Several times in the last few weeks people have said to me “Make the most of this – they’re the best days of your life!” “The first 18 months or so are the best.” In some ways I can see what they mean. At the moment we are the centre of E’s world. My brother in law was expounding on this the other day. “The greatest thing,” he said of my nephew, “was when I realised that I could make him laugh.” He’s right. It’s lovely. (She laughs when I tickle her and when I dance in front of her. Especially jerky crazy dancing, her favourites are the new singles by The Black Keys and The Heavy) So right now she’s small and cute and doesn’t answer back. I also have several months off work to go where I can be with her all the time. Every time she looks up and smiles at me I think “Yeah, this is great.” At the same time it’s faintly depressing. I don’t want to think that it’s all downhill from now on. Most of the things I’ve been looking forward to as a parent haven’t happened yet as E is too small. She can’t yet take part in activities laid on for families at local places. She’s not big enough to feed ducks, read a book with me, stir cake mixture, draw me pictures to pin up on the wall or dance herself. She can’t speak yet or walk. All this is to come. I’m also looking forward to parents’ evenings, homework and attempting to whoop some ass in the mothers’ race on Sports Day.
When E was about a month old I was talking to one of my sister’s friends who’s got a baby a few months older than E (another E, as it happens.) She said that she can’t wait for her to reach out her arms when she wants a cuddle but that she has to remind herself to pay attention to the stage she’s at now, that all that stuff will come. But you can’t help but look forward to them doing new things, to discovering stuff, to them becoming more of a person every day. Right now might be the best days of my life but I’ll be honest, a lot of the time they’re pretty boring or frustrating.
As I write this S has taken E for a walk so I can have some time to myself and GET STUFF DONE. It’s lovely. Perhaps I ought to want to be with her all the time and make the most of her. But I can’t. Apparently the French know about this – over there, women are women first and mothers second. Or so a new book says. I haven’t read the book (or even know what it’s called, someone told me about it so my apologies for this not being referenced in the right way). Over here, once you become a mum that’s supposed to be your whole focus and sod everything else. No wonder intelligent women feel trapped by babies. You can’t switch your brain off and nor should we be expected to.
I think the hardest thing I’ve found about being a parent is the realisation that I can’t switch her off either. The days when I’m tired and just want to curl up on the sofa and read a book are the worst. During the day when S is at work and I’m trying to get through the hours till he gets home you suddenly long for it to be bedtime so you can put her down, stop trying to entertain/ feed/ comfort her and just sit. I plan the days out so that I can break it up into pieces and get through it in small chunks. It sounds bad to write it down like that though, especially when I think that I’ll have to go back to work in a few months and won’t be able to be with her all day.
Anyway I seem to have wandered off the point. These days are special. But I really hope they’re not the best days of my life.