Everything changes when you have children. You enter a whole new world with a whole new vocabulary. Baby-wearing, perineal massage, Bugaboo - yours is a new language. But parenthood also twists the words in your very mouth too. Words you have used all your life change their meaning altogether. Words like:
Before kids: [A waiter in a nice restaurant:] "Has madam finished her main course? May I recommend this fabulous dessert wine?"
After kids: "Fiiiiniiiished! MUM! I'VE FIIINIIIISHED!" Your child has completed his business on the toilet and needs his bottom wiped.
2. Sleep through
Before kids: "I've got an important meeting in the morning, I hope I don't sleep through the alarm."
After kids: [shouted at the moon, the stars, the unforgiving sky] "When will my baby sleep through? When? When?"
Before kids: No.
After kids: [From your child:] No. Or yes. Or both. Depends on the age and mood of the child. And what their sibling said.
[From you:] No. Until they wear you down with the whines of attrition, and then: "yes, if you then leave me alone!"
Before kids: Yes.
After kids: Yes, IF... [you stop whining / jumping on my ribcage / smashing yoghurt into the table / do your homework].
Before kids: It's a deal.
After kids: It's not a deal.
6. A minute
Before kids: 60 seconds.
After kids: 1 second - 1 year, depending on who is asking for what, when, where, why and how much patience you have left in the tank / how much more playing they need to do.
Before kids: Your mother
After kids: You. Yes, there's no use looking behind you. They mean you.
Before kids: Mother-in-law.
After kids: Your new best friend. AKA free childcare.
Before kids: White stuff you have on your cereal.
After kids: The elixir of life. Whether it comes out of your breast or the supermarket, if you run out, it is the End of the World.
Before kids: A chance to take a break from the grindstone, relax, reconnect with your other half, read, eat leisurely meals and fall asleep on a sun lounger, before coming home refreshed and sickeningly tanned.
After kids: The opposite of the above.
Before kids: Tired.
After kids: Permanently, unshakeably, bone-crushingly, soul-sappingly exhausted.
Before kids: "You're hot, I like you, you're my best friend, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I would jump in front of a bus to save you. I'll never love anyone but you. You're my whole world."
After kids: "I'll catch your vomit in my bare hands, I'll get up in the night for the tenth time if that's what you need to feel safe, and I'll do the same for your brothers. I would crumple a bus with my bare hands if it came within 5 metres of you, I would stamp on a cobra's head, I would wrestle a shark to death. You made the world anew for me. You are my sun, my stars, my everything."
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