Sunday, 13 April 2014

Hitting The 6-Month Mark

We’ve come a long way. A whole half a year has passed since this all-consuming human arrived into our world.
She’s changed, I’ve changed. The way I see the world, through bright new eyes, has changed.

Every day is different, and every day feels like a journey. While you try to cope with the daily challenges (some big, some mini), time merrily skips along and in a blink of an eye, she’s eating food and you’re researching nurseries. How did that happen?

I could have done with knowing some of this parenthood stuff before, but, like everything, I guess you’ve got to learn it for yourself. But for what it’s worth, here’s 6 things I’ve come to realise in the last 6 months:

1)    When they are very small, they don’t need a lot of stimulation. It may sound obvious but instead of spending your maternity leave trawling ‘Mothercare’, enjoy the break because little Tommy or Lucy won’t give two hoots about a cute zebra that squeaks until they’re about 5 months old. When they start to become aware there is life outside the boob/bottle, everyday objects like camera straps, keys, and saucepan lids (see crap musical ‘Stomp’ for other ideas) take on a whole new meaning. They are the source of entertainment- but like everything, there is a time limit on such things and come 6 months, when the naps are getting almost as short as their attention span, it’ll be time to fill your living room with clutter.

2)   Nevermind the skills challenges in the Aztec zone of the Crystal Maze, Richard O’ Brien should have sent contestants into a nursery and got them to cut babies’ fingernails (without lopping off a chunk) while they are awake, with arms waving all over the place. Now that is a challenge.

3)   They’re a lot more robust than you think. She’s already had a couple of knocks to the head and there’ve been a few tears. But ours last longer for sure. Oh the guilt. Don’t fear though as everyone’s got a war story so you’re not alone.

4)     It feels really good to make them laugh. Everyone says that the first time they smile at you (around 6 weeks), it makes everything worth it. And yeah, don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice reward for all the hard work they have put you through. But the laughing is something else. Pure, hearty, giggly, senseless laughter- for usually not very much effort. As adults our laughter is so measured and given sparingly, but for babies, it’s the smallest things that they find hilarious, like a funny voice, a random movement, or repetition of a rhyme. What can I say, I like an easy audience.

5)     I never thought life would be so regimented. My day is pretty much divided into 2-hour sections, according to feeds and naps. I was always fairly organised but now, it’s ridiculous. I plan at what stage of the day I will do the washing up, when I will meet friends so it fits in with her sleep time, and when I can squeeze in a 10-min coffee break for some ‘me’ time. When she goes to bed for the night and the 2-hour thing goes out the window, I literally don’t know what to do. Sometimes I find myself having a hot chocolate and watching Newsnight and not even looking at the clock. Mental.

6)   This whole business desensitizes you to gross stuff. Pregnancy is good preparation for this because it’s a pretty mind-blowing thing to be happening to your body so naturally you arm yourself with a lot of knowledge and then feel like it’s your duty to spread this information. A colleague of mine took great delight in telling me about his wife’s ‘show’, claiming it was one of the most closely guarded secrets by the new mum community. So I looked it up on Google Images. Here’s a tip: Don’t.

Labour is a big deal so you want to tell the world how it went but spare a thought for those who’d rather not know. I learned to spot the discomfort on friends’ faces when you mention the word “dilated”- that’s a good indicator for shutting up.

Then when you have the baby, you’ll be so desperate to know if others have the same ‘green poo’ as your baby, that you don’t care you’re in a posh coffee shop with people sitting inches away, shovelling cake in their mouths.

However despite this new-found openness, I have not, and will not, resort to the following socially unacceptable behaviour. Number one: changing your little one on a table in Costa. I have seen this. This is definitely not cool. And two: posting pictures of dirty nappies on Facebook. Not interested- and er, gross.

And there you have it, not quite a definitive guide to parenting but just some of my own observations. I’m quite sure Supernanny can sleep easy at night...

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