There was a time when my biggest anxiety about having a child was that their rainbow origins would make them prime fodder for bullies. Then those sweats were superseded by society seemingly skipping towards a street named right-wing hell-fest while teetering dangerously close to the cul-de-sac of world destruction. But, pah. I needn’t have wasted my worrywarts on those mere niggles because, now, while all that bubbling toxicity continues to ferment, we have a delightful slop of global pandemic heaved on top. Huzzah.

Let’s face it, if ever there was a time to discover a town called Anxiety, I’d say it’s right about now.

As my wife and I stumble out of the newborn fog like exhausted grunting survivors, we head straight into the ‘OMG, we’re in a pandemic, how the hell are we supposed to socialise our child?’ part of COVID-19 parenting. Ever since our kiddo was yanked into the world, there has been an ever-present tussle between us wanting him to know human contact from outside of his mothership versus protecting him from the creepy virus lurking about like a potential metaphoric child catcher.

We made the decision early that, upon balance, it was important that he had physical contact with at least a few other people. Although our close family have properly squidged him, with all the never-ending lockdown restrictions in Manchester he has actually been held by others on very few occasions.

Naturally, this bothers us far more than it will probably ever actually matter to him. We’d love nothing more than to hand him around and appease our fears that he’ll end up an uber-clingy mummy’s boy with mega physical contact issues and scared of other humans. It would be good for him and our sanity and, blimey, it would also give us a chance to get something, just anything, done beyond barely treading the waters of life. I tell you what, when this is over he’s going straight into baby pass-the-parcel mode. 

But not only is it about the boy being held by our friends and family. I often ponder his general limitations to interact with the wider world. He’s now more than just a baby lump. He’s interested in his environment and becoming interactive and, oh god, what a bad time to want to shove everything into your grubby little mouth. To our little humanoid, examining others like museum exhibits is his batshit normality. You can look, but don’t you dare touch for bloody hell’s sake.

In more normal times I expect that you might be able swim through a fair amount of parental guilt. With an invisible virus thrown into the mix, I’m pretty sure it gives a certain nuance to new-mumming anxiety. After all, COVID-19 has afforded many of us extra time to paddle about dangerously in our own heads. For me, I’ve also sometimes found myself fretting at the other end of the contagion consternation scale. What if our boy’s protected status means he fails to develop a good immune system because he’s never been exposed to gross stuff? Then I remind myself that the irrational worries that haunt my post-night feed insomnia probably won’t even matter even in year or so. There’s so much angst right now.

The word on the street is that we are possibly, maybe, perhaps, heading for some sort of normality by Easter 2021 and, blimey, has this suggestion zhooshed me up. Naturally, this also runs parallel to my maternity leave ending because, hey, of course it does. But the mere thought of our little dude being at the stage where he’s on the move coinciding with him actually being able to take advantage of this freedom and roll in all the germs gives me the grubby fuzzies.

Right about now, any sparkly glint of potential freedom on the horizon is giving me just about enough steam to keep my train a’chugging, So 2021, let’s be having ya.

By Hayley-Jane Sims