My morning wake-up call came courtesy of my five-year-old.
He snuggled into my bed and issued this loving greeting: ‘Mum, where’s the iPad?’
‘Go get your school uniform on,’ I told him, ever hopeful that one day he’ll do it. That’s when he delivered the bad news: “I can’t go to school today mum, I’m sick.”
Quick as ever (before caffeine too!) I responded: ‘Well that’s a shame darling, it’s tuckshop today which means you’ll miss out.”
Silence and then: ‘I think I’ll have some red licorice and some chips today,’ he said.
But I thought you were sick.
‘No I was just pretending. Can you give me a gold two coin so I can buy some red licorice and chips.’
Just another day in my life as a mum.
Those of you without kids are probably shocked at the gall of someone so small. Frankly, before kids I could never have imagined being hustled by a 5-year-old.
Last week I met some new mums and their bubs, some of them just 12 hours old. As I walked into the hospital I recognised that look of complete and utter shock that most new mums wear. ‘What have I done,’ their faces screamed.
Oh don’t get me wrong children are wonderful and there’s nothing like those first hours with your new baby. But when the endorphins fade, your boobs start leaking milk and the sleep deprivation hits there are moments (c’mon we’ve all had them) where you do wonder: ‘What’s happened to my life?’
My recent newborn encounter reminded me how quickly time flies. In my mind it was only yesterday that I said hello to our eldest son for the first time. In fact it was eight years ago and it’s only now I realise how much time and energy I wasted worrying about stuff that didn’t matter or that I couldn’t control.
Controlled crying and fitting into my pre-baby jeans I am talking to YOU!
After last week’s hospital visit my mind turned to Prince George and his parents Kate and Wills (always focused on the big stuff I am).
I really felt for Wills as he strapped that baby capsule into the Rangie, while being scrutinised by the world’s media.
I did have a minor panic attack when I saw Baby George was still in his muslin wrap, but relaxed in the knowledge that car was so well protected by its entourage of police and bodyguards there was no way it was going to crash.
Let’s face it that first drive home from hospital is a total nightmare and there isn’t a parent out there who didn’t wish they too had a police escort.
‘SLOW DOWWNNNN,’ I screamed at my husband. ‘You. Are. Going. Too. Fast. Take this corner GENTLYYYY!!!!!’ Yep, the sleep deprivation and mother worry had hit by then.
As I reflected on the first eight years I compiled a list of advice I would give to Kate and Wills if given the chance. I would tell them:
1. Buy it secondhand. Don’t mortgage the palace, go online and buy it second hand. Cots, change tables, prams, toys, clothes – it’s amazing how cheap you can get it secondhand.
2. Ignore the advice books, particularly those written by childless women. I have invested a small fortune in mummy help books, searching for the definitive answer on coaxing a baby to sleep through the night. None of them worked and merely sent me deeper into mummy guilt hell.
3. Don’t be conned into soothing your baby to sleep, it’s a trap. I spent a year of my life patting my baby boy’s back in the rhythm of a heartbeat, begging him to sleep. Just as I thought ‘mission accomplished’ and tip toed from the room he’d sit up and start screaming again. When baby two came along I approached things very differently. Swaddle baby, place baby in cot, shut door, ignore baby’s screams. Minutes later silence. Job well done.
4. Mum’s Groups can be really good or really bad – there’s rarely an in-between. Just because your babies are the same age doesn’t mean you have anything in common (particularly when one is in line to the throne). Compare notes on nappy brands, feeding strategies, weight loss tips – don’t be upset if your ‘friendship’ fades over time.
5. Do what feels right to you. You will fail but it’s okay, we all do at times.
6. Enjoy it. Sometimes it’s hard to remember to enjoy those special moments (even the early morning bed hustling). Video them, photograph them and hug them before they’re too ‘cool’.
This article appeared in the Gold Coast Bulletin, where I write about parenting and families every Wednesday.