I was in the middle of talking to husband the other day when the baby let out a big cry. She was asleep in the garden in her pram, but something woke her up. I stopped talking mid-sentence and ran outside, jumping over the steps like a gazelle. Considering just how huge I am at the moment that was probably quite a shocking sight.
‘What were you saying? ‘Husband demanded, walking out in the garden after me. ‘You were in the middle of the conversation and you just ran out!’ But what he must try to understand is that....well, how do I put it so it is not too disrespectful...and so that it would not make me sound like a very primitive creature? I guess there is no other way to put it. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing else matters to me when my baby is crying. In fact, to be honest, not much matters to me at the moment. I know there are important events happening in the world. I know about the News of the World, Murdoch, the way the mayor of Vilnius tackles illegal parking, some Norwegian nutter killing young and strong people (who, for some reason, did not attempt to overpower him?)...Or Norwegian bears killing British explorers (what the hell is going on in Norway at the moment???!), the US debt palaver...AAA or AA+ or whatever...But honestly? None of it matters to me, as all I can focus on right now is this little baby, her needs and desires.
Being a mother changes you. You never know how it might affect you personally, until it happens. You may think it would not, or you might think you would remain as cool, as passionate at work, or as dedicated to whatever else in your life you had been dedicated to. (or as slim...) But then, this little baby comes into the world, and you are a different person.
Something unspeakably awful happened to a friend of mine. Her little niece went for a nap and never woke up. I keep thinking about this, over and over. Because all parents, and mothers in particular, become absolutely paranoid of something like that happening. When I first time heard of this tragedy, I thought to myself Oh, f**k. This is the worst that can happen to a parent.
But then I remembered a reader on this blog, whose child died from a disease the parents knew had no cure. Which is harder, not to know it might happen, or to know in advance?
I was thinking of various horrible accidents that we all read or hear about involving children. Every day there is something in the news. A 3-year old girl fell of the balcony in Singapore ... And Amy Winehouse?... At what age is it okay for a child to die? Is it any easier for Amy’s parents to cope with her death, because she was older and on drugs? The first thing I thought when I heard about her death on the news was 'oh, no...her poor parents!' There is no easier way, or age, for it to happen. Because it is not fair, not right, not the way it is meant to be. Never, ever should a child die before the parent.
So yes...Once you become a mother, you are no longer the person you used to be. All of us, parents, have this one thing in common. Hidden deep inside, indescribable in words, underneath all the daily routine, sleepless nights, happiness and smiles, lies this worry and vulnerability, which is there to stay...well, I guess, forever. Because I know, looking at my children, that I will always worry about them, whether they are babies, or young women dating, marrying, giving birth or travelling abroad....
I was breastfeeding my baby this morning when I heard of that boy getting mauled by a polar bear up in Svalbard. Now, you listen to me! I told her. When you come to me one day and say ‘mummy, I am going on an expedition to see polar bears!’ I will lie in that doorway and you would have to kill me before you go. But of course, I was not being serious. Of course, I know that we cannot protect them from living their lives. We can just do our best to raise them as safe and as healthy as possible, and hope (or pray- whichever works for you) that, whatever happens to us in this life, we will go before they do. That is not too much to ask for, is it. The most natural circle of life.