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We’ve been watching The Incredibles at home recently. Superheros are the toddler’s new favourite thing. “What can you do mummy?” Erm… my skill set is very child-related at the moment. But even that has its limits.
Can I calm a frazzled toddler down from a sugar high? Nope.
Do I know all the words to the Paw Patrol theme tune? Some of them.
Can I get them eating veggies? Ha ha ha… As if. Nope.
My superpower is very different indeed.
It all starts with being pregnant. Getting pregnant is hard enough. Some of us are lucky enough to find it fairly easy. Some of us struggle for years. Some of us rely on science and microscopes and clever doctors and our wonderful NHS. Some foster or adopt. So it’s a slog to even get to the parenting starting gates. If you are lucky enough to fall pregnant (yes, this bit is aimed at the mums) then you grow AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING. Your body expands. Your womb accommodates. Your clothes put up a valiant fight but at some point, your knicker elastic will definitely twang loose. Your boobs, once so pert and pretty, will become pendulum-like. Running for the bus is not an option. Resting a cup of tea on your bust is possible however, leaving both hands free for cake.
So far, so amazing. Because in that womb grows one, two (or heavens, even three!) little babies. And then you get it out, and I don’t care if you are a hypnobirthing mama or a devotee of a C-section, if you labour for 3 days or 3 hours (mind you, I’d always opt for the latter), if you give birth at home or in the hospital car park, however you get that baby out, you are a legend. You are a superwoman.
And of course, then you keep that tiny wee being alive. Your boobs swell and make milk and you grit your teeth and get through the early, painful days of feeding. Or maybe your boobs let you down. Or tongue tie hits. Or it’s just too bloody painful. Either way, when anyone asks “How are you feeding little Johnny?” the correct answer is “Through his mouth.” Don’t let anyone tell you there is a right or a wrong way. If you are feeding that tiny, squirmy, pink little thing, you are a superwoman. If you are a dad (or a pair of dads) working out how to use formula, bottles and a steriliser, then you are superdads. Let’s cut to the chase – feeding your baby? Superparent.
They learn to walk and you baby-proof the house. They start to talk so you moderate your language and only swear under your breath. You negotiate. Think NATO, but for toddler tantrums. You hide the emergency PMT Bounty Bars, you do your best to feed them delightful organic rainbow meals, and when that doesn’t work you feed them potato waffles and extra vitamins. They grow, they learn, they stretch, they test. And you bend and flex as they do, because you are a superwoman.
Maybe you go back to work. I did. It’s much easier to be a superwoman if you can pee with the door shut and mainline coffee, still hot, at your desk. Maybe you stay at home. You use your superpowers to entertain and encourage your little people. You help them grow and you fill the days. (My superpowers didn’t extend this far; I needed to go to work. It’s a break! Negotiating with clients is a cinch over calming down a toddler meltdown.)
And it continues. You choose a school for them and re-learn long division so you can help them with maths. You brush off your brain and try to remember your Shakespeare comedies. You help them ask for directions in French or Spanish.
And they grow yet further. Maybe they have babies of their own. Your superpowers will come in handy then as well.
I can’t put both my kids to sleep at once. I’m awful at building with Lego. I don’t know how to stop a toddler tantrum in its tracks. But I have superpowers nonetheless. I am still growing my babies now they are outside my body, and I am alongside them all the way. Maybe not in person. But in my heart and my hopes. That’s my superpower.
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