Facing the sun and heading into the wind

Trying to tidy up the nuclear test site that is my office I came across a letter I’d started writing to an old friend a few years ago when I was lost in the random and slightly deranged land of toddlersville and she was a corporate geisha girl flying round the world buying apartments and art and drinking quite a lot. In a few weeks she’ll be a new Mum and I thought I’d send her a card and write something inspiring on it. Instead, I decided the lunatic scribblings written from the frontline of new Mumdom might be more real and so I fished the letter from the bin.

“I know I’ve been the lost in space friend for the last couple of years – planet motherhood takes your brain on an amphetimine lift to nappy land, pupils dilated, your focus becomes a 2 metre radius around your offspring (which you are privately convinced is special and second only to the baby Jesus) who may have been born for some higher purpose like saving world fish stocks or something. In retrospect, once the hormones have run out you realise that the object of your mothering fetish has the brain of a mullet and was really lucky (given your mothering skills) to make it to the pupae stage. Meanwhile you scurry around like a cross between a prize milking cow and a Chinese courtier preventing the mullet from their constant suicide missions.

I have condensed these few years to a mathematical formula which you may use should you ever have kids.

It is: “The distance between you and your child and your child and something life threatening is proportional to said object’s danger level. That is; the more dangerous the object of the child’s desire, the closer they will be to it and the further you will be from them. You will notice that mothers of more than 3 children have an inbuilt ‘shield of indifference’ which prevents the true level of panic to penetrate fully. They glide along in a fog of distraction which allows them to slap a child on the back to dislodge a coin they were choking on, put out the fire that has started in the fry pan in the kitchen while grabbing another kid as he chases his brother with a kitchen knife - and still manage to make you a cup of tea.

Unfortunately this hormonal survival device does not click on till at least the third child so new Mums either fake it or get chemical help.

Note: You can get seriously hung up on the whole nutrition thing. Basically: babies don’t do cheezles and insects ingested are not necessarily toxic, just not on Plunket’s recommended nutrition guide.

Keys shoved in sockets are not good even if child is making entertaining ‘brmmm brmm’ noises as she does this.

Children who get caps off child proof bottles containing bleach may be gifted but may not live long enough to have this recognised.

If collecting windfall apples with toddlers fulfills all your fantasies of Laura Ashley designer motherhood – remember to teach them to distinguish between apples and dried dog poo before you set them free and you come back to find a big dog turd in your willow basket.

Children will embarrass you. That’s a given. They’ll throw up on a work colleague’s new carpet. They will throw a wobbly with a whole supermarket looking on and they will throw your self respect out the window as they shout ‘Mummy’s Milo!’ as you open a bottle of red – thereby convincing everyone you have a secret drinking problem.

You will think that you will write a novel between nappy changes. You will think you’ll take up Tai Chi. You will convince yourself TV is the soft option for people who don’t want to spend time sharing their thoughts with their two year old. Don’t be too hard on your new self if you find her reading the Da Vinci Code while eating chocolates on the sofa and letting the two year old find happiness with La La and the other Tubbies.

The old self got to sleep a lot and spend her days doing pretty much as she pleased and therefore had more time to be judgemental – whereas your new self, will just have enough time to be mental.

Most of all, take lots of pictures and enjoy the mayhem because when you have time to clean out your office you will suddenly realise that you have well and truly left the land of the random and the deranged and you know you’re really going to miss it.

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