– a line guaranteed to get the hackles of the calmest, zennest of souls up. One I heard incessantly until I became a mother. And then I was all – ah ha! Now I am a mother so bring it on! The thrill of that knowledge was second only to actually becoming a mother! (Well who said anything about being mature?!)
And funnily – I did realise that the world did change after I became a mother. The sun didn’t shine brighter, the moon didn’t inspire poetry, the waves didn’t rush in further up. But I suddenly began to see what it was that kept a parent up at night – it wasn’t just the colic – it was the knowledge that my child was in pain. And while you can ignore a nagging pain in your head and try to sleep, there is no sleeping while you know your child is in discomfort. I wouldn’t dare lie and say I did it with good grace. I was sleepy, I was tired, I was cranky – but I was awake and I was concerned too.
Of course you never win, because the moment that happened, my parents had a new one – You won’t understand until you become a grandparent.’ I wanted to bang my head. Or the baby’s. Or theirs. Any head would do.
What could be better than being a parent I wondered. How does it feel any different? Now I get mad at people who think their dogs and cats compare to having kids – because I have had dogs and I have had cats, deer, rabbits, geese, fish and a frickin’ blue bull too – and none of them came close to this.
So at the risk of annoying a bunch of grandparents, I hesitantly raise this. The Bean comes to me every morning as she leaves for school and every evening as she sets out to the club and trustingly hands me Lumpy (the damn Heffalump, you know!) and looks up at me with her huge eyes and says, “Mama, take good care of my baby..”
I hug her and promise to do so. And so it is that I find myself in the laughable position of sitting to have my breakfast, with a stuffed elephant tucked under my arm, or typing out a story, a purple elephant rocking behind me in my chair. I try to leave the darn thing in the nursery and get about my work. And all I remember is the Bean’s big eyes pleading – Take good care of my baby, mama… And I grab the darn thing by its woolly tail/ grubby trunk/ tuft of purple hair… and go about my business, hoping against hope that no one sees me in what is not my finest hour.
Not the best example perhaps. In fact worse than those who compare their damn feline and canine ‘children’ to having human kids. But enough to give me that thrill of anticipation! Yeah okay – lock me up in that padded cell now.