My sister is pregnant at the moment.
When I first received the news and the very special photo of ‘the bump’ that arrived in my inbox, and is soon to evolve into a new niece or nephew, they had a peculiar effect on me.
One that I wasn’t expecting.
Because I’m in parenting free fall at the moment. Close enough to taste the tantalising endpoint, where I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel of full-time parenting. For the first time in a long time I can taste the freedom that the gentle shove (that might be required) to persuade my offspring that it’s time to get out of the nest will give me; after what sometimes has felt like a life-term.
I can understand the euphoria Mandela must have felt as his freedom finally turned into a reality. The old man and I have already began surreptitiously looking at one bedroom apartments.
Which is why I thought I’d never want to see another child for at least ten years.
(There is also the added awkwardness of being nearly old enough to be the baby’s grandmother, too.)
You see, I worried that I might feel a little distanced from this new addition to the family. Because the timing of it’s arrival might coincide with the period where I get to lick my parental wounds, to reassure myself I’ve done the best job I could and then avoid contact with anything under the age of twenty-five for reasons of self-protection.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’ve been feeling worryingly clucky about the whole event.
Part of the reason is that I know how much my sister wants this baby and I know that she will make a wonderful mother. A more natural mother than I ever was.
Then, of course, there is the added bonus that I can hand this one back, too.
But I’ve found myself surfing deliriously through baby websites, stalking teddies, and only the other day I found myself scouring through rails of baby-grows when I should have been in Zara, squeezing my butt into tight leather pants.
I can’t help touching newborn clothes, either, in a very suspicious way. Then I demonstrated just how completely out of touch I am with all things ‘newborn’ when I picked an outfit for ‘the bump’, only to discover it was for a child of 3 -4 years of age.
When did they get so small?
Our sense of scale gets a bit screwed up when our children become teenagers. NC is reasonably tall but my cougar heels balance out the height difference. Kurt is a good 6” taller than me now and often leans down above me, menacingly, and says,
‘Gonna send me to my room now, Mum?’
There’s that unbeatable circle of life again.
So I seriously can’t imagine just how small this little ‘thing’ is going to be now.
Of course ‘cluckiness’ (or ‘broodiness’, as we call it in the UK) deletes all the shit about having newborns from memory and forces us to focus on their utter gorgeousness.
Remember that smell?
I can still remember how each of my baby’s skins felt and smelt next to my face; they were surprisingly very different. I can still visualise NC’s chubby little thighs, at odds with the rest of her small bird body, because she was premature. I remember those special breastfeeding moments, when the two of us would be alone together in the quiet of night and that orgasmic sensation of milk being drawn down in response to those first hungry sucks.
That feeling of giving life to life.
It almost hurts to remember that psychotic feeling of protectiveness that took over my body in such a short space of time. It was frightening in its intensity.
That feeling has never diminished – if anything, it has matured and grown more threatening.
I hope that my sister is prepared.