My baby daughter has spent most of her young life with “a reputation”. Not, alas, for her sweet nature, her winning smile or even the hearty chuckle, which sounds uncannily like the expectorant hack of a 100-a-day smoker.
No. While these points have been duly noted by all concerned, they have been sadly superseded by her status as “the vomit comet”.
My beloved offspring adheres firmly to the maxim, “what goes down must come up”. As other mothers blithely pass their babies around and bounce them on their knees without so much as a muslin or pair of galoshes in sight, I look on with incredulity. My sociable little daughter may be happy to be handed to any number of friends and family, but every cuddle comes with a warning and the offer of a waterproof.
By the time she was eight weeks old I had already blown most of my maternity allowance on getting the sofa steam-cleaned.
I learned the hard way that an excellent exercise for post-caesarean recovery is getting down on all fours to clean white puddles off friends’ carpets while apologising profusely.
I have pretended to drop my keys in restaurants so I can mop the floor without drawing attention to the curdling deposit at my feet.
The trouble is getting up again afterwards.
While for her there’s no cause for medical concern, for me it’s another story altogether. At my age, when I should be reclining gracefully on a chaise longue or perhaps taking gentle strolls in the park, I discover that all this crouching and floor-based activity is playing havoc with my dodgy knee. And returning to an upright position with a slipped disc? Forget it.
My wardrobe has had to have a revamp. Anything marked “dry-clean only” has been taken to the charity shop.
I’ve come to regret the number of black tops that seemed, at the time, an essential requirement of my former media lifestyle.
Our record is four changes of T-shirt (each) within 15 minutes, and while we have had to order a new washing machine (the old one expired from exhaustion), I am still bemused by the fact that nowadays I pack more clothes to pop out for a quick coffee than I used to for a week’s holiday in Spain.
In terms of practicalities I have learned many lessons: do not visit anyone with carpets; always choose wellingtons over open-toed sandals; and, thank goodness, pilates can do wonders for a defective disc.
Things have improved since she started solids, and I’m told that by the time she turns one it should all be a thing of the past.
So as long as my knees hold out, we’ll be just fine.
And I may be exasperated as the malodorous minx throws up over the rug for the fifth time in as many minutes but I wouldn’t change a thing about her.
As Monty Python would say: “She smells a bit but she has a heart of gold.”