toy (or, worse, your favourite lipstick) into a toilet bowl.

A dirty toilet bowl that's yet to be flushed. Except you can't flush or the object will disappear down the drain forever. You will find yourself grabbing an old beaker or, depending on bravery levels, a plastic bag wrapped around your hand, and going fishing. It is not pleasant.