Rory and I went to the farm with our friends yesterday morning. Lovely day. Sun shining, animals to gawp at, tractors to play on, café to sit outside, cakes to eat. While we watched the kids run about, we chatted and caught up and solved the occasional dispute over whose turn it was to hold a bit of brick they had found (seriously). It was just after Rory attempted to eat said piece of brick that the conversation turned to how relaxed we are as parents.
“I thought I’d be a nightmare,” I said, as I watched Rory poking a vexed looking bull with a stick, “but actually I’m pretty chilled out. I think motherhood has mellowed me.”
This is not a statement to be taken lightly as I have always been what we politely call 'a little uptight'. Richard mentioned not so long ago that I used to be like a female version of Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I scowled at him in a divorcey sort of way until he reminded me of our first date, which took place 3 weeks after I’d been taken down by a nasty case of pneumonia, which was a direct result of me a) refusing to stop going to the gym every day even though my chest was emitting a disturbing alien rattling sound, b) sitting up until 3am working most nights (in my defence, I was a newly qualified teacher at the time) and c) being too busy to eat. We sat in a bar for 12 hours, me punctuating the conversation by alternately puffing on my inhaler and hacking up a lung, I refused all offers of food because Eating Is For The Weak, then I got home at midnight-ish and knocked up a colour coded reward chart for school the next day (with sequins) before finally going to bed and setting my alarm for 5.30am, because God forbid I go to work without washing my hair. Then he reminded me that I spent the 6 months before our wedding convinced that he would SURELY BE KILLED before we got married, which led to me coughing up blood from a stomach ulcer a week before the wedding. I was forced to agree that he might have a point.
Anyway, the entire time I was pregnant, I was like a tightly coiled spring and was terrified of being responsible for a little person. Untold horrors seemed to lurk around every corner. How was I going to protect my baby from the dangers of the world?
I needn’t have worried really. Rory emerged with what appeared to be a death wish and an infinite amount of good fortune, which was pretty lucky for him as my entire lack of maternal instinct was proven early on when, whilst trying to avoid a wasp, I managed to push him, the pram and the wasp itself into a bush while I saved my own skin.
By the time he was a few months old, I’d grown used to his daredevil ways, and while my friends were having panic attacks every time their baby got hold of anything not made by Fisher Price, I was blasé. Oh look, Rory’s got a fork. Ah well, just be grateful it’s not a pick axe. Oh look, Rory’s climbing up the curtains again. Never mind, he’ll come down when his arms get tired. Oh look, Rory’s worked out how to plug the hoover in. Good stuff, maybe I can train him how to use it. Even the time he stuck his head up the chimney and emerged looking like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins only resulted in me sighing “oh bother” as I dabbed at him half heartedly with the wet wipes.
So yesterday I was quite happy for him to run about like a lunatic, angering sheep while I ploughed my way through an industrial sized slice of millionaire’s shortbread and smiled benignly at my friend, who was constantly up and down ready to snatch her daughter from the jaws of danger.
It was only as I got into bed last night that I realised that this personality change probably had little to do with the serenity of motherhood and quite a lot to do with the vast dose of Sertraline that I was put on when I developed post natal depression and raging OCD when Rory was about 10 days old. That and the knowledge that if things get really bad, there’s a friendly dose of Diazepam behind the counter of Boots with my name on it. Mellowed by motherhood my arse. Tranquilised by Lustral and Valium more like.