Yes, yes….it’s been too long. I was trying to work out why my blog posts…which had started at an admittedly optimistically paced twice a week, before slowing to once, then trickling to monthly, before drying up completely around 8 weeks ago…had become so much harder to complete. And as I thought about it, I was rudely interrupted by a crying baby who wanted my undivided attention. Until given it of course, when what she actually wanted to do, was to chew on the end of an old bit of newspaper she’d uncovered from some neglected area of reachability. But there was the answer nevertheless. Everything is harder now that Grace nears one, and my free time (ha!!) has dwindled to dust.
Something they don’t tell you up front when you have a baby, is that actually, the first few months are a piece of cake. A walk in the park. A breeze. Probably because it’s not exactly true. Except that relatively…relative to the later months….it bloomin’ well is! In my opinion of course…I sense this may not be the universally held view in the house, let alone in the wider community.
In those first few, idyllic months, your baby will basically be doing one of just four things: Sleeping. Eating. Pooing. Crying. Albeit, it may be doing more than one of these at any one time. Indeed, more than likely it is. And these four activities will be taking place in one place…specifically the last place you left the baby. Or of course, the place you happen to be standing, holding the baby. Introduce a new activity, such as bathing…and the baby will just do as it is told. Approximately.
This is all good you think. Probably best of all is the sleeping. They may not sleep throughout the night (some of them…and I’m thinking here of one very close to me as I type this….may never achieve this), but for the first few months they will be sleeping a lot, giving ample opportunities to do the dishes, laundry dusting…blogging…although after uploading the latest batch of photos up to Facebook you may not have quite as much time as you think. Or as your wife may expect.
Lulled into the security of being on top of this daddy daycare malarkey, you selflessly sign up for another 6 months of it, sending your wife back to the grindstone full time, as you plan to swan around, leisurely taking in the next song and rhyme time, or mums’ picnic. Then it hits….You are no longer the master of this tiny little innocent and helpless life. You are now the slave to this tiny little demanding and mischievous life.
Then:- Grace would eat everything put in front of her and drink everything stuck in her mouth unquestioningly, gratefully and without pause to consider the digestive consequences.
Now:- Everything needs to be variously squashed, dropped repeatedly on the floor, placed on the head, rubbed in the face, thrown at daddy. The food can be loved and wolfed down one day, the next, completely ignored, cried over, shouted at or spat out.
Then:- Long sleeps throughout the day, and even when waking in the night, Grace would get the hint and fall asleep again reasonably quickly.
Now:- I read that most babies by this age sleep through the night. Grace is not most babies. You can probably expect at least two awakenings between midnight and 6am. If you’re lucky, these will result in around half an hour of calming to return to sleep. Often you are unlucky. Unlucky will mean spending up to two hours in the depths of the earliest of morning trying to convince an alternating crying, wriggling, manic baby that actually, it is still legally time for sleeping.
Then:- The one thing Grace loved most in the world was lying in the bath splashing around, having her hair washed.
Now:- The one thing Grace hates most in the world is lying in the bath splashing around, and in particular, having her hair washed. It is now a daily battle of wills between daddy and daughter to ensure that the days foodstuffs are adequately washed out of an increasingly thick mop of hair. Sometimes daddy loses this battle. Often. The battle is usually ended by Grace standing up, crying and trying to get her little leg over the edge of the bath, whilst at the same time pushing daddy away. One line of thought has it, that me tipping a jug of water over her head a few weeks ago, has permanently damaged my bathing credentials.
Then: There was no moving. Grace stayed put. You could leave the room, make a cup of tea, check Twitter…and there would Grace stay, happily sucking a toe, sleeping … or presumably just twiddling her little thumbs wondering where daddy has gone.
Now: Yes, Grace is moving on all fours, rapidly around the house…or more accurately 3 and a halves, with this odd little crawl she has. Leave the room and Grace behind, and before you know it…often with no audible signal…Grace will be there behind you, at your feet, ready to cause some major trippage. This is not the worst of it.
The worst is that Grace can also scale objects…chairs, tables…ovens… Try as you might to take all items out of her reach, and ensure full child safety compliance, there will always be one thing…several things…that she is found playing with that she shouldn’t be when you are more than a short distance away. Cue much running around, picking her up, and depositing her somewhere safer. For as long as it takes her to catch breath and set off again after the wifi router; ornamental flowers; television ….her three current favourite targets.
Then: I’d always regarded myself as a bit of a dab hand at nappies. My nappy pit stops were of Red Bull-like speed and efficiency. What helped was Grace’s docile nature on the changing mat, paying no heed to being picked up one legged after another to have her bottom cleaned and changed in record time.
Now: I am coming to dread nappy changes. I can barely even begin to write about the wriggling, the twisting, the turning of half changed babies, poo still hanging off them, on their little feet….on your carpet as you hold one handed onto whatever bit you can find (usually the pooiest bit) as the other hand attempts to reach something…anything that will be able to help clean the mess up. Or maybe just distract the baby long enough to trap it in a corner and reset it back on the mat. For the fifteenth time.
Notwithstanding any of the above, of course, I wouldn’t change a thing and the greater challenges are simply a sign that my little girl is gaining her independence, character and growing up (albeit all too soon). And I’m sure as you’ll all tell me…it gets no easier as they get older.
On a more serious point, Grace is not difficult in any way, shape or form. There are many families who really do have a difficult time looking after their kids, for many, many reasons and I don’t know how they cope or understand the sacrifices they must make. Friends within our NCT group have a little boy who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a devastating form of epilepsy – if you’re short of a charity to support, please consider this: https://www.justgiving.com/dravetsyndromeuk