I look at other mums, and I reckon they've got it made. Their babies sleep longer than Frankie, some even through the night. Their babies don't scream every time they're peeled out of mummy's arms. Their babies sit still for more than 4seconds at a time. It's not that I don't love my child, but my endless baby-comparison-cycle has me questioning - Is the linen really always softer on the other side of the cot?
I look at the mums around me who somehow manage to do "it all". They make hairdresser appointments, and keep them. They cook organic, sugar-less, salt-less, wheat-less creations from scratch while bub plays happily alone with a trolley full of toys for entertainment. These women can even go away for weekends and leave bubba with the grandparents because (and this point is completely outside my sphere of comprehension) their bub will behave himself and will sleep through the night.
Frankie is healthy, beautiful, and very, very strong. She is 11 months old, and can run. She can push her pram around at the park even when it has its breaks on. I love watching the way in which she learns from the world around her - she is a kinaesthetic learner and understands things best through touch. I love her unconditionally for who she is but sometimes it feels like she is, quite frankly, tougher work than the other kids.
Frankie rarely sits still for a story. Or, for that matter, a nappy change. On a daily basis, like a looped record, I hear myself say to kind strangers who approach Frankie, "It's not you who's made her scream, she's just going through a shy stage right now" (Sometimes I find it easier just to tell people she's sick).
I secretly wish that she'd perform for others the way she does with me some times; I quite literally WILL her to giggle, dance, sing, and kiss like she does for me at home. But Frankie glares at people suspiciously, clings to me, grows silent and stubborn, and at times seems genuinely frightened of others. And whilst I do get some incredible moments with Frankie on my own, I also find that the majority of my time with her is spent entertaining her. She seems to tire so quickly of the toys she has, and when I leave her she follows me around the house as though the umbilical cord still binds us, and she hasn't quite understood that it was cut 11 months ago.
Sometimes I wonder whether my anxiety is rubbing off on her, but have no way of determining this. All I know is that a very small part of me wishes I could 'trade her in' for a different model - just for a day or two - to see how the other half live.
I'd love to wake up (after 5am for a change) and do my make up or have a shower. I'd love to hear Frankie murmuring contentedly in her bed when she wakes, rather than screaming the house down, and launching herself out of my arms to run around like a crazed chicken. What I'd give for a baby that would allow me 20 minutes alone to prepare her dinner while she pranced about with only her toys for company.
But maybe a "swapsies" to see how the other half live would teach me a thing or two about how lucky I am with my overly-energetic, overly-skeptical child. Maybe the experience would open my eyes to some of the things that I take for granted with Frankie. She eats virtually everything (although, in fairness, she'll eat nothing off a spoon...) She already knows how to tell me when she's doing a wee or a poo, which I think is pretty spectacular*. Perhaps I will find her own quirks and behaviours more adorable, such as her obsession with the electric toothbrush and her fascination with carrying the potty around the house under her arm.
I know that these tough times will pass and that in the not-too-distant future she will be sleeping well, and out of her separation anxiety phase. But this feels like a lifetime away and in the meantime all I can do is ponder whether the grass is greener on the other side, or whether I should stop my pondering and be grateful for the divinely beautiful baby girl I have in my life right now.
*Frankie is virtually always running around our house without a nappy. She tells me when she's going to have a wee by pointing to the ground, and rubbing the spot where the wee is about to fall, and saying "Weh weh". Sure enough, 5seconds after she has done this, she will wee right onto the floor. (Or, unpleasantly, poo.... I really should put her in nappies more often but I love staring at her gorgeous bottom too much!)