Don't tempt the Goddess of Motherhood - she may just drive you crazy.
If you’ve had a child for more than a few months, you’ll already be well aware of the fact that there are many things that, as a mother, you simply shouldn’t do. And I am not talking about those ‘don’t leave your baby on a ledge’ type baby bible commandments, which are, of course, blisteringly vital, but which, anyone with a modicum of common sense would be able to get around without the need for pointers.
No. I am talking more about those things which, for some reason, tempt the Goddess of Motherhood, (for our purposes, let’s call her Murphy) into childishness. Because, celestially fabulous though Murphy may be, she does, like all good mothers, have a particularly nasty sense of humour.
One look at the phrase ‘sleeping through’ should be enough to prove my point. Never ever use this phrase in public when referring to your baby. Even in jest. Even simply for the sport of freaking out the women sitting next to you at the baby clinic. For, sure as a dropped nappy lands squidgy-side downwards, as soon as the phrase has left your lips, Murphy will spring into action and your child will miraculously rediscover the joys of the 2 am screaming cot rattle that very night. The damage is immediate, and no amount of middle of the night phoning around with retractions will bring back your chances of a full night’s sleep.
For toddlers, replace the phrase ‘sleeping through’ with ‘potty trained’.
In fact, the principle extends to any information about your child that has been imparted to another with any level of smugness. Never tell another person that your child has achieved any milestone whatsoever, as your child will instantly lose her newly acquired ability and, if at all possible, will do so before the smugee’s very eyes.
Murphy’s Second Law of Motherhood centres around barbed sympathy. The repercussions of this Law are specifically reserved for those mothers who, on listening to another’s sob story about her evil child, lack of sleep, sex, brain or combination of the above, say things like: ‘Oh Sam, that must be terrible. I simply can’t imagine what you must feel like. I don’t know what I’d do if my little Terri was to bite someone else. You must feel like such a bad mother.’ Special Murphy points for hand patting and tongue clucking. For again, before you have managed to spin the spoon around your tea, someone else’s child will wail in from the playroom with bite marks that suspiciously echo your darling’s little seven tooth grin.
As with all life rules, most of us learn these lessons slowly, through painful trail and error. Which is why, these days, if anyone asks me how my boys are doing, a small spasm crosses my face before I launch into a frenzied denial of any signs of intelligent life whasoever. Hell, if I can get away with it, I deny that my three-year-old can even lift his head. Have you messed with Murphy? What have been the outcomes?