Disclaimer A few years ago, before our second child came along, I used to write a monthly column for a magazine published by the NCT.
Christmas. And it's nearly here again. Don't you just look forward to the happy family atmosphere; the joyous reunions and the deep conversations with your beloved family?
Or is it more like a war zone, requiring the UN to sort out embittered grandmothers, stressed out partners and screaming kids? For us, it will be somewhere between the two. Our little girl, Jane, will be exactly 18 months old on Boxing Day.
She has one grandmother who dotes on her every little smile and gurgle, and another who loves her as if she were her own.
Usually Jane sees only one granny at a time, and I think she's pretty adaptable that way. She can live with the slightly peculiar ways of granny No 1: I have a sneaking feeling that she quite likes some of those ways. And as for granny No 2: well she really does have some odd ideas, but Jane seems quite happy about those as well.
Usually, whenever we go to see either granny, it is only for a few hours and we, too, can cope with their ever-so-slightly odd notions of how to bring up baby.
In fact we are quite lucky compared with some of our friends. Jane is grandchild No 2 for one granny and grandchild No 9 for the other one, so they are not quite so obsessed with her as some of the grannies we know.
Don't get me wrong, I love my mum, I think my mum-in-law is great. They are adaptable, clever and resourceful, and are often a great help ... in small doses. It's just that sometimes they do try to tell us how to bring up the babe in our own house. When I am well-rested and reasonably relaxed this is not a problem. Even when the two grannies have conflicting views about how to deal with some minor problem like incessant midnight wailing, I can handle it.
The only time I have a problem here is with the double standards. Granny offers us the benefit of her wisdom and experience in bringing up the babe. Great. Marvellous. But then she goes and breaks her own rules. She does something she has constantly told me never ever to do. And then she says its OK for her to do it, because she's been through it all so many times....
But do they ever think I might have a point when I explain the distilled wisdom of Dr Christopher Green Or Jean Piaget Or the latest issue of Loaded? No, they do not.
Instead of congratulating us on how well Jane sleeps through the night and how easy she is to put to bed, we are told how lucky we are, because You were never like that.
Well, of course not, I want to say, because you never knew how to do it right!
But I guess you can't contradict grandma. So I just open another bottle of wine and put another Teletubbies video into the machine and we start another round of the wheels on the bus....
Happy Christmas and merry New Year!