I am a sucker for a baby. My family will tell you, by hook or by crook, I will always be the one who ends up holding the baby. In fact, it’s so bad they call me the baby snatcher. The only Sunday group I offer to help with at church is the creche (3 years and under) and I will happily play with a baby, cuddle a baby and most successfully put a baby to sleep for you anywhere. I just love them! I get that gigil feeling that I wrote about last year.
Days like yesterday are irresistibly cute to a baby lover like me: The New Baby is due any time now! Quick! Put down your book and your work and spend a little (lot) extra time on Twitter trying to see if they’ve had it, what was it and is it named yet?
I mustn’t have been alone in that either: Twitter was awash with baby fans. You only had to search #TheRoyalBaby and you would read all sorts of silliness, enjoyable, light-hearted silliness. You’d also read a lot of not-so-niceness, calls to remember it was only a baby, that lots of people have babies every day and what was special about this one. I wish there’d been a #RoyalBabyNice and #RoyalBabyNasty split, so that the Debbie Downers and Harry Happiers could have enjoyed their moments undiluted.
Of course, the Royal Baby is only one of over 2,000 babies born every day in the UK. He has the advantage of being born in a private wing of a hospital with the benefits (and also risks) that may have. It’s not that the baby is born particularly honoured or different or gifted…. the point of a royal baby is that he (or she) stands in as a useful symbol of birth, new life and hope for the rest of us. I have to say, I’d feel just as happy had they chosen to focus on the poor couple who took their baby home at the same time and got caught in the cameras.
Babies, to me, represent hope and potential: an expression of faith in the future. They’re a massive investment of time and energy, done right, and the vessel into which many a parent sinks their wishes for a better world. We need babies to continue the species, and we look at a new baby with both the desire that their future will be better than our present and the fear that it may not be. My Mum gave birth to her first baby less than a year after the Bay of Pigs Cuban Missile crisis and remembers asking herself was it worth it? Why would she have a baby at such a fearful, worrying time? Why have a child if there was a real risk of nuclear war? The answer is that the human urge to procreate is stronger than we care to admit, we hope that the darkest hour tonight will lead to a better day tomorrow, and that to live always in the shadow of anything (war, illness, persecution) and to admit that that fear stops you from investing in the future in the form of a child: well, that’s giving in to an unknown force and losing your survival instinct. Humans have evolved to adapt, either by changing to suit their circumstances or changing those circumstances to suit themselves. Having a baby is a survival technique.
When circumstances alter… when our future in the form of a baby is under threat… we get very defensive. As Royal Baby makes his grand entrance, a toddler in Liverpool is fighting his last. I grieve for the parents whose future lies in a hospital bed, and who have fought every step of the way but whose dearest wish, to have their son back as a healthy child, will never come to be. There are so many opinions going around, about what the right decisions from Hospital and Parents should be, what the legal situation is and whether anybody is culpable of anything, from administrators and legal teams called heartless to a grieving father throwing his weight around. It’s a nasty situation for all concerned, and there is no happy ending. It is a most unhygge time for all involved.
In both the Royal Baby and Alfie’s cases, I hope that people will give all those involved the space they need. Space to adjust to a different future, good or bad, space to adapt and space to just be. I know the press will be desperate to chase both sets of parents, to seek out the juicy details, to present both families on a plate for the delectation of the world. In both cases, this is just wrong. It’s wrong to intrude either on grief or joy. It would be wrong to make the sale of the next paper or the clickthroughs on the internet of greater importance than the privacy of those involved. Leave them alone, and let them get on with life. Whatever that life may hold.
And… my own new baby is here! Over the past few months, I have been working away at my next book, Happier. It’s now available to pre-order on Amazon in ebook and paperback version. Official release date is next Monday, 30th April. It’s a look at the small changes that we can do to make a big difference in our happiness levels: how living in the moment, appreciating the small things and looking for the good helps to boost our mood. It’s called Happier, because not everybody can be ecstatically happy all the time, but even a small bounce in your mood can improve your life.
I’ll be talking more about the book this week and next. Happiness is something I see as very important to the people I love, so I want to make sure that they also feel happier around me.
My old books are also available, on Amazon. How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the months ahead. Hygge is an all-year-round feeling, you see. 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version and Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version.
If you purchase anything through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy, and if you’ve already read my books and enjoyed them, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
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