Motherhood hasn’t come naturally to Daisy Leverington. Three years in and she remains wide-eyed, terrified and in awe of the little person for whom she’s responsible. Stay tuned to follow her parenthood progress.
July 2011. Two barely-open eyes, dark blue, judging, unimpressed, stared straight into mine. Neither of us moved. Her vision was based on movement, very much like the T-Rex.
We stared at each other, both unable to speak. I won’t lie, it was awkward.
Two days of tough labour and there she was, looking not unlike a little old man. After a while my newborn daughter took control of the situation and made for my boobs.
No paternity test required after all.
Getting her out had been tricky. Upwards of 17 people had a good root around my Valerie, including the fear (but not baby)-inducing Dr Fisty. He was a JOY.
In the end, they called it a ‘rotational forceps delivery’, I called it ‘just been punched in the fanny’. Add three sleepless days of contractions to the traumatic 48-hour labour and we were exhausted.
Three years later and me and my pelvic floor are still nervous around trampolines.
My daughter, on the other hand has just announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to the show!” before twerking around the lounge wearing nothing but a smile.
It seems I’ve given the world another Miley Cyrus, and I’m not sure what to do other than applaud.
She seems very much more assured than I feel. She is bossy and full of ideas. She is interesting and funny and will go to any lengths to make you laugh. She’s moody and grumpy, and rolled out the F-word last week, in perfect context, at the cat.
She’s the most alive and whole human being I’ve ever met, and she astounds me every day.
I, on the other hand, mostly feel like I’m still on that operating table, sporting the same look of awe and fear, which has become etched into the new lines around my eyes.
If I could give my deluded pregnant self a gentle slap with a disposable nappy I really would.
Having read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, I’d thought I was completely clued up.
“Hey, check me out with my beautiful baby-bump! I’m so serene and glowy, probably thanks to this organic super-juice I’m supping as I stroll around cooing at baby-clothes.
“All I need are these reusable nappies, unscented wet wipes and my boobs!”
Once the baby arrived, my benchmark for successfully raising a child plummeted pretty rapidly.
Every day I’d ask myself, “Is it still alive?” and if the answer was “yes”, I’d high five the cat. (Note: cats don’t like this. I’d recommend a gentle fist-bump, if anything.)
Parenting didn’t come naturally to me. I should have known after a brief and emotional dabble with a Tamagotchi in 1996.
Growing up as an only child, I had a troubled relationship with my mum, and my dad lived with his partner a few streets away. I was the only one on free school dinners at my lovely school and it’s fair to say feeling like the poor kid translated into adult worries of inadequacy.
Happily, these are fading as the years go by, but still clear and present when it comes to motherhood.
And that’s where my new theory for parenthood comes in.
It’s pretty radical, so strap in and prepare to feel panic and freedom at the same time.
When it comes to being a parent, NO ONE HAS THE FAINTEST CLUE WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
This is certainly true of kid number one, who represents the theory in its purest terms. You are 100 per cent in the dark about what is going to happen to your life, no matter how many books you’ve read.
A kind of half-life principle should be applied to any family additions thereafter, until you find yourself on that show 16 Kids and Counting. You may have to do a headcount before every meal but at least you’re no longer in the dark about parenthood.
Currently I’d put myself at 80 per cent.
I’m still planning my days from meal to meal, from nap to nap, from tantrum to tantrum, hoping that this small scrap of map for each day takes us to a bigger place where I feel more comfortable being ‘Mum’. Wish me luck.
Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.