I liken First Time Mums to learner drivers.
We were all there once, for some of us not so long ago, but once you aren’t one any longer you suddenly know better.
Just like learner drivers, First Time Mums begin to irritate you irrationally and you find you now have limited patience for them. OK they don’t drive in front of you at 20 miles an hour and take an age to turn right at a junction but you get what I mean.
Being so irritated by them is of course highly unfair; parenting does not necessarily improve with subsequent children.
However, like it or not, second, third, fourth time mums, old hands at this parenting lark, are likely to roll their eyes a lot in the presence of a first timer.
Without wishing to belittle those that have no children, before you become a parent, you can’t possibly know. You just can’t.
Looking after siblings, pets, babysitting, being a nanny… None of it can adequately illustrate how relentless being a parent actually is.
I cringe when thinking of a conversation I had whilst pregnant; my dog had been sick all over the floor at 3am and I commented that I was really tired and that it was preparing me for impending motherhood.
Of course, I was attempting to be humorous, and fortunately to a small audience, but any parents listening would have tried their best to contain their smug smiles.
‘Ah bless,’ they would have thought, perhaps with a tilt of their head or a roll of their eyes ‘a First Time Mum. Boy, is she going to be in for a shock’.
They were not wrong.
In order to be in any way applicable, the dog would have had to scream for the rest of the night and then his sister would have demanded pancakes at 6.30am.
Although naivety of a greater or lesser extent probably bonds most first time mums, there are a few stereotypes of first timers which – while fortunately few and far between – are much worse.
The first knows absolutely everything and likes to voice their opinions loudly and unbidden. They won’t give their child a dummy, the baby will sleep in their cot and never in their parents’ bed, they’ll have a routine from the first week and stick to it because it worked for their sister in law.
These ones usually go quite quiet when the baby is actually born, unless they happen to be blessed with a sleeping, self-settling baby who doesn’t want a dummy, in which case they will continue to be smug and firmly believe that they know everything, bestowing their unwanted parenting tips upon anyone who will listen and remaining irritating until their second or third child delivers the karma they so richly deserve.
Other mums are continually nervous and over-think every little thing, questioning every decision as if whether to give a baby avocado for lunch will change the course of their life.
These mums convince themselves daily that something is wrong; every sniffle is a deadly illness, every bump a visit to A&E.
Pictures of its soiled nappy will be uploaded to the internet or whatsapped to mum friends in a panic. They’ll probably never forget to turn the baby monitor on and they definitely won’t lock their baby in the car.
Obviously a little bit of worry is a good thing; after all, these most precious of beings rely on us, their parents, for every little thing.
A call to 111 or a visit to the GP is obviously better than a seriously ill baby, but absolutely no good can come of sleep deprived Googling at 3am.
I dread to think how these parents will fare when their child starts school, or becomes a wayward teenager.
I worry enough about how I will cope with these, and I’m really more of an ‘unless it’s falling off it’s probably OK‘ kind of parent.
Also deserving of a mention are the super competitive mums who are convinced that their little Einsteins are saying words by four months old and reading Chaucer by the time they are one.
You’ll be able to identify them through their Facebook streams, with photos of young babies propped into unlikely positions and captions such as ‘look at little buddy, 7 weeks old and standing already!’ or ‘I’m sure I ordered a baby and not a toddler! LOL!’.
This can also go the other way; their baby is the best at something, or the absolute worst. There seems to be a lot of competition over who has the worst night’s sleep, however let me tell you now, this is one competition a first time mum is very unlikely to win.
When I became a mum for the second time, I could not get over how easy a baby was in comparison to a toddler.
I wondered how I ever found it so hard just having the one, and he was (and still is) a very difficult baby.
But I did.
It is really hard.
Like landing on an alien planet and realising you’re there to stay, so you have to suck it up and get on with it despite being bewildered and entirely out of your depth, not to mention more sleep deprived than you’ve ever been before.
You will have moments of pure quiet joy, staring blissfully in awe at your baby… But you’ll probably have many weeping into your pillow wondering why it’s not anything like TV, or NCT, or anything prepared you for.
In contrast, when the second one arrives, you’ve already been living in this strange world for a few years and are at least starting to make sense of the language and becoming more comfortable with the strange customs and smells.
I almost wish I could go back to visit myself as a First Time Mum and offer myself the wisdom of my experience.
But then I’d become one of the Second Time Mum patronising wankers, and don’t get me started on them.