OOOOOOh, Friday night. Yippee. The end of the week. Put your feet up, slug several pints of wine or whatever tipple is your poison, put your best heels and dress on and head out in to the night to dine and dance your way to the early hours. Tomorrow will be a blurry, slightly headachy morning followed by a bacon sarnie, several rounds of lifestyle coffee, a newspaper and a good shop in some expensive shoe stores.
Crawl to the end of the week. Grateful that Better Half will now be there for 48 hours and you can tag team on the screaming shit machine. Baby routine continues – book (his not yours), bath (ditto), bottle (milk, not vino), bed (him and you, probably at the same time). THe rest of Friday night involves a quick dinner, a possible glass of wine (but not too much so you can still drive if there is an emergency, and so still hear the baby wail that will inevitably occur at oh, 10pm, 1 am, 4am and 6am; there will likely still be wine left in the wine glass tomorrow morning) and then semi consciousness for, if you’re lucky, 6 hours. Tomorrow will be a blurry, hideously early morning followed by a redecoration of the kitchen in banana puree, some form of caffeine (drunk by the gallon), the radio on quietly in the car and mothercare at 9am.
Conduct a small social experiment.
Give your baby to a male friend. Not permanently. Just a short term loan.
What does the chap do?
If he starts a gentle but rhythmical bounce (think Beyonce in ‘All the Single Ladies’ but perhaps with less twerking), he’s a dad.
If he freezes, looks slightly terrified and then grins at you as if to say ‘yes, I’m done now’, he’s not. Bless him. Smile beautifically, retrieve the baby and promise you’ll never do it to him again.
I already know we have less than nothing in common. Despite our children being the same age.
Her child is immaculate. Beautiful, pressed dress. Lovely pretty shoes (shoes!). Smooth, straight hair.
My child appears to be drooling. A lot. I know he can’t help his teeth coming through. But now? And is that… Mashed potato? In his eyebrow? He hasn’t eaten mashed potato today. Oh. Hmmm. Yesterday’s dinner. Sigh. And where is his left sock?
And if it wasn’t bad enough, the mother is immaculate too. Knee high brown boots, tanned bare legs, lovely cotton sun dress and smooth groomed hair. I hate her. How does she do that? I realise though that I’m not alone in this, thank god. Across the room, I can see a knackered mum looking at her in disgust too. This mum looks, well, tired and old – baggy eyes, unbrushed hair, shirt with (oh bless her) baby vomit on the shoulder, still wearing preggie jeans. Thank god, I’m not the only one I think and get up to get a wipe. Then I realise. That’s not another mum. That’s me. In a mirror. Unrecognisable me. Dishevelled, exhausted, old. How did that happen? And How come the tanned cow in the corner has got it so bloody together? I make a pact right then that I can’t, for my own sanity, ever talk to her. Yes, I know that makes me the cow. But that’s just the way it has to be. I can’t spend week in, week out at mums and tots group, going quietly mad with envy. Imagining how beautific her life is. How together she has it all. I will just have to accept that some women can do it better and with more style and less baby vomit. Eeeeeurgh.
The next week she walks in a pink velour track suit with some sort of reflective shiny writing on her bum. Karma is restored.
Still not talking to her though.
In the UK Community Midwives and later Health Visitors visit new mothers to make sure you and the baby are developing normally. They will give you a list of symptoms that might indicate your tiny baby is not well. One of these is a bulging Fontanelle .
It is NOT the same as a bulging frenulum. Which is how I described it to the doctor.
I think the doctor may still be laughing now.
Just about awake after my second cup of builders this morning. Child has so far played on the play gym, bashed the plastic teether repeatedly on the plastic drum for half an hour, bounced himself silly in the jumparoo, drunk his milk, regurgitated his milk, eaten his breakfast or at least most of the ella’s kitchen baby banana brekkie that didn’t end up on the floor, himself or me, and is now beginning to whine for sleep. In the five minutes I now have before whining becomes a tantie, I need to wash my hair (to remove banana, if nothing else), dress (in whatever I reach for first in the wardrobe while simultaneously trying to ensure child doesn’t roll off bed), pack the Go Pack with nappies, wipes, muslins, milk, food, spoon, more wipes, nappie bags, teething gel, calpol, dummy, sudocream, antibacterial hand stuff, more wipes and a toy. And a blanket. And possibly a Mack because it looks like it may rain. And a woolly hat, shoes, mittens and a hoodie because the temperature dropped over night. And a teat for the bottle of milk. And more wipes.
And then leave the house.
And then go back to the house to pick up your wallet.
And car keys.
Sometimes my creative brain fails me, especially at 2am.
Apparently there might be a reason…
(sorry for the length of the talk but its inspiring stuff. And rather amusing.)
Is he right?
With impending or recent motherhood comes a dawning realisation. This brand new little life. This tiny screaming baby. This little human. Well, it’s all up to you. All the education in the world, doesn’t prepare you for the hair pin bends of emotion you and your baby will go through on a daily if not hourly basis. But fear not, help is at hand for you, Sleeping Beauty (ha!). In the form of three (types of) fairy godmother.
The first. Your own mothers. Your mother, your mother in law, your aunts, your step mothers. The ones who have been there and made it through to the other side. Some may live close by and be able to offer physical, practical support on a regular basis. Take them up on it, even if your relationship with each other is fractious. It gives them time with their grandchild and you some precious ‘you’ time (advice? Use it to sleep or get a haircut, not to do the ironing). Secondly, if they don’t live close enough for daily visits (your other half may thank you for this), they are a wealth of information and support and example – good and bad. No one gets it 100% right and rose tinted spectacles, a sizeable amount of booze and twenty years has probably coloured their memories of it all somewhat. But listen to them and look at their offspring. If you like the resultant child, then perhaps they got it right. Alternatively, if they raised the devil incarnate then perhaps it’s an example of what not to do.
The second. Your lovely friends who’ve already been there. Who have children who are no longer toddlers, maybe even teenagers. Watch them and how they do it. You might like what they do or you might not, but its all good instructive stuff. Take notes!
The third. The mothers you meet while you’re pregnant and in the first steps of new motherhood. Perhaps even friendships which regenerate because you’re now both becoming mothers. They will share your apprehension, your joy, your fears, your questions. They will be as blissfully clueless as you and they will help you through it. My lovely NCT friends, my facebook friends I haven’t seen for years but are new mums too and the heap of new mums (and dads) I’ve met at baby classes. A life line. A moment of sanity. Reassurance. As they talk about how crap their nights sleep was or how difficult it is to convince junior to take a bottle.
Love them all. They keep you sane. Use them wisely. And hopefully, they’re the ones which will tell you that all consuming truth. You’re doing just fine.
I blame Demi Moore and Annie Leibowitz. Ever since ‘that picture’ of a blooming, butt naked Demi appeared on the front cover of Vanity Fair , everyone in the world thinks they’re entitled to get their baby bump out for the world. Well, some people look lovely and the pictures are a glorious celebration of impending motherhood.
And then there’s these…
You may be one of those couples who never argue. You may be one of those couples who always do. You may not be in a functioning relationship with an Other Half. Whatever, there will be someone or several people who you will interact with when you are tired, fed up or terrified you’re doing it all wrong. The worst thing to do at this point is alienate those you need most. But there will be a point when you think your Better Half is a staggering dipshit (warning, don’t actually use that word – it all goes very quiet when you do) and they think you are an overly emotional, hormonal cow dressed in your painting trackie bottoms and the same t-shirt as yesterday… I digress.
So Learn how to argue. Both of you. Properly. And by properly I don’t mean learn how to win. In fact if winning arguments is all you’re about, leave those relationships now because they’re not going to survive the first year of baby. You are going to get tired, hungry, upset, paranoid, terrified, jealous and angry and you’ll probably take it out on your spouse/mother/best friend and vice versa so you BOTH need to learn to argue healthily. Which is without accusation, bitterness, maliciousness or violence. You need to be able to be in an argument without taking it or giving it personally. Yes, get angry or frustrated but try and avoid blame or exaggerated accusations, the things you can’t take back.
And I don’t mean don’t argue at all – simmering resentment maybe the one thing even more destructive than a good humdinger of a shouting match. So Vent; it’s helpful, but finger pointing hatred, whilst sometimes immediately satisfying, is damaging beyond belief. Especially when you will almost immediately need to go to your child to calm or soothe or feed them. They pick up on every tiny emotion coarsing through your veins.
And above all learn when an apology, acceptance, understanding and joining yourselves back together is what you actually absolutely need to do. Because if there’s one thing harder than forgiving dipshit, its doing this on your own.
But xxxx me it’s hard.