Dear Kate…

Right, my kraken-lovin’ deviants, I wrote the following post last week for Bad Salad but now that Kate Middleton is knocked-up by royal appointment and is busily creating a human with a statesman-like demeanour and a stout wave, I’m giving it an airing here. Consider it an open letter to K-Mid because, fuck knows, someone needs to be honest with the girl…

You know those times in life, when you have a lightbulb moment and suddenly everything becomes clear? Well, I had one of those when I gave birth. Except that it was more of a nuclear explosion than a lightbulb moment and one that seared my brain.

Now, I’m not telling you this because I want to put you off spawnage. I’m telling you this because if I’ve learned one thing since then it is this: that motherhood is the world’s biggest, dirtiest secret. See, in my experience, when you’re pregnant the world bangs on about motherhood being a joyful time. Then when the baby finally explodes from your raw, torn and angry minge the world suddenly says, “Well, yeah, I didn’t want to say anything but, actually, motherhood is a right fucker.” Bastards.

So to save you going through the same rage that I felt when I realised I’d been duped by just about every mother I had ever met, I’ve come up with ten things you need to know before you let that egg get spooged. Really, you’ll thank me for it one day…

  1. New babies are about as interactive as house bricks. For the first three months you pour love, attention, milk, love, attention, milk into them and in return they give you fuck all. It’s no wonder parents get excited at the first smile. It’s the equivalent of crossing the Gobi Desert and finding an oasis.
  2. Babies don’t inhabit your womb. They inhabit your brain too. Once you’ve given birth hearing a random baby cry across the aisles in Tesco will throw the trip switch in your brain that makes you even incapable of bagging tomatoes. With a baby’s fart you can go from being a Phd graduate to a jellied mass of ovaries and stitches.
  3. Sleep deprivation. There’s a reason why it’s used to break down terrorism suspects. It makes you so bat-shit crazy that you’ll actually find yourself trying to wedge your kid into the kettle while chatting to your own flappage. Worse, while conversing with the voices in your head, you’re to expected to raise a child without the intervention of Social Services.
  4. You’ll have to register with the thought police, because, from now on, admitting that your kids annoy you, that that you want to have a shit on your own or that their chatter is making you weep is the social equivalent of giving Jimmy Savile a room for the night.
  5. Mumsnet is a place of great evil. That is unless you wear Boden, live in Berkshire and think that mothers who have careers should be sterilised. Seriously, don’t expect good parenting advice from Mumsnet but, unbelievably for the nation’s nurturers, do expect to be called a ‘cunt’ because you are angry at your toddler.
  6. People with no experience of childbearing will give you the sort of advice that will make you wonder whether you have entered the Twilight Zone. I’ve been told to use torn sheets instead of maternity pads, to leave the house while breastfeeding and that my husband will leave me if he witnesses childbirth.
  7. You don’t know what to do when the baby splats out. No, really, you don’t. You cuddle it because it’s plonked on your chest and then, if you are like me, you say “What in the fuck do I do now?” Motherhood doesn’t always come naturally. I’ve had to tackle it in roughly the same way as my degree course.
  8. Just because you have a child of your own it doesn’t mean you like all kids. While I would lay on a railway line for mine, I’d happily toss other kids in front of an oncoming express train without a thought. Other people’s kids can be precocious, nasty, noisy, snotty, smelly, thick, overbearing and spoilt little fuckers. All the things that your kid isn’t, of course.
  9. You will be expected to smile and smile and smile. Every time someone coos over your child you have to glow and grin back at them. It is the law. At no point are you allowed to start crying, swearing or holler, “Well you fucking well look after her then!”
  10. It’s OK to sob in the toilet because your identity feels like it has been kidnapped and sold into the sex trade. It hasn’t. It’s just hidden in the rubble of childbearing. Give it a year of pawing at the ground and you’ll find it again. And when you do it’ll be even shinier and brighter than ever and all because there’s a tiny, plump, sticky fist snuggled up safely in yours.

So what do you wish someone had told you before you had kids? If you’re anything like me, a thousand things. Offload some of them in the comments box below. Oh, go on.


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3 Responses to Dear Kate…

  1. Carole says:

    Partly covered by point 5 (although, because I am considerably older than you, for Mumsnet read NCT local groups – and that takes care of your point 8 with brass knobs on!) I had never realised how competitive the whole process is. Naively I thought I’d enter a new sort of sisterhood, where “Mummies” formed a supportive team of 10-minute private loo break babysitters and spare nappy rash cream carriers – hahahahaha – instead I encountered aggression and bullying from people who had seemed quite friendly as ex-career-women-who-happened-to-have-bumps-at-the-same-time-as-me. My elder son had the temerity to grow teeth early. I only mentioned it because he’d chewed so hard on my nipples that I could see blood spots on my brassiere, and I thought someone might tell me that it shows through my jumper too – and the frosty atmosphere hit me square! All of a sudden, instead of swapping unrealistic anecdotes about Dr Spock and his ilk, my son became an alien freak. The following day, another mother, of a daughter, phoned me to triumphally tell me that, now she knew what to look for, her offspring had DOUBLE the number of teeth and so she was now back in the ascendancy of having spawned a potential genius. Pity the couple of women whose sons walked “late” and the little poppet who had a small strawberry birthmark – the ones who were on the “bad” side of the average development line! These same women who had hosted mutual dinner parties and whose husbands and partners had cheerfully discussed the merits of Scotch whisky over Irish whiskey, as they moved into maternity garb, had split the group by 3 months after the last of the babies were born – and, by 8 months in, one of the previous friends had become such a pariah that the other women had actually phoned each other to discuss who might contact Social Services and drop a hint that she was struggling! I have no idea if they did – I am afraid a well timed four-letter expletive dropped from my lips and I was never invited to “first birthday parties” for the couple of women who had already booked the church halls before they had left the maternity ward …

    • Lucy says:

      D’you think motherhood was always like this, throughout history, or whether its become like this due to the advent of …. something… not sure what… during the later 20th and earlier 21st century.
      That notion of a supportive sisterhood rather than competitive bitches has got to have come from somewhere, surely? I wonder how and why it all changed.

  2. The Kraken says:

    I’ve found the competitive nature of mothering a real bloody shock. I often wonder if the nastiness that happens between some mothers is actually about their insecurity and the fear that they aren’t doing what they think is a good job of raising their kids. Look at it this way: modern women have had to fight hard to get equal respect, wages, careers etc and perhaps it is hard to switch off that competitive nature when a sprog pops out. That does not mean I am defending competitive parenting. It’s an evil pursuit from the very second it fucking starts.

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