Imagine being one of the Chilean miners still waiting to be rescued from the mine and getting a message from one of the guys who’d been already rescued saying “Enjoy yourself down there while you can! Above ground is sooooo overrated and there’s nothing on TV tonight, anyway.”
Well, that’s how a little how it felt when I was wrangling a wailing newborn and a shouty toddler at the supermarket and some random stranger would pat me on the arm and say “Enjoy the baby years, love. They go past in a flash!”
(It should be noted that generally, the kind of people who offered such advice, would have just spent their life savings on a Winnebago so they could enjoy their grandchildren at a healthy 400km+ distance. Whatevs.)
Still, here I am, actually standing on the other side of that long dark tunnel called “The Baby Years”. The moment Tiddles McGee turned three, it was like someone handed me a large martini and said “Enjoy yourself.” Well, it was more like “Enjoy yourself a little more than you have been enjoying yourself”. There’s still the early mornings and the washing and the cooking and the laundry and the dishes and the picking up of toys and the perpetually unsolved mystery of the odd socks – but everybody can wipe their own bums now and (mostly) sleep through the night, even if they often do so a mere 1cm from my face, holding onto my ears. (That’s my Tiddles McGee for you).
And now it feels like I was never in that ‘dark place’. That place where days lasted years and I thought I might never wear an item of clothing that wasn’t either stained with hindmilk or had an elastic waistband that came up to my armpits. That place where the idea of ever being able to walk across a room without a small child clinging to my leg seemed impossible and where three hours of unbroken sleep was the greatest gift I could ever be given and would make me weep openly with gratitude.
But it was also a place where gummy smiles were my bestest reward and my days were punctuated by unbridled laughter and the kind of joy that banging an empty plastic bottle on a table can give a little person. A place where small arms automatically reached out to me the minute I walked into view because, to my children, I shone brighter than the sun and they were only truly happy when they were safe in my arms.
So yes, random strangers at the supermarket, you were right. Those baby years really did pass by in a flash. And I do wish I had stopped and enjoyed them a little more — and not least because I can see a flashing sign coming up in the distance saying “WARNING: TEENAGE YEARS AHEAD”…
Today, I have the great pleasure of giving away a copy (or two) of ‘Cocktails At Naptime‘, by Gillian Martin and Emma Kaufmann. Described as “a woefully inept guide to the early years of motherhood”, it also boasts itself as being the only parenting guide that doesn’t offer any actual advice.
To have a chance at winning a copy, please leave a comment below describing the most useless or annoying advice to a new parent that you’ve ever heard. The winner will be drawn randomly on Friday 22nd October at 2pm AEST (or thereabouts).