Luke Edwards thought having visitors over to see his newborn daughter required a swanky tea set and posh biscuits. Now he wishes they’d just sent gifts in the post.
I bought my first tea set just before my daughter was born. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a grown man who owns his own china tea set, which I save just for guests. The plan was to offer a civilised tea to those visiting the baby. Looking back, with the 20-20 vision that is hindsight, I may have been a little over-ambitious.
Welcoming our first visitors after the baby was born is how I imagine it must feel for a hermit leaving his cave to interact with humans after years of solitude. Or perhaps, in the movie sense of the word 'visitor', it’s like aliens landing on your planet to pop in for a cuppa. So tired were we at that time, the memories are a bit of a blur and we felt far less than human ourselves.
Trying to be the perfect host
Despite a new parent friend warning us against having guests over too soon, we'd invited people round within a few days of returning from hospital with our little one. How can you say no? We were sleeping two or three hours at a time, spread across day and night, with no regular pattern. So when you commit to a visiting time you really don’t know if that’s going to be in the middle of a very well-needed nap with the baby. More often than not, it is.
The result is a sweet napping baby for the guest to coo over. Lovely. But at the back of your mind every second is precious sleep slipping away from you. Ivy nearly always woke just as the guests left. Luckily people come with gifts. But can any gift be worth more than the gift of sleep to a new parent?
"Despite a new parent friend warning us against having guests over too soon, we'd invited people round within a few days of returning from hospital with our little one. How can you say no?"
Presents versus power naps
Now, I must apologise in advance to anyone reading this who gave us a present, as I may sound ungrateful. Skip to the next paragraph, gift-givers. Gifts are lovely. Little outfits are well needed and the thought that goes into buying them and turning up armed with pressies is very much appreciated. But there are only so many cute outfits you can see before the awww-factor wears thin. I feign interest, but fashion has never really been my thing. So while the cute thing was fun for a while, when tiredness really kicked in they all started to look the same. After two hours' kip a night, no amount of cartoon duckies or pastel ice lollies with smiling faces can convince me they're worth more than sleep. But back to that tea set.
I spent weeks reading up on the differences between china, bone china, porcelain, metal and glass teapots. I scoured the internet for the exact blue-and-white set my nan used to have when I was a boy. I failed to note that I’d not seen one since, as nobody I know uses tea sets – with good reason. It finally arrived, with two cups smashed in transit. But it was too late, the guests were arriving – luckily only two of them, which was handy, as only two cups had survived. I brewed up a pot and came out with it all on a tray, biscuits on the side and milk in a novelty cow jug we’d bought years ago and never used. Nobody batted an eyelid. Apparently, this was normal. Cleaning up afterwards, though, was not – there’s a lot more faff involved than making a normal cuppa or two. So, that tea set has sat collecting dust ever since.
I think that’s the point. Sharing the newborn with loved ones is great. But the price you pay afterwards, in lack of sleep, is far steeper than you’d perhaps like to consider. What I do like is the gifts in the post. Waking to a parcel with a pressie that helps out with the little one is a really uplifting experience. And since you can wake to open it whenever you want, it’s even more welcome. So, as I was told before and promptly ignored, I’ll pass this along – wait to have guests over when you have your baby. That, or at least skip buying the tea set.
Luke Edwards is a writer who specialises in technology, he’s looking forward to buying his new daughter lots of gadgets.