“I’m going to go make a pee-pee,” I said to Adrian.
“Okay,” he said, not even acknowledging the fact that I’d just used the term ‘pee-pee’ when our daughter wasn’t in the room.
Because this is just what we do now.
We have become those parents who continue calling each other Mummy and Daddy long after the child has gone to bed, who ‘do a brush brush’ instead of simply brushing their teeth, who casually chat about caca like it’s totally normal.
I know people who seem to have more or less continued with their pre-child lives after having a baby. They take the same sort of holidays, enjoy the same sort of hobbies and eat the same sort of food, expecting their child to adapt to their schedule, not the other way around.
We are not those people.
It is very clear who is in charge in our house, and she is around 20 pounds and afraid of the radiator. She dictates my hairstyle choices (no hats or ponytails, because she wants full access to my hair at all times), when we can go out to do activities (between approximately 9:30am-12pm, so as not to interfere with her nap time) and how I spend my evenings (sliding her back and forth across our wooden floors or allowing her to jump on my torso).
We don’t take road trips because she refuses to sit in her car seat for more than an hour. We don’t stay long at parties because she gets bored. We don’t eat dinner any later than 5:15pm because that would cause her to go into full hangry mode. We don’t leave her with babysitters because she gets too upset.
We can say no. We DO say no. No to a cookie at 8am, no to a cookie at 7pm, no to holding an entire bag of cookies and running around the house with it. No to watching music videos four times in one afternoon and no to jumping on the coffee table.
But here’s the simple fact about parenting: it’s easier to give in to what they want. So we do.
When what she wants isn’t dangerous (like playing with a knife) or otherwise not a great idea (like eating cake for breakfast), we tend to just go with it. That’s how I ended up spending 20 minutes walking up and down the stairs at the train station in the pissing January rain last night.
She started up the stairs slowly, one hand on the railing, one hand reaching for mine.
“Wouldn’t you like to go home to see Daddy and Milo?” I asked hopefully.
“No no no!” she shouted.
And so we went up and down the muddy, wet steps for ages. It was the worst. But I went along with it, because it made her happy.
I sometimes wonder if letting a tiny person pretty much dictate our every move has been a big mistake. It’s entirely possible that we’ve created an adorable little tyrant who will spend the next 18 years demanding that we cater to her every whim. Some people have suggested this to me, gently, in much kinder terms.
But here’s the thing – I don’t see how it’s possible to NOT let a child take over your life. Once the Popple came tearing out of my hoo-ha and into the world, things were never the same again. My body was different (all squishy with a gaping belly button). My mind was different (what was left of it, anyway, after months no sleep). And, most of all, my priorities were different. Keep her safe. Keep her happy. Keep her from losing her shit. Everything else kind of faded into the background.
That hasn’t changed, even though we’re a long way from those newborn days. I may spend most of my time in an office now, but the main focus of my day is still putting a smile on that grubby little face – even if that means climbing the stairs in the pouring rain.