xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' OriginalStitch: Hands Full

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hands Full

When you have your second baby, you realise you know quite a lot about babies. You have felt the terror, anxiety and panic the first time they vomit/cry/fall off something/choke/get innoculated, and don't die as a result. I cried the first time Isla was sick. Hester's first emission of vomit sat happily encrusting itself upon my shoulder for an entire day.

You have embarked upon many strategies for problems I shall now list. (Or 'issues', as I like to call them. I worry I will tar the daughters with the brushes of my parenting neuroses. So if I say that my daughter has a sleep issue, instead of a sleep problem, it just sounds as though she has a healthy enquiring mind. As in, she takes issue with sleeping through the night. She takes issue with being fed with a spoon. She takes issue with eating whatever her mother has put in front of her. See? Whole different kettle of fish to My Daughter Has A Sleep Problem, a tabloid-style headline which screams of lousy parenting, and means we require one of those TV nanny ladies. Not that I'm eschewing TV nannies. I'd really rather like one to come and live with me and do some psychological jiggery pokery involving small morcels of food on my daughter's plate. And bingo, she's eating brie and liver fricassees within a week. Then the nanny can go upstairs to be filmed in infrared light diagnosing the smaller daughter's yells and getting it to remember how to go through the night again, which said daughter teased me with for three whole nights, then forgot. Actually, perhaps I should call them problems; then someone might overhear and mention me to their production editor friend, who would just happen to be talking with Big Tough Nanny Inc and I would feature on their pilot show and have all my parenting problems solved till the daughters go to university. Rather than prison. Close parenthesis.)

A long while back in that paragraph I was about to make a list. (An irritating by-product of sleep deprivation is the construction of extremely long sentences, which never achieve the direct object. A bit like a University Challenge question, where you forget the wh- word at the beginning.) Anyway - you've dealt with sleep (our leitmotiv), eating, separation anxiety, socialisation, stairs, hitting, nappy rash, pushchair choices.....and having done a lot of being there doing that, you are astonished to discover that you are all somehow still alive and happy and healthy. And this is a very dangerous position to be in when you have Baby #2. Why? Because of Smugness. You think you know it all now, and so when Baby #2 arrives, you smugly assert that whilst naturlich it will be tough going, you will nevertheless glide through the tough times with a knowing wink and say to yourself, ah yes, but no matter, it will pass. You sat smugly in the evening, belly full of baby, and said, yeah, as if, we won't make that mistake again...

And then you have to eat your hat. Because you forget to factor in Baby #1, now Big Sibling. It's all very well knowing how to teach Baby #2 independent sleep, but when Big Sibling is crawling up your trouser leg asking for soddages or singing Old Macdonny had a farm whilst hitting its pink spotty wellies against the very cot in which you are attempting to shush pat Baby #2 to sleep, you suddenly realise you are back at Square 1. Only it's Square 1 on a whole different board game called Whoa There Second Time Mom! People are sympathetic towards you in the street not because you might be suffering the nervous anxiety and overwhelming panic of being a First Time Mother, but because you have Got Your Hands Full There.

And even as I sit here mourning the loss of that naughty baby's sleeping skills, so hard fought and won, I am dimly aware through the haze of my 2.5 hours sleep that I am thinking, ah, but it'll be easier with the Third.

1 comment:

Laura said...

ha, thanks for sharing this! I'm not sure if I'm ready to give up my confidence/denial yet - but I'm sure in a few months, in the middle of the night, I will!