When you run out of instructions.
Whenever I get broody (daily) I try to think back to the stages of pregnancy and newborns that weren’t quite as appealing as my rose tinted vision.
You know the sort of things I mean. The fact that during the early months of pregnancy your crippled with nausea, fear of scan results and later you can barely walk due to pain and the weight of the baby. The lack of booze, the indigestion, the sore breasts, and then when you actually get around to having the baby the CONSTANT photographs of you looking like shit (I mean really, I’m practically BLUE ffs), the fact that you never feel quite clean (due to the fact you have something permanently leaking out of you, sick on your shoulder and pooh on your knee), the fact that your maternity clothes are too big and your old clothes are too small, the lack of sleep…
…oh wait. That’s right. I’M MEANT TO BE BENEFITING FROM NO LONGER HAVING A NEWBORN! However, I’m still getting no sleep. Sweet FA if we’re honest.
You see, although I’m in the minority here, I love newborns. I KNOW I KNOW, the older they get the more interesting they become, they have their own personalities, they start to roll, crawl, cruise, walk. But surely I’m not in the minority when I say isn’t that when they start causing trouble? Sometimes I long for that time when I used to leave a child on the floor and it would still be there when I got back. I’m not talking about going for a run (wish I’d thought of that), I’m talking about going for a wee, a wee when a small child doesn’t come and place a bowl containing mini cheddar crumbs on your head before trying to pull you off the toilet to build a train track.
I also miss sleep. That’s right. Sleep. The Chunky Monkey slept through from 8 weeks old, and while we had rocky weeks and months, as a whole he wasn’t too bad. Self-settling was a breeze, feeding both milk and spoon not an issue, except for when you ran out. Cbeebies was my friend, it didn’t matter what was on, or even if the background noise matched the programme, I could listen to Radio 1 Classic FM whilst he watched Waybu-bloody-lu. YES, there was the odd bouncing session, the odd sensor moment where he was feeling poorly and he didn’t want you to sit down, but as a whole I loved it. (Notice how I’m focusing on The Chunky Monkey here and not The Beast?).
I wasn’t prepared for this older they get the harder they get malarkey, NOBODY TOLD ME THIS! They were too busy telling me how hard the small ones were, not the big fat ones that can pull your hair and body slam you.
The thing is, aside from all the “wonderful” advice those surrounding you shower onto you, you rely on the instruction manuals that the hospitals shower on you. You know what I’m talking about. Bounty Packs. However, when I sifted through it, looking frantically for the chapter about what age you can send them to boarding school I discovered that they only take you up to about the first year. It’s like they knew that the flowery stuff was over, that that’s when it actually gets tough.
HOW THE HELL was I suppose to navigate motherhood and the months leading up to “the terrible twos” without that INVALUABLE source of information.
There was not ONE leaflet offering me a six-year supply of coffee (or GIN for that matter). Yes, I do appreciate the nappy bin with ONE free liner, because of course, the younger the baby, the more fragrant the nappies are – RIGHT?
And I really did appreciate the free spoon I got. After all, it totally pre-warned me about the fact that at the age of 18months a child which originally was a dream to feed suddenly decided that all fruit was the devil, followed by yogurts, and vegetables, and ice-cream, and jelly, and toast, and anything with a straw, or that wasn’t milk, biscuits and a cup of bloody tea. (I don’t give my child tea, however he is often caught swigging the dregs out of any left over mug…and no he won’t be fooled with warm Ribena).
That leaflet, the one with a 20p discount on a story CD REALLY helped at night times (to be fair it did to begin with), but it’s not exactly the life sized cardboard cut out you need as soon as they start getting separation anxiety. That’s right. Anybody reading this with a nice 6 month old baby who is sleeping through and happily going to other people, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. You don’t want to know about the 1, 2, 3am tantrums, where your currently beautiful baby turns into Damien and kicks you in the face before screaming bloody murder as soon as you LOOK like you’re walking towards the bedroom door. That’s right. It’s not just a case of screaming and putting back to bed, you could really have done with a voucher for a gym membership…not to get your abs back (HA, with all the cake you need to make it through a day of tantrums you’ll be lucky) but to give you the ability that with one swift leg movement your child lands safely back in bed and you can run out of the room and shut the door.
When they’re newborns they may protest to not being carried everywhere…they may throw up in your mouth when you’re lifting them above your head trying to get that first smile, but they never answer back. They never say NOOOOOOOOOOOOO when you suggest changing their nappy, in fact THEY ARE GRATEFUL for nappy changes. Newborns never insist on walking somewhere, then collapsing in a heap on the floor when you don’t let them go in the direction they want to.
The leaflets fail to tell you that newborns naturally receive a lot of attention, but if they’re honest, they probably aren’t fussed either way. They also fail to warn you that as your child gets older and a public tantrum is ignored (kicking and screaming in the school playground), they will potentially go and hunt out recognition from other parents, how do they do this? They HIT other parents.
What would we do without this bag of carefully put together leaflets. By carefully put together, I mean thrown together by what I assume is somebody who has never had a child, somebody who feels that a flannel wrapped carefully around a sample sized laundry detergent tablet is useful to a new mum has never in fact, been a mum. Or perhaps this person already has an 18 year supply of booze and valium.