A friend and I were recently debating the advice we’d give expectant mothers, if asked. You know: the stuff the books don’t tell you (because let’s face it, despite the fact we may want to ignore it, we all know about the lack of sleep and leaky nappy potential).
My friend’s Number One piece of advice?
If you’ve reached the point where you want to divorce your husband, don’t panic. This is normal.
And I realised, yes, this is what every new parent should be told, so they are prepared. So they can take a deep breath, think, ‘It’s OK, I knew this was coming’ and focus on making things work again. Because the sudden addition of a small, angry, screaming-for-no-apparent-reason infant to your previously blissful state of ‘just us two’ can be enough to make even the strongest partnership wobble. Funny that. Here’s why bringing up children can put a fair amount of pressure on a relationship…
1 Lack of sleep might make you both a tiny bit irritable
When the amount of sleep you get decreases by 75 per cent, your ability to piss each other off increases by 75 per cent. OK, I’ve made that up, but I fear it to be true. Little habits that you once viewed as minor irritants will suddenly become make-or-break issues. I mean, seriously, JUST PUT YOUR DIRTY SOCKS IN THE F*CKING LAUNDRY BASKET. Or something.
2 You have to find increasingly innovative ways to argue. This is not cathartic
Of course, you might feel like shouting expletives at each other in loud, angry voices to let off a little steam, but you can’t, because it will create stress and everyone knows this is Bad For Baby. Instead, you will either whisper your arguments (if the baby is asleep) or sing them along to the tunes of various nursery rhymes (if the baby is awake). This is irritating as hell.
3 You will lose your sense of identity
There will come a time when you will call your partner “Daddy”… before realising that your children have already gone to bed. There’s a passion killer, right there.
4 You will gain attractive new ‘accessories’ to every outfit
Are you sporting a slug-like trail of dribble on your shoulder, a splattering of baby sick down your top and the remnants of some mashed up Play Doh on your jeans? Thought so.
If your partner is worth his weight in gold, this will not matter to him. But let’s face it, it hardly makes you feel brimming with confidence and sex appeal, does it?
5 You have to wave farewell to spontaneity
“Shall we pop out for a quick drink/meal out/trip to the cinema?”
“Sounds great! Wait a second [calls the grandparents]. OK, we can go out in three weeks on Tuesday.”
You get the idea.
6 You no longer have time for conversation
Picture the scene: it’s the end of the day and you’re trying to run a bath, find the towels and tidy up a day’s worth of toys while simultaneously attempting to stop the toddler (who is running around with no pants on) passing teeny tiny pieces of Lego to the baby (who is in the process of rolling under the bed). You hear the front door click open. Thank Christ for that: back-up has arrived. Clearly there is no time for niceties; this is a ‘barking orders’ situation.
Knowing what he has in store for him as he steps inside our house each weeknight, sometimes I’m genuinely amazed my husband comes home at all.
7 Your living space resembles a pre-school
You will finally get the chance to curl up together on the sofa in the evening… and then remember your front room looks like this:
This is not relaxing.
8 Your nights out may not be your own
You might find you have an extra guest turn up on date nights.
This will generally mean you have to take it in turns to wolf down your meal while one of you stands rocking the baby, wondering what has happened to your lives.
There will be an explosive nappy, obviously.
9 Your bed may not be your own
It will be hers:
In fact, sometimes there will hardly be room for you at all:
But that won’t matter because…
10 An ‘early night’ means exactly that
If you ever do get the opportunity to fall into bed together by yourselves, there will be just one thing on your minds: sleep. Unsure of exactly what time you will hear that first cry of, “Mummy!” or cooing from a wide-awake baby, you probably don’t even waste time saying goodnight to each other any more.
Despite all this, sometimes you will look up and catch a moment like this:
And you will realise that, despite the fact there is not a whole lot of romance in your life right now, there is an enormous amount of love and laughter and joy.
And you will wonder how you ever managed to get this lucky.