Earlier this year, Nicole Richie was photographed for Harper’s Bazaar holding her new baby, Harlow. It was just weeks after she had given birth and, not surprisingly, she was looking amazing. Beautiful hair, not a frizz or a strand out of place, and she was wearing a stunning Dolce & Gabbana dress. There was not a sick stain in sight. No poop, no wee and no dribble. Not even a crease.
Six months after giving birth I am sporting last season’s New Look vest top in blue. I was pretty gutted when that got ruined with milky sick during its first wearing last week. Just for the record, baby sick stains. And if it’s not sick on my New Look top, it’s Milton on my Gap T-shirt or, even worse, a nappy explosion over a pair of white linen trousers. Have you ever tried to get poo stains out of Marks & Spencer clothes, darling?
I just can’t believe that all the stars that have had babies this year can really look as good as they do. I mean, come on, they surely can’t have make-up people, hairdressers and a washer woman with them 24 hours a day. Can they?
To look not even half as good as Nicole Richie, no, let me rephrase, to look like a normal human, I would have to wear enough make-up to open a shop, a wig – I have given up trying to even brush my hair – and have at least three weeks of solid sleep. I would also have to have a couple of nip tucks, a boob job and a bit of liposuction. Yes, it’s as grim as it sounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the fashion rules. I’ve tried to follow them for decades. I used to go for black; black for slimming. The last time I put on my black dress, however, Samuel chose to add his own flourish to the outfit and posseted onto my shoulder. I sat in a restaurant oblivious to the white stain that looked like I’d come off worse after a close encounter with an angry seagull.
Samuel is starting to eat solid foods now, so it’s not what’s already inside that I have to contend with, it’s what I am trying to get into him.
I often leave my apartment with splatters of carrot on my shoulder and dried mango on my specs. Rarely do I notice until other mothers with older babies point it out and ask how the weaning is going. Oh, the shame!
He gets it from me, of course. My feeding habits are not much better at the moment. I have started to eat so quickly he needs to take cover. When my husband told me he found mashed potato in our son’s hair, I didn’t dare tell him it was mine.
Feeding time at the zoo looks less wild than lunch in the Milner house. A hastily gobbled rice cake and cheese for me, and a splattering of fruit for us both.
It is not too bad when we are at home and nobody can see us picking food off each other. But sometimes we venture into the big wild world and take the roadshow public.
Even without a child in her arms you can always spot a new mum at a brunch. She’ll be the one almost tearful with delight that she has such a mass of food on offer and time to sit down and eat it. We can be a pretty ravenous breed, us mums. My advice is to always let us join the queue first. Brave is the person that stands between a mother and a plate of food. Not because a starving mum is likely to attack – we’re tired, not feral – but because if you push in front, there is a chance you will end up with a streak of something nasty on your back.
Not all parents are the same of course. I find myself staring in wonder at the families who stride confidently into a restaurant pushing perfectly behaved babies in their designer pushchairs, looking like they’ve just stepped out of a clothing catalogue.
Maybe it is just my imagination, but their kids, although they look the same age as my child, are already sitting up straight and chewing their food properly. I am sure I saw one toddler, no higher than the table, order a caviar side order and then send it back because it was too salty.
Are these minor celebrities with a team of nannies? Is it Nicole Richie and I’ve just failed to recognise her? The designer dresses they wear look like they must be expensive. Only when they turn away from me and step back towards their little cherub do I realise they’re no different to me. Yes, baby sick stains Chanel as well.