The baby has landed. Here are my musings about that life-changing, wonderful and pretty scary fact. The intention was to start posting from Day One but it turns out that brand new humans cause a 6-month delay on ANYTHING getting done, from having a proper wash to writing a blog. It will be a steep learning curve...
By trade I am a journalist with a background in current affairs, culture, health and fitness, travel and high profile interviews. I also own and run an outdoor fitness business aimed at people that hate gyms and bootcamps (www.spartanfitnesslondon.co.uk). Most importantly though, I am on Shared Parental Leave from May 31 to October 3. Everyday from 0730 to 1800 I will be in sole charge of a real and completely awesome baby girl.
Day 37-38 – Rave Sleeping and Reverting to the Dark Ages
Very Messy (ahem, no relation to Lionel)
So much for me getting recharged. Monday was the jab just to sharpen me up for the week and Tuesday's tearaway tikes was the solid uppercut that I thought I had recovered from. Then with a relatively decent sleep, Wednesday (Day 37) hit me from behind like a speeding freight train only for me to peel myself off the canvas for Thursday to mow me down like an out-of-control combine harvester running late for its wheat order. Nothing major happened, I just never quite caught my breath from the moment I woke to the the second I turned in.
Never fear, the details are here...
Of course Wednesday was swimming day and M'Lady woke up raring to go. At 0650 I found her limbering up with a few stretches and activating her core muscles with a side-plank exercise. In reality, as I walked into her room she was arching her back in an attempt to dislodge her cankle from the cot's bars before the momentum of being released caused her to roll over. As the lardy lady went to roll a second time both gravity and the Law of Moments gave up and left her beached on her side. She was there for quite some time. Then I stepped in to rid her of the night's wee-fest.
This week's foray into the swimming pool was another great success with my champion performing beautifully on the commands of Hold On, Turn, Swim Swim and Dive Dive. We really rattled through the moves and the kids spent most of their time being dunked or thrown face down into the water. To the layperson the training could seem ruthless and to those weeds who wear woolly cardigans and scarves in the summer it would certainly appear as abuse, however all of the babies loved it and swimming is easily A-bomb's favourite part of the week.
At the end of the session, after diving off a giant float while we chanted jelly on the plate in their faces, the tiny people were given the chance to run along the float, into the pool. Yes, run. So the other TODDLERS (aged 15-18 months ish) were held by the instructor and their mums and guided off the foamy mat while they walked quickly.
A-Bomb, aged seven months, was last up.
In her wonderfully clipped tone the excellent South African teacher asked: "Can Alexa walk yet?"
"No," I responded, almost apologising before catching myself.
"Ah, of caws, yis. She is younga."
Not a problem, my specimen popped up on the float, rose on her feet and we dragged the little munchbunch in feet first. As she came to the surface she was all smiles with bloodshot eyes. Superstar.
Back at home she was so tired that she slept for more than two hours. More impressive than all of her efforts in the pool though was the fact that she managed to stay zonked out despite the full-blown RAVE that my next door neighbour decided to have at 1.30pm on weekday. My baby's ability to keep her eyes closed through the high-pitched 80s synth notes was commendable.
The fact that she didn't flinch means I can keep that particular complaint in my locker for when I received a knock regarding my own (much worse) bad habits in future.
THURSDAY saw us – a duo now being dubbed AC-JC by the fans (just the Milk Lady) – attend BABY SENSORY armed with spare clothes, because we had been forewarned that it was to be "messy play". Finally a fully sanctioned time for us forgotten folk who can't help but destroy things and end up covered in spinach and bin juice! Sadly the messy bit had to wait until THE LEADER had finished her six-minute Broadway-ready version of Incy-Wincy Spider with pom-poms. But the wait was worth it... one delicious pile of cooked spaghetti and one wobbly and very sticky mountain of jelly to play in. Of course there was the mandatory safety statement from THE LEADER along the lines of "It's all safe to eat if your little one puts it in his or her mouth, but it is not suitable for vegetarians" which was followed by the inevitable "why is it not for vegetarians, is there meat in it?". One day, in some kind of promised land, a giant shovel will appear from the sky at moments like these and scoop away (possibly into a bin of raw meat) those who ask questions that don't deserve an answer.
Anyway as the babies faced down their prospective messes I opted to place A-bomb directly in the middle of the jelly so that she got the most out of the experience. Other babies soon followed suit by smashing the hands and feet into the gloriously soft and squishy stuff. M'Lady then made me super proud by falling backwards into the pile of yellow sludge to ensure was completely covered. With time called on the fun called far too soon I quickly threw some pasta on my darling's head, just to make sure she was as messy as possible. I did not want her to feel shortchanged.
Just before we returned to the mat to wipe down our offspring I received the the most outdated, sexist and regressive comment yet from one of the mums. I was not meant to be offensive but that didn't mean it wasn't.
On seeing A-bomb covered head-to-toe in jelly, with her hair matted and eyes caked, the sweet woman said: "Ooo wait until you get her home, her mum is going to go mad at how messy you've got her".
I replied: "Her mum is at work, it's my concern. The aim was to get messy".
I left it there because I had no intention of having a debate about how it's the seemingly innocent comments that reinforce negative gender stereotypes.
On reflection though, outside of the jelly pasta arena the comment made me think about the ridiculous parameters some people squeeze their lives into: Man earn money, woman cook food, man look after child sometimes for treat, woman keep child clean, man go to pub, woman get angry at man if he does thing different with child than woman might.
On the whole people seem to get it now: men and women can both be parents and rules do not have to exist that mean only mothers take time off work to raise their kids.
If only the woman from the 1940s knew what I ended up doing after messy time, she would have had a heart attack. I washed my own baby and put her down for a nap, then fed her from a bottle all by myself, then put her on a mat to play in the garden while I HUNG WASHING UP that I had washed myself using a WASHING MACHINE. So much multi-tasking it should be and might well be illegal.
Come on people, we are all humans. Men and women have a few different body parts that serve a few different purposes but other than that, move on from dark ages and get over the gender thing.