I don’t remember much from 1991 but one little tip from then has lodged in my mind and served me well. Our baby girl had just roared into the world (the world hasn’t been the same since) at Kawakawa hospital. In the leisurely nineties, especially in country hospitals, mums and bubs could linger in the ward for a week after the birth and during that time I was profoundly impacted by a video I never saw. Naomi saw it and, being an excellent mimic, recited it back to me so vividly I feel I could even tell you the accents. It was, by her account, a corny video on breast-feeding and in one scene Dad arrives home to find his wife sitting serenely nursing the baby surrounded by mess and chaos. She apologises for not cleaning up and he replies, with saccharin saintliness and a Southern accent, “Don’t worry, Honey, you’re doing the BEST THING!”
This has become one of our family by-lines. Whenever there has been a choice between doing something fun with the kids or something practical around the home, we would repeat the line (with the accent) and do the fun stuff, or the cuddly stuff, or the meaningful stuff, or just the sit-down-and-pass-time-with-them stuff. Of course, it helps that neither of us really enjoys doing housework or maintenance anyway, but I believe it has always been the better choice. I think that especially now that all three of our kids are making their way in the adult world but still choose to visit and spend time with us and seem to enjoy our company.
I hate the idea that you might need someone’s permission to do what I think is the right thing to do anyway but, if you do, here it is: “Don’t worry, Honey, you’re doing the BEST THING!” Take a break, play, read, sing, dance and cuddle with those kids while you still can. All that mess and maintenance can wait; mine has been waiting since 1991.