THE KIDS

Little cherubs.

Great bundles of joy.

The apples of our proverbial eyes.

Sure, all of these things are true, when you don’t have them for longer than an hour at a time. But as soon as you make the mistake of offering two, sore-eyed parents a weekend off from their little ones, this opinion soon changes.

As they wave you off with a wild smile and prosecco already in hand, you should start saying your goodbyes. There’ll be no brunch buying, coffee drinking and gallery hopping for the next two days. Say hello to toilet stops, cartoon binges and game playing. Get used to question answering, knee plastering and “are we there yet?” ringing in your ears. Your weekend slowly disappears before your very eyes. Your time is not your own anymore. You are not number one. Not only is this a wasted weekend but your entire life is changed forever. You call your friends in case you don’t make it out alive and give them all your next of kin, just in case.

No, I’m not being dramatic. It’s just that this weekend confirmed something to me: that even as I edge closer to 30, I am not ready for children yet. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are two of the most pleasant, well-mannered children I have ever met. They don’t moan. They’re easily pleased. They get on with each other. They are intelligent. They like to have fun. Basically, they’re the type of children that those who have given birth to squealing spawns of Satan are jealous of. Almost too good to be true. Which is why I couldn’t understand why it put me off having kids so much.

But I’ve come to realise that, basically, I’m just too selfish.

Prior to the weekend, the subject of kids had come up quite a few times between me and my girlfriends. We ignorantly proclaimed that we could handle kids now that we’re at the ripe old age of 26 and 27. We discussed names. What they would look like. How we would discipline them. We pictured our lives not changing very much (which is just plain stupid). We spoke about how we would carry on as normal, wearing the same clothes and being able to maintain manicures and waxes, just with a baby attached to our boob. No big deal. We wondered what people were complaining about.

All of the parents reading this are probably laughing at our ignorance.

And after this weekend? I’m right there with you.

But above anything else, I am left wondering how people actually do it. Parenthood, I mean.  After those few hours spent looking after little ones, 11pm felt like 4am. I didn’t reapply my lipstick once. I didn’t want a drink, I just wanted my bed. I don’t think Ryan and I spoke for most of the weekend, we just took it in turns to take toilet trips and made eye contact only to say “it’s your turn”. AND THIS WAS ONLY TWO DAYS OF PRETEND PARENTHOOD. Imagine what we’d be like if the stork came and dropped one off prematurely- screwed is the only word I can think to describe it.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the first time I’ve looked after little ones. In actual fact, I have been surrounded by them my entire life. Cousins. Second cousins. Pupils. Family friends. The list goes on. I actually find kids funny, I like the questions they ask and I somehow enjoy their company. But do I want one by my side from now until forever? Hell no. Well, not yet anyway. I guess sixteen rounds on an ice rink, a few messy food stops, a Disney film or two and a ring stuck on a child’s finger saga will do that to you.

So, parents of the world, I’m pretty sure I’ve said it before and I’d like to take this opportunity to say it again, I salute you. You are Gods, Goddesses, angels and miracle-workers. You are magic-makers and dream weavers and to those of you who manage to parent whilst maintaining a functional relationship, applying make up and ensuring that you’re wearing matching underwear each day? You’re not even human.

I’m off to watch Netflix in bed with snacks. Yet another one of my favourite past times that is just impossible with children.

The Family

When Harper Lee wrote that “you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family”, she was, well, pretty much correct.

From school to university to the office, I’m sure you’ll all agree that friends have come and gone, and while the precious few will still be hanging around eating chips with you on Tottenham Court Road at 4am, you can only truly rely on your family one hundred percent.

Why then, do we find them so unbelievably embarrassing? Taboo almost?

My household appear happy. I’ve heard people say countless times that we are the perfect family. And although generally quite content, this makes us laugh to a great extent. My dad and I clash over TV timetables, my brother thinks it’s fine that he hasn’t lifted a duster in 25 years and my parents bicker over old people things such as who is making the next cup of tea and who ate the last bit of cheese. This is the “normal” stuff that I’d admit to, of course. The rest of it will be shoved firmly in the vault under the stairs that we have willingly thrown away the key for.

Hopefully you aren’t now questioning whether my dad is a spy and me a drug baron. Instead, I hope that you are nodding in at least partial agreement, much like during that blessed moment in the best of friendships where you are sitting there at two in the morning, sipping on leftover wine from dinner, when someone confides in the group that something is not quite right at home. And then the floodgates open. Not pathetic tears of a clown caused by too much Pinot Grigio, more like a lot of talking. Be it money troubles, divorce, affairs, drugs and even just a petit argument, everyone begins to nod their head in appreciation and knowing because something very similar has, or is, happening to them.

And if they aren’t, they’re lying.

So why do we find it so easy to gossip about our friends sleeping with the enemy and the awkward moment between “Sarah” and “Jim” at the pub last week? Because we are not directly linked to them of course and it’s therefore no reflection on us as their companion. Contrary to this view of our friend’s stupidity, people consider their family to be some sort of mirror-image of them. And one that we should hide should it be a little cracked.

A friend of mine’s family are channelling The Carpenter’s and have set up a band together, another’s mum once force-fed me home-made peach schnapps at three in the afternoon and another’s grandma once wore a hat made solely of faux-penises to a “P” party. If they were my relatives, I’d be mortified. (If you’ve met my mother you’d know that’s a complete and utter lie). But it’s only as I get older that I’ve begun to realise that embarrassing family members make a four-hour-long christening that little bit more exciting and Christmas Day so eventful.

So if you’re worried about your boyfriend meeting your great aunt dotty who is never to be seen without a glass (bottle) of gin, just remember that you probably ‘ain’t seen nothing yet.

Wait until you meet his half-uncle Richard, he’s a treat.