OF all the old wives tales told when people see your swollen belly-with-baby, I have found only one to be true.
That ‘you never get two alike’.
I was reminded of this when Prince William said George was a lively little fellow – and baby Charlotte very different – ladylike and mellow.
My eldest, Monty, was born five weeks before Price George.
I remember the timings because one morning, I found myself on my sofa in Dundee with a camera crew filming me live for Eammon Holmes’ breakfast show on Sky News.
Prince George had arrived the day before and to convery this story, there was a correspondent live from the hospital in which he was born. There was another reporter at the gates of Buckingham Palace and, er, me live from my living room in Scotland.
Why? I had appeared as a regular showbiz guest on ‘Uncle Eammon’’s show and was now being called on as an expert new mum. So there I was feeding a tiny, writing Monty his first bottle (they wanted him with me and I though more palatable than my engorged breasts pre-watershed.)
I digress. Monty came out of my womb (via emergency secion) clean as a whistle. Not a drop of gunk. Spotless. He remains an unsullied little chap. If he spots a stray hair on his hand, he is unhappy until it is pulled off. He never complains of having his nose wiped. The only caveats are mud and puddles – now he’s discovered them, the washing pile is colossal.
Seventeen months after his arrival, came brother Chester, a planned section.
He was covered in all sorts and 11 months on, still is. Clothes rarely last without sully for an hour and he is perennially covered in snot and food.
Until his second birthday, Monty could only say words that rhymed with cheese. Keys, trees, oh and ‘more cheese’.
Before Chester was 11 months, he was walking (I put this down to survival instinct having an elder brother) and saying a few words.
Monty is long and slim. We recently had Chester weighed and featherweight he ‘aint. I love it – the bangled thighs and chubby cheeks you could just kiss all day.
So far , so boring – not to me or my mum – but after a while, details of other peoples’ kids are a bit dull.
The thing is this. I am both annoyed and pleased with myself for learning the kind of parent I am when it comes to discussing my children.
The moment I hear myself sounding boastful, I poke fun. So a play park chat of ‘Chester was actually walking by ten months’ is immediately followed by a ‘but it’s only to survive his big brother’, or ‘He’s a wee bruiser don’t you think?’
I am relieved to have the self-awareness that there is nothing more boring than a bumptious mum. Even if my kids did sleep all night like logs, I don’t think I could bring myself to tell strangers – on account of the guilt, insecurity and envy I know they would feel..because I do when it’s said to me.
But sometimes I go too far the other way – and don’t enjoy the little triumphs. I wouldn’t actually believe Chester was saying ‘mum’ at such a tender age; I downplayed genuine compliments about my boys when I could have just smiled and said ‘thank you’.
Maybe it’s being British. Someone says they like our dress and we feel compelled to tell them it was a tenner and that if they saw you naked, they’d be horrified. Or is that just me?
This humility by proxy of our kids can’t be entirely British though, else I wouldn’t be used to phrases like ‘he’s exceptionally bright for his age’, ‘her vocabulary is unbeatable’ and ‘oh dear, why would your children not sleep all night?’ bandied about shoots and swings.
I’m going to strive for a happy medium. But keep the outright boasts for those relatives who are equally as biased as me.