Telling stories

It’s taken months of organising on and off, with hours more organising last week and then I was up till 1am working on it today, but I am finally a few edits away from hitting ‘send to print’ on the photo album of Zee’s second year.

A project like this is a chance to stop and look back, and there are great swathes of 2014 I had entirely forgotten until I started trying to put it into some semblance of order, for Zee to enjoy when he’s older. Of course, it’s an album for Zee, but I’m going to be the only person who’s truly interested in looking at it again . . . and again . . . and again over the years, I imagine. Sentimental Cancerian that I am.

It is the story of his little life so far told in pictures, and on here when I have time, I try to tell it for him in words. I have been neglectful of blogging lately from a sheer lack of time. I am lucky that my freelance adventures are going well; it is more than I could ever have anticipated this time last year. Amongst other gigs, I currently find myself working as the copywriter for two of the greatest children’s authors in the world, which makes me punch the air a little bit and feel lucky. I am also the monthly blogger for Ladybird Books, writing as LadybirdMum, which is an honour and a lovely record for Zach. So I haven’t entirely been neglecting the scribblings, they just sit here and here instead of on here.

But every day at the moment, I find myself thinking ‘I must write that down!’ when Zee says or does yet another funny or surprising thing. He is two and a half and developing at a rate of knots and it is fascinating and thrilling and at times entirely daunting to see. Our baby, growing up so fast. It makes me catch my breath sometimes. In no particular order, some of the things he comes out with now include:

  • ‘No Mummy, that’s impossible.’
  • ‘Mummy, you say no too much. Stop saying no.’
  • ‘Be careful Mummy! We must be careful.’
  • (One morning when I went to wake him) ‘No Mummy don’t want you, want Daddy, not you Mummy, LUK (yuck)!’ Charmed, I’m sure.
  • ‘Mummy, are you okay?’
  • ‘My go a nursery work today Mummy, my see my friends.’
  • ‘No I want to do it myself!’
  • ‘I’m not a sweetie, I’m Zee, you a sweetie Mummy.’
  • ‘This carpet is nice and soft on my tootsies.’
  • ‘GO AWAY!’ – which I’m happy to say he’s picked up from his favourite Pom-Pom Gets the Grumps, though he does take great delight in yelling it at us . . .

    And because this summer has seemingly been and gone so quickly I can’t keep up, I’m going to cheat and let this photo gallery below nudge my memory in months and years to come, because quite simply, we’ve been having far too much fun for me to write it all down. I will try and do better from now on.

Labour, she wrote.

M and BA couple of months ago, I spied on Twitter a post via Britmums, from a journalist looking for mums whose babies had been very overdue. ‘Yep,’ I thought, ‘that definitely applies to me.’ I pondered contacting her, uhmming and ahhing over it, eventually deciding I would, just to see what it was all about.

A few DMs revealed the journalist, Rachel, was writing an article for Mother & Baby magazine, a feature on long overdue babies and if I was interested, could I let her have my story? I thought about it a bit longer, deciding that really I had nothing to lose. And with my work hat on, there just might be a chance I could include a link to my blog, which is all about motherhood after all. As a freelance copywriter, I’m always trying to find new ways to showcase what I write; maybe, just maybe, this could be a good opportunity.

So I cast my mind back to those long overdue days (17!) awaiting Zee’s arrival, relayed the highs and lows to Rachel, and hit send. Throughout the whole process, she was friendly and enthusiastic and reassured me it was going to be a lovely piece.

I forgot about it for a while, until Rachel replied to say her editor loved my story and wanted to include it. Now, for photos. Could I provide any pictures, from just after Z’s birth, a few when I was waiting for him, some of us both a few days later? ‘Yes of course,’ I replied, thinking that a good photo of Zee wouldn’t be hard to find, one of me post-labour might not be too pretty. I found one and I am not ashamed to say I gleefully took some editing tools to it. A few filters here, some softer light there and hey presto, I didn’t look too scary. Vain, maybe but hey, it’s my article and I’ll filter if I want to.

Although of course, it’s not technically my article. It’s my story, but I’m not writing it. Being a copywriter, this felt quite curious to me. Rachel explained that once she’d had the pics approved she’d call me to could discuss everything properly. I’d already sent quite a detailed summary, so it was interesting to talk it through; to get a sense of her angle for the piece and the way she wanted to frame it. She asked me good, insightful questions, which helped jog my memory (sieve-esque since Zee’s arrival). She also wanted to know at key stages if I felt anxious, worried, frustrated, scared . . . I could see where thisSAM_5015 was going. Yes, it was difficult and stressful in parts; I was bloody enormous, waddling around like a giant watermelon on legs and my baby showed not the slightest interest in making their presence known in this world. But I didn’t want to dwell on that.

The point is, for me, I was given a due date, but it’s not set in stone and the baby arrives when the baby arrives. I don’t personally believe in all the ‘Eat a hot curry!’, ‘Drink raspberry leaf tea!’ ‘Walk up a giant hill!’ advice – I ate curry because I like curry, a lot. I maximised every single lie-in and went to the cinema a fair few times. I enjoyed a Pilates class where I was asked ‘When are you due?’, I merrily replied ‘Last week!’ and watched them back away. I just tried to be patient. Rachel noted it all down and said she’d call back to read it out to me before it went to print.

When Rachel called again it was nice yet weird to hear my own story, in her words. Strange, because she’d used a few phrases I wouldn’t say, and there were a couple of details the editorial team had added in that just weren’t true, so I asked for those to be removed. They’d left out the bit about Adam bringing us Pizza Express takeaway when things kicked off slowly, which I felt was a shame as this was the most fun part of a verrrrrry long night.

The only thing that made me wary was a line someone had added in my ‘Three things I’d tell my friends’ section. I’d commented that once you go past your due date, every time you call or text someone you find yourself prefacing it with ‘No news!’ or ‘Nothing to report . . .’ But this had been turned into something along the lines of ‘Tell your family and friends an approximate date, to stop the annoying questions when you go past your due date.’

No, no. I would never say something like that about my family and friends, contacting me to see if I was okay, which I stressed to Rachel several times.

Anyway, it all sounded pretty spot on; I dared to ask again if my blog link might *perhaps* be included, which Rachel was very polite about but I sensed it was a no. Oh well. If you don’t ask . . .
Zach 11 Feb 13 2The article is in the September issue, out early August. I bought a copy  last week and felt quite nervous when I opened it. There we were; Zee and I in Mother & Baby magazine, with no mention of the word ‘annoying’, a gorgeous (I’m biased, yes) photo of brand new Zee, and me post-labour, looking shell-shocked and filtered. Result! And of course there’s a Princess Charlotte link to the whole overdue angle, of course. I’d had no clue there would be, but what larks.

A fun experience all round and something to add to Zee’s memory box. It’s also something I can brandish at him in years to come, if he’s stomping around the house declaring how much he wishes he’d never been born. ‘But LOOK what I went through for you to be born, you ungrateful rascal!’ I shall declare. It’s my right as his mother, I do believe.

The Panic of Losing Things When You Have Kids

lost-very-lost via Pinterest1

65 thoughts I had whilst ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ was the soundtrack to the weekend.

  1. Need to get my bag in from the car. Hang on, I’m not sure where the key is.
  2. Never mind, I’m running late, will borrow H’s Oyster card and find key tomorrow. I’m going OUT out!
  3. Next morning. Bit tired. Midnight is quite late these days. Going to stay in bed till at least 8.30. On lazy mornings I love Peppa and Thomas nearly as much as Zee does.
  4. Should probably think about getting up. Do need to find the key. Will just check Twitter.
  5. And Instagram.
  6. And Facebook.
  7. And my emails.
  8. Must reply to some emails.
  9. It’s 10am! That’s a lot of Peppa for little eyes in the morning. Will get us up.
  10. Wander into kitchen, idly look around, picking things up and putting them down again.
  11. Why isn’t it on the shelf where we always put it? It should be on the shelf.
  12. Or in the jar. I definitely locked the car after bringing in the shopping. It must be here in the jar.
  13. It’s not in the jar.
  14. Still a bit tired. Will make coffee.
  15. Hang on. If I absent-mindedly put it on a too-easy-to-reach-surface then . . .
  16. PANIC.
  17. Zee, let’s play a game. Where is the car key? ‘Car key GONE, Mummy!’
  18. You’re no help.
  19. It must be in the shopping bags. Of course!
  20. It’s not.
  21. It must be in the cupboards! In a saucepan!
  22. It’s not.
  23. Will just play trains with Zee for a while. How far can it have gone?
  24. Although . . . I really don’t recall seeing it after putting away the shopping.
  25. Will just check cupboards again.
  26. The washing machine!
  27. No.
  28. The fridge!
  29. Why isn’t it in the fridge?
  30. Can’t put it off any longer. Time to search the bin. Yuck.
  31. And the recycling bag. Nope.
  32. Time to start scouring Zee’s favourite hiding places; the sofas, behind books, the toy box, the shelves, under the TV, behind the TV, behind the ‘radiors’.
  33. Feeling quite desperate now. H really needs to use the car tonight.
  34. Back to the kitchen. Just going to check the freezer. And pull out the fridge. And search the cupboards again. And drawers. And dishwasher. AGAIN.
  35. Wait! I haven’t looked inside the boiler! It’s not there. Curious.
  36. Time to ransack the shoes basket in the hall again. Peer inside every shoe. Ooh! My spotty flip-flops. Thought I’d lost these.
  38. Aha! H is home. He can help, he knows where the spare key is.
  39. I’m sorry what now? We have a spare buzzer bit (definitely the technical term) for the key. BUT NO SPARE KEY?
  40. WHY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS KEY(E)S – Alicia, Florida, house etc – DO WE NOT HAVE A SPARE CAR KEY?!
  41. Genuinely very stressed now. We can unlock the car but can’t drive it. This is madness.
  42. Just going to sit by the front door and cry. Will have to spend the rest of the evening searching. Happy Friday.
  43. Next morning. No, the location of the key has not come to me in my dreams. I hate you, subconscious.
  44. Time to get up and resume the search. If we can find it soon, we still have a fun Saturday ahead.
  45. Just going to text some family and friends for helpful suggestions of obscure places to find lost things. And some moral support.
  46. Five hours later. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH! Feeling irrationally angry towards all things key(e)s. Sorry, Alicia.
  47. WHY HAVEN’T WE GOT ANY CHOCOLATE IN THE HOUSE? Ooh, two biscuits. They’re stale. I don’t care.
  48. Back upstairs. Let’s re-search all the wardrobes, drawers, under the beds, behind the cot, the radiors, inside pockets and bags and YES! My Ray Bans! Thought these were gone forever. Mustn’t exclaim out loud, don’t want H to think I’ve found the key. False hope is just mean.
  49. Call an emergency car key replacement locksmith. Oh, because of the type of key it is, it’ll cost more than the car is worth to replace. Something to do with the immobilizer. Wish I could go back to Thursday and immobilize myself from losing the BLOODY KEY.
  50. Just going to look in that bag of flour again.
  51. And the big bin outside. This is exactly what I’d been dreaming of, plans wise, this weekend.
  52. Will go and dig about in the plant pots outside. Imagine if it’s there, and I’ll spot it glinting in the sun and I’ll call out gleefully to H . . . nope. Will just check the drain.
  53. And the car boot again. And inside the whole car. Just gonna lie down on the pavement and look under the car again. Nothing to see here, passers-by. BUT I WISH THERE WAS!
  54. Phone rings. It’s H from the park! He MUST be calling to say he’s found it in the buggy. Oh. But yes, I’ve searched the fireplace. Oh, there’s Zee babbling in the background. I wish I was there. I hate you, key.
  55. It’s most definitely wine time. Let’s drink more wine! Maybe tonight I’ll see the key in my dreams!
  56. Sunday morning. Nope.
  57. Going out. Can’t look any longer. Hang on, will just check all pockets again.
  58. So glad we’re at our friends’ daughter’s first birthday party, and not looking for the wretched key.
  59. More prosecco? Yes PLEASE!
  60. Just going to double check the recycling bin before it’s emptied tomorrow. Even though it cannot be in there.
  61. Oh how I love sitting in the front garden, half inside a recycling bin and THE KEY THE KEY I’VE FOUND THE KEY IT’S HERE I’VE FOUND THE KEY!
  63. Don’t care. We have our car back!
  64. Just going to dance around a bit singing ‘I’ve got the ke-ey, I know the secret!’ Oh wait. Probably best to stop dancing and put the key SOMEWHERE SAFE.
  65. Sod it. Just going to dance a little bit more, whilst clutching the key. Keygate is over! More wine.

Motherhood? I’m nailing it. Except when I’m not.

HOLDING HANDSA few weeks after having Zach I decided, on the spur of the moment, to drive us to the beach. We were living on the South Coast at the time, it was twenty minutes away; I could do this. I remember gazing out to sea whilst holding my newborn, feeling proud and overwhelmed. Those early days felt like we were wading through treacle and we wouldn’t not be tired ever again. But that day, I was determined to do something ‘normal’. It was an achievement. ‘Yes,’ I muttered to myself, ‘I’ve got this.’

The next day was a disaster. I’d exhausted myself with that beach jaunt on the back of seemingly endless sleepless nights. I’d forgotten to eat properly and in turn Zach wouldn’t feed properly and both of us spent the day in tears. Days like those felt a little bit hopeless.

Thankfully though, there are more good days than bad ones. The joy of being Zach’s mum never wears thin, though my patience, memory and ability to stay awake past 9pm often does.

Two years into motherhood, I still veer between thinking I’ve cracked it and FFS, why is everything so hard? This is directly related to a good night’s sleep (rare) and those nights of teething, illness, bad dreams and my tendency to snap awake at 3am, crying baby or not (too common, alas). But after these two years – two years of immeasurable delight and love and fun, combined with sleepiness, forgetfulness and grumpiness – the five main things I want to remember, if we’re lucky enough for there to be a next time, are:

Remember You
There is Life after Becoming a Mum. When you have sick in your hair and pyjamas feel like your only outfit, Life before Becoming a Mum seems a distant dream. Whole afternoons in the pub, cocktails and dancing, lie-ins (LIE-INS?!), the cinema, restaurants, holidays spent drinking G&Ts by a pool. It all happened. Didn’t it? It really did. And it will happen again. In moderation – and ‘holidays’ are a whole different ball game – but you will be you again. And it will feel amazing.

Don’t compare (so much easier said than done)
I became freelance to spend more time with my little boy. I love it. It has been hard to adjust, but I know I did the right thing for me. I am sometimes struck with thoughts like ‘Was I not ambitious enough?’ or ‘What’s wrong with me, why couldn’t I manage a full-time job and motherhood?’, but it’s really simple. It wasn’t for me. Like no two babies are the same, no mums are either. Ages ago, someone commented to me ‘You’re much more maternal than I am.’ I’m not even sure what this means. I’m being the only mum I know how to be. Aren’t we all?

Accept all help
If your family and friends want to help, just say yes. Yes to cups of tea, meals, taking the baby for a walk. Yes, yes, yes please. We don’t have help nearby. So to start with, if I went home or my parents visited, I’d go to say ‘No it’s fine thank you, I can manage’ out of habit. I learned to stop being so British about things. There’s no time for a stiff upper lip when you’re busy biting it to stop from crying, because no sleep makes you feel ever-so-slightly mad.

Give yourself a break
I take things very literally, and in the early days of pregnancy I read somewhere that when the baby sleeps, forget cleaning and laundry, you must rest too. Well. I have definitely taken this to heart. Even now, when our house looks like a mini-Tasmanian devil has ripped through it (because he has), if I’m not on a deadline, then Zach’s naptime is my time too. Hello to a pot of fresh coffee and/or reading a book/scrolling Twitter. Toys everywhere, laundry in the machine, dishes in the sink. You can wait. All the books say so. I imagine this is do-able with one. Less so with two or more.

MAY 2015This too shall pass
The best advice I was given. Thank you, Jo. Again, I took it so literally. Not a day has passed without me remembering they aren’t little for long. Looking back on photos and videos of my tiny baby, now a toddler, I’m stunned by how quickly time goes. A cliché. Because it’s true. So on the good days, when I think I’ve totally got this, I know something around the corner will floor me again. A screaming tantrum, heartbreak at the nursery door as he clings to me and I must leave for work, yet another interrupted night’s sleep, a bowl of dinner thrown on the floor. On the bad days, I am glad to have recently rediscovered these words by E.E. Cummings. They mean everything to me, when I think of motherhood, the kind of mum I am, and how happy being my boy’s mum makes me.

The Five Stages of Being Ill When You’re a Parent

MedicationThis week I am laid low with acute pharyngitis and it’s grim. It’s made more annoying by the fact it’s the third time I’ve been pretty poorly in a month. The last time, I had a virus that left me with such a high temperature I felt quite delirious. It was a day when H was working away, so I had to collect Zee from nursery. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done as a mum so far. It was also probably quite scary for anyone who encountered me as I wandered the streets to nursery, aimlessly drifting with mad, fevered eyes, wearing my MC Hammer-esque trousers, a bomber jacket, beanie hat and flip-flops. Sorry. I got us home in one piece and let Peppa do the rest until H returned.

The reason for these repeated illnesses? I think it’s because when there is a small person added to the mix and you both work and have no help nearby, there is no time to be ill. No time to stop and recover, to stay off work and stay in bed and just be. So you keep going and going until your body says STOP (Hammer time) and that’s when you know you’ve pushed it too far. The symptoms of acute pharyngitis are an extremely painful sore throat, sore ears, cough and blocked nose. The Five Stages of Being Ill this week are . . .


Sunday afternoon: Throat feels a bit sore. It’s fine, some paracetamol will sort it.

Sunday night: Now it’s worse. But it’ll be FINE. Some more paracetamol will sort it.

3am: Awake with teething toddler and throat is really sore. Bugger.

Monday: H has an early meeting, my throat and ears hurt but Zee can’t toddle off to nursery by himself. Get him dressed (the usual wriggly battle), get him into his buggy (the usual wriggly battle) and get him to nursery. Next stop is the pharmacy to stock up on Lemsip Max, paracetamol and an anaesthetic throat spray. I am not ill, I just need some medicine. Nothing to see here. It’s FINE.

Monday afternoon: Ow ow ow. Notfinenotfinenotfine.

Monday night and into the early hours of Tuesday: Really not fine.


Tuesday morning: Okay, it hurts, there is a big lump on the side of my neck and I look like I’ve been fat-boothed. Excellent. Luckily, H takes Zee to nursery but there are So Many Other Things To Do! I have meetings and deadlines! My mum is visiting tomorrow, we’re going to lunch! I have evening plans and I hardly ever have evening plans! We’re taking Zee to Peppa Pig World with friends on Friday! And to a birthday party on Saturday! I hoped to see our NCT friends on Sunday! There’s just no time to be ill.

But WOW this hurts. And there is a lump on the side of my neck. Maybe it’s better to stop panicking about plans and panic about this instead. I’ll call the doctor.

Ninety-seven, yes, ninety-seven attempts to get through to the doctors later (almost falling asleep from the repetition of ‘Repeat’) and an appointment is made. Good. They can fix it and I’ll carry on. There will be no letting anyone down.


H is waiting outside the doctors surgery in the car. I get in, clutching my prescription. ‘Acute pharyngitis’ I tell him, quietly, because now talking hurts too. ‘I have to take antibiotics for ten days, so we’ll still be fine for the weekend. By Friday I’ll have been on them for three days and I have my painkillers . . .’

The look on his face says it all. I try and bargain but he is right. And I don’t know it then, but this is going to get worse before it gets better. What. Larks.

Misery (not Kathy Bates style)

Tuesday to Thursday

The pain gets worse despite my cocktail of soluble aspirin, paracetamol and penicillin every four hours. This is not my idea of a cocktail (hello Singapore Slings). Why is it not IMMEDIATELY helping? I contemplate posting on Facebook in capital letters that I am SO ILL and I want EVERYONE I know to know and I want all the sympathy and everyone to care. But I don’t. I moan (repeatedly) to a selection of friends on WhatsApp instead. Did I mention I was really ill? Like rilly rilly? Sorry.

I distract myself by binge-watching the entire first series of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. Tim Riggins is a sight for sore eyes. And a very sore throat. The misery reaches its peak at about 3am on Tuesday, when the teething Zee wakes up crying ‘Want Mummy’ over and over again. H takes him into the spare room, he’s screaming and I sit in bed, in too much pain to help, crying.

But in the midst of all this misery are three people who make it better. H just gets on with looking after us all brilliantly. I am so glad he’s here and not away with work. I observe that this is the ‘sickness’ and ‘worse’ part. He observes that I look ‘interesting’. He brings me tea. Lots of tea.
Zee is my spoonful of sugar. He makes me laugh (owch though). He loves to watch me gargling aspirin, peering at me and declaring ‘That funny!’ It’s bloody not, little man. He keeps me so entertained. I wish for the Calopl to take away his teething pain. At night. The nights are not fun here this week.

Then there is my lovely mum, who instead of postponing her visit on Wednesday, travels from the Midlands to London and arrives on our doorstep, soaking from the rain and I want to burst into tears as I open the door. I am so glad to see her. She does what she always does and just takes care of us, and soon it’s time for her to go and I am touched by her brief but very welcome visit.


In a parallel universe, we would be at Peppa Pig World right now and Zee would be having the best time of his short little life. But we are not. I am ill (not sure I’ve mentioned it already?) and only a lot more resting and taking the drugs will fix it. That’s that. I accept, too, that once these antibiotics have worked I will be fine and life will carry on in its own sweet way. There are people out there who are really ill, who must cope and carry on and can’t just take a week out and a course of penicillin to fix things. I’m holding that thought every time I get a bit too sorry for myself. No more whining now. But maybe another cup of tea. I’d shout for H but I can’t. Every cloud, for him.

Boy’s best friend

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‘Woke up this morning feeling fine, though I’m covered in a little grime . . .’ sang More-Guin* to Zee this morning.

Zee looked at More-Guin and smiled, gave him a ginormous hug and promptly swung him around by his wing, bashing him into the side of the cot.

That’s when I appeared. ‘Good morning darling,’ I said. ‘Shall we get you up?’

‘MORE-GUIN!’ shouted Zee.

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘More Guin’s coming with us.’

We lazed about for a while and I pointed out that your PFF was looking a little dirty; covered in last night’s dinner, from when you planted him face-first into a bowl of spaghetti.

You looked at me with big wide eyes. ‘More-Guin, bath?’ you asked, before grabbing him and toddling off towards the bathroom.

‘MORE-GUIN, BATH!’ you squealed.

4 5

Ah. Nearly. But not quite. Let’s try something with a little more power. More spin.

Off we went downstairs. Lovingly you shoved your beloved pal into the washing machine and slammed the door. ‘More-Guin go round the corner! Go More-Guin, go!’

6  7 8

We set More-Guin off on his soapy adventure; after 30 seconds you demanded ‘More-Guin OUT, OUT NOW!’

But no, it wasn’t to be. You took it upon yourself to pull up a chair and lovingly observe More-Guin as he spun round and round and round. And round.

Then you got bored and it was time to go out, to while away an hour on Blackheath in the sunshine. We sat in view of the church and cherry blossom in full bloom, as you declared every dog to be ‘BLUE!’ and ran around in small circles.

When we came home you fell asleep, More-Guin’s waterlogged ways entirely forgotten. I sent the little fluffball on a final spin before hanging him out to dry; idly wondering if the peg would hurt his wing before reminding myself ‘He’s not real.’

But he is to you.

No sooner had you awoken than you were calling his name. I took you outside, you ran to him. Your reunion was a joyful one. So joyful in fact, that we really must look into buying More-Guin II, for fear of him ever being lost in a park or street or tube.

IMG_5716 9  10 11

This whole soap story will no doubt reoccur next week – there was more dinner related face-planting only a few hours after MG was dry. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I hope that in years to come you’ll look back and remember More-Guin with a smile. I thought this post would help with that. Though I suspect it’s me who’ll be far more attached to the memories of you and that little black and grey bird, and the way he’s by your side, morning, noon and night. Washing machine adventures aside.

*More-Guin stands for ‘More Penguin’ as he is the second of two little penguins you own. True toddler logic.

i carry your heart

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Last night you told me you loved me. I say it to you every night as I put you down to sleep in your cot (I’ll have said it about a million times already that day, too). Our conversation goes as follows:

‘Night night Zee.’
‘Sleep well.’
‘See you in the morning.’
‘See you MORNIN’!’
‘Sweet dreams.’
‘I love you.’
You smile and continue guzzling your milk.

But last night you said ‘I love you’ and I caught my breath and closed your door and left your room and my eyes filled with hot tears. The night before, you’d said ‘Lud you’ and I didn’t know what to think, and passed it off as you just copying what I was saying.

Well, my sweet boy, I love you more than I can say. More than I can adequately express, as I’ve said on here before. Last week, via a friend’s blog, I read the following poem. I feel I must have already read this poem, it seems so familiar, yet it took me completely by surprise.


All of this, is all I want to say to you:

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
By E. E. Cummings

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Being breezy

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I keep looking out of the window at our washing line, eyeing it suspiciously. Since Saturday, it has hung between two trees in our garden; trees now blooming with white blossom, which fills me with joy. Spring!

The washing line, however, has been bringing me somewhat less joy, and more a feeling of *whispers* getting older. I’ve never had my own washing line before. There’s never been room for one. At our flat in Brixton you couldn’t stretch your arms out horizontally in the kitchen, let alone hang a line anywhere.

The washing line was purchased during a trip to Homebase last Friday evening, where I was happily distracted from thoughts of middle-aged-ness (Homebase! Friday night!! DOOM!) by a phone call from a dear friend telling me she’s pregs. There I was jumping up and down with glee in the lines and pegs aisle. Thank you M for giving me cause to do so, instead of stomping up and down declaring ‘I do not WANT to buy pegs! I am young and I should be in a BAR drinking gin, I am YOUNG!’ etc etc. I tried to make myself feel better by buying a vintage style peg tin, and pastel coloured pegs, but nothing could shake this feeling of washing line woe.
Of course this is ridiculous, it’s a washing line, for goodness sake. It’s so nice to have a garden to give one a home in. But it’s more what it represents. It makes me feel like a sensible, responsible grown-up, which I sort of have to be, given that I am a parent. And of course, washing that has been freshly dried in a warm Spring breeze smells so DAMN GOOD; no amount of ‘Summer Days’ or ‘Lavender Blossom’ or ‘Cotton Fresh’ liquid in a bottle can better it.

Really, beyond the washing line, what we are making here is a home. We *still* can’t quite believe our luck, and Zee toddling around the garden is lovely to behold. Yesterday after nursery (it’s still light! MORE JOY!) I asked him to help me bring the washing in. He clutched the peg tin in his chubby little hands and trotted up the path, exclaiming ‘WasHING! ‘SCHOCKS!’ PEGS! TREE!’. He ‘helped’ me and then it was time to head back in. He clutched the tin again in one hand and reached for my hand to help him down the steps. I was struck by the thought that it’s these moments that make memories; holding hands in the early evening sunshine, my little boy at my side. That washing line and I have years together ahead of us. Z’s little socks and pjs and vests and t-shirts on the line will get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. I will remember the first time he ‘helped’ me with the washing. And I will feel glad, not sad, about it.

Doesn’t mean I can’t still go out in bars though. Girls, ASSEMBLE! All this talk of growing older and doing the washing makes me want a gin.

Proper joy

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We seem to spend quite a lot of time telling Zee not to do things. Most of the time, it’s for his own good, because we don’t want him trying to stick his fingers in plug sockets, or running into a road, or poking himself in the eye with a fork and that’s all pretty reasonable.

Yet sometimes, when I’m telling him not to smear yoghurt in his hair or to drench the bathroom floor with his exuberant bath time splashing, I think to myself ‘Does it really matter?’

His hair can be washed. The floor can be mopped. He is two. He is lively and curious and playful and funny and dammit I want to be more like that too! I’m not talking about letting him run wild, and they say you should pick your battles. But these little things aren’t really battles, they’re just things that make extra work, and every single day it adds up and is tiring. But every now and again, to coin a popular phrase, can’t I just let it go? He is positively ecstatic when he’s splashing away in the bath, and seeing his grin and hearing his giggles makes me beam. His face covered in food at teatime; isn’t that what a toddler should be doing? Because it’s safe to say that all too soon, as he grows up and learns ‘proper’ behaviour, his carefree toddler abandon will be gone, and I will miss it.

Walking to the park today, as he stopped every few moments to inspect something new on the ground or to point up excitedly at the ‘SHKY!’, I imagined what it would be like if I actually did behave more like him . . .

Waking up singing
Every single morning, I hear him chattering away in his cot, talking to Cat and Guin and More Guin, shrieking and sometimes singing. Singing away, nonsensical babblings that are lovely to hear. I can’t even began to imagine what H would do if I woke up in the morning and burst into joyful song, complete with hand movements and waving some teddy bears around. I can barely grumble a ‘hello’ in the mornings, let alone make it through a whole chorus, but what a refreshing start to the day it might be.

Look, LOOK!
During this morning’s aforementioned walk to the park, there was a lot of:

‘Blue DOOR!’
‘Black DOOR!’

His observation skills are second to none. I might try it next time H and I go for a stroll. A lot of shouting excitedly and pointing, reminiscent of every time we’ve been to Ultimate Power Ballads. It’s important to take in one’s surroundings. H might pretend not to know me, but at least he’ll be fully up to date on what’s all around us.

Mess. Everywhere.
Zee’s attention span isn’t that long, so all around the house, there are discarded books and toys and crayons. Bits of paper, his pink toy buggy, his ride-along lion, his scooter. His stuff is everywhere. Of course it is. He’s two. If he runs off whilst brushing his teeth and feels like leaving his toothbrush in his toy tent, he will. At meal times he’s pretty nifty with a spoon, but sometimes only scooping something straight from the bowl will do, with his feet up on the table. Next time I brush my hair, whoosh, that’s my hairbrush being chucked over my shoulder! If I happen to finish drinking a coffee whilst standing in the hallway, then on the floor my mug will go! Laptop in the fridge, glasses in the bath, Kindle in a saucepan. Bolognese sauce on my face? Custard in my hair? So?

I’ve already mentioned his bath time, but what about mine? Never mind a piping hot soak with lavender foam and a candle burning, I’m gonna splash and splash and kick and kick till there’s water everywhere and my hair is soaked. Water in my eyes, on the floor, on the walls. Hair can be dried, floors can too.

Because I DON’T WANT TO!
As an adult, when it comes to doing things you just don’t want to, it’s the norm to try and find an excuse or a polite way of saying ‘I’m afraid I can’t.’ But not if you’re a two year-old. Oh no! ‘No’ becomes your favourite word – and what’s more, people expect it of you. Well. Clean the house? But I don’t WANT to. Spend the afternoon in the supermarket? NO! Organise my expenses? Sort out the junk in the spare room? Wash the car? ‘NO, NOOOO NOOOOOOOOO!’ *wails and slams fists*. Man, that feels good.

Of course, none of this is acceptable behaviour for a 28 (plus six years) year-old. What a sorry state we’d all be in if it was. But I like the idea of sometimes just being more ‘kid’ about things. And not making a big deal of stuff that isn’t.


To the mother who had a go at the mum whose little boy disappeared for a few terror-filled minutes at the park just now, I have some questions.

What is the matter with you?

Did her frantic screaming of her little boy’s name disturb the tranquility of your sunny winter’s afternoon?

Have you never taken your eyes from your child for a few moments whilst out?

Could you not see her wild-eyed panic when she did not know where he was?

In those horrible moments, when she was rushing around shouting ‘He’s five, he’s wearing a blue hat and coat, he was just in the playground’ to everyone she saw, did you not feel her distress too?

I ran off in the opposite direction with Zee, to see if he was by the library. He wasn’t.

As I came back into the park, it was quiet once more, and in the glare of the sun I could see her by the fence, watching children playing on the slide opposite.

I breathed a sigh of relief; if my heart was racing, how must she be feeling?

I stopped to ask. She was suddenly lost in a stream of consciousness as she tried to explain what happened. I could see she was overwhelmed. The tears came as she said ‘And then another mum had a pop at me for not watching him, but I . . . But I . . .’

I did the only thing I could think of to do, which I would want in that situation. I hugged her and told her they are so fast, it must have been horrible, she should go home with her boy and have a large glass of wine tonight.

So, to Judgemental Mum. I hope you find your empathy. I hope this never happens to you, and you don’t experience the sharp end of a stranger’s tongue in the midst of a frightening time.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. So be kind if you witness it. No one needs to be made to feel worse than they already do. Your judgement was not welcome. Your kindness, I’m sure, would have been.