There’s many milestones in the life of a child – the first time they don’t wake for that 3am feed. The first time they try food. The first time they sit up, crawl, walk. I’ve handled them all like a pro, sentimentality-free, glad they’re another inch out of Baby Zone and a step closer to Little People world, where the inhabitants stagger about, generous with their cuddles and their love, chanting mama and screaming with delight when you walk into the room. Indeed, all was going well until Dory brought home her first real picture from pre-school, a portrait of me. While I appreciate this may not be exactly how she sees me (though I like the stick-thin legs and waist-length blonde hair, the arms are a touch more ape then elegant) it still gave me a jolt. I hear ‘mummy mummy mummy’ so many times a day sometimes it feels odd to hear someone say Hannah. Upon searching for my phone number in my husband’s phone so I could call myself, on one of the many occasions it had been squirreled away by a little person, I realised I was searching under M for mummy. (Fortunately, we’re not quite at the stage of calling each other that yet.)
It’s hard not to lose yourself in babyhood, but I thought the demands would be less when they can dress, feed and entertain themselves. It’s not the case – the emotional dramas at pre-school make the witching hour seem like a day at a spa. What’s a screaming baby when compared with a three year old who is absolutely distraught in the morning as XXX ‘won’t be her best friend’ if she’s not wearing a dress? And what’s a quick night feed when you have nightmares that mummy and daddy have gone forever to contend with? Each drama is more heart-breaking then the last, and takes it out of you. As they get older, they need you more and more, setting off a full Zoolander-style identity crisis – who am I? How do I get this work/life balance right? How do I set a good example for their futures, but still be here in the present?
Answers on a postcard . . .