I’ve always wanted children. It was up there in my childhood dreams with a fairy tale wedding and a never ending supply of midget gems. I don’t know whether it was something that I ever truly thought about or it just became part of my life expectations by osmosis. I sometimes wonder whether the only people who really think about whether to have children are the ones who decide not to.

Anyway, along they came according to plan. Four little pink bundles with squidgy faces and perfect finger nails. It’s hard when they’re babies, especially the first. You have no real idea what they want. You work your way down a check list until you can make an informed guess about the reason for their distress. Everyone has an opinion on what you are doing and shares it with you whether their view is welcome or not.

Then it gets harder. The baby starts to sleep, which is a blessing but then it starts to move of its own accord, which is not. Next, they learn to talk. This might seem like it should make things less difficult but actually results in your child expressing their own ideas about how things should be which generally run counter to your own.

At the moment it’s really hard. My younger two are pushing at my authority. Each instruction is tested to destruction. Nothing is taken at face value. For every order there is a counter order. I hear myself bickering with my six year old about whether he should put his socks on or not and my heart sinks. In frustration I shout. It doesn’t get them to do as I say. It doesn’t even make me feel better. It just makes me throat hurt.

The elder two are jogging along quite nicely but they are on the edge of the dark lands where there be dragons. Make up and short skirts and high heels that make them appear as if they are looking for things that they can’t possibly understand. Illicit alcohol at parties that they attend. Talk of weed in the park. Constant requests to do things that I consider unsuitable because ‘everyone else is going’. It’s all new and scary.

I feel like I am being pushed round a ghost train ride with a blindfold on. Some things leap out at me and make me jump. Other dangers lurk in the darkness as I stumble past, unaware even of their existence.

The combination of the challenging younger two and the adventuring older two is exhausting and terrifying in equal measure. The rebellious little ones rob me of the resources that I need to deal with the obstacles facing the big ones and I am left spinning, hoping that soon we will have a period of consolidation so that I can catch my breath and check for holes in my sails before the storms blow up again.

When I had my little babies I had no idea how difficult being a parent really was. If I had known, would I have gone ahead with quite such scant consideration for the future? Of course I would, as would most of us for otherwise the human race would be no more. I just have to keep doing the best that I can as each day passes and hope it’s enough.