I don’t remember having the conversation about starting a family. I don’t remember discussing having children, but I’m sure it happened at some point. I don’t remember negotiating the logistics of a child and planning the financial forecast for the next 18 years as a result of this. I don’t remember agreeing to becoming selfless and relinquishing my rights to having anything valuable or personal or “nice”. And that is a right you know. I don’t remember agreeing to becoming an authoritative figure, where I made up the rules and I said what’s right and wrong. Me? Making up rules? I didn’t agree to laying the path down for another human being and guiding them on that path of life, encouraging them and helping them to be good, honest people, who learn to respect each other and themselves. Not rich, not arrogant, just good people. Suddenly there was a tremendous weight to that conversation I may or may not have had.
And then you’re pregnant. (Let’s start here!) There’s a baby growing in your tummy, you are helping this life to grow in your tummy. You are growing this human that will one day be an adult. Until the baby arrives, it’s an illusion, a dream that hasn’t yet materialised, but you can feel it. You can feel it grow and flutter as the months go by, as it grows and develops, strengthens and matures. Until nine months later, the life within has to come out. That’s when reality hits.
And then it all changes. Until I had a baby, I had never changed a nappy, I had never seen a dirty nappy or had any concept of any of the baby lingo that would become normal to me. None of my friends or family had babies. But it soon sinks in. You soon have to adapt, have to change and have to mould yourself into being a Mother. A Mother, that alone was strange. Being called a Mother. You are responsible for another human being. Without you, they can’t survive. You are a Mother. Soon, maternal instincts kick in and and before long, you are aware of their breathing, you can categories their cries, you know their every movement. It becomes second nature. You know what they like to eat, what angle they like their bottle and the position they like to sleep in. There are no lessons, no exams and no classes, just instinct. It’s sink or swim.
And it becomes more refined. It often becomes challenging. They grow and develop and soon you’re having a shower with Playmobil, the shampoo bottle is filled up with cold water and the toothpaste is all over the sink. There’s no clean towels and Aqua Barbie replaces the once tranquil candles. Life changes.
You soon learn to do your eyeliner with someone jumping on the bed. You soon learn to accept someone else walking around in your high heels. You soon learn to share your lipstick, even if it is with a five year old. You learn the name of footballers and even know what a dab is! Things you never knew you could master, you do. Things you never thought you’d do, you master. Things you never thought you’d say, you say. Expectations can also drop dramatically and you soon learn to adapt and accept how life changes. It’s not just you anymore. It’s them too.
Sitting in play groups and talking nonsense to people you really can’t stand and would never be friends with if you didn’t have a baby. But that’s okay. You learn to deal with situations like that too. All the little imperfections, all the little things that drive you mad and make your blood boil. You learn to accept someone jumping on your back when you’re trying to write and the constant hollering of “I’m hungry” when you’ve finished clearing up. The consistent talking and noise that surrounds you and often makes your ears bleed. And then there’s the constant questioning:
“Do you know where my lego is,”
“Can you play with me?”
“Can you help me sew this bit?”
“Do you know where Elsa is?”
“Can you read with me?”
“Can we play Barbies?”
“Can I make an experiment?”
“Can I have a dog?”
“I’m hungry, is there anything to eat?”
You learn to live with all the incessant questions.
I don’t remember having the conversation about starting a family. I don’t remember asking for unconditional love, for the innocence and beauty that comes with children. For the bright, smiling faces that greet me on the darkest of mornings and for the those words to be repeated over and over “I love you so much Mummy” and the sincerity that stands behind them. I don’t remember asking for the warm cuddles and their consistent upbeat attitude. I don’t remember asking for all the love and joy that fills a room when they walk in. I don’t remember asking for the wonderful positives and simple treasures that also come with children, but I’m so glad I did.