Anytime we are out and about, people always comment on how good Alice is. I always reply with "oh yes, I can take her anywhere!"
Obviously I'm not going to start discussing every minutiae of our lives for their unpicking, but these brief encounters are false.
Alice is a 'good' baby for the most part. She eats well, never used to cry much when she was little, and is happy to go anywhere with us.
But she doesn't sleep well, and isn't great around people she doesn't know very well. She also just likes to be held. Thank goodness for baby carriers!
One of the workers at our playgroup reassured me that she was at a 'clingy age'. I joked in conversations with Lewis's boss that she was my sidekick.
I thought it was normal. But the past week has shown me that actually it's not. There are 3 ladies I know who all have babies younger than Alice. One recently posted pictures of herself at a wedding without her little girl. Another recently revealed that her little girl sleeps through and can self settle. Another was able to leave her 6 week old for a night out with friends.
I have been out for a couple of evenings since Alice was born. She was attached to me for them all. Fantastic wedding; Alice hit the dance floor with me. Lewis's prom; Alice rocked a prom dress.
No one seems to mind. Except me. Don't get me wrong. I love Alice. She is an absolute joy to have around. But she is Velcro. I don't think I've had more than 4 hours away from her, and I certainly haven't had a night off in the past 9 months.
So what am I doing wrong? Alice refuses a bottle, perhaps because we were told not to give her a bottle to avoid nipple confusion (insert eye roll here!). So she has come to depend on me for everything. Even though she eats proper food now, milk is still her source of comfort. At night, she won't go to sleep without me.
It's created in me a wonderful concoction of mourning, resentment and guilt.
I mourn the ability to be selfish. To go out, without having to think about someone else. To have an evening to do anything I want without fear of hearing her little cries through the monitor.
I resent the fact that although 9 months ago Lewis and I jointly became parents, he doesn't have these same worries. Boys camping night; doesn't have to take Alice. 4 day canoeing trip; says yes without question. The only thing that affects his plans are whether he is already doing something else.
And guilt. Because Alice is a precious gift and I should be thankful to have her. And I am. But parenting a Velcro child takes every ounce of my energy, and it would be nice to know that at some point in the future, these energy stores will be replenished.
Until then, I guess there's always chocolate.