Monday, 19 October 2009
Tired and Emotional
Being a parent sneaks up on you. Obviously not the physical aspect of it. You'd be hard pressed to miss your wife waddling around the house looking like she's got a beach ball shoved up her jumper. Rather the emotional side of it creeps up you. At some point you suddenly realise that you are, in fact, a parent. It's kind of disconcerting.
In the very first post of this blog I wrote about how I was terrified about Alex's health while he was being born. While this was undoubtedly true, I was worried more for what it would do to Nicola if he was stillborn. It would have been awful, no question. But in a curious way, it would have been awful because of its impact on other people I loved. Nic had carried him for nine months, felt him move, watched what she ate and what she did while he was growing inside her. I had yet to meet Alex, or get to know him. Mums get a head start on loving their children, I think.
Today, I would be devastated if anything happened to him because I want to keep him safe. Because I love him, not because other people I love love him. When did that change occur? I don't know. But I can tell you exactly when I realised that it had happened.
Cut to: Alex and me in the dining room. Nicola is grabbing some well earned rest after feeding. Alex was, until a few moments ago, napping in his bouncy chair. I was taking the chance to send a couple of emails. Then Alex woke himself up. He's always particularly grumpy when he manages this trick and set to wailing with a vengeance. Clearly the bouncy chair wasn't going to cut it, so I resorted to my patented soothing tactic: Flower of Scotland as performed by the Shush-land national orchestra. (Get face right beside Alex's ear (risking permanent hearing loss from screaming) then start shushing. "Shh-Shhhhhh-Sh-Shhhhhhh-Shushhhhh. Sh-Sh-Sh-Shhhh, Sh-Shhh-Sh-SHHHHHHH." Feel free to use it on your baby. Votes of thanks should be make in hard currency.)
So there I am, holding Alex to my face, subjecting him to a curious rendition of his national anthem, rocking him back and forth. (He'll be very patriotic when he grows up. Either that or the start of rugby matches will put him to sleep.) Then the most bizarre thought strikes me. "You know," I think. "This reminds me of a dreadfully overacted scene of a parent hugging their child's corpse in Casualty, while shusshing them and explaining that this always put them to sleep." Of course, once this thought was in my head, I was doomed. My mind, prone to running off on depressing tangents when tired anyway, set off to explore all the horrible things that could happen to Alex.
I was stuck there for a good ten minutes, weeping and attempting to shush Flower of Scotland, all over what it would be like if anything happened to Alex. Alex, for his part, didn't notice at all. If anything, the snivels added an interesting counter-harmony to the tune as far as he was concerned. Eventually I pulled myself back together.
That's when I realised I was a parent. Now, and for the rest of my life.