(Things I never would've expected....)
I became more social
It's true. One thinks when you have a baby that your social life just stops. The complete opposite happened to me, and it's been so good.
I tend to hermit a little bit. The older I get, the more I enjoy my own space. In fact, before I had my children, I started to cosy up to Sartre and his (frankly, brilliant) mantra of 'Hell is other people.' Hell is other people, still. I am incredibly picky as to who I spend my time with, and most of my friends here were my colleagues at work. As a result, I'm a horrible person.
My baby has changed that. I joined clubs, groups, made an effort with people I see, got back in touch with people I had lost touch with from years ago. The one thing we all have in common? Children.
Even if we had nothing to talk about before, now the subject matter is infinite. Pooh colour, sleep tactics, which brand of nappies we use, Annabel Karmel's chicken casserole recipe, how tired we are, nursery preferences, catchment areas for schools, Freddie the Firefly, what is that rash?, how long were you in labour for?, oh you had forceps too? - the list is fucking endless.
And it's wonderful. I have made (and remade) a bunch of new friends I see regularly now. Being on maternity leave is obviously extremely helpful because I actually get to see them on a regular basis, during the week.
It's taken me away from being a travelling, working, loner, to a much more socially balanced human being. And I have Sebastian to thank for that.
I like other babies now
Before I had mine, I could take or leave other people's babies to be honest. I didn't know what the big fuss was about, I just knew that you loved it a lot if you were it's parent.
There were very few babies I found cute. Some people get all broody and their ovaries start shaking when they hold a baby. I wasn't repulsed by babies, not at all. I just wasn't besotted with them. Every now and then I'd see a cute little tyker and think 'Hmmm. I might want one of those actually.'
Other times, I felt like I really had to Fake Coo. (Oooh....he's....so...pretty...)
Until now. I LOVE babies now. I appreciate what they are, their smell, their chubby little cheeks and flawless skins, their beautifully oozy fat rolls that I could just squeeze all day long. Their giggles and smiles.
I watch all babies now. I don't just look, I observe. I love them all. Even the slightly ugly ones.*
I am more maternal than I ever thought possible
Perhaps it's because I have not spent more than five hours away from my son since he was born. We are attached by the
I always knew I'd be heavily invested in my child, but I really am having trouble imagining being away from him for so long [during a work day.]
I just want nurture my little lad.
I didn't imagine that I would take to being a mum like this, and yet here I am, dreaming of raising him on goji berries and hand-reared free-frolicking Welsh lamb, while siphoning my salary - if I must work - into private schooling.**
I question - and ignore - child 'experts'
In the beginning, I would try and absorb every bit of advice hurled my way by health visitors, midwives, Gina Ford's, mother's who seem like they have it all under control.
Now, I deflect 99.9% of it.
Most of the time, baby advice only leads to one thing: paranoia and stress.
("Why isn't my baby sleeping like that then?" "You say my baby should have three naps a day, but you say my baby should have four?" "You say I shouldn't wean my baby before 6 months, while you say I should because he was premature?")
Almost all the advice I got in the early days was conflicting. (Still is.)
This is what my brain was filled with.
There is no manual for this job. There is no right way to do ANYTHING. The only predictable thing about a baby is that they are completely unpredictable.
No baby is the same. And that's why I wear a tin hat when an all-knowing midwife gives me her opinion on why my baby isn't sleeping through the night.
I really - no really - don't give a shit what anybody thinks anymore
When my brain is half-fried, my reactions are slow, my sharp-tongued wit is non-existent***, and I have nothing to offer strangers/friends/anyone anything accept a smile and ZERO chat? Before having a child, I'd care.
My fear is this: never be dull. Until now. I don't care if I'm fucking dull, my brain isn't firing on all cylinders, I have vomit in my hair, pureed butternut squash down my front, and I haven't put makeup on all week.
That's not to say I've let standards slip. I just choose when to up my game and when I can't.
When I go out without my child, I dress up. When I go back to work, I'll do the same.
I also have yet to keep giving a shit about the state of my stomach and my thighs. Ideally I'd like them to slim the hell down, but if someone thinks I'm fat, well, so be it.
* They're never ugly for long.
** Wish list
*** Like now