What no one tells you about motherhood.
Now Sunday is nearly five months old.
I’m writing this at 7.30 AM. I got up at 3am to feed Sunday then 6am to feed her again. I tried to go back to sleep then but she was talking to herself so loudly and with such interest (“Mmmm? Owwww. Ennnn. Ennn? Ow!”) it felt criminal to let her lie there in the dark. So I turned the light on and our day started just after 6.30. I gave her a cuddle while I checked my email. I put her in her cot under her animal mobile and had a shower. When I got back she was lying very still and staring at them intently. She saw me and beat her arms on the bed with happiness.
Jude was still in bed because he stayed up late to do some work. But unlike me, he never minds if we make some noise while he’s asleep. I sang as I got dressed in front of Sunday; for some reason she particularly likes to watch me put moisturiser on so I make a big deal of it every day. And then I changed her nappy and dressed her in a little terry towelling Bonds Wondersuit in a very dark brown, and a cherry American Apparel hoodie – I think it makes her look like a tough Little Red Riding Hood, but it makes people on the street say “wow, his eyes are so blue!” When I dress her, she’s always fine with putting the first sleeve on, but cries briefly when I do the second. I say “Look! there’s nothing really wrong!” I kiss her and she stops.
Downstairs, I made a cup of tea and put her in a bouncer next to me so I could start writing this blog post.
I wrote back at the time but was still thinking about it all.
But that’s as far as I got. Sunday did a poo so I took her upstairs again and changed her nappy. “Wow,” I said. “A poo, excellent.” (It is part of my nascent parenting philosophy that you have to view each poo as a sign of health, and never look grossed out in case the baby thinks you are disgusted by them and their little body. Poos aren’t that bad anyway, although ask me again when she is eating real food.)
When I was changing her nappy she was watching me very carefully, and her sustained and affectionate attention elated me and made me want to act like a dickhead. I showed her the baby wipe and counted “One, two, three” then slapped it on her bum; the wipes are a bit cold this time of year so I said “Ssssssssssssss” like a sizzling sound, and she laughed. I answered her feet like a phone, played her tummy like a piano, and then let her put her hands in my mouth and, afterwards, pull my hair.
Now we are back down in the kitchen and I will go on with this post. My cup of tea is still just about warm.
The blogger in the piece Emily linked to wrote “I am one of those people who became down in the dumps about having a baby for no earthly reason other than I just found it, frequently, exhausting and dreadful.” Later she says, “Motherhood was, at times, unbearable. The responsibility was overwhelming, crushing; the boredom was total, deep.”
I just spent twenty minutes typing out a big and serious answer to everything in the post, agreeing with some things and not with others. When it got to 8.30, Sunday was tired again and cried briefly in her tired way. I put her in her pram to pretend we were going out, but actually I just rocked her to sleep. When I sat back down I read over what I’d written and found my explanations to be halting (I am very poor at internet-style argumentation), a bit irritating, and also futile. What I think about being a mother is entirely irrelevant. Every woman’s experience of being a mother is as different as we are as people. If I started dealing out parenting advice, I might have, one day, to take it, and that would be truly appalling. I also did not want to have a ginormous piece of hubris on the record to torture myself with in future when things get hard. Lastly, I read the author of the post’s personal blog and really liked it.
Just then, Sunday squirmed and exclaimed “Ah! Ah!” to show she was awake, and I picked her up and put her on my lap.
Does the morning I’ve had so far sound bad to you? It might. But it is not bad for me. Not bad at all.
More mothers’ days.