“The most rewarding job ever,” they said. “Lifeenriching,” they raved. Well, yes, they were right. The proud mother of a gorgeous, hilarious eight-year old, I wouldn’t be without him for the world. But oh, the worry. No one tells you about the worry.
From pretty much the opening chapter of any maternity book, the fearmongering begins. Pregnancy complications with poncy Latin names and chillingly factual descriptions. And don’t even start me on what happens to (what was) your own body, now hijacked by a relentlessly demanding parasite. Your supple skin, pert bosom, petite lady garden? Oh no, madam, those days are over. Say goodbye to your body as you knew it; and the child’s not even here yet.
Pregnant and blooming? Pregnant and bloomin’ horrified, more like it. Even my big sister, usually the voice of reason in my swirling vortex of horror, felt the fear. “Oh yes,” she said, a sinister tone creeping into her usually rational voice, “parenting. It’s slippery slope of worry.” A slippery slope indeed. It doesn’t get better once your little bundle of joy/fear arrives. In fact, it gets worse. Feeding this problems, anyone? Sleeping disorders? Or can I interest you in a few behavioural issues? With so many options to choose from, which will your child be graced with? The mind boggles. And that’s without the gear.
For heaven’s sake, do they have to make baby equipment so complicated? I’ve never been beaten by a flatpack (even ones with drawers) and can sew, garden and repair with the best of them, but a folding pram? A reverse facing car seat? Oh, no, that’s a bridge too far for this particular parent. (Where exactly does that velcro bit go again? That clippy thing? And it needs batteries, you say?)
But wait, there’s more. If ever there’s an area fraught with guilt, overanalysis and more con- tradictions than a government policy, it’s food. Nuts are recommended, ideally “activated” ones, but don’t include them in a school lunch box, or instant expulsion/social humiliation will result. Margarine is full of chemicals, but don’t reach for the butter — it’s brimming with lactose, so that’s out, too. Fish get the nod, as long as they’re line caught, and low in mercury — but you’ll be hard-pressed getting confirmation on that, given they’re generally deceased by the time you get your (sanitised) hands on one.
And as for electronic devices, well, quite frankly I have enough cyber-trouble of my own without sorting out the difference between educational v aggression-causing. It’s enough to make you want to crawl under the doona.
Ooh, look, he’s asleep. (Sigh.) Look at those lashes … and those cheeks ... Oh go on, then. Let’s have another.
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