The seven signs of parenting
Ever wondered what people mean when they say 'everything changes when you have children'?
Well, let's take a look:
1. Time becomes an even more abstract concept than it was before. You desperately grasp at tiny, ephemeral, wisps of it - like a contestant on the Crystal Maze frantically clawing at those golds bits of paper when the fans come on. This exhausting scrabble for seconds or minutes to yourself can be so fraught, you rarely know what to do with them once you get them. Time, more than ever, becomes a commodity traded with your partner (or not).
2. Physical discomfort is nothing to you. You will suffer any amount in order to avert a screaming child, especially in a public place.
It starts with leaning over your restless baby’s cot to place your hand on their warm belly, hoping this will calm them to sleep. After five minutes of hand-placing and shushing, the side of the cot cuts off the blood supply to your arm, pins and needles and numbness follow. This is awful, but it’s a potentially worthwhile investment. If it sleeps you might be able to win some TIME (see above)
At the British Museum, you carry a 15kg toddler around on one hip until your spine is distorted into a grotesque parody of anything human. It’s not long before your arm is as dead as King Tutankhamun. But at least you’ve had five minutes to read a couple of informative panels about mummification. It is an appealing concept right now.
3. You deal with a Sisyphean ‘mental load’ that would leave most computers buffering in confusion.
Feel like you are running out of RAM? Apps taking up too many gigs? You must be a parent.
From overarching out-of-control concerns about protecting your child from imminent death, to remembering to pay for afterschool club, the brain doth overflow.
If you’re coping, you are definitely letting it spill over into Cloud storage. That, or you have an unending and unachievable paper to-do list on the sideboard in the living room.
4. Patience. Becoming a parent is not like becoming a pilot or air traffic controller. There are no screening interviews to check you can remain calm under pressure and will not snap in the face of a toddler hurling one of those banana yogurt Rice Krispy pops at the wall.
Literally anyone with the correct working body parts can have a baby. This is why the practice of patience, for most people, is the most on-going of the parenting skills.
You cracked nappy changing years ago. Your patience will always, always, require more work.
5. Acceptance of grossness, even revelling in it.
I was always pretty good at this and have always felt amused by turds rolling onto rugs, floaters in the bath, and snail trails of snot across my evening wear. I see vomit removal as a specialism rather than a chore. People who are not ok with all this need nannies. They get paid to scrape it all up.
6. World domination (sort of)
There is a strange joy in seeing your genes, in all their wonky, knock-kneed, bow-legged, big-nosed glory continue for another generation.
7. Sleep. I'm too traumatised by the lack of this to write about it.
Mummy pic: Jose and Roxanne.
Air hostess: Austrian Airlines.
Air hostess: Austrian Airlines.