Comes at the moment you realise the nappy you accidentally put in the washing machine was only a pee nappy.
Our baby sits low in my wife’s belly. She appears to be quite comfortable, far more so than my wife for whom any position can now only be maintained for short periods at a time. The exercise ball rotates under her hips, the motion intending to push her body along into labour, ready now.
Our son sleeps upstairs, blissfully unaware of how much his life is about to change. Perhaps we are too. A friend commented recently it’s good we’ve done this already; as if we know what to expect. I think that we have not been here before, that things are not the same, that we do not know what to expect, that whatever this experience brings it will be as unique as the child being born. And that is quite terrifying.
I reminded myself earlier that everything we do today is a last. A last as a trio. A last for a while of a just us two even. But I don’t see fit to mark this in any way. I don’t see the need to linger on the moment I kiss my son as he goes to bed, or somehow capture for posterity these moments, me tapping away single-fingered, she arguing over crossword clues. I’m not even sure why I feel the need to want to make a point about it any more.
Tomorrow is 42 weeks.
Our little girl has in a sense already been with us for 42 weeks now, making tiny adjustments to the patterns of our lives, hiding in plain site.
However, we’ve all agreed it’s time and one way or another she’s coming tomorrow.
In warmer climes folk need to shake out their shoes to dislodge nesting nasties.
In our household you have to do this to dislodge small toys and Lego bricks.
This morning I have removed two small diggers that I didn’t even know we had. Thankfully they were caught before any major damage was done.
Toddlers bring a wonderful sense of random to everything you do.
We’ve had our first unequivocal fuck.
Actually we had about 40 of them, one after the other.
It was hard not to laugh.
Or figure out where it came from.
I don’t think he can go to his grandparents this week.
My wife’s reaction was (unsurprisingly) “shit”.
When my wife got home she asked him, carefully, if he meant “fork”.
So basically we’re screwed.
I can’t remember where I put the superglue.
Two months after we got married we moved house, two weeks after moving house my wife phoned me to tell me she was pregnant. I feel as if I haven’t paused for breath for almost three years.
Being a parent, being a new parent, being a first-time parent, being a working parent, trying to be a good parent, it’s exhausting. Whether they’re lying, gurgling, in their own poo, or ascending the bookcase, they demand, need, deserve 100% of your attention.
Like the man said: stop the world, I want to get off.
It’s not that I want more time to myself. I get that on a train plugged into my music four mornings a week, oblivious to my fellow travellers all doing the same.
What I really want is to slow down, is to stop. Physically, mentally, spiritually. To feel like I’m not waiting to do something, not needing to think about something or simply not to be so self aware of a world and a tiny percentage of its inhabitants that demand my attention.
The answer is, as answers occasionally are, right in front of me: running down someone else’s drive way, pulling flower heads off out of their garden, picking up gravel, stooping to look at dog poo and cigarette ends.
To move at your child’s pace, to move in your child’s time is to move in distracted wonder, unfettered by having to be anywhere whenever.
It is to take an hour, even two to complete a twenty minute journey and to wonder at the end if you had rushed things.
It is to let go of any urgency and drift aimlessly on whim and fancy, revelling in a scrap, a stick, a sound, and where any road is worth meandering down at least for now.
It is to move at a speed driven by interest and playful rhythms.
You start to feel as if this is a lost art, a muscle memory from thousands of years ago, a way for us all to reconnect…
…whilst still having to divert them from getting too close to the road or falling off bridges. I guess even when you do get to stop, you never stop being a parent.
I think there’s this thing called parent time. It’s the way as a parent you experience time completely differently from anyone else including other parents who are also experiencing the same thing but completely differently from you. It is particularly virulent for parents of toddlers and young children and may decrease in severity over time but as yet I have no concrete evidence.
Parent time is like taking the concept of dog years and putting it through the crazy crash zoom in Jaws.
So a normal month of real time feels like a day of parent time and a real day can have moments of fleeting eternity, usually accompanied by the sound of screaming, and many minutes of laughter and play that are only able to register themselves as a split second on your consciousness.
A year of parent time is equivalent to a blink in real time but two years of parent time (rounded up or down) are a blink within a blink. That’s like half a blink I guess, or if you like to cook then a small pinch.
When you operate in the outside world there’s a further momentum effect at play so the moment you step out of your door the missing time kicks you square in the chops like a wrecking ball swinging from its highest apex.
If you decide to do something stupid and and entirely incompatible with parenting like holding down a job or a home or friends, then no matter how long a real day might be in parent time, or possibly how long a day of parent time might represent itself as real days which we’ve already ascertained are many, there will never be enough hours in the day.
If you don’t there still won’t be enough hours in the day, only they’re different kinds of hours.
It’s highly likely that you will also suffer from sleep deprivation at times in which case all the above rules still apply only in slow motion, severely intoxicated and in Klingon.