The Back Seat

Carla Saps­ford New­man gets to grips with her change in mind­set af­ter kids

Time Out Malaysia Kids - - Contents -

Carla Saps­ford New­man on her new mummy mind­set

When you have a baby, other par­ents tell you your val­ues will change. Yet some­how you don’t quite be­lieve it un­til it hap­pens to you.

For in­stance, even a sim­ple act like cross­ing the road be­comes a risk equa­tion. Be­fore chil­dren you might have dashed across on­com­ing traf­fic be­cause you were cer­tain you were more fleet-footed than the dozy driv­ers com­ing your way. Now, with a buggy, you are a slow and steady tar­get for any mad mat rem­pit com­ing your way. Where it used to take you two min­utes to cross, now it can take up to 20 min­utes. Wait­ing for the right mo­ment, de­void of risk, turns a sim­ple act into a slow and steady process of prob­a­bil­ity cal­cu­la­tions.

Then, just as you come to grips with the sleep de­pri­va­tion, the jug­gling of work and fam­ily, the lost fig­ure and cel­lulite, you have a sec­ond child. Then you think you’ve lost your mind too. Re­mem­ber that mo­ment when David Cameron left one of his kids at the pub af­ter a Sun­day roast? How you snig­gered and won­dered how some­one could just FOR­GET their child? Well, folks, I too have joined the ‘oh ****, where’s the baby?’ club. As a par­ent you get so fo­cused on the one run­ning around scream­ing their head off you for­get the cheer­ful lit­tle cherub crawl­ing along qui­etly on their hands and knees.

The other is­sue to con­sider is what on earth would th­ese de­pen­dent lit­tle crea­tures do with­out me should some­thing hap­pen? You sud­denly start ac­tu­ally read­ing the life in­sur­ance pol­icy and check­ing out your re­tire­ment plan, stuff you used to make fun of the fo­gies for do­ing. When you get a chance to go sky­div­ing, your first thought isn’t ‘Cool! Let me leap out of an air­plane!’ It’s ‘What if I turn into a para­plegic and can’t wres­tle the kids to bed any­more?’

Sim­ple acts like tak­ing a cold rem­edy take on added sig­nif­i­cance. Will this knock out the baby? Can it kill the baby? What if I pass out af­ter an an­ti­his­tamine and the baby chokes on her rat­tle?

And don’t get me started on drink­ing. If I have more than two glasses of wine and have to make a ra­tio­nal life-or-death de­ci­sion, will I be hope­lessly in­com­pe­tent? Be­cause I guar­an­tee you, the night you de­cide to get wasted will be the night your son throws up all over his bed and you need to spend an hour scrub­bing up at three in the morn­ing with a rag­ing headache and a sore stom­ach.

Never again, or at least not for about five years, can you go to a mall or for an out­ing with­out as much plan­ning as a gen­eral em­bark­ing on a mas­sive cam­paign. Feed­ing, wa­ter­ing, march­ing, laun­dry… all hall­marks of a mod­ern fam­ily ex­pe­di­tion. If you’ve ever tried tak­ing a tod­dler to those places you used to love, you will re­mem­ber the ex­pe­ri­ence. Sushi on a con­veyer belt: pro­jec­tile weapons. Hot wa­ter out of a spout on the ta­ble: dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen. Nor­mal cut­lery: po­ten­tial swords or stabbing mech­a­nisms. Cups filled high with liq­uid: flood po­ten­tial.

Nev­er­more can you have a leisurely morn­ing, sip­ping cof­fee and read­ing the news­pa­per un­in­ter­rupted.

Nev­er­more can you nip into Star­bucks and play your favourite hand­phone game for an hour as you kill time.

Nev­er­more can you loi­ter at a book­store ac­tu­ally look­ing at books adults read.

How­ever, as your kids ma­ture, so do your tastes. You have to put aside your own child­ish things. You get to think about some­one else. Con­stantly. End­lessly. Ev­ery act is a labour of love, and of­ten frus­tra­tion too. Mummy mo­ments are many. But they don’t have to be EV­ERY mo­ment. If you can’t take plea­sure in all of them, at least recog­nise they are fleet­ing and, one day, you won’t have them any­more. In other words, when you be­come a mummy, you some­times be­come those mum­mies you al­ways used to make fun of. Riska­verse. Preachy. Ma­tronly. Bor­ing. But you also be­come cun­ning, wily and in­ven­tive, and the mo­ments of love out­num­ber the mo­ments of frus­tra­tion.

So en­joy, if pos­si­ble, this of­ten rough ride. And set aside some mo­ments for your­self and your spouse. Then you can be a mummy again, hope­fully slightly less stressed out

about it.

Never again, or at least not for about five years, can you go to a mall or for an out­ing with­out as much plan­ning as a gen­eral em­bark­ing on a

mas­sive cam­paign

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