I'm not the first person to have a child, but surely not every parent can feel this way?

Tanya Sweeney: Does everyone believe their child is – objectively – the most beautiful?

My daughter turns two today. That amounts to 730 days of parenthood in real terms, but somehow feels like a hundred years. I can remember the moment, about 30 minutes before she was cut from my womb, pretty clearly. I was excited, and calm, with a sense of adventure bubbling away on my tongue.

Since that moment and right up to this very minute, everything else has been a blur.

I felt proud when I realised I had kept her alive when she was six weeks old. Now, she is not only alive, but . . . well, doesn’t seem to especially mind living with us. She only kicks up the slightest of fusses when she leaves the childminder’s house to have to return home and hang out with us eejits.

I know I’m not the first person to ever have had a child – ooh, get me with my Leaving Cert biology! – but sometimes, the feelings surrounding being a parent are so intense and wild that it’s almost hard to believe that anyone else can ever feel them.


Is it just me, or does every parent take a look at their child and believe that theirs is – truly, objectively – the most beautiful creature in the world?

Am I the only parent who hears words like “sparkly”, “make me a crown” and “I like motorbikes” come out of their toddler’s mouth, and wonders how we got here, from a Wednesday night back in mid-2018 when there was probably nothing good on TV?

Surely other parents look at pictures of themselves from those first months of parenthood and not even remember the pictures being taken, even though that is most definitely your physical likeness in the photo?

Is anyone else simultaneously enthused yet bone-tired from the sheer force of ebullience and energy that sweeps into the bedroom every morning with a resounding “wake UP, Mummy!”?

Am I the only one who believes there will never come a day when I won’t have to clean under the table after a mealtime, and have it feel like I’m cleaning up after a Glastonbury weekend? (Does that day ever arrive? Genuine question.)

Are other parents nostalgic for smaller versions of their kids; balder versions, more chubby-legged versions; less mobile versions?

Does anyone else ever think, “I remember the moment when I was told you were the size of a blueberry”? And then see an actual blueberry and mushroom cloud sounds go off in your brain?

Does anyone oscillate from contentment to exasperation within the space of a minute?

Am I the only one that now knows all the presenters on Cbeebies by name, and also played a game of ‘Shag, Marry, Kill’ in my own head with them (and worries not just about the ability to play ‘Shag, Marry, Kill’ with kids’ TV presenters, but how much TV everyone is now watching)?

Does any other toddler parent still take those small hands and feet in the palm of their hand and marvel at the softness? How those feet have walked nowhere and those hands have done no actual work, but will be getting ready to sooner than we think?

Does everyone else get frightened at the weight of responsibility of bringing a human being, with their own thoughts and feelings, into the world? Do other mothers feel a rush of some feeling, indescribable with words, when they see their child blinking at the world around them, trying frantically to make sense of things?

Does any other new-ish parent still miss their old life? The aimless wandering through streets; sitting in bars with friends who have no place else to be except with you? Afternoons in the cinema, spent without a hand resting on the mobile phone in your bag, just in case?

Do all parents forget about previous heartbreaks, rejections and disappointments in life, because they all led you to that one partner, and that one encounter, that then led you to this exact child? All the badness and regret in life becomes a mere prelude. Cleaning the slate – an unexpected perk of the parenting job.

It can’t just be me who has a visceral reaction to the crying? And I’m not the only one who spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about falls and injuries and cuts and scrapes, but then hits a true moment of Zen calm the moment those falls or cuts or scrapes actually do happen and shrill cries ring throughout the house?

And when someone says, “you’re playing a blinder at this parenting thing”, do other parents automatically feel that it’s often less blinder and more blunder?

Surely other parents worry about losing their child, or dying before their child grows up, with an intensity and frantic heat that could easily power a small country? Am I just weirdly morbid, or have other parents written a letter full of love and advice to their daughter, just in case anything awful should suddenly happen; a letter that is stored safely in a desk drawer, hopefully not to be read or found for a long, long time?

Tonight, there, thankfully, won’t be a letter. There will be songs. There will be a toy tiger for a present. And, per the two-year-old’s very forthright directives, there will be princess party hats. But there will also be a sense of surreal wonderment. Because getting to here, from a Wednesday night in May 2018, probably when nothing was on the TV . . . well, it really is the craziest trip of all.