Last week we went swimming and there was a simply gorgeous 6(ish) month old in the pool. Seeing how besotted my son and daughter were with her and how utterly wide-eyed-adorable this little one was as she experienced the world and all its wonders - and when you're 6 months even a public swimming pool is wondrous - I did get a little twitch in the uterus, a fleeting 'maybe we're not done yet...' wistfully crept through my mind. After that I had to physically escort my 6 year old out of the pool as he refused to leave, tried to hide under the water and almost drowned himself. I then turned an elegant blue whilst wrestling the still wet and wriggling three year old back into the party dress she'd insisted on wearing to the pool and that thought went into hiding, but it kept popping back up for the rest of the week.
Today I was browsing through my photos and I found this one and it all came rushing back. The wearying horror of going out for a meal with a one year old. I remember hauling toy after toy after toy out of a change bag the size of our local Tesco, before resorting to car keys and finally settling on a phone to keep him occupied for the interminable 10 minute wait between ordering and the food arriving. I remember trying to hush his shrieking demands for food, whilst he was already eating. (I'd totally forgotten what it's like to have a hungry baby - and how said baby, unaware of the food in his mouth, became incandescent with fury that the fork was empty.) I remember juggling plates, glasses and cutlery with practised skill, as our bundle of joy attempted to ram each and every one of these artefacts as far into his eye socket as it would go. I can once again feel the rictus grins on my face as my pride and joy attempted to back flip out of the high chair and brained himself on the wall behind - can't react, it will only set him off, just pretend everything is lovely and fine and la la la. I recall shovelling in mouthfuls of cold food with congealed gravy hanging from the fork, utterly unaware of what it tasted like, in the focussed drive to keep my ball of self-destructive energy calm and quiet, so as to not piss off the other people in the restaurant. I am unclear now as to why we did this to ourselves.
I would like to balance these memories with tales of what it's like to eat in a restaurant with an profoundly unhungry child, one who is more interested in everything from the light fittings to the floor tiles than the food on her plate. I can't. We did it once in August 2013 and it was so stressful we didn't eat anywhere that didn't have a soft play attached until she was three.I am now zen enough to consider half a cherry tomato and the inside of a bread roll a nice meal out. I didn't order her her own plate of food until November 2015.
These memories have jack-boot stomped any thought of another one into dust. Once you're out never go back. Never go back.