Five days after my son’s birth, we were gingerly celebrating Mother’s Day with tea at London's Royal Opera house. I was petrified that, at any minute, he might start screaming — competing with the performers’ powerful voices between rounds of cucumber sandwiches and petit-fours. Or worse, that he would save his wails for the courses during which the loudest thing you could hear was the scrape of spoons in clotted-cream dishes. But the screams never came. He slept the entire time — and continued to do so for most of the first month.
“Just you wait for month two and three,” people warned us, in gleeful anticipation of gorier stories. Those two months passed, and I still had nothing to horrify them with. “When he starts teething in month five, and really starts moving around, you’ll be miserable,” went their upgraded version.
I'd tell them about waking up two or three times a night, minimum, for the past four months. But the result was just that I slept in a bit longer. Boring. I'd say how my baby was colicky for about six weeks, and how we took turns joggling him on our knees to help get burps out for four hours every evening. But I just felt sorry for him that he was in pain. I could recount how he started exploding out of his diaper — once into my hand, twice all over my skirt — and that one of those times was in a café. But, luckily, we have this thing called a washing machine. Boring. (Another secret about newborns that no one tells you. All those diapers don’t even smell that bad; they smell yeasty.)
We traveled by subway, train, car, and plane. Unlike the horrendous train trip
documented by "Man with A Pram," our experience traveling with an infant was — sorry, I know this is getting dull — easy. We also managed to go out for long lunches fairly often. That “repetitious cycle of feeding/changing/getting baby to sleep” is pretty much perfect for restaurants.
“You need to get some better stories,” said my friend after another "How is motherhood going?" squeeze hadn’t yielded any juicy tales. To say that, in my experience, motherhood has been relatively easy is a real conversation killer. It perplexes rather than intrigues. No one wants to know your secret; they only want to know what you’re hiding. I sound like I’m gloating if I talk about my "easy" baby too much.
Then, after reading yet another "my baby nearly finished me, but her eyelashes make it all worthwhile" article, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I posted a status update about my terrible secret; I told the world that I just didn’t relate to those my-baby-is-Joffrey nightmare stories. I braced for a torrent of defensive attacks from parents deranged by the torment of raising their children.
Instead, what I got were balanced opinions from parents who had found some bits harder than others, and were finding some babies easier than others, and weren't broken by it.