When you’re getting through those early weeks with little interaction from your baby, the thing that people say most frequently is: “Just you wait until he starts smiling, it’ll all be worthwhile.” What an understatement.
You know that your baby’s first smile will be a special moment and I think you even have an idea of how you might feel, but the reality is so much better. Here are the things that I have discovered about it:
1. It is literally the best sight you will ever see. It’s like the pride of getting your A Level results, landing a big promotion in work and seeing your husband say ‘I do’ on your wedding day all together multiplied by about a million. You will bottle up the image in your head (because no picture will ever do it justice) and carry it around with you.
2. You start to wonder why you ever thought alcohol was the best thing after a long hard day. Move over wine – when my boy has given me the most challenging of days the last thing I want is to add a foggy haze and later a headache to the chaos. But a smile from him will melt me and get me through another sleepless night.
3. It’s addictive. You soon find yourself trying all kinds of random shit to get a smile out of him. From the normal funny voices, kissing tiny toes and blowing raspberries on his belly, to the more extreme dancing around Frank Skinner style in your underwear (yes I’m that sexy) to the Y’all ready for this Space Jam theme, you will do it.
4. It isn’t just pride at the beautiful little person you’ve created or pleasure at the interaction you are getting, but on some level it makes you feel like you’ve finally done something right. In a sea of ‘we don’t know what the hell we’re doing’ and ‘why is he crying all the time’ and ‘I can’t do this’, that little smile tells you that he knows you, he loves you too and, even if just for a little moment, he is happy and content. He’s not hungry (again, may just last for seconds!) or tired or dirty or in pain, he’s just enjoying whatever you did in number 3 (definitely the dancing) or liking his life.
5. It doesn’t last. One minute you will be enjoying the smiling so much you’ll have abandoned whatever it was you were doing – nappy changing, top and tailing, clothes changing – just to smile and coo back and all of a sudden there is a shift. The face starts to crumple up and you know a big wail is coming. And you shit yourself as it’s now a race against time to finish what you were doing before it turns into a full on scream fest. And you berate yourself for wasting precious minutes when he was happy and you could have got him changed without the drama. This happened to me in a public toilet of a cafe only last week with a room full of patrons on the other side of the door.
So, to all those new Mums battling out the first few weeks, I won’t use the same old cliché that the smile will make it all worthwhile, but instead will tell you that his or her smile will get you through the hard times because although this motherhood thing is difficult, there is nothing that can compare.
Incidentally, in case you were wondering I don’t regret any of the minutes I’ve spent just watching him smile and smiling back because the subsequent wailing is worth the pain.