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I can hardly wait until my son is three years old, and it’s got nothing to do with him learning to talk and sharing exactly what’s going on under those golden curls of his. It’s because that’ll be the day I can safely deposit him in the Ikea creche, amidst the field of mult-coloured plastic balls, to share bodily fluids, germs and who knows what else with scores of other strange children (do they ever clean underneath those balls? I have my doubts). Then I’ll have a whole hour to myself while I cruise the Lack shelves, dither over dinnerware in the marketing hall and watch other couples arguing about which colour sofa to buy. If I’m feeling really indulgent, I might treat myself to some gravadlax and a cinammon danish in the cafe. But until then, even now Ikea is still a pretty good option for a daytrip – it’s a sad reality that these days, for me, heading to a grey concrete retail park in Edmonton actually constitutes a treat. If it’s Monday to Friday, you get a free cup of coffee or tea courtesy of your Family Card (though whatever you do, don’t choose the mint tea. This isn’t actually herbal peppermint tea. It’s ordinary black tea that has somehow been infused with essence of After Eight. Except nowhere near as nice as that sounds. Some things aren’t worth having for nothing.) The restaurant at Edmonton also has a circular sensory soft play area, surrounded by a sort of breakfast bar where you can perch with a cuppa, and watch your tiddler roll around, gaze at the pwetty lights, and try and eat a piece of fluff and another child’s manky half-eaten ricecake. It may not sound much, but have you tried having a cappuccino with a squirming 10-month-old on your lap recently? Watch and learn Starbucks. And of course, if you so wish, you can buy any number of cheap-as-chips stuffed toys, storage baskets and tupperware. Fact: it’s simply not possible to go to Ikea and spend less than £100, even if you have no idea exactly what it was that you bought when you get home, except for a couple of drinking glasses and a lightbulb.

Before you had a baby, people were relatively polite. Most of them didn’t ask too nosily if you were intending to spawn any progeny in the near future. They rightly guessed there were all sorts of reasons why you hadn’t had children yet. Perhaps you didn’t want to – yet, or possibly ever. Perhaps you couldn’t, and you were already researching all sorts of pricey, incredibly emotionally wearing and painful fertility options. Perhaps you were just waiting till the time/job/house/partner was right. Perhaps deep down you wanted to, but found the idea of childbirth too traumatic to deal with right then.

Whatever your own particular reasons, most people, even close friends, rightly knew that ultimately it was really nobody’s business but your own, and if you wanted to talk about it, then you probably would.

But now it’s different. Now you have already gone forth and multiplied, your fertility is apparently everybody’s business, a subject for open debate amongst relative strangers. A chorus of ‘Are you thinking about number two yet?’ greets you practically before you’ve even had your stitches done and checked out of the maternity suite. And of course there’s: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice for Magenta/Clarence to have a little sister or brother to play with?’ which is just designed to make you feel guilty, selfish and totally inadequate, something we already do plenty of without any outside help, thanks.

There are a number of reasons why this line of inquiry is vaguely annoying. For starters, while we love, love love having our little ones around, some of us are still figuring out if we have the energy, patience and ready cash for another one in the next financial year. We wouldn’t mind another few months of having a (relatively) flat stomach before we resign ourselves to stretch marks and morning sickness all over again. We don’t know for sure if it will happen even if we want it to (in fact, just like the first time round). And some of us have other things to consider too. For example, I live in a house the size of a shoebox. It’s a pleasant enough shoebox, but I’m definitely not going to be able to swap it for a bigger shoebox any time soon. I know in Victorian times they just used to shove the new baby in the bottom drawer, but my bottom drawer is full of old socks and mothballs right now.

Of course, we don’t mind other mothers or old friends or even relatives asking us about our plans. But if you’re the postman or the woman who works in the local Co-op, if we haven’t actually swapped names yet let alone mobile phone numbers, then I’m probably not going to share my ten year plan with you just yet. Especially when I don’t even know what it is yet.

Still a couple of recent comments have stuck in my mind, and I can’t quite get rid of them. A friend of mine said her beauty therapist – a mother of two – told her: ‘I don’t know what I did with all that time I had when I only had one.’ Argh. Better write that novel and climb that mountain, like, now. The second is even pithier. ‘One is like having a pet. Two is like having a zoo.’ And I really wish they hadn’t told me that. Because if there’s one thing in life, I really love, it’s going to the zoo… I’m just not exactly sure I want to live in one.

Do you remember how much you hated it? You knew it was coming, there was nothing you could do and then there it was – the dreaded tissue, your mum wetting it ever so delicately with her warm soggy saliva and rubbed energetically all around your face. The thought still makes me cringe.

And yet. I have been there. I’ve been searching for the half-used tissue in my overstuffed handbag spitting away and rubbing jam-stains and toothpaste-marks like a maniac. And loving it. LOVING IT.

Is it a way of getting my own back? I mean, it is kinda cute the way she makes a ‘yuk’ face when I do it… Or is it some kind of deep-buried cat-like maternal instinct – a small evolutionary step away from simply getting my tongue out and licking my daughter clean on a crowded commuter train?

What’s sure as eggs as eggs is that this is one of those things you’d NEVER consider doing pre-baby and can look forward to doing as naturally as shrugging once that sticky-faced child is part of your life…

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This blog is currently dedicated to stuff new mummies like. As opposed to stuff mummies of teenagers like. That's because we don't have teenagers yet. Give us a few years though. We're told it goes pretty quickly...

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