So many questions. I was talking last time about all the questions I am asked by my bunch on a day-to-day basis (as well as the ones that I ask in return … and, no, I still don’t know where my coasters are — thanks for your concern!)
This week, we move on to instructions. I think I might start saying “and that’s an order!” in a somewhat commanding voice to see if they might desist. Probably not.
Some select “shouts” include: “Stop climbing on the [sofa, table, your sibling, banister, etc]” and “Stop chewing your [hair, clothes, toys, pencils, fingers, etc].”
And so, it had to happen sooner or later. Lockdown birthday season is now upon us. For the foreseeable future it will be remote family celebrations and video parties galore.
I am the kind of person who doesn’t really bother about my own birthday, but I do worry about making everyone else’s special. No matter how old you are, it’s still an important thing to mark. The moment you first drew breath and said “hello world” — or perhaps, more fittingly, the world first said hello to you.
Now video calls are sure to be providing a real lifeline for families struggling with separation. My middle two have been enjoying seeing their friends’ faces on screen, but we are finding it more of a challenge persuading them to sit on their derrières for longer than five seconds in order to have a proper conversation with their beleaguered grandparents, who are missing their angelic little faces.
I have found that sitting them down for a chat while they are eating tends to keep them in situ for a slightly longer amount of time. Until they wander off-screen in search of “another course” like yogurt or cake …
When my children’s birthdays approach I find myself recalling the days and weeks leading up to their arrivals. How the world was without them, and how it altered when they joined us.
With my eldest, it was the feeling that life was about to change beyond recognition. I spent the first two weeks of maternity leave cursing the heat (now, that’s unusual for me!) resting my rapidly swelling ankles in between scrubbing the house, washing and folding clothing for teensy humans and eating my way through large packets of crisps while binge-watching TV shows.
No amount of antenatal classes could fully prepare my husband and me for what was to follow on from that hazy fortnight. Bringing a child into the world is a thrilling and hazardous business. There’s so much love and energy: strength and weakness in the same breath. You were an adult and you thought you were pretty adept at taking care of yourself —yet the sheer panic staring at this tiny, squirming, noisy, needy person was overwhelming.
So, my thoughts turn to all those parents who are just about to go through this — either for the first time, or with siblings along for the journey too. And, of course, those who have recently welcomed a baby since lockdown was announced.
I doff my proverbial hat to everyone experiencing these life-changing events in such strange times. With no extended family or friends visiting the hospital or popping round in the days and weeks afterwards. Waving at little ones from the other side of glass, wishing they could have that first cuddle.
I have no doubt that parents of newborns will continue to be supported wonderfully by our invaluable, hard-working NHS. The midwives, nurses, doctors and health visitors will be acutely aware of the pressures on families right now, with childcare almost non-existent and isolation keeping routines in flux.
I saw something shared recently by the NHS Tayside midwives and it certainly resonated: “We have a secret in our culture. It’s not that birth is painful: it’s that women are strong.” And strong we must be as we weather this storm for the sake of all our families.
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