Monday, 31 January 2011

It begins ...

It's beginning to dawn on me that being a mother actually means (a) being in a constant state of anxiety and (b) not being able to go to the loo without waving my arms around while singing The Grand Old Duke Of York. The anxiety part comes from suddenly seeing danger everywhere (get that massive baby-munching hound away from my pushchair, punk) and God help me if I think any further into her future than the day after tomorrow. To make matters worse, each night just as I'm drifting peacefully off to sleep, my other half usually starts snoring like a chainsaw ripping through cast iron and it's at that point that my mind starts throwing up images of Isabel toddling in front of cars and accepting sweets from strangers. Talk about cold sweat. Not being able to have a shower without playing peekaboo from behind the shower curtain pales in comparison.

Being a mother in Italy also means taking on the full force of Italian bureaucracy as, (quite unwittingly) I have created a little Italian person who needs several hundred documents and certificates in order to officially exist. She already has a tax code, which, let's be honest, is just what all five-month-olds want for Christmas. Last week, disaster struck when I discovered that she wasn't registered as a 'resident' of Florence, where I'm registered, or indeed Milan, where we live. The woman in the town hall in Florence was horrified at my lack of concern: as far as she was concerned, walking round with no official place of residency is the bureaucratic equivalent of wearing socks with sandals. Two mornings spent in the town hall later and Isabel is now resident in Florence, like me, despite actually living in Milan. It's complicated. Now I have to transfer her residency to Milan. And mine. By the time that's all sorted, we'll probably be living somewhere else ('O, Signora, you foreigners do move around a lot!' Read between the lines: you have no sense of home or family you poor, sad weirdo, I bet you even put ketchup on your pasta).

So I'm learning what it means to be a mother and Isabel and I are both learning to stay calm and not start crying in town halls, police stations and all the other places you have to go to get documents stamped, signed in blood and generally sweated over. And this is just the beginning. I can't believe I have a lifetime of bureacracy and worrying ahead of me...

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Monday, 24 January 2011

It must be true, I read it in this book..

The Baby Whisperer has changed my life. I'm a The Baby Whisperer convert. Thanks to The Baby Whisperer, I knew to put Isabel down for a nap 10 minutes ago. Unfortunately, Isabel hasn't read The Baby Whisperer and so she doesn't realise that she's tired. If she had read it, she'd know that yawning, eye rubbing and a short concentration span are all clear signs of fatigue. How do babies have the energy to scream so loudly when they're exhausted? Make that 15 minutes now.

Shockingly, I recently realised that since becoming a mum I'm still exactly the same person as before. I was expecting to automatically gain heaps of maternal wisdom but instead I've gained nothing but several very badly distributed kilos. Hence The Baby Whisperer. And What To Expect The First Year and Fate La Nanna. Some people scoff at the leaning tower of baby books in my living room and tell me to just follow my maternal instinct. Unfortunately, my maternal instinct tells me not to throw my baby under a bus, but doesn't stretch to what to do if she hasn't pooed for five days. For that, I consult Dr Spock.

Luckily, it turns out I have (according to The Baby Whisperer) an Angel/Textbook baby. When other mums compete with each other over whose baby wakes most times at night, I shuffle my feet and look at the ceiling. Having a baby who sleeps 12 hours a night is absolutely the best way to make instant enemies with other mums. It's hard enough to make friends in a new city, let alone when your nearest possible allies want to scratch your eyes out because they haven't slept for more than two hours consecutively for almost six months. I have to invent all kinds of nasty stuff to be 'in' with the girls at my mother & baby group. We met this morning and fortunately Isabel has a kind of crusty face from the cold so I could fake being all worried about that in order to gain acceptance in the group. Being a mum is harder than I thought.

Although I knew it would be, I read it in a book.

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