Dita De Boni 's Opinion

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Born again Mummy

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As you get older and your friends divide into the child-free and child laden camp, a funny, but typically female thing happens: each side becomes entrenched.

There are the women that will tell you that having a child is the happiest thing that's happened to them, and while they're telling you, you notice the bags under their eyes could hold enough luggage for an African Safari.

Formerly pristine, they will insist that they don't mind their cashmere sweater being coated in mashed banana. Formerly proud fashion plates, they will claim life was never as good as when they discovered tracksuits. Formerly discreet, they think nothing of grossing out anyone listening with tales of their child's bowel habits.

The child free can be equally obnoxious - let's be honest.

Openly disdaining of loin fruit, and saving a particular look of pity mixed with disgust for their parents, they often lavish a proportionate amount of love on pets / hobbies / internet dating without ever seeing the irony.

The funny thing is that even those of us who have become mothers were, most likely at one time, a woman who found mothers annoying. We would rush past mothers on the street, struggling with prams and bottles, and barely even see them.

Before I had my first child at the age of 33, I had only held a new born once before in my life. I held him for roughly 10 seconds before he filled his nappy and I fair threw the child over to his poor exhausted father - the same action I would have performed had I found myself suddenly holding a live hand grenade or an Amazonian Tarantula.

I'm not the only woman who was completely oblivious to the plight of parents in my younger years. My friend is a case in point.

A career-driven scientist and hierarchy climber, she relished her 20s. In her group of similarly-minded child-free hedonists and workaholics, she had one friend who was a married man with three young children.

This did not stop him hosting my friend and her group at his house to the wee small hours of the morning as his wife tended the youngsters. She would occasionally come in to tell the group, karaoke-ing until 2am in the morning, to please keep it down, but being a sweet and forgiving person was perhaps not willing to castrate her fun-loving hubby on the spot, like most new mothers would be inclined to want to do.

Fast forward several years and my friend is now the doting mother of one and about to have her second. She has actually had the intelligence and good grace to apologise to the woman for whom she made several nights far more trying that they need have been.

But karma has called on my friend recently.

Her sister, another career-driven woman, has not paid the appropriate due to my friend's little man in times past, something that has caused some bad feeling. It now seems, however, that the sister is up the duff and acting - according to my friend - "like she is the first-ever pregnant person".

From adamantly child-free, she's become, like an ex-smoker who joins ASH, a childbearing zealot. Far from being willing to sit at her sister's feet and soak in the wisdom of the ages, she knows it all, feels it all, and suffers it all. And how!

My friend and I have to suppress and smile thinking of all those first-time experiences her sister has yet to go through. The joy, elation and excitement of giving birth, of creating a life - yes.

But also the lack of the control, the sleeplessness, the bone-aching exhaustion of it, and the feeling that it will never end (even though it does).

Because many modern women don't have the experience of caring for very young children we unfortunately find it very easy to be blasé about parenting - about its supposed difficulties or its rumoured rich rewards.

What a shame we are not connected more to each generation around us - young and old - where perhaps we'd have a better appreciation for exactly what parenting entails!

Dita De Boni

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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