Between us, my sisters and I have nine children. They are aged six, nearly six, nearly five, four, three, three, nearly two, one and one. They go boy, boy, boy, girl, boy, boy, girl, girl, and boy. When they get together, it’s like swimming in a washing machine – you go round and round in circles, are occasionally overwhelmed, and every once in a while it all bubbles over. Good, clean fun.
Now that we’ve moved to the Fibro and left them all behind in the Big Smoke (bereft, pining…not really, they seem to be thriving without us), the opportunities for washing machine moments are not as frequent. Particularly now that we have three at school. But Saturday was one such occasion.
As I watched them all rampaging around the house, it occurred to me that, between us, we have covered many of the issues that beset new (and not-so-new) parents. We’ve had The One Who Won’t Sleep (and still doesn’t), The Ones Who Wouldn’t Sleep (and now do), The One Who Has Nightmares, The One Who Won’t Eat, The One Who Broke Her Leg, The One Who Had Emergency Surgery, The One Who Gets Ear Infections, The One Who Is Allergic To Panadol...
Then there's, The One Who Didn’t Want To Toilet Train, The One Who Turns Up In His Mum’s Bed Every Night, The One Who Became Very Attached To Teddy, The One Who Wouldn’t Give Up Her Dummy, The One Who Got Early Teeth, The One Who Teethed Late, The One Who Wouldn’t Breastfeed, The One Who Wanted To Breastfeed Forever...
Along with, The One Who Had The Imaginary Friend/s (no prizes for guessing that one), The One Who Walked Early (then stopped), The One (actually there were many of these – must be genetic) Who Walked Late, The One Who Didn’t Talk Much, The One (again, there are many of these) Who Never, Ever Shuts Up… and so on and so forth.
When they were born, we (the sisters) all – because we are alike in many ways – read a lot of books. Whichever book we were reading at the time became The Book. As in ‘But The Book says’… We all had clear, expert advice on how our children should behave and when they should do things. We did our darnedest to make it happen, to nurture those textbook babies, and then threw up our hands when it didn’t.
Now that I know all these children, beautiful individuals that they are, I can’t imagine why we ever expected things to be different. They were never all going to behave the same way.There’s no such thing as a textbook baby, and certainly no such thing as a textbook child. They’re all works in progress. Wild, creative, imaginative works in progress. And as I sat in the midst of the washing machine on Saturday, I realised how much I’m loving every new chapter.