My baby, my tiny little, much wanted but slightly unexpected baby is about to be 10.
Much wanted because, well…who wouldn’t want perfection?
Unexpected because first babies aren’t supposed to come until 40+ weeks, blah blah, you’ll be waiting around the house etc etc, you’ll be desperate for it to come yadda yadda yadda…
This never happened.
Unexpected because as I lay me down to sleep on the night of 5th June 2003 and settled my enormous bump into the mattress, my waters broke, requiring a very nimble and nifty removal of my large self from the bed and into the bathroom.
Whereupon Mike followed me.
Whereupon we looked down at the floor and looked back up into each other’s eyes for an ‘oh f**k’ moment I’ll never forget.
I should have known it was coming.
I’d cried over the roast lamb that evening. Because my Mum (who was visiting) and Mike disagreed on the cooking of the aforementioned beast. And I was sick of being the middle and the conduit for snarky, passive aggressive comment from both sides.
So I chucked a hissy and cried a bit, which brought them together in the cooking of lamb rack. And cleared the air a little.
This interaction was reasonably common between these two protagonists in my life, so common it barely registered with me normally and so for it to make me cry was definitely a sign. Of…something.
Of course the obstetrician’s appointment that afternoon where he told me I’d already started dilating and he expected to be seeing me in hospital well before my next (weekly) appointment was also possibly a sign.
But what about all those other people, those experts who told me first babies never come early, they’d gone 10 days overdue, they’d been induced, why I never should have finished work at just 37 weeks.
Three days of maternity leave I had before she came. Count them. Three. That’s all folks.
So, yes she was unexpected. And she was delivered safe and sound by emergency C-section at 10 to 4 in the afternoon of the following day. But I digress.
She is now nearly 10. She is beautiful in many ways. But she is changing. She has read her first Judy Bloom novel. Some of her friends have deoderant. Some have face wash. Some have both.
So today, at the supermarket I decided Sarah too, should have these personal care products.
I went to the face wash aisle. And stared, and stared. Picked up a couple of things and put them down again.
I accosted a random stranger. Did she have daughters? Yes she did, 15 and 12. Paydirt!
What did she recommend for face wash? According to a friend of hers who was a skin/beauty/specialist/therapist somethingie, all Sarah needs is a warm wet washer. No soap, no chemicals.
It makes sense. Why put all those nasty chemicals on nearly perfect skin, even if it’s about to start festering a wicked oily T zone. And so, weirdly disappointed. I didn’t buy her face wash.
Next, deoderant. I stood in front of the shelving. And stared and stared. Picked up a couple of things and put them down.
The helpful lady had gone, I felt chasing her down the aisle might be a bit stalkerish so I was on my own. Unable to help myself, I texted a friend who I knew had bought her daughter some. Unfortunately she is not a quick replier.
I left, empty handed and still weirdly disappointed.
At home I retrieved a washer/flannel from the linen cupboard and designated it “Sarah’s washer”. When she returns from school I will give it to her and instruct her in its use.
I think I was expecting a rite of passage, as I gifted her the sacred items of feminine beauty and personal care and started her down the long road of unnecessary worrying about how you look and smell. Which is completely unnecessary at this point of her life, if ever.
Although it does pay to worry about how you smell occasionally, especially if you’ve just been to the gym.
BTW the extremely helpful and kind random stranger told me that puberty comes in waves, so they might have a few pimples, which will go away, or have a bit of BO but then it goes, or be a bit moody and get better, and slowly but surely the new, hormonally infused teenaged girl/woman/daughter emerges.
I’m not sure whether I find this frightening or reassuring.
Oh 10. Please don’t take my Sarah away.