22 Jun Children – The Great Leveller
It does not matter how much money you have, whether you own your own home or rent, whether you live in the centre of a city or the middle of a field, or whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Sikh, having a baby is the same for us all. We have all experienced pain, fear, guilt and joy. We have all given birth. There is no way around it (though during labour I have a couple of times explored with the medical staff the option to just keep the baby in forever, I mean did it really need to come out, really?).
The vast majority of us have our children under the care of our phenomenal health service (NHS we love you). Ok, so if you are vastly wealthy or a princess then you may have had your baby privately, and had someone give you a lovely blow dry before leaving hospital rather than waddling out with feet so swollen you can only fit them into your husbands flip flops and a belly that raises the question as to whether it was twins and one is still in there. But even those privileged few have to go through the process of delivery, they all have postpartum bleeding (which, let’s be honest, completely undermines the enjoyment of nine months being period free).
Whether your birth is straightforward or complicated is not determined by any of these things either. It is the luck of the draw. And from my experience no one has it all their way. Even princesses can suffer hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive nausea and vomiting which often needs hospital treatment), and most women know that miscarriages are indiscriminate in who they inflict their pain and sorrow on. This is parenting.
We as parents have all at some point been poo’d or wee’d on by our child. We have been up in the night with a crying baby. We have panicked over a strange looking rash or funny spots. We have bounced and bounced and bounced our crying babies in our arms, so much so that it becomes our standard resting pose (we have all stood in a queue not a child in sight bouncing). We have all torn our hair out in frustration because we have no idea why our baby will not stop crying, only a few days later to spot that new tooth peaking out. We have all thrown a babygro/pair of tights/pair of trousers in the bin because we frankly just could not face scraping out the poo again to wash it.
As our babies have grown we have all dealt with meltdowns in supermarkets, on buses, at play dates and in the playground (even three year old princes misbehave). We have all taught another human being how to go to the loo. And cleaned up the mess when they didn’t quite make it. We have all had a fight with our child about going in the buggy or wearing a coat. We have all shared a smile with other parents over our similar experiences, and unfortunately, more than we should, frowned at a parent doing it differently to ourselves (though personally I find as soon as I behave like judgy mummy one of mine tends to do something 80 times more heinous – that’s karma for you!).
We have shared in each other’s moments of joy watching our children giggle with joy and excitement. We have shared each other’s angst when our children have hurt themselves. We all understand the exhaustion of sleepless nights and relentless days. And we spend a significant amount of time trying to make sure that our children see everyone the same. Just people. To be polite, considerate, and respectful of others. To compromise.
In these current times of terror attacks and political chaos, it occurs to me what a great leveller children are. If we can remember this, maybe, just maybe, it can help us find more common ground on the bigger issues.