This week I had a confronting realisation: my first child is a monster and it’s all my fault.
You might think that admission is a little harsh, I used to too. But for anyone who knows my daughter, Maple, and I, this is a confession that has been a long time coming.
You see, when Maple came into my life, she was the apple of my eye. I was so in love. I was obsessed. How could something so adorable even exist? I finally understood what new parents felt when they looked into their baby’s eyes for the first time.
No expense was spared when it came to giving Maple the best possible start to life.
She began co-sleeping with me immediately as I cradled her in my arms until she went to sleep. When she wouldn’t eat, I would feed her with my hands. I bought her the most adorable clothes and began making childcare arrangements for when I returned to work and researching schools for the years to come.
But it was when I brought Maple into the office one day to meet my co-workers that I saw the beginnings of a problem. She didn’t like very many people. In fact, she didn’t like anyone at all, except for those she had met basically at birth. She definitely didn’t like men. She would cry and whimper when I wasn’t in close vicinity.
On seeing Maple and her attitude, some tried to warn me. They tried to tell me what I was doing wrong. That I’d given Maple too much. Too much time. Too much attention. Too much love. Too much everything. But I didn’t listen. This was my first child they were talking about. And nothing in the world could possibly be labelled as ‘too much’.
Her first birthday rolled around and there were celebrations. There was a party in the office. There was a birthday outfit. There were presents. There was not one but TWO cakes. We sang and we fussed over Maple. She was in everyone’s good graces again, for the time being.
Then a few weeks later when my childcare fell through, I had no choice but to bring Maple into the office everyday. And that's when shit hit the fan, quite literally. She did a poo in my boss' office. She cried all the way through a podcast recording. And she chased a courier down the length of the office.
Maple was given a written warning. The only warning I had ever received during my entire employed adult life. Maple and I had words. I spoke to her about the impacts of her behaviour and how it affected those around her. I have to admit, she was a little better behaved after that. Embarrassed even. But still, it was too late.