An ability to love someone unconditionally, even when they are screaming themselves purple literally inches away from my face, for one.
For another, resilience to personal criticism. ('Mummy, why is your stomach so wobbly/ your trousers so big/ your legs so spiky?'; 'Please don’t sing/ talk/ help me/ walk next to me.' That kind of thing.)
But most significantly, I think I’ve gained the power to become impervious to embarrassment.
I don’t know whether this is a bi-product of sleep deprivation or that the majority of my day is spend talking to someone who is too young to answer back so I forget how to behave in the ‘real’ world, but I’ve noticed that more and more frequently I am in situations where, pre-children, it would have been a bit toe-curling, but now, I don’t even bat an eyelid.
For example, I used to be a slightly self-conscious dancer. I don’t think I was ever bad at it, I was no Darcy Bussell, granted, but I think it was more that overwhelming awareness that other people were much better. Or had more rhythm. Or a more mature taste in music. (‘No I really do like Girls Aloud, I wasn’t being ironic.’)
But now, I would literally dance to a car alarm.
I think this happens from being socially and culturally starved when you first have babies. Weeks if not months go by when you don’t see anyone other than your partner in the evening. And your musical references are mainly nursery rhymes or the theme tune from Rastamouse.
So given an opportunity to dance to something/ anything these days, I’ll now grab it.
There was a celebration event on The Level this weekend to mark the first anniversary of its revamp. It was formerly a recreation ground for heavy drinkers, but the place has now been reclaimed by parents and young children.
Part of the entertainment was a selection of live bands. They must have only just started tuning up when me and several other mums were on our feet, poised, ready to pull some moves.
As the music started, we instantly began properly dancing, not shuffling appreciatively, but going for it like we were out and five pints into the evening.
I looked around and all the rest of the audience were stood still, whereas the mums were all giving it large (do people still say that? Did they ever used to say that?).
Why? Because God knows when we would next listen to loud music that didn’t sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks again. And afterwards, I felt rejuvenated. It wasn’t exactly nightclubbing but it was the closest I’m going to get for some time.
My children have striped me of my dignity and with that, every shred of self-consciousness.
Maybe we can start to have some fun now.