There’s a baby toothbrush in our house. I haven’t seen it for a couple of months but I know it’s there. Somewhere. It haunts me at night when I can’t get to sleep. Why is there a baby toothbrush in our house? We don’t have a baby. Or at least, we shouldn’t have one for another four weeks. And I’m pretty sure babies are born without teeth. In fact, they generally don’t sprout fangs until they’re about six months old. We have no business owning a baby toothbrush already.
It’s even been on holiday with us. Two months ago we took our baby toothbrush away to Croatia. We had a lovely time, my wife and I, island-hopping around the Adriatic with our tiny, little toothbrush. Is that normal? Admittedly, it took me a while to get used to. Every morning I’d wake up, walk into the bathroom and discover that our toothbrushes had procreated overnight, creating a third, much smaller version of themselves; an instant dental-care family.
There are mitigating factors, I should stress. We’d forgotten to pack our own, so the cliché goes, and the departure lounge chemist was running a ‘Buy 2 Get 1 Free’ promotion. So we bought a baby toothbrush. Or rather, we got given one for free with our two grown-up versions. That’s not so crazy. Quite prudent, many would say, in these troubled economic times. Except just thinking about it now is making me feel a bit sweaty. How can something so cute, so small, so periwinkle-blue be so intimidating? That tiny toothbrush has come to represent all my fears and anxieties about parenthood. It seems the more prepared we are, the less ready I feel. And boy, are we prepared.
There’s a pram in the spare room. It’s parked next to two bags of second-hand baby clothes, which are stuffed underneath the cot. Which is next to the child’s car seat (we don’t have a car). Which is on top of the nappy changing mat. Which is in front of the insulated red thing that keeps takeaway pizzas warm (it might have another use, I couldn’t be sure). Which is on top of a chest of drawers containing three stuffed toys, a hand-knitted mobile, a rattle, some baby leggings, baby bibs, baby vests, baby nail clippers, baby socks and, in all likelihood, that dreaded baby toothbrush. I think it’s safe to say the spare room isn’t spare anymore.
"A tiny toothbrush has come to represent all my fears and anxieties about parenthood"
Even now as I write this I can spy a shrink-wrapped DVD on our kitchen table that proclaims to be able to help me interpret the “universal language of babies.” Yes, babies have their own language, and yes, that language is crying. As far as I can tell this double DVD tutorial (plus 64-page reference booklet, baby journal and wall chart) consists entirely of hours upon hours of babies crying for my listening pleasure. Which sounds like an enjoyable evening. And one I shall avail myself of at the earliest opportunity - just after I finish hacking my ears off with the shattered remains of my self-respect.
What’s more, this arsenal of baby paraphernalia is only set to multiply. I’m sure those of you with children are rolling your eyes right now. “Is that all?” “What about the play mat, the baby monitor, the breast pump, the Automated Dignity Vacuum with Attachable Vomit Mops™?” The list, I’m reliably informed, is endless. I sometimes wonder whether we’re having a baby or equipping an underground bunker for alien invasion. (Same difference, really.) But as prepared as we are, none of this stuff is any use when it comes to making you feel ready. All it does is reinforce just how unusual your world is about to get.
I’ve only just gotten used to life with a pregnant woman in our house. And in a couple of week’s time this life will be completely overhauled again, to include a baby and all the assorted accessories that comes with it. Nine months simply isn’t enough time to make that kind of adjustment. Someone told me the other day that elephants have a two-year gestation period before giving birth. That sounds much more reasonable. I could get myself ready in two years. Just about. My wife might not be too keen on being pregnant for a further 15 months but that’s only because she’s pathologically selfish. If only I’d mated with an elephant instead. Then I’d be fine. Although we’d probably need a bigger toothbrush.
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(Picture Credit: Getty Images)