I remember a few months after having my little boy, I went out for a much needed coffee run with Archie in the baby bjorn. Outside, in the London “fresh air,” I ran into my neighbour – a mother of two kids. She congratulated me, we chatted, and then she said something I’ll never forget. “With the first one, you still pretend like you have a life, with the second, you realise you no longer have a life.” I walked away with furrowed brows. Was that a joke? …it wasn’t funny… Is that what my future really looks like?! ….Maybe one child is enough…. She had successfully given me caffeine-like jitters before I even ordered my soy latte!
MF and I have always vowed that we wouldn’t change our lifestyle, that we would never lose ourselves after having a baby. But the truth is – for better or worse – things do change. We’re still at the stage where we can disconnect after hours – having one too many glasses of wine and staying up way past our bedtime – only to be jolted out of bed at 6:30am by an 8 month old whose ready to start the day and chew on coloured blocks. You soon forget the purpose of alarms.
When we’re with non-parent friends, I try to limit the picture sharing to 2-3 photos max. Trust me, I’d love to show the 2 minute slow-motion video of him on the swings, but I try to resist. For the most part, when we manage to organise a babysitter and go out in the world as people – not parents – we do a pretty good job. Or so we think…. Though I have to say, it’s become painfully easy for me to spot fellow parents in disguise as normal human beings. I’m now going to share with you the tell-tale signs of how to spot a parent – not to give away their cover, but so that if they start babbling incomprehensibly after half a glass of wine or start talking about about types of poop, you go easy on them. They’re trying their best.
Sign #1: Are one or both shoulders of their jacket/blazer/shirt/etc. stained by some miscellaneous substance? No, a bird did not poop on them on the way to the bar. They have a baby that unknowingly either vomited or drooled on them before they left the house.
Sign #2: You see a man or woman swaying, bouncing, working their hips as if dancing. Curiously, you are nowhere near a club, musician, or any loud speaker playing music. It’s possible that you’re just waiting in line at the postoffice. Most likely, this person is doing the “parent dance.” This dance comprises of holding your child in or out of a sling and keeping your body in constant motion in order to keep cet child happy and comfortable. It becomes so much a part of our natural daily movement – like breathing, or for some, flipping hair – that it occurs even when no baby is around.
Sign #3: Dark circles. Hmm, why does she have dark circles under her eyes when you’re meeting for happy hour drinks at 6pm, you might wonder. Tough work week? Wait, it’s only Monday. Well, she probably hasn’t slept more than 5 hours straight since her child was born.
Sign #4: You may be worried the person you’re talking to has early onset Alzheimers and doesn’t even know it yet. Or maybe she once knew, but now forgot. Note: once you have a baby, your thoughts are so consumed by diaper changes, feeding times, allergies, accidents, potential death traps, burping, baby classes, nap schedules, etc. that sadly your brain only has a small compartment left for everything else.
Sign #5: Look out for scratch marks on the face. “Why is this person picking at every pimple they get?” you ask yourself. True, they could be doing that too…. but chances are those tiny crescent scabs point to only once conclusion: baby nails. Those things are dangerous! They’re sharp, tiny, and constantly grabbing at our skin – ahem – lovingly grabbing at our skin. We try to cut them as often as possible, but it’s like doing heart surgery on a mouse. Not so easy.
Hmmm I’m pretty sure there were more signs that I wanted to mention, but of course, I’ve forgotten. Refer back to sign #4.