- The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Mahatma Gandhi
Fifty reasons to have children
Panicking because your newborn doesn’t arrive with an instruction manual, then realising how much fun it is learning on the job.
Feeling a tiny fist curl around your finger when you touch your baby’s palm.
Gazing into your baby's eyes and knowing he trusts you totally.
Breathing in the best smell in the world: sleepy baby!
Being amazed the first time you wrap him up in his blanket, put him against your shoulder, pat him gently, and the yelling stops!
Being the most tired you've ever been in your whole life – and the most happy.
Sitting in bed feeding your baby in the middle of the night, and knowing that all over the world other mums are doing the same.
Watching your partner show off his son or daughter to all the visitors.
Finding out, at your antenatal class reunion, that no one gets bored of your birth story, no matter how many times you tell it.
Overhearing your partner at a party talking earnestly about the best brand of nappy.
Watching your baby's sleeping face and wondering what the future holds for him.
Discovering how lovely the dawn chorus can be!
Taking him out for the first time and discovering that everyone wants to stop and talk.
Experiencing that amazing feeling of tenderness when your baby falls asleep in your arms.
Buying that Scalextric set/Batman costume/Sylvanian family you always wanted, even though your baby is only one week old.
Discovering how infectious a baby's giggles can be.
Having someone to leave the family heirlooms to, even if it's only your grandmother's china puppy dog.
Exchanging a smile with other pram-pushing mums.
Dreaming up fantastic food combinations for your baby: avocado and banana, chicken and grapes or sweet potato and broccoli.
Laughing when your baby starts waving at everyone on the bus or in the supermarket. Toddler and beyond
Discovering all the special characteristics that make your little one unique: fat toes, sticky-out ears, hair that sticks up no matter how much it's brushed.
Taking millions of pictures, which you mean to use to create an album but never quite get round to doing.
Developing a new family language as your toddler talks about scissoring the lawn or asks for a bikkit.
Having little pairs of pink wellies lined up in the hall and/or Power Rangers underpants scattered on the floor.
Knowing the right things to say and the best way to help when your friends have a baby.
Watching Nana and Grandad spoil their little treasure rotten.
Joining in toddler pleasures like squeezing play dough in your hands, scrunching through autumn leaves or jumping in puddles.
Discovering that he's inherited your love of music or his dad's interest in racing cars.
Or, even better, discovering he has totally different talents, like dancing or painting. Where did that come from?
Waking up to a sloppy kiss from your toddler.
Rediscovering the simple pleasures in life. Enjoying brightly coloured flowers, the softness of a cat's fur or the feel of sand between your toes with your little one.
Getting used to being known as Jack's mum or Emily's dad.
Crying when you see a baby born on TV, and understanding how mums feel everywhere from Beijing to Belfast.
Discovering the pleasures of three in a bed. Even if you and your partner only have a few inches of space while your little one lies sideways across the middle.
Enjoying the chance to be really silly again. You can walk around quacking like a duck or sit at the table wearing a bib to encourage your toddler to eat.
Trying to answer those awkward questions: Do fish sleep? Why is the sky blue?
Relishing the moment when he first says, "I love you, Mummy".
Re-discovering how brilliant children's books are, even if you do sometimes have to "lose" the one he's wanted every night for the last three weeks!
Having one big bubble bath together, and squabbling over who gets the end with the taps.
Running up a quick cat costume out of a piece of string, an egg-box and an eye-liner pencil for a party.
Learning how to multi-task. You can now make sandwiches with one hand, wipe paint off your toddler’s face with the other, while breastfeeding and taking a call from your mum.
Discovering the world through your toddler's eyes: seeing him gaze at a caterpillar or stare transfixed into a rockpool.
Making a whole new circle of friends, who just happen to be parents, too.
Seeing your values – trying to be kind, honest, and treating others the way you'd like to be treated – rub off on him.
Enjoying making up with a hug and kiss once a tantrum is over.
Going to a kids' film and no longer being the only unaccompanied adult in the queue!
Finding out that bringing up children gives your life a new sense of focus.
Crying when you drop him off at playgroup for the first time. Then bursting with pride when you pick him up and realise he hasn't missed you at all.
Keeping all his best artwork from playgroup and turning your kitchen into your own Tate Modern.
Hearing your child say "Mum" and wondering who that is, then realising – it's YOU!