On Wednesdays I collect my kids for my half of the week. Walking through the mid afternoon bustle of the Moorgate area of London I have a Proustian moment: the perfect recall of the past sparked by the unique aroma of SMA milk vomit on a muslin cloth dropped in the road and stuck to the bottom of my shoe. That smell, and the layers of sterilisation steam and nappy cream that surround it, will forever mean for me my thirties – the baby decade. Children are like time bombs into the lives around them. We wait and wait for them to be born and then suddenly we are overcome by their presence. Later we will be devastated by their absence. Like bombs they shatter our way of life and we feel their consequences immediately but understand them only much later. Their tears are like flames from bombs, we wipe and wipe away: never sure what will work to damp them down. Their shrapnel cheeks we squeeze and stroke and remember. Their explosions we clean up and as their tears stop, their cheeks flatten and they learn how to control their explosions, so we try to learn how to let them go. Some people never get over the experience of war, not because it was the worst of times, but because it was the best. I will never recover from the baby decade, sometimes in those baby years, I forgot myself; I forgot their mother and I lived only for that sense of self my babies gave me. But children are not abstract things to be consumed for therapy. They are not leitmotifs, pieces of designer fabric. A child is not an adjunct to give meaning to my life; nor can a baby be accommodated to your life. She is not an accessory or a solution. A baby is a time bomb in the lives of those around them. When mine went off, I finally understood the meaning of words I had often used before: nothing will ever be the same again.