It’s 5am and I am sitting in a cold bath surrounded by plastic ducks singing Baa Baa Black Sheep.
I am suddenly overcome by an out of body experience as I find myself looking down at the naked, shivering, bleary-eyed woman with a child between her legs.
How did I end up here?
Rewind seven hours and a strange noise alerted me to the fact my daughter had just vomited up most of her supper in her cot and appeared to have gone back to sleep, lying in the putrid lumps.
That vomiting bug that has been going round had clearly struck.
I scraped chunks of cheesy baked potato and tomato off the blanket lining her cot and stripped it down before lying her on a clean towel.
Ten minutes later it happened again.
Hours later, as I awoke from a doze sitting awkwardly in a chair, my feet freezing, my bladder achingly full, covered in foul-smelling stains, with a hot, sticky little body curled up and snoring into my stiff neck, I thought to myself:
Richard Curtis – you were wrong actually. This is love.
Love is not big, overblown romantic gestures like standing outside someone’s front door in the snow holding up signs that say you’ve (rather creepily) been secretly obsessed with them for ages.
Love is staying awake all night to rub someone’s back and hold out your hand to catch their vomit and promise them they will feel better soon.
Love is not dashing to the airport to tell someone you think they’re a bit of alright.
Love is managing to keep your temper when that someone wakes up at 5am and decides they are feeling much better and wants to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep and pat your face.
Love is not standing in the pouring rain until your shirt goes see-through while you tell someone you don’t want to marry them.
Love is, when you have got all hosed off and into fresh pyjamas and finally calmed that someone back down and convinced them it is still bedtime, not minding that the only place they want to sleep is lying on top of you with their head pressed into your oesophagus.
Love is not turning up at a press conference to tell some Hollywood star you want them to shack up with you in your zillion pound property in Notting Hill.
Love is cancelling your plans to see your friend before Christmas and staying at home all day because it would not be fair to drag a sick child across London. Even if they have stopped throwing up and they want to play the same annoying game over and over and over again.
All the rest is just romance. Parenting is real life, actually.