Half term is now upon us. This is the boy child’s first year at school (well, school nursery) and so our first half term holiday, and it’s going to be a busy one. We have friends booked up for visits for the whole week, and have already packed our first guests off after a very jolly weekend. It seems moving to one of the most beautiful places in the country makes one very popular!
Our first guests had brought along their three month old baby girl, I believe it is frowned upon to leave them home alone, she was being taken around on her first tour of the country having been to the North East, then over to us and then down to Manchester before heading back to the big smoke that is London.
Having a baby back in the house reminded me just how hard being a new parent is – you are suddenly responsible for this whole new life, which doesn’t come with an instruction book, and it makes you question every decision you make. Our friends are doing a more than sterling job, it’s so easy to coop yourself up and hideout for the first few months, but I think getting babies used to being out and about and travelling around, makes things much easier for them later on. With the girl, we were off visiting various folks almost every other weekend from the first month or so, and although it was really tough at times, I’m now really glad we did it as going away with the kids isn’t that much of a big deal now, other than the painful car journeys of course.
As if being a new parent isn’t hard enough, there is always someone around who feels they have the right to pass comment on the decisions you make. I remember being at a museum with the girl in her backpack when she was 6 months old or so, we were waiting in a queue when she decided she needed a feed, and so I choose to just give some of her bottle in her carrier whilst we were waiting. Well, the tuts of disapproval from behind were perfectly audible, and comments about how the middle aged woman in question wouldn’t have done THAT to HER children were less than helpful (I’d like to point out, I was giving a bottle of milk to a 6 month old in a baby carrier, not swinging it around my head whilst singing a medley of punk anthems). As one of the least confrontational people in the world, I didn’t respond, but my blood was boiling – as if I wasn’t having a hard enough job as it was with two young children, for a complete stranger to tell me, and all around me, I was doing it wrong was, in equal parts, annoying and upsetting.
The strange thing is, I imagine had I been shouting and screaming at my child she would have kept her comments to herself. In more recent times I was reprimanded, in the middle of the day, by a drunk for raising my voice at the boy in public. The boy had just punched me in the head for having the audacity to remove him from a park to go home, so I felt a raised voice was appropriate at the time (I know, as perfect parents and positive role models, we should always remain calm and never shout, but it’s surprising how painful a punch to the head from a three year old can be). I gave the drunk my best mother death stare, but his comments did make me question myself and I knew, as the adult, I should’ve kept my cool and been the better man. But it isn’t always easy, and we’re learning all the time how to be better and how to do this really tough job of parenting better. Some days I get it right, some days I don’t. And some days it takes a drunk to tell me which is which.