No, I can't send 'em back, and return to my little inner-city flat where my non-work hours could be spent reading books (because the internet wasn't invented then).
Now that I've got that out of the way.
When I first decided on this parenting thing, I had NO IDEA. I knew nothing about babies or children. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.
When Dreamer arrived, I just thought "This is hard work". I would read all the parenting advice in books and magazines, and think "I must be doing it wrong. My life is nothing like that. I just can't get a grip on this parenting business".
While I was staggering through the first year, still thinking I'd get the hang of it, I kept hold of the ideal of the perfect family- a pigeon pair. And so, 22 months later, Speedy arrived, and it got worse.
This was ridiculous.
I grew to hate those magazine articles where mothers spoke of the Joys of Motherhood. It was all lies. Or if they were telling the truth... what was wrong with me?
By trial and error, I found a few things that helped make it easier. Bugger the parenting guides - they just didn't work. Bugger the child health nurse's advice - it just made things worse. It was impossibly hard to ignore the 'experts'. After all, what did I know? Doubting myself? Always.
And... I still wanted another child. Was I completely mad? Ah, it was the lure of a daughter. What woman doesn't want a daughter?
It took more than a while to convince he-who-has-no-nickname that we should make our lives even more difficult, so it was three and a half years until Curly joined the family.
Curly brought with him huge changes.
It wasn't ME. I wasn't a bad parent. I had actually developed awesome parenting skills in the three years I'd been doing it.
Curly was EASY to parent. He did all the things that babies are supposed to do, and it was dead easy. I loved it.
The feeding, the sleeping, the discipline - all the parenting advice just worked first time with Curly. Bloody hadn't for the older two.
With Dreamer and Speedy, I'd tried the parenting advice, persisted through failure, thinking it was my failure, then experimented, abandoned, tried everything I could think of and then some, and, in utter exhaustion, invented 'things that worked for us'.
With Curly, I'd fire the first shot in my arsenal - and it'd WORK.
Sheer joy and utter bliss.
So Happy Mother's Day- Especially to those who are doing it tough.
May you find paths that work for you, and remember that Parenting Advice (with Capitals) that doesn't work, can always be used in the Kitty Litter tray.