Having a social life

We went out last night. We went out without children and we had a meal in a restaurant that didn’t have colouring books to keep us occupied whilst we waited for our food. There were no balloons on the way out and there was no room to even fit a pram between the tables. It was great! I think.

Since our son was born we can easily count the number of times we’ve been out socialising and to do that we only need one finger. Well, actually now we need two. But were we really missing out? Did we really need to spend time away from the children in order to feel like ‘ourselves’ again? Surely ‘ourselves’ are now parent-selves and don’t those people stay in every weekend, or take the children with them if they go out (ensuring they can easily leave at 7pm so that bath time is only half an hour late and everyone can get to bed on time), but only to places that have balloons, colouring books, wide-aisles and highchairs. Isn’t that who we are now?

Well, yes and no. We are parents first, but we were other people before that. We used to go out to pubs with sticky floors that were thick with smoke and vibrating with loud music, laughter and chatter. We used to drink cider and lager and we used to stagger to the taxi rank at the end of it all. The next day we used to lie in, luxuriously making the most of a lazy day where nothing was required of us, accept to decide whether or not to do it all again.

Last night was a different, more orderly kind of night. We met friends who also have a baby and we felt reassured that our ‘We ought to get home for the babysitter’ would not be met with ‘ Oh, come on! Stay out, we dare you!’ because the people we were with were likely to feel that they too ought to get home before too late. So we ate, we drank wine and we even frequented a sticky-floored pub. It was lovely.

I must add that we all found it incredibly difficult to resist checking our phones every twenty minutes or so (just incase!) and we all subconciousy decided at eleven-thirty that enough was enough- time to go home. No pressure.

At home, the children slept soundly, the youngest not even aware that we had left the safe, warm house to venture upon a life without him. This morning the eldest is full of tales about the games she played with Nanna and the fact that she had three stories, not just one and Nanna let her read all the bits in speech bubbles and Nanna let her have an extra ten minutes downstairs after brushing her teeth because she had been so good. In fact, the eldest wants to know when, exactly, are we going out again?

So now the question is, when will we be ready to abandon this life again for a few hours? I’m not sure that sticky-floored pubs are quite the same anymore. These days I like mine covered in mechanical hamsters, crayons and toy cars. These days, I actually prefer having cheerios stick to my feet instead of cigarette ends and I quite like getting a balloon on the way home.

I do have to add, though, I had a lovely time last night!

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The wind!!

Oh, the wind!

As a teacher, I know that it is no myth that the wind has tendencies to send children loopy. I’ve seen it all before- the bedraggled hair, the flimsy grey trousers flapping about the legs, the ‘I can’t walk normally so I’ll pretend I’m an astronaut on the moon’ shuffle to the line at the end of play. Back in the warm depths of the classroom with whiteboard ready and lesson plan to hand, there really is no point in trying to stick to the timetable. I know, let’s write a poem about the wind!

Because the wind takes over. The children are exciteable, hungry for more extreme weather, too restless for normal work. They chatter, they fidget, they play with each other’s hair. Some even take to rolliing on the carpet or diving across it, or throwing pencils around on it. Well, I’ve seen that happen in other classrooms.

So, I know all about the wind sending children over the edge, or ‘bonkers’ as I like to put it. But my question is this: how does my eleven month old son know that this is how chidren must behave?

Last night he went to bed on nothing more than a bowl of porridge and half a soya yogurt. I suppose an empty belly may possibly have woken him at ten-thirty, but what on earth woke him at eleven, eleven-thirty, twelve, twelve-thirty, etc, etc.

THE WIND!!!!

It rattled, it shook and it ripped around the house. I loathed the pretty wind chimes I’d hung outside and I cursed the fences that creaked and the gates that banged. Our household did not sleep last night. The children even rose from their beds with hair sticking out in small clumps, as though they had been out there, walking on the moon all night.

This morning my daughter and I played a game in the car: who can spot the most things that have been blown down in the night. She won, because I was too busy trying to keep my eyes open with matches.

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Before he was born

We made a decision to have another child. I remember the moment so clearly! We were at his cousin’s wedding, drinking cider and eating the odd combination of soggy meat pie and rubbery samosas. We were happy. It was the day before half term was due to start and i had just completed my first seven weeks as a newly qualified teacher. By this point, I had the dream house, the beautiful daughter and the posh, grown up job. All that was missing was the next baby and then all of a sudden the idea was out there, slapped on the table like a gleaming twenty pound note, daring either of us to laugh and say, ‘no, surely we can’t… can we?’

But we didn’t. We wanted another baby. We imagined warm, cosy times and snuggling with a bouncing bundle of joy. We imagined it would be as rosy as it was with E and we were excited about the prospect.

Five months later and the whole thing had changed; soured slightly with the erosion of time. Why wasn’t I pregnant? What was wrong with me? Had the section damaged me somehow? Why was I feeling so utterly desperate, like a failure? Why had the idea of another baby seemed so easy and why had nobody told me that, in fact, having another baby was not a simple decision to make? We couldn’t just come along like kids in a sweet shop, demanding more of life’s perfect pleasures as and when we liked. Obviously, we had to endure dark questions about whether or not we deserved this, or we were destined to thold another baby in our arms. At times, it seemed like the past was about to catch up with me. At night, I imagined ‘the past’ creeping like an old man in slippers, sneering and whispering with vile breath, ‘You messed up once, we won’t let you do that again. You don’t get another chance..’

We didn’t mess up with E, of course. Peeping in on her sleeping in her bed, thumb in place and hair over her face, she was still there, still perfect. It was the baby before her that we messed up and now, finally, I was being punished. Or, we were being punished. I forget which.

So by February, five months after the heated and rushed decision that we will now have another baby, please, we were still a family of three and we were losing faith rapidly. I became one of those women I never wanted to be and I was now taking my temperature on waking, recording it and other unpleasant facts about my¬† uncooperative body. I was obsessing, pure and simple. I was not me. It became like a game, almost. If I cross the road after this car, I will get pregnant. If I count to twenty before I get to the top of the stairs, the second line will appear. If I take this tablet and that multi vitiamin and drink that pineapple juice… you get the idea. I forgot to enjoy what I already had, just focussed on what I didn’t have and how unfair that was. I was a bit of a shell compared to what I used to be. I remember looking at our daughter, our lovely home and every little ‘important’ thing we had chosen to fill it and I remember thinking… it’s not enough.

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The Hunger Strike

It’s now been around a month since the latest hunger strike began. He eats small amounts, but not enough and mainly only smooth, sweet things. I make a meal, he refuses to eat it. So I make another meal and he refuses that too. By the time I’ve made porridge or weetabix P and E’s dinners are ready so they eat with L and mine goes in the bin! The plus side to this is that my clothes are now all hanging off me and there is definitely not on ounce of baby weight left… but I’m ill now and I can’t seem to shake this cold. I NEVER get colds!!! So, the hunger strike. He ate like a trooper thursday and friday (at nursery) and we were told not to worry if he wasn’t hungry for dinner as he had eaten so much. But by last night (sunday) he still wasn’t hungry. Oh. Apart from the jar he ate at P’s mums…. so now we are totally either doing something wrong or inventing all of this again. No wonder he is always full of a cold or tonsiltis!!

Today he has eaten very little again but he is so happy. He’s such a beauitful little boy and on days like these I love him so much.

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