We all know my day job is Digital Account Director, and my fantasy job is party planner, right? Well, it’s true. So with Carters first birthday on the horizon I decided to put my hobby to good use and plan him a little farm themed birthday bash at our house this past weekend.
I had the best and worst time making all the decor and baking everything. I say worst because it took forever, and best because, well LOOK AT IT 😉
Thanks Pinterest for the sheep and pig cupcake ideas!
Luckily Im a massive hoarder so I used old formula tins which I wrapped and decorated, bread boards, platters and containers I had lying around. I also bought a lot of stuff from China Town – like paper lanterns, plates, napkins straws and bottles.
The harvest table
9 months of Carter, and as my husband so delicately put it: “Glass bottles for small children, fucking smart”.
The kiddies eating area
They look more like ‘Angry Birds’ than chickens…but I decorated paper lanterns to make farm animals…sort of.
Let’s talk about the cake, shall we. I have never baked more than a vanilla sponge, but was adamant that I would make a 3 tier monstrosity that I found on Pinterest. So I did. It may have taken me close to 20 hours, but the result as SO worth it… and the cake was delicious to boot. I did have some help the day before when two friends came over to help me ice and assemble… and drink several litres of wine in the process.
Boys will be boys. My dad and Carter having a blast on the jumping castle.
Little farm dudes all dressed up
The jumping castle we hired came with a free Granny and her assortment of small children
I scattered hay bales around the garden, and covered them in hessian and checkered fabric.
Bella kept me up all of last night. She’s constipated, so I pretty much spent most of the night letting her in and out the house to drag her sore bottom around on the lawn for 20 minutes at a time. (Bella is a dog, for those wondering why I would assist a small human in using my grass as an arsehole scratcher at 2 am*)
Excellent way to open a story, I realise, but the point I’m trying to make is that last night brought back so many memories of your first few months. Of setting my alarm every 3 hours to breastfeed you, change your bum and clothes and rock you to sleep. I’ve forgotten about just how broken I was in those early days, and just how much you needed me to literally keep you alive during the night.
Fast forward a year and your dad and I had to wake you from your deep slumber at five past seven this morning. Eventually, we roused you with a badly rendered version of ‘Happy Birthday’ to which you responded with bed hair and a skew smile.
You are one today.
One year of memories that I can’t even begin to touch on, but let me try.
The 5th of May 2015 was the happiest day of my life. Those 4 days in hospital passed in a blur of people, photos, tears, laughs, gifts and heart-stopping joy. And then we brought you home and the family engulfed you in their love. Four months of maternity leave meant 24/7 bonding and addiction. I could (and did) watch you for hours on end, took you everywhere with me, to baby massage, baby reflexology, gym, lunches and even a couple of bottomless champagne days with the girls. For 4 months I made hundreds of cups of tea and coffee for the endless stream of visitors, washed a never ending stock of bottles and changed a lifetime of nappies. You smiled at 4 weeks, rolled at 11, lost all your hair and grew some back like Baldy Man. We did a newborn shoot, and 6 week shoot and I broke my Instagram on your sweet, sweet smile. Your eyes stayed blue and your face stayed beautiful and your character grew daily.
Then I went back to work and realised that I was OK with that. You started at crèche and teacher Anne and Akhona loved you like I did. They still do, all your teachers and their (much better) rendition of Happy Birthday when I dropped you off this morning left me grinning but you not quite sure.
At 5 months you popped a tooth, and another one and then you had 4. By then you were sitting and sliding and I knew my days of ‘relaxing’ were limited. You had visited the bush house, the dam and been on your fair share of dinner dates as well.
In December you started crawling and chose a time when the whole family was together to do so. You spent most of your Summer months naked and in water and are still happiest when doing both.
I remember being exhausted when you were about 7 months, it was a hectic time for all of us. Thanks for still loving me even when I was snappy and grumpy.
You’ve been standing for ages now, but unless supported by an object are still too scared to take that first step.
Your curiosity for life amazes me every day. You still startle and then grin when you see your reflection, and still howl like an injured duck when I pluck you from the bath.
Eventually that 5th tooth popped and you started sleeping again.
You’ve been to triathlons and the beach and running races and cycling events. You’ve wormed your way onto guest’s laps at a wedding and drunk their champagne. You still have so much more to explore.
You are cheeky, and fierce and have that second child syndrome, even though you’re my first.
We gave you a chocolate cupcake this morning and you hated it. But I’m sure the Flings I packed for your class party will go down a treat as they always do.
Carter, happy first birthday my magical boy. Keep smiling, keep challenging me and keep being fascinated by the world.
It’s been a year, don’t you think? With economic crashes, dickhead presidents and the death of several entertainment leaders, we are all feeling a little “what the fucky”.
On top of the state of the nation and all that drama, work is the busiest it has ever been, my child is almost one – so I’m trying very unsuccessfully to plan a Pinterest-worthy party, I’m studying a pretty intensive course and training for Half Iron Man. So yes, a massive pity party for one happening here, except it’s not really a party, because that would involve time, and music and probably applying makeup.
Being a working mom is so hard. And I think you only ‘get’ that when it happens to you. I now have a KZN approach of zero tolerance, and try my best to manage my time like a German soldier – but every so often (read, every day) something slips. And the more it slips, the more it feels that I’m going to start cracking.
Yesterday I bought a tin of formula for Carter. No big deal – he’s been on the same formula for 9 months. Except, the formula I brought home yesterday was a completely different brand to the one he has been using for nearly a year. It doesn’t even look remotely that same. It’s a small thing as exchanging it is minor, or so I thought until I arrived at work today without a handbag, and the till slip I needed to swop out FOOD TO KEEP MY BABY ALIVE. Thank god I keep a tube of lip ice and a tampon in my back pocket, because that’s pretty much been what’s kept me going the entire today. Finding gifts and snacks for a dinner party I’m attending this evening though is another story. Reckon I’ll steal a 2l milk and someone’s tuna from the work fridge and hope for the best.
Let’s not even get started on the errands I need to run just to keep my house and life ticking over. When do other working moms get to these? I’m talking about grocery shopping, downloading photos from an 18-month-old memory card or going to the dentist? Is there a secret? Tell me, quickly, before my teeth fall out (it’s been 3 years since I last had a checkup).
And then there’s traffic, and money (or lack thereof) and getting home after a stressful day to start my 3rd job (yes, I have a 2nd job writing for these guys) to feed, clean, love and bath my baby. Then fit in a run of sorts and spend the next 5 hours standing in sweaty running gear making fondant icing figurines for a first birthday cake which generally ends in my downing fondant and picking up my laptop to carry on with work that just never seems to end.
And then someone – without a kid, a stressful job, a race or a party to plan looks at me and says ‘You have no idea how busy I am’ and I want to simultaneously fall to the floor and weep while punching them in the face with my notebook.
Then, I count to 10 and count my lucky stars that I have a supportive husband, a (newly acquired) domestic helper who works 5 days a week (thank the baby haysus) and a child who I love enough to spend 4 hours making an icing pig for.
But still, it’s hard, and not because of one thing, but because of everything, and suddenly a pound of flesh needs to be 10, and 24/7 needs to be 365 and burning the candle at both ends means your candle just doesn’t have enough wicks.
Moms, fucking hell. Way to go. Good job. Pat yourselves on the back – because I’m pretty certain I’m not alone in feeling like I’m breathing in water and treading in mud. Every single day.
“Never again” is what I whispered to myself this weekend as I tried in vain to quieten my screaming child. Screaming so loud, might I add, that he woke up the dogs on the neighbouring farm. And the roosters and a handful of pigs.
We were away for a wedding, four hours out of Joburg, and the shit had hit the fan. I suppose it was unfair to uproot this little 10 month old, especially after having only been home for two nights post a beach/diving holiday in Sodwana for the week before.
When we first accepted the invite to the ‘child friendly’ wedding, I was pregnant, and the most issues my little cherub had given me was a bout of McDonalds induced diarrhea and some heartburn. Naturally we assumed – like all non-parents – that the fetus would be equally well behaved when he was a baby, and so we gleefully RSVP’d, for all 3 of us.
Fast forward to 10 months and a few days and said fetus turned baby turned satan had decided that no, he would not just sleep after a bottle, and no, he definitely would not scream unless held. And so we did what every sleep deprived, frantic parent did – we bought him into our marriage bed, looked each other in the eyes, and vowed to still love him, despite the raging tantrum currently happening under the duvet.
So whilst we may be to blame for dragging him all over the country, we have also learnt a serious lesson: Your baby will always act out at the most inopportune times. Your baby will also wake up at 5 am after a drunken wedding that ended at 2 am. But I digress.
So, if you are currently an owner of a small human, and are thinking about taking a ‘holiday’, then here is my advice:
If it’s too late, and baby is a certified plus one at your chosen destination, then here are a few more pearls of wisdom:
Pack all the medicine. You will readily think of a valid reason why baby needs Stopane with codeine at 3 am.
Don’t expect smooth sailing. Your child may be the poster kid for routine, but even a slight imbalance (read: camp cot, strange noises, parents having fun) can trigger the antichrist.
Snacks will save your life. Every 5 minutes of silence was courtesy of Flings, Cheerios and biltong. Never underestimate the power of the coolerbag.
When travelling long distances try leave over a nap time, and always pack several changes of clothes and a bottle of wine (I feel I should clarify that the wine drinker should probably be a passenger)
Stay in a venue where you child can still have some sort of a routine – trying to get them to sleep in their pram in a loud restaurant is fun for no-one.
Tag team. Even if it means walking to the edge of the bedroom and quietly banging your head against the door frame for 5 minutes – let your spouse take over when it’s getting too much.
Enjoy the good bits – because I can promise you they far outweigh the bad bits. In the last 2 weeks my son has met the ocean with joy, gazed at silken cows, sat silently through a beautiful wedding ceremony, watched monkeys from the stoep and bathed in a shower. When at a loss, fill that memory bank!
Lastly, have some empathy. I can’t imagine how overwhelming the last 2 weeks must have been for my kid. He was in the car for 30% of it, in strange rooms, around strange people, and yet most of the time he was perfectly behaved. A little tolerance works wonders when you are at your wits end.
If all else fails, plan a holiday for immediately after the holiday with your kid. And plan it for just the 2 of you, where late nights can be blamed on too much wild monkey sex.
Did you get spoilt, woman? Gosh, I did. I woke up at 5:30, went for a run (with a male friend, because one can’t simply run alone these days), fought my way through traffic, paper work, emails, rude people and unappreciative humans. Fought my way back home after an incredibly stressful day. Fetched my child, went grocery, fed my child, bathed him, made dinner, put him to bed, did some work and then designed an invite for his first birthday party. Then I climbed into bed to sleep, but instead was kept awake by feelings of guilt, exhaustion and long lists of to-do items that are nowhere close to being checked off.
I’m so tired. And not in a jokey ‘a glass of wine and 5-day nap can cure anything’ way. I’m tired to my bones. My face aches from the constant tension in my jaw, I’m tired of constantly fighting my way through life, deadlines, traffic, to-do lists. I’m tired of the feeling of ‘what exactly did I achieve?’ that I feel at the end of every single day. I’m tired of feeling like I take it all on, and that I alone am responsible for the world.
I know I’m not alone, ladies everywhere are feeling the immense and massive pressure of being this ‘does it all, has it all’ woman. I hate to say it, but we have become our own worst enemies. We are all martyrs, and it has to end.
Recently, I read something in a novel that resonated with me, deep in my core:
“But if a man and a woman work equally hard at things outside the home, who will ensure the children get to the dentist, eat the right foods, have vitamins, get dewormed and learn to share and be kind to others? At the same time, that person needs to ensure that there is toilet paper, shampoo, colouring pencils and three types of cereal….So, by this unquestionable logic, if men do 50% and women do 50%, and men (try as they may) are unable to take over more than 20% of the mothering, that’s another 80% heaped on you. Which is why us women are often not coping, and we need to find a way to fix it” – Jami Yeats-Kastner (Sam, Me and The Hard Pear Tree)
My wish for you all, this Women’s Day (snort) is that you give yourself the respect to just let irrelevant shit go, to rely on a partner or colleague to do their bit, and to be kind to yourself.
My wish for myself it to not take it all on, all the time. It’s to delegate chores and try not have an internal meltdown when I get let down, again. It’s to give myself a pat on the back and remind myself that I’m fucking great. I’m a great mom, I do great work, I have brains in my head and I don’t need anyone to validate me or my actions.
So, short of burning my bra (because it’s expensive, and I rely heavily on it to keep my mom boobs above waist level) I’m going to take a bit of a stand against modern society and tell you all that it’s OK to not always be everything to everyone. Be good to yourself, and go from there.
If there was an anti-parenting award, I would be today’s proud recipient.
It started off badly. The gardener arrived at 6 am, naturally while I was naked and in the shower and my husband was somewhere on the streets of Fourways getting in his morning run. Semi-dressed and wrapped in a towel no bigger than a burp cloth, I ran to let him in and make him tea. Mid way through scooping the 8th sugar in to the mug I realised that my baby was being suspiciously quiet. Walking back in to the bedroom I found him casually on the floor sucking on my razor blade. By some act of God his mouth was still intact when I ripped the device from it, but his head narrowly missed the same result when he then FELL OFF THE BED FIVE MINUTES LATER. Why did he fall off the bed you ask? Because he took a crawling lunge at my dog at the very same time she decided to roll over. Result – head on floor, snot ‘en trane and yet another black mark in my mom book.
So, moms. For the sake of complete transparency, and to hopefully help us all feel like some days we just aren’t winning at parenting, here is a list of other incredibly glorious ways I’ve fucked up at motherhood:
When Carter was 2 weeks old I laid him on the floor at my feet so I could drink hot coffee without spilling on him. Unluckily for him, my dog Rupert happened to be sitting on the couch next to me. Upon heading a noise outside, Rupert jumped off the couch, jumped onto my newborn baby and bolted out the door. No, that’s not a birthmark on my child’s tummy. It’s a deeply entrenched pawprint.
I once left the grocery store, Carter in his pram and the handles laden with shopping bags. It was all going swimmingly while I pushed the pram to the carpark. It was only when I parked the pram to open the boot and the weight of the bags tilted the pram to an exciting 90 degrees, forcing my child to almost fall out, did I realise that perhaps online grocery shopping was a better idea.
A week before I had my baby I sent the dogs to the parlour to get them baby ready. Imagine my surprise when on their return, instead of the sweet smelling hounds I’d anticipated, they came back riddled with fleas. In a mad, pre-baby panic we fumigated 98% of the home and managed to kill off the infestation. Except, we didn’t. Becasue when Carter was 4 days old my mom found a flea. In his head.
It was 3 am and he had been crying for an hour. I was so exhausted I could barely see straight, and the only solution to calm him down was to give him a bottle. There were 2 bottles on the shelf in his room. One was a few days old, and the other was new. To this day I have no idea which bottle I gave him.
Last week, while I was cooking dinner and he was chilling on the floor playing, I noticed out the corner of my eye that he was eating something. Not overly phased – and assuming it was a piece of food that had fallen on the floor – I only paid attention when the last mouthful went in his mouth. And by last mouthful I mean wing. My child had devoured an entire hawk moth.
In other exciting eating news – he’s also snacked on a cigarette stompie (we don’t smoke), several rounds of dog pellets and a golf tee. You can imagine now how I chuckle when people ask when the right time to introduce egg is. My kid’s eaten a Marlboro, I think egg is the least of our worries.
I’m too lazy to switch feeding spoons between courses, so my kid eats tuna flavoured yoghurt and chicken flavoured teething biscuits.
In an effort to get him to eat and taste everything he can I popped a spoon in his mouth while making dinner. It was only after doing so that I remembered the sauce on the spoon was the curry paste I had been stirring.
He’s OK now.
According to the books – it’s very important to introduce new textures and sensory products. Excitedly, I set out to try this with shaving cream, thinking he would actually never eat the shaving cream.
He ate the shaving cream.
Feeling like a slightly better parent now? You’re welcome.
A few people I know had babies recently. My neighbour being one of them. Most mornings as I’m leaving for work I see her walking up the road with her tiny newborn swaddled in her chest, and I watch as she has eyes only for him. I get teary everytime I see them, because I’m reminded of just how small and tiny my baby Carter was.
However, as much as I yearn for the days of having an infant, I cannot stop marvelling at just how much fun they are when they’re older. He’s not even talking but somehow his character shines with such enthusiasm, that I find myself in stiches, daily.
I’m not the mother I thought I would be. I have no baby books and milestone charts. I don’t have a Facebook page for my son and I’ll probably never get round to setting up an email address for him, but what I do have, is this blog. And it’s here, amongst other things, that I talk about my son and document his life.
And 9 months? That deserves its own little post. At 9 months pregnant I was huge, swollen, exhausted and riddled with heartburn. Now I have a 9 month old baby, and unlike pregnancy, it is going way too fast.
Carter James, you light up my day from the moment you wake up – all bed head and puffy eyes, to the moment you go to sleep – mouth dripping in spilled milk and knees filthy from play. You have an insatiable curiosity and I am dumfounded at your intense interest in everything. I can literally throw paper bags your way and a new adventure begins. You crawl faster than I walk and I still feel bad for the times when I couldn’t quite stop you from falling down the stairs, off the bed or bumping your face on the table. Funny, the falls only make you try harder, and I live for the tiny gasps and pants you make as you race up the passage for the 8th time, trying desperately to grab the dog food before they do.
It’s almost impossible to get a photo of you anymore, it’s a blurry mess, and my hopes of Pinterest worthy photo shoots have been bookmarked for baby number 2.
I catch you looking at me, and smiling, and I sometimes think my heart could burst. To me, you are the prettiest baby I’ve ever met. To me, you have the kindest nature and sweetest face.
I won’t miss the nappy change wriggles, or the tantrums you throw when I take something away from you. I take it away because it will probably kill you. I wish you knew that when we pick you up and remove you from a situation, it because it’s the best thing for you. I’m sorry you don’t get fruit at night anymore – but momma likes her sleep more than you like your sugar. I’m sorry you ate that moth, wing by wing, before I realised what is was. As for that Marlboro stompie, I’m very sorry you ate that as well. I’m sorry there are days when I count down the minutes until you go to bed. Please know that these nights always end with me standing over your cot, willing you to wake up.
I’m sorry that my love for you will always make me feel like I’m drowning.
So here’s to the next 9 months, and then some. I am so excited to watch you learn, and grow, and fill my heart with so much more.
You may remember this post. About the Mommy Groups. And while I still belong to the chosen few on Facebook, and several more on Whatsapp, I am getting more and more frustrated by some of the content I see.
Since when did someones elses opinion trump your own gut instinct? Daily, my feeds across all the socials are flooded with questions such as “My child fell off the bed, is bleeding from every orifice, has stopped breathing, and has turned blue. What should I do, mommies? LOL!”
DROP YOUR PHONE. GET HIM IN YOUR VEHICLE, AND TAKE HIM TO THE FUCKING EMERGENCY ROOM.
Well, that should be the answer. Instead, other moms from far flung corners of the earth reply with ‘well, how much is he bleeding’ or ‘shame mommy, I’m starting a healing prayer chain for you’.
Then when matters don’t call for alarmed reactions, more like some common sense, moms everywhere terrify the bejeezus out of other moms with answers to comments of “My nanny told me she likes apples, and I also like apples. Do you think she wants to kill me and steal my identity?”
“Yes. Your nanny is going to murder you in your sleep”.
Surely, as mother to said child who is now on the verge of death, or the worried mum who fears she may find herself organ-less in an ice bath in a matter of hours, should know best? Tell me you don’t believe that the opinion (of generally well intentioned) strangers trumps trusting your gut?
Now, before you lambaste me, understand that there is very much a need for these sort of groups. I derive immense value in a lot of the commentary, and will often ask a question of my own. (As an example, during the recent heatwave – I was glued to the groups in the hopes that someone could provide a miracle cure for turning my child’s bedroom from a million degrees, to something less aggressive. Like 40 Celsius). However, I really feel like everyone needs to take a step back, calm down and think before posting ridiculous queries.
I’m a new mom, so I’m on your team, but I can promise you that there is no right way to raise a child – there’s your way. Your paed is not the best paed because he does XYZ, your baby will not turns into a zombie should you feed him a fruit before hes 12.2 months old. Yes, he can sleep with socks on, but he can also sleep with no socks. Baby has a temperature? Give him meds, or take him to the doctor, or go outside and pray to the fever gods. At the end of the day you will know, deep in your heart, what is best for you. My child has never been to a paed, we don’t even have one should he need one, has fallen over and smashed his larger-than-normal sized head more times than I care to mention, has slipped under water in-front of my very eyes, used a BUMBO (gasp!) and has hit a 41 degree temperature when teething. Am I a terrible mom? You might think so, but I think my style of parenting is right for me – I’m letting my child explore, learn, fall, learn again and cry a little bit. Maybe I’m also a little bit lazy. Yes, I’m also a little bit lazy. And cheap. have you seen the price of peads?
So moms, before you rush to your phone or PC to ask the world their opinion, remember that there isn’t always safety in numbers. Trust yourselves just a little bit more. You’re doing a great job.
Its 36 degrees in Joburg, and I’ve just declined another swim. I’ll sit on the edge of the pool and joke about how “nobody wants to see a whale in their water”, and that “no costume in the world is big enough for this arse”, but I’m sweating while I joke, because it’s fucking 36 degrees outside, and I really want to swim. More than that, I really want to not be fat anymore.
Pregnancy, as easy as you were, you were exceptionally hard on me in one way. My body. I have never felt this out of sorts, this alien and this uncomfortable in my own skin. I don’t think I’ve lost a kilogram of baby weight, in fact, I feel like in the last 8 months I’ve simply gained and gained. I hate being fat. I hate it so much that I’ve decided, come what may, I will lose 10 kilograms by 1 May. I will be back to my pre baby self for my child’s first birthday.
In order to stick to my new plan, I need to be accountable, and I need to grow a set of lady balls and actually have the willpower to push through what is possibly going to be a very tough 4 months. So, with a 10 kilo goal in mind, what better way to remind myself of why I’m doing this, with 10 reasons why I hate being fat.
When I make a joke about being overweight and people respond with ‘I see’ or an awkward ‘Ya…’. That’s when you know. You know you’re big when people don’t even pretend to be kind in their replies. A new colleague said to me the other day “You were thin? I suppose I’ve only known you this size’. Ouch. I hated that.
I don’t fit into anything from before I had a baby. My gorgeous skinny pants, slinky vests, blazers and even bras have been chucked to the back of the closet. Replacing them are the size 12 jeans I bought on a 2 for 1 sale at Edgars, loose shirts, leggings and sports bras with added stretch. Not being able to wear anything that makes me look and feel good? I hate that.
The way people look at me – people closest to me, like certain family members. I feel their eyes on me whenever I take a bite of food or when I put on another pair of too tight pants. I hate the way they make me feel. I hate the guilt, I hate the shame. I hate feeling like I’m being judged for having the body I do. I hate that.
The sweat. I am always sweating. Being overweight means boob sweat, head sweat and feet sweat. It’s gross. I hate it.
I don’t feel like I get taken seriously in the work place. Silly hey? But still, I hate that.
I don’t feel like socializing, seeing people or going out. I no longer want to be the person sitting under the umbrella while everyone else swims or the one in the long maternity style maxi dress when everyone’s lying in a bikini. I hate that.
The way I feel at the gym. Physically I’m still gloriously strong, and I train 3 days a week. I can smash a spinning class, I’m building up my running resistance and I can probably lap most people in the pool. But the way I feel people looking at me in the gym? Like the token plump girl? I hate that.
Shopping. I love clothes, and fashion. I love beautiful things. I’m tired of buying gorgeous garments for ‘when I’ve lost the weight’ I want to wear them now. The fact that I have items with their tags still on, and clothes from pre-baby tucked away at the back of the closet, because I’m simply too fat to wear them? I hate that.
As if having a baby and a full time demanding career weren’t stressful enough on my marriage – try throw in body shame and self hate. I really don’t want to feel un-sexier than I do now. Changing in a locked bathroom so my husband cant see? I hate that.
Other moms who lost the baby weight. Especially those who did it from ‘breast feeding’ or the ones who did nothing at all (the weight just “fell off” and then apparently on to me) I hate you. And I hate the fact that I hate you which means I hate me even more. I hate it. (Side note, there are a few ladies on Twitter who have spoken me off a cliff more than once, and helped my confidence so much – I hope you know just how lovely your kind words are, and just how much they’ve meant to me).
There it is. The raw brutal honest truth. It’s out there on the Interwebs now, which means I’m accountable to me, and all of you. Please help me in this journey, and if possible share your own stories of postpartum plumpness. I promise I’ll be nice to you even if you were one of the ‘lost the weight straight away’ ones 😉 – hell, maybe you can even share some weight loss secrets with me.
In the spirit of starting fresh, of turning over a new leaf, and learning to love who I am. Happy New Year. Here’s to having the body of a (20)16 year old!
I can feel my sister in laws eyes on my child, and I know exactly what she’s thinking: “Please don’t ever let my baby get to that age”. She’s thinking that because she has a 3 month old. A 3 month old who lies where she’s placed, mewls instead of shrieks doesn’t grab, tug, pull or play, and still naps for most of the day. As much as it saddens me, I get it. I thought that too when Carter was that age. I used to meet friends for coffee on maternity leave, and while my son slept in pretty much any position he was placed in and would stare at nothing for hours, other (older) babies always seemed exhaustingly busy.
I’ve said it before, but having an almost-8 month old is 100 times harder than having a newborn. It’s also 100 times more rewarding. The old ‘I hope my baby never grows’ up Kate is so relieved he did. However, there’s a small part of me that misses the newborn phase, and here’s why.
Newborn Mess. Sure, when your baby is a tiny infant he or she will undoubtedly vomit, shart or urinate over you. The thing is, it’s never a daily occurrence, and when they’re that small and ingesting only milk nothing really smells. It’s all very innocuous. Mess with a new born means delicately dabbing yourself and your baby with an embroidered, monogrammed cloth. Baby mess. My son is eating fruit, meat, grains, egg, ants, the dogs feet and every flip flop lying around the house. His turds are Dr Phil worthy S shaped and the smell is no different to a grown mans. Solids entail 30% of the food being ingested by him, and 90% landing on me. (I get that number doesn’t add up, but that’s exactly how much excess food there is after any given mealtime). Crawling means black crusty fingernails, scraped knees and (unless you’re Martha-bloody-Stewart) dust, everywhere. Basically, you will never be clean again. I implore you, if you are OCD like me and thinking about starting a family in 2016 – stop showering for several months to prepare your body for the offensive odour it will permanently emanate once your child turns 6 months. Just to further drive my point home – last week I was changing my sons nappy. Apart from the usual excrement inside, I found a piece of chicken, a squashed wedge of paw paw, a block of cheese and a white slimey suppository shaped biltong stick. Mess with a baby means dabbing yourself with a cloth, then stripping down and hosing both you off with a pressure hose.
Newborn sleep. Oh Lord, is there anything more incredible than a newborn sleep? Sure, they wake up a lot for food but when they’re not drinking they’re pretty much sleeping. Carter could nap anywhere. I took that kid everywhere on maternity leave and he would nap in shopping trolleys, restaurant floors, peoples beds, carry cots, travel cots, car seats, laps, dogs tummies and concrete floors. I used to watch funny videos doing the rounds on Facebook – of parents ninja dropping and rolling to avoid their alert baby noticing them exit the room – and smugly praise myself for being the BEST PARENT EVER. Baby sleep. I am now that parent dropping and rolling to avoid my baby noticing me exit the room.
Newborn noise. When not eating or sleeping, a newborn will occasionally grace you with their attention by making one or two adorable grunts and mewls. Heart melting, 1 x new mom would invariably whip out a video camera of sorts to capture said adorableness on video. Even a newborns cry is quiet – I’ve had dogs toys that squeaked louder. Baby noise. There’s nothing better than your baby’s first laugh and giggle, and when it becomes a guttural belly laugh you think your heart might pop from excitement. Sadly as your baby grows in size, so does his vocal abilities, and according to the unwritten rule book of an almost-8 month old, the best time to screech like a goat on one of those Youtube videos? In a restaurant, in the quiet of a game reserve or anytime between 2 and 4 am.
Newborn stimulation. Feed, burp, rock, sleep. Every now and then you try in vain to get them to grab a toy or make eye contact with a plastic mobile. Baby stimulation. Things they don’t really love: 200 brightly coloured balls and inflatable ball pit. Coloured spaghetti, water tables, blocks and boards, wind up toys, wind down toys, toys that sing, ring shout and offend. Books, teddies age appropriate overpriced toys or anything from Fischer Price. Things they love: Small insects, jewelry, smartphones, swimming pools and edible boxes. Basically, the more potential an item has of killing them, the more they like it.
My son is almost 8 months, so I know there are moms reading this who are snorting quietly (because they don’t want to wake their 2 year old who just passed out from tantrum induced exhaustion) and thinking ‘Just wait’. I know this, because I’m one of those moms who see your 2 year old throw said tantrum and thinks “please don’t let my child ever get there”. But he will, and when he does I’m going to remember my once-almost-8 month old and just like I did his newborn memories, think just how much easier it all was.