New Mother

You Know You’re a New Mother If…

Published in The Guardian

Nelly the Elephant is the only thing running through your head, and only the first line because that’s all you can remember.

You have forgotten which way the taps turn on, and which is the coldest part of the fridge; you know there is a logic to it-heat rising and all that – but you lose your train of thought half way through.

You realise you will probably never now remember how to operate the video.

And in any case whenever you start to watch TV you fall blissfully asleep.

You can sleep anywhere, standing up if necessary.

There is a large fluffy toy dog in your in-tray.

You know what nipple shields are.
You are lying on the bed with your breasts covered with frozen Savoy cabbage leaves.

You find yourself going out in odd socks.

You dress the baby to go out in full kit but find you have forgotten to put your own shoes on when you get to the door.

You have lost track of your makeup bag and can’t recall what shade of lipstick you used to wear anyway.

Your erstwhile chic black leather skirt takes on exciting new potential when you realise it is wipe-down.

Networking is reduced to meeting someone at the next baby massage class.

Your computer screen has found a new application as a night light.

A manicure becomes the moment when the baby is finally asleep and you are still awake enough to cut his nails before he rips your nipple off.

Your filofax has breast milk dripped on the cover and the baby has already peed on the first page of next year’s diary.

You can cook an entire meal one-handed. But start furtively surveying the packet sauces in the supermarket.

When there is an electricity cut, the main thing you are concerned about is the painfully pumped breast milk in the freezer.

You find yourself earnestly discussing the cornering potential of different pushchairs.

You engage in detailed phone discussions of the exact colour and content of the baby’s nappies.

You watch elegantly dressed women in the street with bemused envy.

You want to accost any other woman with a pram and ask her about her childcare arrangements.

Planning a shopping route no longer involves your favourite clothes stores but manoeuvring the pram over pavements with the least cracks and most ramps.

You discover that Mothercare of all places has no ramp. You realise that you are being constantly ripped off with packets of three- babygros, plastic pants etc, and you know that the manufacturers know you are too tired to complain.

It takes a week to send Xmas cards; a day to buy them, 2 days to remember who your friends are, and another day to find the nearest letter box.

The world divides into people who will open doors for you and the pram (other mothers) and people who slam them in your face.

You learn to patronise Italian food stores because you know they actually like children.

Your hairdryer has been requisitioned for drying the baby’s bottom. This actually hardly matters since you barely get time to brush your hair let alone blow-dry it.

You find yourself rocking rhythmically to and fro even when you’re not holding the baby. Your psychologist brother-in-law tells you this is the first sign of institutional neurosis.

Your respect for mothers, all mothers, has soared to stratospheric proportions. You realise it is the hardest job in the world.

You can’t wait for your mother to come and stay.

You are reduced to writing lists instead of articles.