THE Beast has taken to smacking his lips and saying ‘Ahhh, that’s Bass’ whenever he takes a sip of his drink, in an uncanny imitation of our former Taoiseach.
It’s very unsettling.
He also says cheerfully ‘Down the hatch!’ and ‘Eat up everybody!’ whenever he sees anybody eating or drinking anything, even when we’re out in public.
If you’ve ever been in a restaurant and a small blonde boy has enthusiastically cheered you on throughout your meal, that was us, and I apologise.
I’m not really sure where he picked up these phrases, most probably parroting us or his grandparents or cousins, but I probably should be worried that he’s already an advertiser’s dream.
I worry a lot actually. Mainly about my own prowess as a mother. And hearing him rattle off advertising slogans for beer from the 80s doesn’t really help my confidence.
When he was a tiny baby and I was ill with post natal depression, I was forced to put myself first, to get myself well so that I could care for him. So beyond feeding, changing and loving him, I didn’t worry about a whole lot else. And I didn’t DO a whole lot else with him either.
Now though, it’s different. I’ve recovered (for now) from PND, I am well again and I feel strong in that sense – but now I have to actually mother him.
The responsibility has moved on from quite literally keeping him alive, to actually nurturing him. To actually teaching him things. To actually knowing what the fuck I’m doing.
And I often fear that I don’t.
He was ill recently, with a fever that rocketed to 40.9 degrees (105F) and in my utter panic I physically looked over my shoulder for a more adulty adult to help me.
An abstract part of my brain thought ‘God, poor little thing, his mother is going to have to do something about that temperature’ before realising with a start that I was his mother and it was I who was going to have to do something about it.
So I did. With shaking hands I administered Calpol, took off both our t-shirts so he could cuddle next to me skin-to-skin to help regulate his temperature and for comfort, and then laid him down to rest in his cool bedroom, sitting up holding his hand for the rest of the night.
The temperature dropped after a few hours and he slept and within a few days was right as rain again. I even managed to get him to the doctor and to get a urine sample out of him (The Beast, not the doctor, that’d be just plain weird). And ridiculous as it sounds I was proud of myself for managing to mind him while he was ill, something every mother in the world does every day, probably without thinking about it.
Having a baby is a huge responsibility and it starts the moment the baby enters the world; but for me, the responsibility hadn’t really bothered me up until this point when The Beast has started to turn from a helpless baby into a little person, a person I am responsible for, that I have to guide through life.
I even spoke to my GP about it, a few months ago, that while I felt recovered from the PND and ready to move on with my life that I still didn’t feel like a good mother.
He looked at me kindly from over his spectacles and told me my problem was simply confidence, that he suspected I was a “very good mother indeed” but that lack of confidence can hold anybody back.
He spoke to me then about possible counselling to come to terms with my new life now as a mother and while I don’t feel like I need that quite yet, I do have that in my back pocket for future reference.
For now, instead, I’ve been slowly trying to build my own confidence by focusing on the things that I’m doing right with my son.
Ok, so he winks and spouts 80s advertising slogans like a politician in training, watches too much TV, is stubborn as a mule and has an unhealthy obsession with Milkyway chocolate stars, but he can also count to ten, ream off his colours, name any animal in a farmyard and a fair few in the Zoo too.
I did that.
He knows all the words to the Thomas the Tank Engine theme song, can name all the trains and their associated numbers, and can recite most of his Thomas books off by heart. He says please and thank you and excuse me when he burps.
I did that.
He adores hopscotch, the slide, chalk drawing, stickers, examining leaves in the woods, collecting sticks by the stream and feeding the ducks and he’s never happier than when he’s digging in mud making up elaborate games for his toys.
I did that.
He’s happy and healthy and loved and smart and funny and crazy and full of chat and goes to bed each night knowing that he is the light of our lives.
I did that.
At least, I did some of that. I suppose that’s all any of us can do, isn’t it, keep moving forward, keep trying.
And for now anyway, the kid is alright.