I'm suffering inadequacy anxiety this week, after spending a weekend in the company of two blisteringly competent mums.
One is a single mum of two boys, a six-year-old and a 14-month-old, who's holding down a job, coping with a separation, starting a new love life, managing a household, finding time to spend with friends, making school play costumes at 4am in the morning, and can pack a car with a week's kiddie stuff with one hand.
The other is a mum of two, aged 18 months and five, who has more patience in her little finger than I would have in both this lifetime and the next, grows her own veg, knits beautiful children's clothes, has a proper and distinguished career, looks fresh as a daisy every morning, breast-fed with ease and can fold a real nappy faster than I can flick a page of Vogue.
Both of them seemed to be able to play little boy running / building / destroying games with the kind of enthusiasm and commitment I only feel for a glass of cold white wine on a balmy summer evening, and while I was crawling up the stairs to sleep at 10pm they were cracking open another beer and playing cards with the grown-up lads.
What's more, as a frankly very shocked five-months-pregnant 37-year-old who feels knackered before I've even started, there's nothing more disconcerting than hearing your boyfriend's mum say for the umpteenth time, "Oo, Mandy does so well with those children". Aaaaagh!!!!!
While it's lovely to spend time with friends, old ones of his and new ones of mine, the whole weekend was terrifying, exhausting and intimidating. I can't help but hope that something is going to miraculously kick in when the baby gets here.
Will I have hitherto undiscovered reserves of energy to draw on? Will I know what to do when he / she heads down a slide on a skateboard? Can I really pretend to be a Transformer, again? Please, God.
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