Recently I met up with a friend in the same boat as myself. Two under two. Both girls. We love the bones of these little lassies. We plan they will go to school together, be friends or fight as maybe. I find that I am only recently leaving the house with Betsy and I think it is down to bad weather and illnesses. She is three months. My friend has only just moved back to this county, her home county, a few weeks ago. We have already experienced the mannerly visitations a new home requires so this drop in was casual.
This friend is a relation in law distantly and thus is how we are friends. To start therefore we were definitely ‘more polite’ shall we say when comparing war stories than when chatting the actual besties.
I brought one (the smaller one) with me. Gigi was at playgroup. My friend’s eldest had been brought out on a trip by a nice Auntie. Her own youngest was asleep. This was lovely! We got to actually speak!
Both us us were in sweats and hoodies, peeled back hair. I was glad as my friend tends to be glamourous and always looks great. She still looked great, but I really felt more comfortable about my own lack of style. A shelf full of Benefit and Mac make-up are going to rot and two dinky tailors’ models holding necklaces and chains are gathering serious dust since the birth of my first. Beloved little quirky pieces that I had time to mull over and select carefully are on extended hiatus.
Another new side to my world! It is interesting how altered a situation is made by babies. People who generally met in a bar over beers,chatted at weddings or at work, or other social occasions now have to bring a bag of bulging bottles, nappies and a variety snacks with them. You have to immediately clock where a nappy might be changed or a baby fed. It is definitely a bond when the person you are seeing is in the same boat! Ah you have the same bouncer, you announce! Sure, put her on the playmat there, no problem. Throw us that nappy bag, I can put it with the rest! You are desperate to help the other person ‘know that you know’ what it is like. Who would have thought?! Sudocreme over strawberry lip gloss, nappy bags over new handbags.
Our opening ten minutes was more relaxed than expected due to the acquiescence of our children. We smiled and referred to how different life was. How things were ‘a bit mad’. How obsessed the younger sibling is by the older. How the older tries to ‘help’. How adorable (and potentially lethal) that is. Tea was made. Milk poured into jugs. Homemade buns offered. I brought cake.
Berries for the kids. These days we bring fruit and organic snacks as gifts to kids, not chocolate buttons! These are the times. So far, so mannerly.
We all give advice to new Mums. Let the visitor make the tea, we say. Take all offers of help, we order. Make plenty of frozen dinners we command. I have learned that we are our own worst enemies. One child in arms, the other might decide to be stranger shy. Therefore you juggle both. You offer tea. The visitor accepts but goes to make it. Bowlegged, you groan to a stand clutching your antisocial angels, declaring, ‘God no, sure it’s no problem at all, done in a minute’, and you literally sweat blood making that tea. The visitor looks uncomfortable. However you won’t have it said you didn’t do it! The Lord himself wouldn’t stop me making that tea. How nice is it to be with a friend who knows! In this situation I felt no guilt! My host popped off gladly to make tea, light on her feet.She made a joke of the jug, telling me her Mother bought it for her. She reckoned her Mam was worried that milk would always be served a la carton otherwise. So on this occasion she got to employ it. We both scorned the pressure on us to have fussy tea sets and sugar bowls out for guests (even though I love that stuff!). We hate the pressure although we love the china, we decided. We oohed at the cakes, both mentioned our need to lose wobble but vindicated each other’s choices to indulge. Her buns were homemade. Mine weren’t. She put out back up chocolate bars. (Post natal women need them). Brilliant!
We compared sleeping times. Mine had a great night. Her’s hadn’t. Up since four. I admired the honesty. Began to warm up. Discussed the laundry. Her eyes widen telling of her hate for these piles and how she dreams of a communal clothes room. I knew no one liked laundry but I am so delighted to have someone who hates it vociferously to moan with on a Wednesday afternoon. She had Jeremy Kyle frozen on the TV screen. The confessions began. When the babies sleep, when we have fifteen minutes, we watch trash with our sneaky Mars. Her indulgence is Teen Mom. Mine was Celebrity Apprentice. We both coyly admitted watching the big shame kahuna…Big Brother. Please don’t judge us. We are intelligent, educated women. We have read Joyce and Wilde. My friend speaks Irish and reads Irish literature. So why do we feel we must defend ourselves?! We just do. We know it is time wasting tripe. It is just that we need chewing gum for the brain these days.
My friend calls the time that you may or may not get when both smallies sleep ‘The Holy Grail’. Immediately I felt it! Religious, sacred and a disaster to come close to grabbing only to let it slip away…
I lost my chance at the grail yesterday. It was more the Monty Python version of the day shall we say. I watched my moment with a greedy (terrible for me, yet disgustingly delicious slice of Betty Crocker magic cake with Azera coffee whilst watching something brain dulling like Salvage Hunters) slip away for ever. (Betty Crocker recipie: eggs, oil, water and magic yummy dust from a box. Mix . Bake. Poof. Cake! ).
You can’t eat and enjoy cake in front of children. Hypocritical to say the least when they are given carrot! I told my friend and she admitted to an all time low. Eating a Mars bar in the bathroom. Hiding on her toddler. Desperate for a bad energy kick after a busy night with a baby. I hear it. I feel better!
I know that having healthy babies is the holy grail itself. Believe me. My first was born a very sick little girl and we are blessed. I speak of the small things here. Small, mundane challenges and our selfish needs to make the day bearable when the pressure is on. Should we feel guilty for wanting that small time of pleasure when the rest of the day is a myriad of cleaning, feeding, changing, rinse and repeat? Playtime with babies is lovely. The smiles are unbelievable. I love those little wonders. I just need a Wispa every now and again on my own with a book or a bad TV show. Therefore the sleep time is important. Both asleep together is definitely the holy grail. My friend nailed it.
Don’t feel guilty Mammies, Daddies and Guardians. We deserve it.