If I have learnt anything during my time as a parent, it’s that children have a way of confounding our expectations, and that I have no idea what I am doing most of the time. I am the first to admit that I made lots of rookie mistakes when I had my first baby, and I know that I’m not alone.
I mean, babies don’t come with an instruction manual, right? Wrong. They come with hundreds – if not thousands – of instruction manuals, and you will be bamboozled at every turn with unnecessary complexity. First-time parents can’t help but go a little crazy.
Here is a small selection of the stupid stuff I did…
1. Treating my baby like a science experiment
There is nothing like that feeling of sheer terror when you finally bring baby number one home for the very first time. What the HELL do I do with this thing? It stands to reason that we do what all rational human beings do: we seek to study the great mystery, to wrest back control from the brink of chaos. Bust out those spreadsheets, baby-tracking apps and Year 8 science skills, we’ve got detailed poo-reporting to do. What better way to get to know your child than to turn them into a human experiment?
10:02am: Baby wakes from nap.
10:16am: Baby feeds from left breast.
10:19am: Baby passes explosive pumpkin-coloured stool.
2. Buying stupid amounts of inappropriate clothing
I hate clothes shopping with a passion and am completely disinterested in fashion but the compulsion to style my unborn child was a powerful addiction. Like all good shopaholics, my baby ended up with an extensive wardrobe of totally inappropriate clothes he never wore. I’m not sure what possessed me to think that size 00 skinny jeans and Nike high-tops were a good combination for a three month old baby with zero muscle tone, and boy did I feel stupid when the kid lived in shit-stained onesies for the first 12 months anyway.
3. Washing the baby’s clothes in special laundry detergent
Like any diligent mum-to-be I hand-washed all my baby’s clothing in enzyme-free laundry detergent and carefully line-dried them using unvarnished wooden pegs on days where the UV index maxed out at moderate. Baby number two I fished a bunch of stinky hand-me downs out of garbage bags from the roof and blasted them with industrial-grade bleach to try and remove stubborn yellow spew and poo stains. Anything that passed the sniff-test was fair game.