There are moments in life where you have to take a mental step back and ask yourself: “How it come to this?” Maybe it’s as you step off stage on a West End show to rapturous applause. Maybe it’s as you massage a new bunion after a 12 hour shift at Butlins. Or maybe – and here we steer decidedly away from the Grey’s Anatomy style intro – maybe it’s mid-verse through a rendition of God Save Our Queen done entirely as a cat, complete with paw gestures.
Parenthood is filled with these moments and – because there’s nothing like a numbered list to organise the most inane of one’s thoughts – here are a few I have come across so far:
- The crashing realisation you have turned into your own mother. You find yourself putting ‘y’ at the end of every noun (ie ‘duckies’, ‘milky’, ‘trouseys’, ‘bibby’), as well as spouting total mental-sounding phrases such as “Good morning sleepy weepy beepy! Time to get uppy wuppy woo woos!” You spend hours before company comes round vacuuming rooms they will never step foot into, organising your pant drawer, removing other half’s reading material from the toilet, arranging the bath towels so they hang in neat squares and hiding all laundry hampers. Then there are the times you are supposed to be leaving the house. Your other half is tapping his watch, your baby is strapped into the car seat, you’re already running 10 minutes late and yet, and yet, you find yourself inexplicably compelled to do the hoovering. This whole moment may be the most pivotal and devastating of them all.
- Talking to yourself in public. You’re in the supermarket with the bubba, having a nice time being out of the house, among other grown humans who don’t pull your hair or throw yoghurt at you. The baby gurgles happily from the trolley babyseat as you chat absently to her, telling her what’s left on the list to buy, asking her to remind you which brand of ale Daddy likes again, debating whether we should just give in like we both know we will and buy those chocolate chip cookies… Then you look up and realise everyone is staring at you like you’ve Lost Your Shit.
- Scrolling through questions you have Googled today. These, inevitably, range from the fairly justifiable… (‘Can a 7 month old eat eggs?’, ‘How much should I breastfeed the baby after introducing solids?’, etc) …to the embarrassing… (‘How to help my constipated 7 month old poop’, ‘When will my hair stop falling out?’)… to the asinine… (‘Why is my baby farting so much?’ ‘Can you tell at 7 months whether baby will be a genius/psychopath?) Sometimes I wonder how our mothers coped at all without Google.
- You’re eight weeks postpartum. You’re struggling through your first exercise class after having the baby. You do a star-jump. You also do a little bit of a wee.
- During the eternal quest for that golden baby giggle. (And by this I mean the proper, squeaky belly giggle as opposed to just hanging open their mouth in a big grin and squealing.) Impersonating a chicken, pretending to eat your baby like a sandwich, the aforementioned meowing of the National Anthem, mimicking Simon Cowell’s voice in a squeaky falsetto, woofing with a stuffed dog on your head, blowing raspberries on their belly and – crowning moment – jumping from foot to foot singing Row Row Row Your Boat in an Irish accent with jazz hands. All perfectly acceptable endurances to bear in the quest for the golden giggle, particularly if you, like me, have an extremely serious baby whose expression of choice is the unblinking stare. And, just in case you didn’t believe me…
I know, I know, you were hoping for the jazz hands, right?