My little baby turned 6 months old today. I’m sitting here watching the sun-set over the Mediterranean Sea at Fréjus in France,furiously punching out prose on my iphone,emboldened by a few glasses of rosé,heeding his cries and my elder son’s demands for a bed-time read.
Here’s 24 things (1 for each week of his existence) I’ve learned about mothering two kids,that no parenting book ever covered:
1.All second born kids inherently possess that buddha-like zen-ness.They need it for the imediate commencement of their meditation & mindfulness training when they’re approx 4 hours old, to counter all the moments they’ll be ignored in favour of their high-maintenance elder sibling.
2. There’s nothing that prepares you for having a baby mid-snow storm in Germany. In January.Nothing.
3. Having your own parents around to love,help & care for your children after your 2nd baby is born is worth more than any actual material gift for said children that they could ever,ever give. Really.
4. Leaving a baby+ toddler alone with their father for 3 hours is a great test of one’s marriage.
4a. Your husband is at his cutest changing nappies.
5. Leaving a baby + toddler with their Oma for 3 hours is a great test of one’s ability to trust one’s mother-in-law.
6. A glass of champagne on Friday & Saturday nights is a necessity. Preferably french.Buy 1 bottle per week,split the contents with your partner & deduct the weekly costs from your baby’s future inheritance on the grounds of “necessary medication”.
7. Get used to date night with unshaved legs disguised by great high heels and running out the door with no makeup but fab earrings.
8.Don’t feel bad if you haven’t read that day’s newspaper: use your toilet time efficiently to do a general news overview based on 140 characters or less via twitter
9. Get used to cellulite in strange & curious places. The stomach is the crème de la crème: buy a diamond-encrusted belly chain to feel good about those lines that gave life.
10. Never fear the use of elusive threats & vivid imagery e.g telling your husband “If you don’t take the baby for 1 hour so I can go for a jog/do yoga/ go to the gym,I’ll weigh 70kg forever & be wearing maternity jeans & nursing bras permanently”.
11. Doctors are amazing but midwives are the ultimate unsung heros of the world (and the delivery suite).
12.An unplanned c-section is not a disappointment or a failure. It is a miracle of modern medicine.
13. A vbac (vaginal birth after c-section) is f@&€-ing doable no matter what ANYONE tells you
14. Breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months after your first time was characterised as “destined to fail” IS possible,no matter what ANYONE tells you
15. Amongst those books on attachment parenting,spiritual midwivery,orgasmic birth,they all fail to mention one great tip for calming a needy baby & bored toddler: face-paint.Let your toddler paint all over your face & vice versa. Black & red paints seem to do the trick.Keep face paint only to the baby’s cheeks.
16.Having kids in Berlin is like arriving at a buffet at a chinese restaurant,the offerings for extra-curricular activities are seemingly endless:baby swimming,baby french,baby english,baby italian,developmental play group according to the German method,developmental playgroup according to the Prague method,baby massage,baby music,baby maths,baby -mama yoga,baby-mama pilates,baby-mama pelvic floor recovery,baby-mama pram sport.
17.Having 2 kids in Berlin (or Germany) is validation not just of your reproductive capacity but your stamina on the public transport network: mastering the art of looking desperate & simultaneously in control whilst hand-pulling a pram up the stairs waiting for a kind soul to help schlep it up as your toddler announces they just peed their pants.
18. You can get your sh@t into gear & leave the house much,much faster than you ever thought possible. Especially when your toddler can tell the time on an analogue clock & lets you know the little hand “is almost on the 9”.
19. Never under-estimate the power of copious amounts of gummy bears.
20. Likewise,never under-estimate the power of an iphone & free wifi when faced with dire scenarios e.g your baby is strapped in a baby carrier and you need to use a public toilet or there’s an excessively long queue at the gelateria.Ditto twitter & facebook.
21. A confirmed commitment to keep pics of kids & babies off instagram takes on new heights once you see how there’s enough celebrities & other parents who do it (badly). It’s more expensive,but more noble to pay for a pair of nice jeans or a t-shirt for your kid,than try & get it for free through staging second-rate photo shoots in your kitchen, tagging fashion brands with the goal of winning free clothes.
22.When in doubt about any parenting decision,the ultimate litmus test is “Would my parents have ever done that to me?” (See above) If the answer is no,don’t do it.
23. You can never have enough holidays as a family of 4 in the first 6 months or 12 months.Or ever.
24. You learn to be kinder to yourself & dance secret little victory dances in the corner of the bathroom once both kids are asleep by 8pm.But also not feel like it’s the apocalypse,a nuclear meltdown,WW3 and an imminently crashing meteor all happening at once when you have a sick baby & a gastroentitis-ridden toddler.