I love fish, not in batter with chips (well that too) but swimming, whether in the sea or an aquarium. My interest and love of fish is shared by my little boy, who, at 10 months old, adores going to aquariums and intently watching the fish. Particularly jellyfish, I have discovered.
Fish are calming. Nothing soothes the senses like watching fish, gliding, hovering, just swimming back and forth.
So began the fish of calm, as a bit of a joke on one of my parenting forums. One of my pregnant friends had been bombarded with well-meaning but misplaced advice. So entered the little fish of calm.
When you are pregnant you become, oddly, public property. Everyone wants to know all the details, are you aiming for a natural birth? Will you breastfeed? Will you go back to work?
When I came home with Joseph it got worse. Isn't he small? Is he disabled? Will he live a normal life? Where do you buy his clothes? What do you do for nappies? Aren't you scared you'll break him?
Did you have a c-section? Do you feel like you've missed out? Are you depressed? Do you feed him yourself? How do feel about giving your baby formula?
It used to drive me mad, to the point where I hated leaving the house. When I carried Joseph in the sling, it was even worse! Not only were people amazed at how I carried him, when they looked, they saw this beautiful but teeny little human all tucked up.
I had never realised just how exposed I would feel, and how stressed it would make me. And it used to stress Joseph out too. I remember one sunny afternoon we stopped in Llandudno for a quick ice cream, and we had about 20 people stop and talk to us. Including a couple who had learning disabilities, who saw myself and my husband and said "you're both handicapped, why have you been allowed children and we havent?" Still scratching my head over that one.
So when I get stressed, and feel exposed I either find, or imagine an aquarium, full of fishes of calm, who swim backwards and forwards, taking my stress with them.