One year on, a mum gives us the DL…
Earlier this month, my daughter turned one year old. One! In baby years, that’s ancient. She’s now officially classified as a toddler, and I’ve gone from being a rookie mamma to a plain auld mammy. The first year has been a rollercoaster. I’ve felt all the feels, made all the mistakes, and done things I swore I’d never do. I still know feck all about kids, but I’ve learnt a lot about myself along the way. And all of it has surprised me.
There is no word for how tired I am. Exhausted doesn’t go near to describing it. I actually make exhausted look perky. I am weary down to my bone marrow, but nobody cares because you’re only allowed to complain about being tired for the first few weeks. After that, you just have to lie, and use a lot of Touche Éclat.
I am quite a negligent parent, it turns out. For every amazing milestone (first smile, roll, word …) there’s a crappy counterpart, like the first time you make your child bleed (she was ten days old, and I was trimming her nails). To date, India has rolled off three different beds and one couch on my watch, and just last week I locked her in the car and had to call the fire brigade on myself. But she only bled that one time, so I think I’m doing okay?
Nothing delights me more than baby poop. When you’re breastfeeding, and especially in the very early days, it’s the only tangible proof that your baby is eating, and feeding that child is your raison d’être. And again, when you introduce solids, you’ll find yourself breaking out the streamers and bunting for a good poop. I’m aware it’s gross, but that’s babies for you.
It’s no longer a dog’s life around here. Before child (BC), I worried that I wouldn’t love the forthcoming baby as much as I loved Milo, our three-year-old puggle/King Charles mix. Now, I would literally trample on him to snap a cute picture of my daughter. In fact, I have. I don’t think my love for Milo has waned, but what I feel for India has eclipsed it to the extent that he is now just a nuisance who lives with us and somehow sheds hair directly into my child’s mouth.
Getty’s Lean In Collection
Unsolicited parenting advice puts me directly in bitch mode. I discovered this one day when my dental hygienist, Linda, was telling me how I really should just leave my baby to cry when she wakes up at night. Lying there, with my mouth wedged open, I couldn’t defend myself, so instead I wished a really nasty UTI on her. Sorry, Linda. Drink cranberry juice.
If you’ve ever seen me wearing an outfit that involves heels, know that it has taken hours of planning. Double that number if my hair is freshly washed. Because for every blowdry you see, a breakfast and hot cup of coffee have been sacrificed. And an abandoned toddler was probably found licking the toilet brush.
I am ashamed of how much time I used to waste BC. All those evenings lolling about on the sofa, the Saturdays faffing around the shops, not appreciating those delicious carefree hours. I can now complete tasks during a 45-minute nap that used to take an entire day (catch up on correspondence, eat lunch, clean the house, do eleventy loads of laundry, bake something). Frankly, I’m a little worried about what I could achieve if she slept through the night.
My daughter is truly great company. She doesn’t have a firm stance on Palestine, and her thoughts on the Anglo trial are a little controversial, but her open mouth kisses make up for it. Sure, it’s nice to get out for an occasional pedicure or child-free lunch, but my heart aches when I’m away from her, and that takes me by surprise every single time.
There is no greater feeling than the precise moment your baby falls asleep. It’s a heady mix of pride, relief and euphoria, more potent and exhilarating than any chemical concoction you’ll buy at a festival. That’s why you see so many sleeping baby pictures on Instagram. Parents are out of their boxes with joy.
I worry about other babies now, babies I don’t even know. When I’m rocking my daughter to sleep, I think about the sick ones, the ones going to bed hungry and the ones born to parents who can’t take care of them. And I spend an extra ten minutes just rocking her, because she’s safe and I can and it makes me feel very, very lucky.
I’m broody. Before India, I was never especially baby-mad, but it turns out I just hadn’t met the right baby. And now I find myself wondering how much harder a second one could really be.
Who needs sleep anyway?
Sarah Breen @SarahJayBee