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05th Nov 2018

Great Expectations: The 10 all-time lows I’ve hit as a first-time mother

'Parenthood is nothing like it is on Instagram.'

Sophie White

Before I became a parent, I had a pretty good idea of what kind of parent I would be.

I don’t even think that my expectations were massively ambitious: My actions would be considered, I would cherish these magical years, my son would wear matching clothes and eat only organic foods.

Then we took him home from the hospital and shit hit the fan. Literally. Shit hit pretty much everything in fact and increasingly my days have become a bit like a drunken bender.

The day starts out fine, I feel some sense of control, even enjoy myself a bit but by bottles 2 or 3 (baby bottles that is) time appears to speed up and veer out of control. Before long I’m a slurring mess, covered in vomit unsure of what exactly has happened to me, aware only of a pervading sensation of stickiness and a pounding headache. It’s 11am.

I realised pretty sharpish that parenthood is nothing like it is on Instagram. It is essentially a bit like riding a unicycle while trying to eat a corn-on-the-cob and operating a hand held blender to fend off an unrelenting deluge of silly string. It is a constant, chaotic scramble to stay on top of an overwhelming tide of laundry, encrusted snots, tiny socks, squashed bananas, rice cakes and poo. Basically after having the baby all my notions of what kind of parent I would be boiled down to one imperative: Survive.

Survive parenthood, survive the baby, ensure that the baby survives me as his mother. Just Live. I just want to live.

In my bid for survival, I’ve found myself doing some pretty questionable things that I thought I’d own up to. Here are…

The 10 all-time lows I’ve hit as a first-time parent:

1 Catching poo barehanded. The memory of it is still so visceral, that warmth. It was catch it in my hand or ruin my mother’s sheepskin rug. It was a rookie move not using a changing mat. I wish I could say this has only happened once.

2 Cleaning him after meals by eating the dross directly off his face. My partner says this is unbearable to watch but sometimes there is no cloth to hand. I’ve tried to pass this one off as a post-modern life-hack as it is an economical manoeuvre; depending on the food it is tasty and saves on the wash. Who’s with me?

3 Drinking my wine from a sippy cup. My son was weaned onto the bottle depressingly quick. It was love at first sight. He kicked my boob to the curb, stuck the bockie in his mouth and hasn’t looked back since. He is so completely wedded to his bottle that he won’t ENTERTAIN the sippy cup. I’ve taken to drinking my wine out of a sippy cup in a bid to encourage him to use his. Though after a few too many sippy cups I might get them mixed up which would be a disaster, I hate milk.

4 Throwing nappies directly out the window. This is another low that could arguably be considered a life hack. I never got around to getting a proper nappy bin so instead I just chuck the nappies directly out the window into the garden. Then the next time anyone goes out there they can just do a quick whip around and put all the dirty nappies into the black bin.

5 Cutting him out of babygros after shit-up-the-back incidents. Surely we’ve all done this one.

6 Feeding him his dinner in the bath. Feeding a toddler is messy and frustrating. So now I feed him in the bath (which is actually the kitchen sink), this distracts him enough to actually accept a few bites and minimises the cleaning of food off the walls, floor and child.

7 Taking more than my allotted share of the free Anabel Karmel baby food sachets from Ikea. An addendum to this one: making the trip to Ikea for the SOLE purpose of stocking up on said food sachets.

8 Playing the baby card. Using the baby to get out of undesirable activities, familial obligations or tiresome social occasions. Low but handy. One need never attend a hen again.

9 Stashing snots. This is a particularly juvenile one, but basically the advent of the baby has caused me to regress majorly. Sometimes I’ll be out and about and find myself in (unwanted) possession of one of his snots (which have incredible adhesive properties). I won’t have a tissue naturally because I’m a complete rookie as this list demonstrates, and I will invariably do the senior infants stash. Under chairs, tables, anywhere. I even put them on my husband sometimes as a secret but satisfying revenge.

10 Getting sick in the portable baby bath. This gem is actually an all-time low of my husband’s, who regularly suffers from the “bad pint” phenomenon and one night availed of my son’s baby bath to regurgitate said bad pint. That’s not even the worst part if you can imagine. The worst bit was that he neglected to put the stopper in and by morning the bad pint juice had seeped out and gone everywhere.