Thursday, 17 May 2012

The voyage, the tournament, the trek

Unlike Celebrity Apprentice, motherhood is not so much a 'voyage' or a 'tournament' as a trek: it's an exciting idea, about halfway through you'll realise you've got aches and pains in all sorts of weird places and more than once you will wonder what you've gotten yourself into.

There's a lot of lists going around about how to prepare for 'baby.'  But what about the ongoing trek?

I have compiled a list of 10 things you will need if you are planning on becoming a mother.  And remember, these are long-term concepts. I'm not talking about cotton balls and nappy buckets here, I'm talking really, really useful stuff that you will really, really need:

1.  A pair of tongs.  Yes, I know you have a pair of tongs. But you will need another pair of tongs... to pick up the underpants or the 100% polyester super hero or fairy costume that has been worn for 16 days straight  and now lies in a fetid pool of stink on the floor of the bedroom.  I have such a pair and I use them regularly. Just don't get them mixed up with the ones you use to turn the sausages.

2. An obsessive compulsive attitude to the TV remote. By that I mean, you need to know where that thing is every minute of every day. Because it will disappear. And you will never find it again. (If you're lucky, you may find it, years later, in the lift-up seat of your child's ride-on car.)  From the moment your baby is born, you need to get that remote control and put it in his/her hand and say this: "Where does it go? On the coffee table, yes it does, yes it does. This goes on the coffee table doesn't it? Yes it does." If you do not do this you will find yourself back in the 1970s where people had to get up off their arses to change the channel on the television. Yes it's true, there actually was such a time. It was harrowing and we never want to go back there again.

3. A "too high for little hands to reach" hook for your car keys. As above.  As soon as your child can move and carry something simultaneously,  your car keys will go missing. You will then find yourself making like an Orthodox Jew on The Sabbath and walking everywhere  until the keys turn up inside the Playmobile garbage truck.

4. A special set of throw cushions for 'best.' You know those fancy throw cushions on your couch? The really nice flocked ones? If you are about to have a baby, say goodbye to those nice fancy throw cushions because they are about to get trashed.  My top tip, is to have a special set that you bring out for dinner guests or just in the afternoons to cheer yourself up. I have such a set.  If we are having dinner guests, my children are allowed to pose neatly in close proximity to the cushions but they are not allowed to touch the show throw cushions with any part of their bodies. When the guests are gone my special cushions go back in their secret hiding place. It makes me happy.

5.  A forensics kit. This is especially useful if you are planning to have more than one child.  Once you have more than one child it will be impossible to determine: who left their cereal bowl in the living room, whose ice block wrapper is floating around in the space behind the armchair or  whose socks are shoved down between the couch cushions.  There will be bald-faced denials and random finger-pointing.  Unless you see the perpetrator with your own eyes it will be impossible to perform any sort of satisfying retribution. A forensics kit will help you determine who is to blame and in turn dole out the punishment which will make you feel like you have some sort of control over your household again.

6. A big black marker pen.  You know all those fancy bespoke labels you can buy on the internet, where you can choose a dinosaur for boys and a flower for girls and have your kid's name printed out to stick on everything they own? That's nice. You will do that once. Then you'll resort to the black marker pen for EVERYTHING.  I have even labelled the outside of a raincoat: obsessively plastered my son's full name all over it because I got so tired of kids stealing his raincoats (the desperation of a wet day can really bring out the worst in people.)  I figured at least then we would clearly see who the perpetrator was. It never went missing again. But neither did my own son ever wear it to school again. So that would probably account for the fact that it never went missing.

7. A pair of kitchen scissors to cut up chops. Just practical.  Don't judge. We all do it.

8. A blase attitude to cooking food that doesn't get eaten.  Just accept that nine times out of ten no one is going to eat the food you cook and it will go straight in the bin. In fact, just get into the habit of making it and sliding it straight from the frypan into the bin to save yourself the pain.

9. A sock detector.  This is like one of those metal detector contraptions that old men use on the beach at dusk, only it finds socks.   Kids' socks go missing. No one knows why, they just disappear into the ether about one week after you've bought a bulk pack of 25. You can get a sock detector from Danoz Direct. (If you mention this blog you will also get a free rotating carpet sweeper.)

10. An unerring, unwavering, bottomless sense of compassion for stubbed toes, bumped elbows, sore eyebrows and any other sudden sharp unexpected pain that will cause your child to cry out for sympathy.  Unfortunately I have reached my limit on this sort of thing.  I've been at it for 12 years and I just don't care any more if someone bangs their foot on the kitchen stool. Just walk more carefully, I've got nuthin'.

So there are ten really useful things that you will need to embark on the trek of motherhood.  I hope you have found my advice helpful and not too big a dose of the 'reality' stick.

Because motherhood is indeed like a trek through the foothills of Nepal: it's arduous and exhausting but every day you will stumble across something wonderful you weren't expecting.

For example, here is what I got for Mother's Day last Sunday:

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