By Sandra Beck
The baby is so small, your body still remembers it. It breaks your heart to leave it. The baby squints vaguely at the light, before reaching its arms out… mmmm, milk.
The baby starts to move. He understands the hazards of the world a bit clearer now. He’ll make his disapproval known if he’s left – whether you’re going to work or just to the bathroom.
The baby is walking around; getting palpable pleasure from hitting other children with his teddies. He leaves you quite happily – but on your way out you catch a faint… was that a new word? You squint through the hinge of the closing door until the tip of your nose gets pinched.
You’ve now got a fully fledged preschooler. As they jabber to you about Alison and Maxwell and Simon’s red fire truck toy you jot down the names. You really must get to the bottom of who these ruffians are. Really, some parents don’t instill any manners in their three year olds.
Then they go to school. It’s a rude shock to find that, as parent, you’re no longer seen as the customer. More like the secretary-chauffeur, Your child is also less of a guest and more of a pupil. You vaguely consider changing careers to become a classroom assistant so that you can make sure your child uses the bathroom regularly and wear a hat outdoors.
Then they hit the Tweens. They talk in long sentences alluding to their friends parents who are apparently in every way more accomplished, kind and liberal than you are. You are torn between applying for a position on the Board in order to set your kid a good example, and chucking it all in to stay at home baking cookies, vetting all their friends with a 100 point questionnaire.
Finally teenagers. Is it blissful to have someone who sleeps in in the mornings? The life of ease, to not need to help with their bathing or toilet. They even eat direct from the fridge you say? And don’t say a word for hours on end? My, you must have it so easy!
Take your pick, according to me – every age is hard while you are trying to balance your work with your life.