On the one hand, having a one-year-old daughter seems like the most natural thing in the world. I can imagine scenes from my life B.C. (before childbirth), but everything seems pretty hazy (unclear whether this is due to the amount of alcohol I consumed in those days or just a sign of how far removed my current life is).
Nowadays, I can't imagine anything more enjoyable than spending time with Diana, despite the risk factors (getting peed on, having Weetabix spat on me every morning, being smacked in the face with a toy). The pram feels like an extra appendage I can't leave home without.
Then again, sometimes I'll look over at D, and I can't help but think, "Who is this kid? And when are her real parents coming to pick her up? I've been babysitting for a long time!" Sometimes I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I am going to be the one who teaches this person all of life's crucial skills, like how to use a potty, read a book, hail a taxi, get a tennis ball out of Bolshy's mouth (wait, I still can't do that, so maybe she'll have to teach me one day)...
As we celebrated D's birthday in style on the freezing-but-lovely beach in Poole, I couldn't help but flash back to a year before, when I was lying prone on the floor with intense cramps, groaning in pain. There have been so many firsts in the last 12 months, so many nicknames (my personal favourites are Snotzilla and Dumplestiltstkin), so many moments of joy and terror and spontaneously bursting into tears (and I'm not just talking about Diana here).
Of course, me being me, the birthday festivities didn't go off entirely without a hitch. This was mid-tonsillitis, so D was still heavily medicated and screeching from the penicillin I had to administer four times a day, and both the presents that her grandparents and I got her were (outrageously) missing crucial parts, so the gift-opening portion of the day was slightly marred. Diana didn't care; I did.
Thankfully, encouraging (read: aggressively bullying) my brothers-in-law (whose philosophy on presents for Diana is "Why does she need anything? She's a baby!" – they haven't quite mastered that's it's me they're catering to here) to get her good presents paid off, and she ended up with some lovely stuffed animals and Beatrix Potter's full collection of stories.
Then there was the matter of the birthday cake, which, like most birthday cakes for one-year-olds, was purchased for the consumption of adults, and not D. Unfortunately, D's father (aka "the favourite parent") was tasked with this massive responsibility and instead of returning home with any flavour of normal cake, he chose a revolting-tasting, jam-filled, Hello Kitty-shaped monstrosity with cardboard icing. I was distraught; D remained unfazed.
Horrific though it tasted, I was the person who consumed 97% of the cake within a matter of hours, perhaps due to the stress of realising that I need to learn rather a lot quite swiftly if I am meant to teach D anything at all over the next several days, months, years and decades to come.
So, interestingly enough, while Diana celebrated the anniversary of her birth functioning (crawling, eating and walking around), I was once again collapsed on all fours, groaning and seizing my tummy in agony.
Baby D's adventures continue with Toddler Tales every week on Parentdish.co.uk.
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