Ten Things Ted’s Taught Me
Way back when I started this blog I decided what I wanted was to help other new Mums to feel a bit less clueless and a bit more in control. I thought knowing that someone else had already asked the “stupid” questions might make them feel a bit better about asking them too. This blog has been a place for me to gather together the answers to those questions as well as somewhere for me to gush about my most beautiful boy.
I’ve been Ted’s Mum for thirteen months now and in that time I’ve gleaned lots of valuable information. I’m sharing some of that information with you now so that your own first thirteen months will be stress-free.*
Translation: “welcome to our blog. We hope it helps.”
*This is not even a little bit true. Please don’t try and sue me.
1) The more expensive the toy the less likely it is to be played with.
1b) If it’s not a toy it’s a better toy than any toy could ever be.
Over this past year Ted has acquired more toys than any child could ever play with. He’s got lovely toys. He’s got Lamaze and Nuby and Sassy and Fisher Price and Little Tikes. He’s got cars and balls and softies and teethers and walkers and teddies.
But what are his favourite toys? Empty plastic bottles.
At his Nanny’s house it’s a purple Fruit Shoot bottle that his cousin left for him to throw around.
I tried to embrace this and make him some environment-saving Earth-mother recycled toys. I took some small water bottles and I filled them with glitter and sequins and paper hearts and dried pasta. He took them from me with concentration in his eyes. And then he threw them, the way he throws everything. Everything except for that blasted Fruit Shoot bottle!
+ Related issues: the box is better than the present; leaflets are fun!; Mum’s phone could do with a wash; teething is better without teethers.
2) You never actually become immune to the smell of your baby’s poo.
I’d like to tell you that everything about my little man is perfect and that I wouldn’t change a thing, and it’d nearly be true. He’s got perfect little peachy bum cheeks and when he’s waddling around in just his nappy he looks adorable. But sometimes that nappy is hiding something horrific.
I’m not ashamed to admit that my son has crawled over to my chair, pulled himself up to stand in front of me and put his arms up for a cuddle, and that as I’ve bent down to him I’ve been hit by a smell so disgusting I’ve pushed him away and run for his changing mat, closing off my nostrils and breathing only through my mouth.
I’m also not ashamed to admit to having, on occasion, pretended not to notice the smell emanating from his bedroom as I’ve snuck back into bed and “coughed” until BabyDaddy’s woken up, heard him stirring and gone to find a surprise waiting for him while I silently smirk with my eyes closed. That’s teamwork.
+ Related issues: Poo is a common topic of conversation; the “poop or chocolate?” part of Baby Mama is real life.
3) Your baby, your pride and joy, the person you love more than any other, will sometimes make you feel so desperately frustrated, angry and depressed that you’ll consider throwing yourself (or them) out of a window.
3b) And it’s good for you to admit it.
This is a difficult thing to accept but once you understand that it’s okay to feel like that (so long as nobody actually goes out of any windows) life gets much easier. When your husband or sister or best friend wind you up you tell them to, ahem, “go away”. I’m a firm believer in “going away” from your baby when the window pops into your mind.
I’ve been known to put Ted, screaming, in his cot where I know he’s safe and shut every door between there and the furthest room away while I’ve breathed through it. He’s much better off being upset for ten minutes than having a Mummy who’s so close to the edge that the window needs to be bolted shut.
Now I just need Ted to understand it!
+ Related issues: I love you but I don’t like you very much right now; If you stop crying I’ll stop crying.
4) On those days mentioned above if you’re lucky enough to have someone who will come and take over while you have an hour to yourself the following things WILL happen:
i) They’ll stop screaming the minute you leave the room.
ii) Before you’ve got to the top of the stairs you’ll hear giggling.
iii) That giggling will make you remember everything you love about that screaming, snotty, irritating, bewildering, beautiful, amazing little person.
iv) Suddenly you don’t need that hour away anymore.
v) But you take it anyway because opportunities like that don’t come around every day!
Remember when you were pregnant and everyone gave you the same piece of advice: sleep when the baby sleeps? You should still stand by that. And also sleep when the baby’s not asleep if someone else is looking after them. And sleep whenever you get a chance to sleep. Even if your baby sleeps through and you get plenty of sleep. Just sleep!
5) No matter how many times people tell you that “all babies develop at different rates” you can’t help looking at those babies who have been walking and talking since the day they were born and wondering whether there’s something wrong with yours.
I was really pleased with myself when I managed to avoid this one for so long. The only times I really struggled were when the Health Visitors commented on his weight. I’d check the growth charts to see if they were making sense (they weren’t).
Then one day when BabyDaddy took Ted to a group I couldn’t go to he came back and told me that Ted had been playing with a little girl who was standing even though she was only two weeks older than him. Ted wasn’t even sitting yet and I suddenly started wondering whether there was anything wrong with him. There wasn’t. All babies develop at different rates.
When I started going to a regular baby group I felt much better. Yes, there were babies much younger than Ted who could walk when Ted just would not stand up. But there were also babies older than Ted who weren’t crawling yet. There were all sorts of babies doing all sorts of things, and all of them were doing what they needed to be doing at that time. Developing! At different rates!
+ Related issues: Why isn’t my baby doing that yet?; Ha, your baby isn’t doing this yet!; My baby does this better than any other baby has ever done anything!
6) Even though you know you shouldn’t judge other parents you still do.
Why else would you worry so much about what other parents think of you? You know they do it too! Try as I might I can’t help thinking “you’ll regret that!” when I see someone carrying their new baby while someone else pushes the pram. I’ve heard people say “don’t pay for Rusks when you can give them Rich Tea!” and wrinkled my nose whilst uttering the word salt to myself. I’ll admit I look at people who put Coca Cola in their babies’ bottles with more than disdain. (Even more so the woman with Red Bull). I’ve looked away and pretended not to notice a woman smacking her toddler in the middle of a children’s centre.
Even Ted is judging us!
But I also know I’ve been judged for bottle-feeding, for giving him a dummy, for occasionally co-sleeping, for putting him in his own bed earlier than recommended, for weaning him earlier than recommended, for giving him bottles later than recommended, because he had baby acne, for letting him watch TV. Even just for naming him Ted.
I know I judge other parents and I know they judge me, and that’s sort of okay because we’re all just muddling through, doing what we think’s best.
So long as we keep it to ourselves.
+ Related issues: That woman doesn’t have a clue!; Help! I don’t have a clue!
7) Baby books are wrong.
7b) But your Mum is probably right.
I’m sure I’m not alone in having one or two “new-parent” type baby books. On commenting that I’m tired I’ve been (almost) ordered to try Gina Ford, and when asking about weaning I’ve had Annabel Karmel thrust at me. Some of the things I’ve read and tried have been okay but I have to admit to rolling my eyes a lot when reading others. I’ve not come across an “approach” I like at all. Ever. Except my Mum’s, which is to do what feels right.
(Bug-O-Loop from Nuby)
Play and learn together. It’s really all you can do.
+ Related issues: Cuddle him? Leave him? Count to ten?
8) Mum knows best.
8b) It’s better to feel stupid when it turns out to be nothing than to feel guilty when it’s not.
As in point 7, doing what feels right probably is right. What I’ve discovered over the past thirteen months, and particularly during the first few, is that parenting is essentially guesswork. All you do is try stuff out, paint on a look that says you know what you’re doing and glare at anyone who challenges you. Or cry, depending on how those hormones are doing.
The truth remains that as his Mum I know Ted better than anyone else. In the world. Ever. And that’s pretty amazing. I love it. But it’s also scary because it means that if I get it wrong there’s a strong chance no one else will notice (or they won’t dare tell me!).
Maybe that’s why Mums are so nervey when their babies are poorly. We all hear tales of babies who have been desperately ill with only their Mums recognising it and fighting to get doctors to see what they had been able to see all along. So we worry that if we don’t see it then maybe no one will. It’s a big responsibility.
Which is why we really are the ones to trust when it comes to our babies’ health, because we not only know them best and see them most but second-guess ourselves to such an extent that we don’t worry other people if we’re not truly worried ourselves.
And if it does turn out that we’ve got it wrong and that rash was just an allergic reaction to the washing powder or the lump on their testicle was dried-on cotton wool (yeah, that last one was real) then at least we can breathe a sigh of relief, laugh about being a neurotic mother and be on our way. No harm done.
+ Related issues: Nappy content examination; What’s that smell?; Is it supposed to look like that?
9) Every new thing your baby does is exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
9b) And nothing is more exciting than watching them learn.
I can’t be the only parent who has sat clapping and cheering and willing my baby to roll over, crawl or walk, but then thought “no! Stop! I didn’t mean it! I’m not ready!”
It’s amazing when they roll over but then they don’t necessarily stay where you put them (like on the bed, eh BabyDaddy?). When Ted started crawling I was so proud but also suddenly saw danger everywhere. As he started to pull himself up I had to move EVERYTHING higher as he’s so flipping tall!
And now he’s taking his first tentative steps I’m such a jumble of emotions. I’m so proud and happy and excited; I’m nervous of the falls he’s going to have; I’m apprehensive about the trouble he’ll cause; I’m elated that my big boy is doing all of these new things; and I’m so so sad that my baby has turned into a toddler. But there have been many many more firsts, and there will be so many more.
The first time Ted noticed shadows he sat and waved at the wall whilst giggling. The first time he used a sign to communicate (“finished”) he had such a proud look on his face when I said the word. The first time he got all of the rings on his stacker in the right order he looked so beautiful. The first time he saw a pigeon fly he shouted and it sounded like “HEY!”
All of these firsts are just as amazing to me as the ones they have spaces for in the memory books because I can see him learning, growing and developing.
My baby’s becoming a little boy and it’s magical.
+ Related issues: Look at my big boy!; Don’t be such a big boy!; Where’s my baby gone?
10) You will never ever understand how you managed to make such a perfect little person.
10b) And you’ll never ever be able to put into words how it makes you feel that you did.
I love my husband and I think he’s handsome but I look at my son and I think, “how the hell did we manage to make someone as beautiful as you?!”
(Photo by Jade Dowling)
The minute you first hold your baby in your arms the whole of the rest of the world disappears. It only ever comes back into full view, piece by piece, when your baby sees it too.