Hey, Toto. I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore…
For one thing, there’s a wicked witch poking out from under the house. That’s never happened before. I’ve also permanently got dried baby milk on the inside of my wrist, sticky little knots in the ends of my hair and a distinct lack of interest in clothing, seeing as each outfit only gets worn for a nanosecond before getting covered in some sort of baby-based crud. None of this ever happened before.
There can be no clicking of ruby slippers, “There’s no place like home,” ending either; this is a life change that doesn’t reverse just because you start to get so tired your eyeballs feel alarmingly loose in your head, and the house keys are to be found anywhere except on their hook (generally in the fridge). You can’t go back to that old life where you were blissfully ignorant of exactly how far-reaching the consequences are of a free-range nappyless baby…
You all know what I’m going to say next, because I always say the same thing; it’s ok!
Sometimes I do recall fondly the days of ten hours straight snoozing, or watching a film on DVD in the usual running time, rather than in instalments over six or seven hours. Or days. But it is merely a fond memory, and I’m rather busy making lots of new ones, even if I am so knackered that if I were a horse I would have been Pritt-Stick (or Tesco burgers) weeks ago.
Life has changed. I may have mentioned this once or twice already. However; I realise I have neglected to go into any detail. So, for your delectation, I serve up this little, by no means fully comprehensive, insight into The Things That Change.
TIME -: Becomes meaningless. There is no point whatsoever in having any kind of plan involving timescales. If you are expected somewhere, give them an estimated time of arrival in the region of “Sometime today. Possibly.” But if anyone else is ever late to meet you or cancels, well, Hell hath no fury like a mother who delayed her baby’s feed for you, you ungrateful wretch… You can spend hours staring at your baby, or you can spend hours just somehow not getting caught up with stuff. Hours not writing the pieces you have promised to do for the Limping Chicken. Hours not getting dressed. Hours not cleaning the house. And then if anyone says anything, hours talking about all the things you could do if you only had an hour to yourself.
OUTSIDE -: Becomes scary. Because you have to look halfway presentable and people will talk to you. Random strangers who have never spoken to me and don’t realise I am deaf are now stalking the streets of Derby muttering about my muted reactions to their oohs and aahs. I’m sorry, but I can’t understand you at the best of times, never mind when your head is in the pram with my baby and you’re talking like something from Button Moon. Also, currently, outside is cold. And babies don’t like being wrestled into onesie Eskimo suits. No. No, they don’t.
FOOD -: Hot and sloppy food is now your enemy. You will never again drink a cup of tea or coffee that hasn’t been made and abandoned at least an hour before. Biscuits and bananas are your only friends. ‘Nuff said.
CHILDREN -: Specifically other people’s. Sometimes you will like them, perhaps more than before because now you understand the special place children have in the hearts of adults, especially their parents, but also in wider society. Sometimes you will want to throttle them, perhaps more than before because now you understand what little monsters they can be and how it is all the parents’ fault and your little angel will never behave like that in public. Ahem.
YOU -: You are a parent. A mummy or a daddy. You can never again, no matter what happens, un-parentify yourself. You will have to change nappies, and rub bruises, and mash carrots, and have That Talk. You’ll have to wash endless pants, relearn Maths that stumped you the first time around, fork out pocket money, fork out for University, fork out for a car. You will have to comfort broken hearts and control heart-breakers, and probably have That Talk again. A little bit of you has become them, literally, and now you’re stuck with the fact. And, guess what I’m going to say?
It’s better than ok. You’ve made this choice and in doing so you’ve made it slightly better than when you were just you.
Even if you are covered in dry milk and 90s denim.
Emily Howlett is a Contributing Editor to this site. She is a profoundly Deaf actress, writer, horsewoman and new mum. She describes herself as being “equally fluent in English, BSL and Gibberish, and completely rubbish at French.” Emily can be found all over the place on various escapades, but divides her time between Derby and London. She can often be found behind a large packet of crisps or any halfway decent book, and insists she can still play characters in their early twenties despite having a grey eyebrow hair.
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