Tolerance and patience are not my natural upfront virtues. And I’ve never been particularly rational. A good example of this is that I should definitely be asleep right now. It’s 4.30am and I have an awful cough and cold. But, because I know this is the only time I’ll get to myself today, I’m up and about, and thinking about how life has changed so much in one short year. Parenthood has changed my attitudes to lots of things, whether I like it or not.
Here’s the examples I’ve been dwelling on these past few days:
Then – I despised going to IKEA. It was 10.00pm on a Tuesday before you’d see me in there, screeching round with a trolley getting the precise thing I wanted (aside from 4000 tea lights obvs). Rowing in the car park with other customers over parking spaces, rowing in the car with anybody who was unfortunate to make the pilgrimage to Croydon from SW London with me. I hated the place. Necessary evil.
Now – I actually planned a visit with my friend Rachel because I thought it’d be nice, Christmassy, fun for the girls and nice to eat meatballs. And, I wasn’t wrong. We liked it, we went very early, we let the toddlers toddle, we spent most time in the kids’ bit. We were those customers I used to swear about under my breath. We dawdled. We laughed at our babies’ funny antics and took photos.
Then – walking into my favourite brunch spot with a warm, thick wedge of Saturday newspaper under one arm, finding the comfiest chair and staying till I couldn’t eat or drink any more. Maybe having a bloody mary. Reading the sports pages, and the property section.
Now – walking in backwards to get a buggy through the door, to the emptiest looking place you can find that looks half decent. Eating in shifts whilst one of you tries to edge morsels into the toddler’s gob. Seeing every low table, comfy chair and shelf of flyers as a potential carnage flashpoint. Realising you probably shouldn’t try this again until they can sit still. We were those customers people walk past brunch spots to avoid. But we were having a lovely time, and we found a place we’d never been before and really loved – Birdcage on Corn Street which was quiet so early on a Saturday morning, had utterly delicious food and very welcoming staff.
There are still things I haven’t done as a parent which are going to require further reorganisation of my thoughts. Things I fear. Organising and attending children’s birthday parties and the social regulations that seem to come with them. Trying not to turn shrill and over-sensitive when toddler behaviour needs correcting in public or at nursery. Pretending I’m relaxed about school catchment areas.
For now, I’m going to go with it. Embrace the inner weirdo I’d never have recognised before. Go to things like this, a rave for toddlers in a tent, which would’ve made me wince before. I can’t wait – I’ll be watching the two beings I love the most dancing together, what could be better?