Sunday, 21 August 2011

An Eventful Trip

What a day. I feel I've aged about twenty years! I took a flight yestoday with my toddler, her first, and while she was reasonably quiet, she wouldn't sit on my lap for any length of time, as the budget airline dictated. As soon as the seat belt sign went out, we walked the length of the plane. And back again. And up, and back, and up and back. Thanks to our fellow passengers for their patience.

I was stressed beforehand because it was the first time she'd flown, and because I was in sole charge, so it was a weight off my mind that it went ok. We sailed through Arrivals. All hail the Trunki!

I was so glad to see my husband on "the other side" and off-load some of the luggage - it never ceases to amaze me how much kit small children need! We were making good progress through the hoardes of leather-look sunseekers returning from their annual break, towards our car.

Then the Trunki hit a bump in the tamac and flipped itself and its passenger straight over. Her forehead broke her fall because she was clutching the ladybird's horns so tightly. The scream was horrible but at least she cried straightaway. It was the blood coming from her nose that flipped us out. We headed straight to the hospital.

It was quite a surreal experience. not helped by the massive, purple egg that popped up on my baby's head. In our haste to get to A&E, we'd left the change bag in the car. Of course, this was exactly the time we needed it. Nice timing.

Thankfully, nothing serious at all. Apparently it's quite normal for baby noses to bleed with the smallest knocks. The advice was to cut her nails in case she picks her nose! And she listened to every word the doctor said.

No lasting damage, other than parents' nerves. I'm sure there are more wrinkles on my forehead this morning than yesterday, but I'd take a whole lot more to know that my baby is ok.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Photographic Memories

I have some time off in the next couple of weeks and I’m really looking forward to having some fun with my little family.  We’re planning day trips and activities locally so we don’t waste the time discussing what to do, ending up doing little of any consequence.  Nothing memorable.
I want us to have some great memories to look back on, for all of us, and though my husband doesn’t know yet, we’re going to have at least one day every two months where we do a “never forget” activity all together.  I made that decision today.
A lot of my memories are captured on film and it’s such a pleasure looking back through them all.  My parents have album after album lined up on their bookshelves and nothing beats getting them out on a lazy afternoon and flicking through them with my family.
I worry that that sort of entertainment will be lost to the new generation though, with the advent of digital cameras and online ‘albums’ on social networking sites.  Sure, we might all take lots more photos, and we might share them with many more people on the likes of Facebook or Snapfish, but they’re instant and then gone.  Ok, so technically all the pictures are still there, but the tendency to go back through them doesn’t exist.  Sometimes that is no bad thing when people just snap, snap, snap, knowing they’re not wasting any film, but then don’t bother filtering the 307 shots that look like an advanced spot-the-difference challenge.
The anticipation of your prints landing on the doorstep and recalling your holiday after the event disappeared when we started being able to review the picture seconds after it was taken and then move on. 
I’m making a pledge to go through all the photos I take every year and put the best into an “Album of the Year” so that we get the best of both worlds.  We’ll have the albums I love to look back on, and I’ll be able to cherry-pick the best of the I’ll-take-another-one-just-in-case shots to ensure the collection is as good as it can be.  And what fun I’ll have reminiscing as I scroll through them to create my retrospective albums!
I think I’m going to need another bookcase.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Time To Count My Blessings

I am counting my blessings today, and I’m re-counting them, just to remind myself how fortunate I am. My best friend is having a truly awful year and she rang today with more bad news.

It doesn’t seem fair that she should be facing any of it, let alone all of it, one thing after another.  No-one can ever prepare for this sort thing, but I feel so powerless to help her and that does bother me.  There were tears on both ends of the phone today and while that’s true to form for me, for her, someone who is so strong in a crisis, it was more unusual.  I know that grief is a normal, healthy response to loss, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

I can never find the right words.  They stumble out of my mouth, clumsy and inappropriate.  I don’t want to say something insensitive and make things worse.  I wish I could give her a big cuddle.

She said to me today that she is sick of being strong. How she deals with things is truly amazing.  She is a beautiful person, inside and out, a wonderful mother, loyal friend, supportive wife.  I feel for you, readers, that you don’t have her in your lives but being very selfish, I’m glad I don’t have to share her – I don’t see her often enough as it is!

I will try to be as normal as possible and I will always be here, day or night, to listen and not talk.  I don’t know how she feels, but it wouldn’t be a comfort to hear, “I know what you’re going through,” even if I did.  This isn’t about me.

What I do know is that my support, whatever she needs, is unconditional.  No time limit, as long as it takes.  I know I would get the same in return.  I wish we lived closer.

So, to my dear friend – I love you and you continue to be a true inspiration to me.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Whatever Happened To Sisterhood?

Becoming a mummy was without doubt the single most life-changing moment in my thirty-something years.  I am sure it is for any woman embarking on motherhood.  I, like many, felt reasonably well prepared for the pain of childbirth and the subsequent sleepless nights and dirty nappies.

What nobody warned me about was the constant attempts by some other mothers to belittle my attempts and out-do my achievements.  I had envisaged making new friends who would share the new-mum ups and downs with me, who’d know exactly what I was going through when my colicky baby had been up five times in the night, and who I would be able to offer sympathy to in return when their little one was ill.

We’d all share in this wonderful part of Sisterhood, united by our beautiful, happy babies, gurgling away as we pushed them around in their buggies, each of us sporting our pre-pregnancy clothes that fitted perfectly and had no stains in sight.

To a large extent, the rose-hued ideology was the case – I have a small but close-knit circle of new-mummy friends – but I did often question what happened to Sisterhood?  Sister-Hoodwinked, more like!

Some mothers, it seems, derive pleasure from constant put-downs.  Their snidy comments cut into very hormonal women at their most vulnerable, when there is no need whatsoever.  Their babies are the ones doing cartwheels by their six-week check-up and conversing with each member of the family in a different language.

To me, it smacks of insecurity.  The upheaval in their own lives means they need to reassure themselves that they’re coping.  Nobody would say being proud of your child is wrong, but why is it so difficult just to be pleased for the other mum and resist the urge to jump in with how yours has done something better?

There is pressure to be the ‘perfect parent,’ but no-one is born knowing what to do so starting out is the perfect opportunity to share tips, admit mistakes and learn from each other.  Instead, the white lies trip off so many tongues so frequently that they become too obvious and that’s what irritates.  Couple that with sleep deprivation and your own screaming baby, and many women are knocked needlessly.

We need the support of other parents to help us through the tough times, so beware you White Liars and Put-Down Queens – you risk alienating yourself and ending up alone when you need help yourself.

I would like to see mums being more honest about the reality of modern motherhood. It’s not easy.  There is so much pressure heaped on us anyway so bitching among the ranks serves no constructive purpose.  It’s never easy to admit to needing a bit of help but we should try.  Remember, the “perfect parent” is a fictional being.  There is no such thing.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Good Old Days?

I saw a picture of my sixteen-year-old self last week that I’d never seen before.  I was quite taken aback;  I hardly recognised myself half a lifetime ago.  It seems so recent, yet so much has happened since then. 
Hearing songs on the radio now that are considered ‘oldies’ is a scary thought.  Brit Pop was alive and well back then, and that’s the closest I’ve ever been to trendy.  My nieces and nephews would not even be able to imagine sitting beside a radio on a Sunday afternoon listening to the Top 40 and pressing ‘record’ to capture Blur and Oasis on tape. I don’t know if they’ve ever seen a tape!  I loved Take That, even then, so it doesn’t seem that long ago.  Point out that this was some years before the Spice Girls released Wannabe, and now I feel really old!
I looked at the photograph and spent the evening moping, hankering after the flat stomach and the pre-baby breasts, the sun-kissed shoulders and the smirk on my face that hinted at the confidence I had and the lack of a care in the world.  Oh, to be back there!  I didn’t have a driving licence back then – that took rather longer than expected – but I felt free.  
My daughter cried out from her cot and brought me back to 2011.  I did the dummy-run and looking at her little face tucked up in bed and realised I’ve never had it so good. 
So, I have more laughter lines than jokes I can recall, and my baby-belly makes a world-class muffin-top, but I have life-experience and a great family and friends, and for that I am truly grateful.  I am about to embark on a career change, and that is shaping up to be a very liberating experience; take away the financial commitments the responsibilities of motherhood, and I feel as free as I ever did at sixteen.