There’s a side effect to motherhood that no-one tells you about and that is all the crying. Not the baby. You. 

Sure, you expect to get weepy and emotional when you’re pregnant. It’s the damn hormones. ‘They’ even warn you to expect the ‘baby blues’ to cause unpredictable weeping a few days after the baby is born as these same hormones settle back down. I was still in hospital at this stage, hobbling around after a C-Section, struggling with breast feeding and wracked with guilt that my newborn had to be wheeled away for antibiotics twice a day. (I’m not sure why I felt that it was my fault, but I did.) I cried so much that week I’m surprised I wasn’t treated for dehydration. 

However, that’s not the crying I’m talking about. It’s the other sort, the crying that creeps up on you when you’re not expecting it. 

I’m not saying I was a tough cookie before having children. I cried watching ET like most people. Hard hitting stories on Children in Need and Comic Relief would leave me in a mess. But I didn’t cry at 30 second TV adverts like I do now. 

Even happy stories involving people I don’t know can get me started. My husband doesn’t understand when I cry at the sight of someone winning a race or performing a song. He looks at me in disbelief. “Are you crying at THIS?” he asks. I nod and sob, “I’m just thinking how proud their mum must be!”

At each stage of my children’s development there seem to be fresh opportunities for my tear ducts to kick into overdrive. The first time I tried to strap the baby seat into the car on my own I made a complete hash of it and spent the next 20 minutes wailing that I would never get the hang of it and would end up a prisoner in my own home. (The drama has always been there; just the tears are new.) 

I cried when I realised that breast feeding was going to be difficult to get the hang of (although, in my defence, part of that was actual physical pain) and then I cried again when, a year later, the breastfeeding stopped. I wept when the purées I had spent hours cooking and mashing were refused or spat out; despite everyone telling me that a ‘baby won’t starve itself’ I was terrified that mine might be the first recorded case. And don’t get me started on the first time the boy said “Mummy.” 

When William started school, I tried to prepare myself. I was determined to keep a happy smiling face as I waved at him from the school gates. I was doing really well until we turned to go and a two year old Scarlett started to cry, “I want my brubber!” Clutching her to me like an extra in made-for-TV film, I cried, “I want him too!” 

It’s beginning to dawn on me that this is not a temporary state. Becoming a parent has scratched the surface of my heart and it’s beyond repair. Before me, I see a life of waterproof mascara and handy packs of tissues. My children will see every milestone greeted by a blubbering mother. I am prepared to be a complete embarrassment as they learn to ride a bike, star in the school play, graduate from university. 

However, it’s not all bad news. According to popular science, the fact that we cry is one of the reasons women live longer. Which means, with the frequency of my sobs, that I’ll probably be around, still crying, by the time I have great great grandchildren.  



A Parent’s Advice

Find something that you love to do and do it every day.
Be well informed and interesting, have worthwhile things to say. 

Try to keep your focus, concentrate on every task.
And if you’ve tried your very best, that’s all anyone can ask.

Seek advice when you are lost, watch how others take their turn. 
But don’t be scared to take a chance, mistakes are how you learn. 

Chase those who run in front of you, whilst encouraging those behind.
When deciding how to act or speak, think always “Is it kind?”

Speak out against injustice and protect those who are weak. 
Hold your tongue when angry, in case cruel words you speak

Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s something you can’t do. 
For everything is in your grasp, the one who decides is you. 

Be loyal to those who love you whilst you also make new friends.  
And if you hurt somebody, you must always make amends. 

Not everything comes easily, sometimes you just can’t win. 
But the only time you really lose is when you throw it in. 

No-one likes to hear you boast that you’re the best on Earth. 
But be proud of your accomplishments and always know your worth. 

Be bold and brave and try things new; don’t ever live in fear. 
For if you fail and things go wrong, I’ll always be right here. 

Fly far and high and wide and deep, the world is yours to roam.

Remember forever you are loved and here you’ll have a home.

Laser Tag: Mummy goes to war

It was with some reluctance that I took William to Laser Quest last Saturday. For the uninitiated, this involves running around in a dark room, attempting to ‘shoot’ other people with a laser gun whilst avoiding them hitting the target on your vest. Usually the husband plays wingman to our boy’s cannon fodder approach to battle (“Hello! I’m William. Oh, I’m shot again.”) But this time he decided he wanted mummy to go.

We paid for two games and the first was surprisingly civilised. Apart from William and I, there was one other family, therefore we had lots of space and time to trot around. I even managed to get a few shots on target. (Admittedly, this was made easier because the other family included a teenage girl who had obviously been coerced into joining her mum and two small brothers. She was an easy target as she didn’t even bother to raise her gun the whole time she was in there.) 

For our second game, we were joined by three other families. With dads. Suddenly everything changed; there were tactics, positions and battle formations. Us amateurs had no chance, no sooner had I recovered from one hit (you had to wait four seconds after being hit before your gun was active again) before I was hit and immobilised again. Sometimes I couldn’t even see where it came from. Put it this way, should there be an alien/zombie attack, I’ll be one of the first to bite the dust. 

However, this new seriousness was infectious. I found myself hiding behind walls and firing through windows like a wannabe Charlie’s angel. I even took advantage of William’s propensity to run headlong into enemy fire by hanging back and picking off the small soldiers firing at him one by one. At one point I heard someone shout “Down! Down!” at my teammates – then realised it was me. 

All in all, the boy and I had a great time together. Normally I’m a poor substitute for daddy in games of war, but something about the heavy vest, large gun and surrounding darkness brought out a whole new side to me. Quite a turnaround for a mother who declared her newborn son would never be allowed to play with guns. 

I’m not getting too smug about my performance, though. After the game, I asked William who had been better to play laser tag with, me or daddy? 

 “You.” He said. “Because I can beat you on points more easily.”