I have conducted my own not very scientific study and have come to the conclusion that people with children definitely age far more quickly than those without. And I'm not talking about a gradual decline in grooming standards due to lack of time. I'm talking about young and vibrant one year to wrinkled and haggard the next.
Now obviously the enormous lack of sleep plays a big part in this. There is a reason it's called beauty sleep after all. While we're on this subject, why does no-one tell you that it's not just the first few months of a child's life that you don't get sleep? This week I have experienced 5 consecutive uninterrupted nights - and it's the first time this has happend in 4.5 years.
Anyway, back to my point. Sleep - or rather the lack of it - plays a crucial role in the aging process. But I think the big killer is the relentless stream of annoyance.
Take this morning for example:
I attempted to have a shower. Foolish I know. Child number 2 wanted to get in with me. I said no. Screaming ensued. I attempted to flood my ears with soapy water to drown out the noise. When it got quiet, I opened my eyes and realised his attention had been diverted. He had taken apart the loo flusher and was trying to see if the pieces would float in the toilet (they didn't). So I had to get out, fish the pieces out, reassemble and then carry on.
Then I tried to clean my teeth. But of course, that meant that both children also wanted to clean their teeth. Which meant me walking around with a mouth full of foam trying to find the toothbrushes which had been used as swords while at the same time trying to yell: Don't thuck de thoothbaste out ob de toobe. Needless to say that once the toothpaste had been applied to the refound toothbrushes, most of it ended up on the floor as they couldn't quite spit into the basin. So I then had to wipe that up. And still I wasn't dressed but was at least air dried by this stage.
Fast forward - past a littany of dressing debacles, fights about what to eat, not wanting to go to nursery etc. We arrive at nursery. 'Come on, we're running late now boys,' I say. 'We want to get out of your door,' they both yell. The smart move would have been to just say: 'Fine'. But for some silly reason I thought to stand my ground and insist that they get out of their door. Ten minutes later I won.
As they got out, me breathing steam out of my ears, child number 2 bent down and pulled the planks marking out the parking spaces in a valiant effort to break one more thing before heading in doors. Why? I mentally scream. Why?? Why can't they just get out of the bloody car and walk to the bloody door? Why must every little tiny thing be something that must be broken, tested, disobeyed, pushed to the limit? I extracted the plank from his hands, steer both inside and proceed to peel them off me before making a hasty retreat.
I think in this one morning - which in the scheme of things was a very normal, quiet, easy going affair - I have aged at least two months.
You see - as my husband likes to point out every time my birthday rolls around - women are like dogs. For every one year of their life, they're actually about 7 years older. That's certainly how I feel. I think that all women should not only be given an eternity ring after the birth of their first child, but an annual gift certificate to a botox clinic because Lord knows they're going to need it.