I’m not even going to bother trying to excuse myself – I am only too aware that it has been an age since I last posted on here. I don’t have a proper reason, other than life got in the way and I got a bit rubbish. Sorry about that.
In that time, a fair few of my friends have announced pregnancies (not me – this isn’t my subtle way of breaking the news, despite the woman up the road asking me “so when is the little one due?”….That made me feel GREAT). With lots of people I know about to embark on parenthood for the first and second time, it’s all very exciting.
And with this news come all of the stories of disastrous Code Browns, some ‘truths’ about breastfeeding, warnings about sleep deprivation, and the ‘benefits’ of being able to eat what you want during pregnancy (not beyond though, otherwise that lady up the street might ask you when it’s due…). And it all got me thinking – if I could go back a few years, what would have really been the most useful advice?
Pre-child, my main source of guilt was the drawer of chocolate in our kitchen and the occasions when 2 bars got eaten in record time, as if by magic. Post-child? Man alive, how come no-one told me about the constant, non chocolate-related guilt?
Take any two days: first day you’ve had 0.4 seconds of sleep, it’s pouring with rain, you can’t muster the energy to get up the stairs let alone make yourself even vaguely worthy of going out in public, so you opt for a day in the house, a few Disney films and a toy explosion akin to the Early Learning Centre throwing up in your front room. Second day you brave soft play, you go to a group, you have your body weight in coffee and someone else’s biscuits round a mates, and head home just in time for tea. Food missiles are incoming, the whinging is relentless, dinner ends up in the bin, you end up taking refuge in the understairs cupboard with a Dairy Milk (my drug of choice), willing bedtime to get a wriggle on and GET HERE NOW.
Both of those days – BOTH of them – will leave me feeling guilty. Whether we didn’t do enough, we did too much, we had a looooong afternoon nap (sometimes both of us), or we skipped the nap in favour of going somewhere with coffee and cake, I put her to bed late, I put her to bed early – I don’t know a time when I haven’t felt bad about something.
That, right there, was something I did not prepare myself for.
The irrational crying
Sure, I will cry at anything, but pre-Bear I am pretty sure that there was a reason why I cried. Yes, that reason might have *only* been Eastenders or DIY SOS or the John Lewis advert(s), but they are reasonable reasons, right?
What about when you’re singing Happy Birthday (to anyone)? What about when you’re watching Frozen? What about when you’re decorating the Christmas tree, and you’ve not even started on the mulled wine? These days, honestly I well up at anything. And despite sitting there saying “for the love of God, woman, STOP”, I can’t help myself. In fact that little bit of self-help only makes matters worse.
You go from 0-100mph in 9 months
I used to have all the time in the world. If the shopping needed doing, it would get done at some point. If the house needed a hoover through, I would get around to it. If appointments needed making I would just pick up the phone and have a conversation with a fellow human being. It was a simpler time.
Then along came Bear. These days if a job needs doing then it gets done in record breaking time, either when she is in playgroup or she is in bed (and if it’s the latter, then you never know how long you’ll have so you just rush around like a mad thing hoping today will be the day she stays in bed).
No-one warned me that I would naturally develop an athletic approach to the Tesco shop, the dusting or putting the bins out. Remember those days where you could just pop into town, have a mooch, pick up a few things, maybe go mental and have a coffee? Good times. These days I am in and out of town like a bat out of hell, because (as we established early on) Bear + shops = absolute mission.
As for making appointments over the phone, what does a girl have to do for a private conversation these days? As soon as I talk to anyone on the phone she assumes it’s for her. The other week I ended up passing the phone to her so that she could talk to ‘Nana’. Only it wasn’t Nana, it was the woman at AXA insurance and it really threw her off her stride. Can’t complain, though – Bear is my go-to girl when it comes fielding cold callers…
Chats about poo are totally normal
I have the weakest of stomachs – FACT. One of my biggest worries pre-Bear was “what if I gag every time I change a nappy?” Turns out, it’s not actually that bad. Not only that, you will obsess about poo like something demented – when did she last go? How many today? WHY WON’T YOU POO?! What on EARTH have you been feeding her? And for the first time in your life, you just nod along knowingly when others share their poo-related stories rather than walk away in horror. This is not how I saw things panning out, I’ll be honest.
I’m bringing up a mini me
About a year ago I took Bear and my parents out for a no-expense-spared trip to the (ahem) garden centre. Here we looked at the pets in the pet bit, the fish in the fish bit, plants in the plant bit, and ramps in the – err…hang on a sec. It wasn’t even an actual BIT of the garden centre, but Bear got a little lot obsessed by a ramp that she could run up and down, over and over.
Then we needed to leave and all hell broke loose.
I have never seen a child so determined, so stubborn, so strongwilled, so kicky and flaily and tantrumy. I have never heard crying like it, or affection for what was JUST a ramp, as I marched her back to the car under my arm, wondering whether or not a headlock on a toddler would be frowned upon by our fellow garden centre goers.
Turns out, my parents HAD seen all of this before, 30-something years ago in Stoke shopping centre. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree with Bear, and raising a mini me both keeps me on my toes and makes me all kinds of nervous about the teenage years…
For all the times I am found huddled under the stairs eating a sneaky biscuit in peace, or hiding in the downstairs loo for a bit of Peppa-free time-out, they’re pretty cute these little people. I see these pregnant ladies and tiny new babies and I don’t half get broody, because it is (eventually) worth it. Then I get hit over the head with half an apple that Bear started to eat 6 hours earlier, is now bored with but couldn’t possibly put in the bin, and I have a bit of a reality check: as and when the time comes – all the books in the world are very helpful, but next time around remember the stuff that no-one told me the first time…
Disclaimer: If you DID give me this advice, I clearly didn’t listen. For this, I am eternally sorry and next time you see me you can point, laugh and call me a moron.
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