Ten years ago I was winding down towards maternity leave and excited yet apprehensive about entering a brand new world. I didn’t even know the sex of my child to be and in terms of preparation, I hadn’t looked beyond the first six months. It was all so exciting and I feel incredible nostalgia as I remember.
Almost from the date of conception everybody has an opinion on how you should bring up your baby, how and when they feed and sleep, how much you should socialize with them and this only continues. However, in the early days nobody tells you what to expect in a decade’s time and I for one think this is a good thing. For instance, I would be horrified if anyone told me that I would still be experiencing disturbed nights ten years on due to older boys’ bad dreams. I would also have been shocked to learn that despite all the Annabel Karmel recipes I served up, older boy would have a strong preference for fast food coupled with a strong aversion to trying anything new.
The one thing you are however told is how quickly time will pass and how your baby will be grown up before you know it. This is both false and true in equal measures. Time appears to stay static when you are lost in a sea of nappies, crumbs and butternut squash pureeing whilst singing “wind the bobbin up”. Indeed, when your child embarrasses you beyond belief and you want time to pass quickly it inevitibly reaches a stand still. However, by and large the mantra “this too will pass” is largely true. I remember attempting a local bus journey which I knew would take about 40 minutes whilst holding my younger boy on my lap. He was tantrumming something chronic and it took superhuman effort to keep him still. The thought came into my head that every minute this tantrum continues for is a minute closer to the day he will leave home. That day as I remember it was a low point but was nevertheless true.
The passage of time hits you most when you look back and realise how much life has moved on. I cannot quite believe that older boy is getting closer to me in height and has adopted a very teenage like stance on life. Furthermore, it is strange to be able to let him go out for short periods on his own, but at the same time it feels natural cause he looks and is old enough. This is where the confusion starts, the torturous tens are in some ways not that different from the terrible twos and the threenager threes. The tantrums and throwing things still happen. Sadly distraction and time outs no longer work (at all) and it is physically impossible to force your child into his or her bedroom or on to a naughty step. The answering back gets more complicated as well, as new phrases shall we say have inevitably been picked up from various sources and your child’s ability to be a smart arse has increased considerably. You have also realised by this point that there will continue to be lots of surprises. Watch this space