Embarrassment is a fascinating beast.
Things we do each and every day, things we all consider perfectly normal and healthy, can suddenly become terribly humiliating when someone opens the bathroom door at just the wrong moment …
“You told me you didn’t poop,” my husband says in a tone that he reserves for “gotcha!” moments.
I did say this, jokingly, in the early days of our dating life, hoping to give the illusion I wasn’t capable of something so déclassé as defecating! I reassure him that I don’t, that I was tired from a night of nursing bub and I just needed to sit down for a moment and rest. He beams at me for a second longer than necessary, turns and closes the door.
There was a time when I would have been devastated by this invasion of my privacy, but now that I have my first baby, embarrassing moments are part of my daily routine, and a strange thing has happened – I don’t actually feel embarrassed.
I think it’s because embarrassment is defined as a feeling of self-consciousness, and when you have a baby – you simply can’t afford to be self-conscious – you need to be baby-conscious.
When you’re baby-conscious, it opens up a whole new world of craziness.
The good news is, all this mayhem is suddenly socially acceptable, so you may as well enjoy it.
1. Making a song and dance
One morning at 7:00am, I started singing The Wheels on the Bus to my son. It was the extended version; the one where the horn goes “beep, beep, beep” and he initially approved with a smile, but by the third verse I was flagging. I added some actions. Moving my arms to show the motion of the wipers going “swish, swish, swish” got a giggle. Adding a squat and a jump as the motor went “zoom, zoom, zoom” turned this into a laugh, and six more verses later I found myself marching around the room, arching my back in fully fledged show tunes mode and singing at the top of my lungs “The mummy on the bus says, I love you too, ALL THROUGH THE TOWN!!” Big finish.
2. Hanging around underground car parks
One afternoon, my husband calls, I answer in a whisper, “Hello”. He asks where I am and when I’ll be home. “I’m down in the basement, in our car, our son is asleep … I’ve been here for 45 minutes …” He laughs because this is an almost daily occurrence. I can only imagine what our neighbours think when they drive past almost every day and see me sitting in our car just whiling away the time, but I’ve learned not to care.
3. I’m a shush-er
I admit it. When I’ve invested 30 minutes or more of hard labour getting bub to sleep, I’m not willing to take any chances. My husband and our two cats get shushed every night. I’ve also shushed my mother-in-law, done group shushing at family dinner, and even crazily shushed a noisy magpie at my local park.
4. I’ve taken up running
Not for fitness or anything, but to get things done. Put bub on the play mat, run to the bathroom, pee and wash hands, run back. Put bub down for a nap, run to the computer, answer emails standing at the kitchen bench while eating a sandwich, run back to cot, check on him, and repeat until he wakes. At least all the running is helping shift that baby weight!
As for the dads…
5. Don’t even try to multi-task
Hey dad, think you can rock baby to sleep in the pram and respond to your texts at the same time? Think again. Make a phone call? Can’t be done, he’ll wake up instantly. Watch a little TV? Better turn the volume down – wait, nope – he’s onto you, sorry. My husband has had some success listening to a podcast in one ear, and more so in recent times, but in the early days, his failed attempts at multi-tasking with baby were, at least, amusing to witness.
6. There’s food on your shirt
Before we had our son, my husband used to dress sharp, I’m talking three-piece suits and pocket squares. As a father, he’s mellowed to the point where I have to prompt him to change his t-shirt (the one that’s un-ironed, covered in food chunks – his and bubs, that our son also peed on earlier in the day) and put on long pants when we go out. He still finds time to take care of himself, but hasn’t shopped for clothes since our boy was born. In my mind, the before and after photos make for an extreme, and amusing, contrast.
7. Everybody get down
My favourite time of all, is when I catch my man lying down on the mat with our son, they’re both rolling around, making fart-noises, flinging toys and soft books into the air, while they laugh hysterically, and if it weren’t for the difference in size, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Nothing gives me more pleasure than quietly recording the madness on my phone, and posting it on family Whatsapp.