I can still remember the first time I referred to my daughter on the phone as, 'My Daughter'. It was to make her first doctor's appointment. I remember almost laughing as I said the words in the most grown up, competent-sounding voice I could muster:
"I'd like to make an appointment - for my daughter, please."
Stuck somewhere between nervous proud-as-punch laughter and sleep deprived tears, the words stuck in my throat . This was real, she was mine, ours. We were in charge. And not just of nappy changes and night feeds but of all the very Big Serious Things, love and everything else in between, from here on in.
So it got me thinking about scary things I never thought I'd hear myself say - here are a few.
1. 2012: "We'll take the 5ft teddy from the display, please." If I didn't know better I would think we were sleep walking that afternoon. With a not-quite-two year old miracle in tow who chose the ideal moment to ask for a toy. This is the purchase you make when you're totally dazed, distracted, joyous, and a bit muddled because you've just done a pregnancy test that came up with the sort of red lines you thought were only the stuff of dreams.
2. 2013: "Not by the neck! Do not lift him by the head. Seriously!" This was a regular one. My daughter adores her wee brother, she really does. And I'm sure lifting him with one hand round his throat and the other half wrapped round his eyes was merely an expression of this. However I would quite like him to make it to lunchtime.
3. 2013: "Let go of the poo! Let it go free , it wants to go back to poo poo land and join its mummy and daddy poo." If you've ever toilet trained one tot while the other is still in nappies you will recognise the utter fascination the youngest has with the oldest's bodily functions. In fact, 'Number twos' become the Number One talking point for the whole household for at least three and a half years. You may even find yourself photographing said poo as someone is so proud of it and 'wants to show people'. Apparently some people do that...
4. 2014: "(insert boy child name), time to take off your tutu and your sister's bonnet, we need to get going (15 mins of fruitless but impressive negotiation later, largely involving shouts of 'Nah' and handfuls of tulle)
"Ok, fine, get into the freakin' car in the tutu."
5. 2014: "Let go of the lion's mane, hold mummy's hand and be careful you don't fall into the troll pool because Santa is watching and the tooth fairy might leave some frost under your pillow." It is very easy to mix your lies, I mean metaphors, I mean children's stories, when sleep deprived. Loosely translates as " Get in the car, now. I am losing my mind with all this faffing about. It should not take two and a quarter hours to get out of the house. We could be in Donegal by now. On foot."
6. Summer, all summer long, 2014: "That tune the ice-cream van is playing... it's his way of telling all the mummies and daddies he has run out of ice-cream." Ha! Never! I have never uttered this one. They are way to clever for that. What age do you think they are, three?
7. 2015 and ongoing: "I love you bigger than the Eiffel Tower too." I've always had a bit of a thing for the Eiffel Tower. It's strong, silly, and permanent looking; yet beautifully grey and a bit tired and miserable looking all at the same time . But no matter where you are in Paris you can see it. And even if you can't you know you'd probably just need to look round a corner and there it is, still right there. There's bound to be a metaphor for parenthood in there somewhere.
(Photo credit Kerry Thomson)