During pregnancy it’s hard to grasp the notion that you have a person inside of you. I mean, you are obviously well aware you have a miniature lodger kicking about your womb, but when the wet, squealing baby is hauled from your vagina and onto your chest it’s a dumbfounding, surreal moment.
“ITS A PERSON”. I remember thinking. As if the very idea had not occurred to me during the whole nine months I was with child. “AN ACTUAL PERSON I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR KEEPING ALIVE!”(Shit).
As I started at my son in his plastic tray next to my bed I began to feel an overwhelming sense of fear. I had spent my entire pregnancy eating roughly one birthday cake per night and binge watching ‘One Born Every Minute’. I thought that birth was the hard part.
I tried and failed to breastfeed (my only desire being to keep the ample chest I had obtained, alas it was not meant to be) and spent my days leaking around the house and smelling like a living block of cheese. I began to obsessively worry about my son’s weight when the midwives meticulously recorded each kilo gained.
Then came the leaflets. They came like one of the plagues of Egypt. “COT DEATH” “SIGNS OF MENINGITIS” who knew that babies could just DIE in their sleep for no reason?! I began to do the nose test. I would place my finger under my son’s nose and wait for the tiny, hot breath of air to brush my skin. I was then satisfied he was alive. Every time he lay too still I would have a mini-panic. I began to distrust myself with the fontanelle-who knew that babies had a soft spot on their head that you could just access their brains with?! I was a mess. An anxiety ridden mess.
After a while, the baby begins to mobilise and grow more sturdy. I can sleep easy right? Wrong sister. There are SOCKETS to worry about. There’s a “correct” way to slice food so that it doesn’t get stuck in the oesophageal tract. (I once found myself cutting a frankfurter into pieces small enough to fit on a plate for Sylvanian families)
Baby becomes toddler. There are STAIRS to worry about, ROADS. Yes that’s right, I have to teach another human being about road safety when I can’t even achieve “on fleek” eyebrows. I, master of nothing, must educate another human being. (Shit!)
Toddler becomes child. There’s BULLYING to worry about. Will my son be a leper on the playground? Will he give up his sandwiches to the school menace? Will he wee himself in class and become a social pariah?
Aside from these somewhat trivial woes are the added concerns of predators, kidnappers and severe allergies. Will the list ever end? I find myself thinking about teenage hood. Pregnancy, incurable gonorrhoea, drugs, horrific trends – it’s all on the menu. I decide then and there to veto all Lads holidays for fear my son will run off with a Spanish beauty and live like a nomad forever. Then adulthood. What if he never gets a job? What if he lives with me forever? What if he sits in my living room playing X-Box indefinitely until he hits 40?What if he conducts a fictional relationship with a game character from Japan? The list is endless and ever growing. I sometimes feel like being a parent is non stop worrying.
Child number two arrives, screaming and pink just like his brother. I check his breathing a little less. In fact, I cherish any time I get to sleep.
He eats frankfurters whole in his little fists while I try to clean the kitchen and have a phone conversation. I invest in plug sockets but don’t stress if I forget to put one in. I’m not so nervous with the road (still a little bit) as I know I have control of the situation. He won’t be bullied at school because he knows how to handle himself (blame Peppa pig for the “headstrong” attitude) he eats shit off the floor, jumps in dirt and bounces a little too high on the trampoline. If he’s sitting in my lounge playing Xbox when he’s 20 I will deposit him straight at the job centre and keep the doors locked until he comes back employed.
Whenever I see a story on Facebook about “How grapes kill” or “Kid locks himself in dryer” I click the hide button. I don’t even want to read it. I don’t need to.
Parenting is still terrifying no matter how many children you have. But with the second one, you give less fucks. In terms of parenting- it means you are more relaxed and in turn so is your child.