You're almost at the end of your pregnancy. You are aching and cranky and oh so exhausted. You're about ready to rip that baby out with your bare hands, which is nature's way of making you less afraid of childbirth because anything would be better than this torture. You are over it and you want to know is this all worth it?
How do you explain it to someone who has no idea what's coming her way? How do you express just how tough, how exhausting, how baffling children are, and yet reassure them it's all SO WORTH IT?
Today I was woken at 5.23am by a kick to the head because my three year old still comes into our bed. Every. Single. Night. It's not the snuggle-fest you might imagine. It's a nightly display of defensive martial arts because he sleeps like he's being attacked by wasps.
You know what? Still worth it.
I had a two and a half minute shower while my 14-month-old stood and banged on the shower door because she feels deeply offended whenever my eyes aren't locked exclusively on hers. She screeched one long, continuous, ear-shattering screech while I threw on some clothes and pulled my dirty hair into a bun, telling myself I'd get around to washing it tomorrow (I won't).
It's okay. Still worth it.
I spent the whole morning arguing with the threenager. Please eat your breakfast, please stop pushing your sister, please put on some pants, please get off the counter, please pack up your cars, please stop karate chopping the walls. It should be noted that he didn't listen to a word I said so I screamed louder and louder and louder until my throat hurt, which is basically nature's way of letting you know you're a terrible parent because you literally injured yourself being a bitch.
Still worth it.
This afternoon I watched the last grains of my youth fall through the hourglass as I crouched beside the baby's cot, my back seizing up, my arm numb from lack of blood, angled through the bars, patting the bottom of a baby whose chubby hands were grabbing at the top of my head ripping out chunks of my hair in protest at being put down for a nap. Her older brother was doing his goddamn best to make as much noise possible outside the room because he's three.
Still worth it.
My back is always aching, my eyes sting from exhaustion. Let's not even mention the dull skin, saggy tummy, pelvic floor and the boobs. Oh my god the boobs. My body is like a swimming costume that was once bright and stretchy but it's been through the wash one too many times and the elastic's shot, the colour has faded and the underwire has started to stick out the top. It still looks all right but it's never going to look new again.
STILL WORTH IT.
After a dinnertime I'd rather not discuss, I let the baby out of her high chair and she went galloping off down the hall like a baby deer, freed from captivity. The threenager went after her and I primed myself to intervene yet again, but he didn't push her over, he jumped in front of her and yelled "BOO" and she dissolved into delicious baby giggles. They chased each other around; squawking and whooping like mad children and my heart filled my chest to bursting.
And that's it right there. I'd do it all again, 10 times over, just for that.
I could write for days about all the joys of having children. The first smiles and giggles, the cuddles, discovering their personality, the wonderment and pride as they learn new things, the first time they say "I love you".
But my most convincing argument is that even when it's so hard you want to cry, you'll never regret it. Today I've gone to the toilet with an audience of two. I've hidden in the pantry and eaten Tim Tams just for a moment of peace. I cried when my toddler hit me with a toy car. And even in those moments, I never thought about going back to my old life. I'd still choose this life every single time because I've got them.
The power of the love, joy and pride coming your way is so overwhelming that you will happily endure the hardest moments of your life just for a taste of that magic.
Kids are hard. SO HARD. But we keep having them because they're SO WORTH IT.