(par­ent­ing)

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Louise He­garty Re­view this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

“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.

wel­comes sub­mis­sions to This Life. To be con­sid­ered for pub­li­ca­tion, the work must be orig­i­nal and be­tween 450 and 500 words. Sub­mis­sions may be edited for clar­ity. Send emails to The Broad­way mu­si­cal is based on which 1960s group? Which horse won this year’s Mel­bourne Cup? Ar­mistice Day, com­mem­o­rated on Novem­ber 11, re­sulted from which war? The Ru­bik’s Cube orig­i­nated in which coun­try? What is fer­mented to make Swedish surstrom­ming, one of the smelli­est foods in the world?

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