As one of the unspoken things between friends who are parents, this is a strange phenomenon. Even if you were never really a 'baby person', you might have met other people's new bundles of joy and though they were sweet enough. But as soon as you have your own child, suddenly everyone else's children look WEIRD.
2. Tut at the family with the screaming child on the plane
You used to roll your eyes as the young family invariably took up the seats right behind you. But now you know. You know babies scream because their ears hurt on take off and landing (and they're not allowed boiled sweets). You know toddlers are inconsolable when they are not allowed to run riot up and down the aisle (or fly the plane). And you know, having exhausted the meagre amount of entertainment you could squeeze into the hand luggage, all children become fascinated with the head of the person sitting in front of them.
3. Spend an afternoon with a parent friend without talking about poo
Well, this is certainly true of the early years of parenting. Once reserved for private daily expulsions and occasional gratuitous toilet humour in the pub, poo is now on everyone's lips (thankfully not literally). Squeamishness leaves you. Poo is normal, poo comes in a variety of shades and textures, and poo is up for discussion at any time of the day or night. 'You think your baby's started teething? What's his poo like?' And strangely enough, you genuinely want to know.
4. Nip out of the house
There is no 'nipping' out, no 'popping' to the supermarket - because there's the packing to do first. Drinks, nappies, spare clothes, wipes, toys, emergency snacks, comforters, buggy rain cover...
Then there might be the perfectly timed poo (you see?) just as you get to the front door. And when you have done all that and slammed the door behind you, you'll realise you have forgotten something. Allow an hour, minimum.
5. Finish a mug of tea
Not without re-heating it anyway. Thrice-microwaved tea is enough to make even the chirpiest morning person a little heavy-hearted - try downsizing to a teacup.
6. Be precious about your carpet
It might be just me, but I think there comes a point where you give up. At one time I would have been a bit mortified if a glass of Ribena was knocked over, but it is actually quite freeing to let go, to realise that a no-shoe rule means absolutely nothing (because toddlers take their shoes off in the garden and run through the flower beds barefoot before tramping it all into the living room floor). Embrace the different shades and tell yourself you will save up for a new one and have it laid in 10 or 15 years' time.
7. See the bottom of the washing basket
You are unlikely to see it again until all your children have left home, unless you tip out all the clothes and burn them. Tempting, non?
8. Be cool
Face it, the minute you had children, you started nose diving in the cool stakes. You have almost certainly left the house several times with some stain or other you didn't notice. You have (or will) lose your cool in the supermarket at some point and, by the time your children are teenagers, you will quite likely be a complete embarrassment.
9. Sleep soundly (as long as you are within hearing distance of your children)
Perhaps more one for mummies than daddies, as women are somehow hard-wired for it, but every cough, snuffle and whimper will disturb your sleep. And my own mother reliably informs me it never leaves you. Ever.
10. Love anyone as much
The carpet is trashed (as is your capacity for intellectual conversation), the house looks like a laundry and since they were born you have been ageing in dog years. But the love you have for your children, you'll never feel another love like it.
More:Is It Just Me?
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