We all know a Born Again Mummy. Having casual-relationshiped her way through her twenties, she’s landed with a thump in her mid-thirties, got married, and jeopardised a perfectly good job, social life, and pelvic floor by flopping out a frog-faced poo machine. Seemingly having forgotten that she ever had an education, career, or underwired bra, she now spends all her time on Facebook, updating everyone she’s ever met on each developmental milestone reached by her allegedly super-human wonder-child. No ‘fifties housewife’ she: smart phone technology has gifted her the capacity simultaneously to bore and torment her childless friends with an endless stream of photos and videos of her dribbling offspring in precocious outfits, the insult seasoned by a notable absence of spelling, grammar, or upper case letters which suggests, nay, boasts that she’s probably breastfeeding as she types. Her baby-addled milkbrain drips through the screen with every LOL.
I can’t have a conversation with anyone for more than five minutes without a) mentioning my baby, b) breaking off to babble something ridiculous to my baby, and c) asking to be reminded what we were talking about in the first place.
Well, I’ve done my time being single, and going through the motions of telling people what great fun it is to be out every night (for fear of being alone in the flat with a lasagne for one). And I’ve sat in shiny bars with my childless, thirtysomething girlfriends, suckling on white wine and breathing through Marlboro Lights - because, frankly, who cares about cancer when you’re going to die alone and unloved anyway? - and moaning about the loss of one of our numbers to the Mummy Trap. I’ve imagined how dreadful it must be for these new mothers: having a baby on you all day; falling off the career ladder for ever; and not being able to go out and get hammered with your mates. But then I’ve also envied these women: having a baby on you all day; falling off the career ladder for ever; and having the perfect excuse not to have to go drinking with your depressing mates.
So now, I too am a Born Again Mummy. And I cowing love it. I can’t have a conversation with anyone for more than five minutes without a) mentioning my baby, b) breaking off to babble something ridiculous to my baby, and c) asking to be reminded what we were talking about in the first place. I’m happy as a monkey with a peanut machine: on maternity leave from my professional career, staying at home and blowing raspberries on my baby’s belly all day. And I clutter up my Facebook friends’ newsfeeds with far more baby data than they ever wanted. But I do so not with malice, and not unthinkingly. I do so because I’ve discovered the big secret that the intentionally childless will probably never believe: being a parent is the most fulfilling thing you could ever do.
Raising children is what we are designed to do. And when you start do it, you feel like suddenly the whole world makes sense. Any excitement you might previously have felt about a promotion at work, a big night out, or fitting into non-elasticated jeans, is suddenly brought into the dazzling light of day: that’s all shallow, individualistic, capitalist, bullshit. Mucking about all day with a tiny person who looks a bit like you and a bit like the person you love; teaching him how to laugh, how to say his name, how to eat bananas; shaping his personality through playing and singing and hugging. That’s what I call a worthwhile way to spend my days. A life spent avoiding breeding in favour of pursuing personal wealth and self-indulgence seems, to me now, like living in a vacuum, ignoring your place in the wider community: it’s like voting Liberal Democrat. And we all know what happens when people vote Liberal Democrat.
So while I do my best not to completely alienate my baby-free mates by making an effort, rarely, to talk about something other than the miracle that is my perfect, glowing, genius baby, I can’t help feeling that they are, frankly, just plain wrong. I don’t need to worry too much about this though, of course, as I’m far too busy admiring my baby to hang out with them anyway.
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