AND LO! IT HAS ARRIVED!
And it’s ……**A BABY!!**
It cries. It poos. It eats. It doesn’t sleep.
Welcome to motherhood, Kate Middleton.
Welcome to the madhouse.
After so much anticipation and excitement over the arrival of this burping, puking, wrinkly heir to the British throne, we might forget one important thing;
that for all her wealth and fancy hats and ceremony, The Duchess of Cambridge is, under it all, still just a woman.
A girl, even.
And while she’s not exactly struggling to get to the bus in a downpour, juggling jobs and trying to pay the bills, no amount of Royal la-di-dah will stop her finding these early days of motherhood something of a red-hot-poker-up-the-backside to the system, as they are to every new parent.
According to a new survey by Care.com of over 700 new parents (http://blog.uk.care.com/royalbaby/) the biggest problems of new parenthood are
1. dealing with a huge change in our relationship with our partner (read ‘Don’t even THINK about it, Mr. I have a headache. Every night. And will have for the next three decades, OK??’) and
2. suddenly being freaked out by dangers and fears we’d never felt before:
Sockets, once fairly innocuous things we plug our phone chargers into when they start making Dying Bleeping Noises, morph overnight into leaking nuclear power stations just waiting to ZAP our darling baby from across the room;
crossing a road is suddenly to do the Walk Of Sure And Certain Immediate Death;
bathtubs are designed with the sole purpose of drowning a child, even if you’ve filled it with every piece of Anti-Slip, Anti-Drowning Kit money can buy.
And that’s on a good day.
Much is written and said about the first few weeks with a new baby, but only two are true:
1. It’s awful
2. It’s bloody awful.
3. However awful you think it’s going to be, it’ll be more awful than that.
4. Everybody lies and tells you it’s not awful, because if they told you how awful it was you would die of terror somewhere in your third week of pregnancy.
It’s so hammering that even after a decade has passed since the birth of my last child it appears that I still can’t count to two without getting confused.
Curiously, the first few days after the ‘gosh-that-WAS-fun!’ Birth are often wonderful, and many new mums feel deliriously happy.
This delirium is partly due to the fact that they haven’t slept for longer than the winning participant in a sleep-deprivation experiment, and partly because Mother Nature cunningly floods their system with post-partum euphoric Crazy-hormones of Maternal Joy, that make screaming sound adorable, baby sick irresistible and one’s own child look beautiful, even though most of them resemble a blotchy bulldog sucking on a lemon.
Truly, 90% of new mothers would ask for a refund on day three if they weren’t high on oxytocin.
But she is cunning, that Mother Nature, and once she’s got you hooked on Babylove she delivers the full blow, in the form of Day Four, when she picks up a guitar and starts playing the Baby Blues.
This, she plays in the key of B Quiet Major, which is all we want the baby to do at that stage.
Throw in some cracked nipples and a mountain of laundry big enough to set up a ski resort on, and one can see why most new mums are making for the nearest window, out of which their Old Life appears to have fallen, and died.
Given this joyful state of chronic exhaustion and life-implosion, it comes as little surprise that, according to the care.com survey, most new mothers wish above all else that they had had more HELP in those early days.
33% of respondents said they thought the most useful thing they could have been given after the birth of their baby was a cleaner for a month.
That’s more than wished for baby clothes, ready meals, or a night with George Clooney.
(OK, not the George thing.
We’re tired, not stupid.)
I had my children at the peak of the fantastically helpful Women Can Have It All era, which seemed to equate to Women Can DO It All.
I truly believed that asking for help was in some way to admit defeat; to fail at something that, as a mother, I should have been able to do.
Where ‘something’ was ‘BE A SUPERHERO!!!’, only without a cape, and with a shoulder covered in baby vomit.
I thus spent the first months living exactly as I had previously – cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, shopping, looking after my older children, working, answering emails, gardening, and smiling;
I was SO COPING WITH ALL THIS! Look! Look at me coping! I have a PhD in Advanced Cope!
Except, of course, I wasn’t coping. At all.
I was burning out completely, and after each child I crashed a few months down the line of ‘Magnificent ‘Coping’ into a jibbering wreck of female remains.
What a superduperhero.
If I did it again – which I suppose would require me to have sex with someone, so frankly it’s looking about as likely as my fridge getting cleaned before the contents have been fossilised – I would ask for the help.
Hell, I would PAY for the help. Immediately.
HELP!! Over here! Now! I’ve had a baby! I’ve just realised that I am NOT A SUPERHERO!
I have NO CAPE!!!
So yes, the results of this Care.com survey show a positive, honest acceptance that actually, whaddayaknow??, mothers cannot do it all, and that it’s far more intelligent and confident to hold your hand up and say,
‘Whoever invented this motherhood malarkey sure should’ve spent a bit of time sorting out the small-print. This sucks. I’m going to go get me some help with this. Ooh yeah.’
I’m pretty sure that when The Duchess of Cambridge needs some laundry doing, there will be a Laundry Person to do it for her. That if she’s shattered and needs an afternoon nap, she’ll be able to, due to the presence of the Afternoon Nap Support person.
But I still wish her bucket-loads of good luck with these early days on the bumpy ride through parenthood; because no matter who you are,
motherhood is like putting your life, body and soul through the wringer, before having it stamped on and set alight twenty times, every day and every night for decades, while being eaten by wolves. And then regurgitated.
And if you can get a little help with that…why on Earth wouldn’t you??