Yer Man, the baby, has started at the creche, and I am quite surprised at how heartbroken I am. It began when I was going through the creche documents and spotted a sample of the day’s menu. I became distraught at the sight of this. Jam sandwiches, cereal, fruit — all normal things — I was beside myself.
“What is wrong with you?” Himself was baffled and not very patient about this display. “It’s not like he’s never been in childcare before.” This is true; Yer Man has been away from me, cared for by an arguably far more maternal woman, for the last 18 months. So why the sudden realisation that I’m missing out on making his jam sandwiches and serving his afternoon snack?
Every time I think of those jam sandwiches I get upset, and it’s not just because I really want a jam sandwich — though that may be true. I think it’s the heightened sensitivity that comes with propagating the species. Before the birth of Yer Man, I would delight in the salacious and often disturbing storylines of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Then, about a week after having Yer Man, Himself suggested an episode and I couldn’t sleep for a week, so affected was I by the fictional victims.
Previously, I would not have been a person with an abundance of empathy; I know this about myself. I had to quit reading Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test on page 188, as I felt I was exhibiting an unnerving number of the attributes listed in the actual psychopath test. Yet, suddenly, post-baby I had all these new touchy-feely emotions to contend with. At times, I’m a stranger to myself. And to others, apparently. I was chatting to a friend lately who is about to have her first baby. She was asking about motherhood, but as I was speaking, she cut across me to verify: “Did you just use the phrase ‘brotherhood of man’?”
I was in mid-flow: “Babies just bring out a tenderness in people that really amazed me. They are a balm to the loneliness of existence.” I tried to rein in the emoting at this point: “They are, quite simply, all our hopes embodied.” Uh-oh, the emoting was creeping back in, better wrap up this little heartfelt speech. “And look, they are cute as f *ck.”
So that’s what motherhood has made me: an icky, gushing, walking, talking bag of feels who wanted to watch American Horror Story but found the opening credits too much and had to turn it off.
Yer Man’s first few days at creche went off hitch-free, and my grief over the jam sandwich is subsiding somewhat. I’m comforting myself by nourishing him with my pasta dinners, and I’m trying to keep things in perspective by torturing myself with thoughts of the day when I won’t even know what he’s had for dinner, or if he’s had his fruit that day. “So now you’re upset about meals he hasn’t even had yet?” Himself is exhausted by the new ‘totes emosh’ me. What can I say? Welcome to the brotherhood of man.