And now my maternity leave has ended, I mean…Enough with the Game of Thrones references!
Right then, my littlest one, where to begin. You are almost eight months as I write this, so let’s take you back to the start.
I finished work on the 18th December 2014 at 37 weeks and a day pregnant. Three years previous to this, I had given birth, very quickly, to your sister at 37 weeks and a day. As you can imagine, I waddled out of the car park as fast as my swollen
little fat legs would carry me, with a beautiful bouquet of flowers in one hand and a blue Tesco monster pencil case in the other. I feared that you might arrive right there in the school car park.
But then, my little bundle of joy, you kept us waiting. You allowed your Grandma to have her birthday on the 23rd December and you decided not to share your birthday with your Daddy on Christmas Eve. I spent Christmas Day cross legged, uncomfortable and sober in a dress that was way too tight and short for a heavily pregnant woman to be wearing over the Festive Period and in utero you stayed. You chose not to make an entrance while I was partying the night away (nursing a cup of tea) on New Year’s Eve. My birthday on the 3rd January came and went which meant I was not allowed to eat goat’s cheese when Grandma treated us all to a birthday meal. Daddy then returned to work after the Christmas festivities were all over.
On the morning of the 7th January, I dropped your sister at nursery and decided to get my priorities in order by watching one of the final episodes of Breaking Bad. It was the Ozymandias episode and for those of you familiar with the series, it was one of the most intense things I have ever watched. I was screaming away at the TV with my raspberry leaf tea in one hand and my whole (yes whole) pineapple in the other. After the episode had finished, I decided to go the bank, as you do.
It was in Natwest Bank in Pontefract when you decided to start your descent into the world. Paying in my money, I could feel a trickle down my leg. I couldn’t help but smile at the fact that I knew you were on your way and no one else around me did. In those moments, my friend text me to see how I was getting on in my very pregnant state and I told her that my waters were slowly breaking in the bank. The somewhat tenuous link to Breaking Bad was not lost on me and I made a mental note to try to watch the final two episodes before you popped into the world. In a state of panic, my friend wanted to come and retrieve me from the bank, but I calmly reassured her that I would drive home and call your Dad. And I did. I also managed to watch about twenty minutes of the penultimate Breaking Bad before I admitted to myself that my contractions were quite strong and about three minutes apart.
We arrived at our local midwife led unit (five minutes from our house) and you were born about an hour and a half later. Like your sister, you didn’t wait around and we were back home for 8pm after I had been forced into having a bath while my midwife watched me, dried me and randomly commented on how tall I was. Once home, I managed to watch the end of Breaking Bad…(no I didn’t, you got cuddles and I suffered with after birth pains!)
So my dear boy, in the last eight months you have changed our lives. You were the most laid back new born ever. You latched on and fed instantly, you barely cried, you fell asleep on your own in your cot, on your playmat and in my arms. But, then at the end of May when I was due to start moderating coursework, something just flipped. And it was you. The day you learnt to flip over was the day that changed you forever. You are still the most loved and most beautiful boy I know, but when you throw yourself forward, flip over, arch your back and scream and scream, I just don’t know what to do. I dread putting you in a sleepsuit as it usually results in me either covered in wee, sick or both and I end up chasing after you as you attempt an escape and make a mad dash for the stairs.
Which leads nicely onto your crawling. Ah, yes, my clever little boy, you learnt to crawl a couple of weeks ago. Two months earlier than your sister no less. And when you learnt to crawl, did you start slowly? Did you ease yourself into this ‘being able to move around the house at your own free will’ thing? Did you chuff. You launched into crawling like a rocket into space; if you’re not wrapped in electric cables or chewing on the Sky box then I worry for you. If you’re not heading full speed towards the fireplace to eat some faux coal then I think you’re under the weather.
At seven months, you’re standing! Standing! What’s all that about? I can see you looking up at the stairs knowing that they are your Everest and I can see the cogs in your head turning thinking ‘this time next week and I will have conquered you, you b@stard’ and I will be the nervous wreck rocking in the corner with a glass of red wine in one hand and with the other outstretched to catch you in case you fall. And maybe one day in the future, you will fall, but please know, my son, I will always be there to catch you.
You have grown so much in the seven and a half months that we have known you and you have brought us so much love and happiness; our family is complete. I love you, your Daddy loves you and your sister, despite not allowing you to play, touch or lick anything that belongs to her, she loves you too; I think that someday soon you two will be the best of friends and the worst of enemies. Being an only child myself, I can’t wait to watch this all unfold.
And now my
watch maternity leave has ended and I return to work full time this week. My boy, it has been a blast. You have provided me with laughter, tears, giggles and gipping. Plus, you have even given me an under active thyroid. However, now it’s my turn to provide for you. I want you to know that I go out to work every day so that you and your sister won’t want for anything (and so we can pay the damn mortgage). I want you to learn that through hard work and determination you can achieve anything and be fulfilled in the career path you will, one day, choose. I want you to know that when I leave you crying at Grandma’s or at nursery that I am thinking about you lots throughout the day. I want you to know that even though you share me with lots of other children, you are mine and I am yours. Always.
Mummy is going to be very busy and tired for the next few years so just do me a favour, my Ninja Flippin’ Dude, and sleep.
For like seven hours straight.
That would be lovely.
Lots of love, Mum. (The slightly dishevelled person you wake every two hours to use as a human dummy.) xxx
Friday 14th August.
My best friend, JC, (you may remember her from other ‘hilarious’ blog posts such as May Day May Day…) literally tours the soft plays of Yorkshire every Friday and while I was on maternity leave, I was fortunate to be a part of her elite group called the Friday Club. The thing about Friday Club is that you don’t talk about Friday Club. No, you merely receive a text with the name of the soft play, a post code and a time. The chosen soft plays are usually a little far away as I stupidly live miles away from my friends so my standard reply is: ‘I’ll be there, but I will be at least half an hour late.’ Now, I was a little excited to receive the following text on Thursday:
I was being given the opportunity to chose my own soft play; one that I could reach in ten minutes and not have to stop off for £20 diesel on my way (usually adding more minutes to my already late journey). Now, I had heard rumours on the back streets and alleyways of Ackworth that there was a quaint little soft play opposite Aldi in Pontefract and anything opposite an Aldi is okay in my book. So I suggested it. I offered to find the post code and give directions, but I was assured that the internet and the sat nav would get her there. And so, the text was sent to her elite club of merry mums and Friday Club was on.
Only, I am not on maternity leave anymore am I? No, it’s the six week summer holidays (for me) and like every good British holiday, it rained today and it barely stopped for a minute. A ‘quaint little’ soft play was probably not the best idea for a rainy summer’s day.
Anyway, if you think that you yourselves may want to create your own version of Friday Club in your corner of the world then here are the rules you must abide by in order to fully appreciate and enjoy it.
1. At least one of you must be half an hour or more late.
Last week I was fifty minutes late to an ice-cream parlour in the middle of a field. However, this week I was on time. Therefore, the baton was successfully passed to JC who did a stella job of being an hour late. She was waiting for someone to arrive at her house so she could follow her to this week’s venue. JC then proceeded to ignore the sat nav and ended up in the middle of a housing estate. To make matters worse (or better as she was abiding by the set rules) the ‘following’ friend actually turned up five minutes before JC did.
2. There must be no parking whatsoever available directly outside the chosen soft play.
The soft play can only have four designated car parking spaces. Unsurprisingly, today the four spaces were full so I found some other parking around the corner and got the kids out. Today’s soft play was situated on an industrial estate and just as the car was being locked and the baby bag was being strapped to the pushchair, a woman came out of her unit with a ‘private parking only’ sign which could only be described as a metaphorical ‘twos up’ at me. She suggested to ‘try Poundstretcher’ so I did and it was a five minute walk away. This, ordinarily, would be fine, but in torrential rain it proved to be quite tasking. I arrived at the same time as another mum friend and long time member of Friday Club and I have to say I felt a little sorry for her as she had recently returned from two weeks abroad in the sun. Her golden tan is now laying in a puddle somewhere between Poundland and Aldi in Pontefract.
3. Make sure that at 10.30 in the morning (which is early for us to be dressed and out of the house) there will be no tables left.
While waiting for the President of Friday Club to arrive, my friend and I debated whether to stay and pay or opt for another soft play I know. I described it to her as ‘the one that sells alcohol.’ We decided to stay though (as the soft play was better and I suppose Friday Club should really be about the kids…) and found a bench to perch on. Like hawks, we surveyed the room looking for a table.
‘She’s leaving,’ I said. ‘She’s just put Peppa’ in her handbag.’ I went over to ask, but alas, I was wrong.
‘They’re going,’ my friend said. ‘They’ve picked some shoes off the floor.’
She headed over and enquired and she was right! We Got the ‘okay’ to leave our bags on the chair to hold the table and that’s why she is a more seasoned member of Friday Club and why I am merely on the periphery being allowed in during maternity leaves (of which there will be no more) and school holidays.
4. At least one of you must arrive stressed.
Again, this is usually me as I always arrive late and carrying at least five stone worth of baggage, but today JC entered looking somewhat flustered. (Which is very rare.) She greeted us with a smile and cursed her sat nav and the housing estate. As she was doing this, she removed children’s coats, but unbeknownst to her, she took off her three year old’s t-shirt leaving the poor girl ready to and hit the soft play in nothing but her skinny jeans and socks. Her daughter, bless her, didn’t even point out the error – she was ready to play. I pointed and asked if she was aware that her daughter was topless and heading, hand in hand with my girl, towards the ball pool.
5. Other people’s kids must attack your kids and your kids must then turn on each other.
For a brief moment, I thought it would be nice to try the boy in the ball pool in the ridiculously busy baby area. There he was just happily munching on a plastic blue ball (with no germs on whatsoever) when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a boy aged about 14 months (not a clue, but he could walk) make a bee line for him. Before, the boy reached the Ninja Flippin’ Dude, a Super Gran ran up behind the said boy, tackled him to the ground and shouted: ‘He’s a biter, he’s a biter!’ She then wrestled her grandson away as I looked on open-mouthed in both admiration and awe while the Dude was happily now sucking on a, one can assume, clean red ball oblivious to the perilous danger that was almost upon him. (He would have just flipped and kicked the boy in the jaw like he does with me at home.)
A few minutes later, (or hours as time loses all meaning in soft play) I looked up at the vast plastic play above me and spotted my girl randomly pawing at her best (and now not topless) best friend. The teacher voice made an appearance as I shouted her full name across the crowded arena. Handing over the boy to anyone in passing distance, I ran in to get her in order for her to explain herself and apologise. Seeing me approach the pink and blue foam stairs she made a mad dash in the opposite direction and she headed for the slide. I saw her move and turned swiftly (losing a sock) and bounded back down the stairs to greet her at the bottom of the slide. Grabbing her, I demanded to know why she was hitting her friend. Suddenly, the best friend came out crying and sat on my knee. They were both in tears on me so I made them hug and I became the bad guy. Holding hands, they returned to the safety of the soft play and away from the me, the manic sockless mum, who just made a mountain out of a mole hill.
And there you have it, these are the rules you must abide by in order to enjoy a thoroughly busy soft play on a rainy summer’s day. I have to admit that I will miss Friday Club now that I am back at work. JC has introduced me to a fine bunch of ladies who will always grab my baby if I need five minutes to myself, they will be the first to hand me a baby wipe when I have been puked upon and they will happily buy me a tea and coffee and not take my money when I offer. Next time ladies, I will buy the cocktails (pints) if we ever go properly out out or on that holiday we talked about booking!
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures today as didn’t think I should in case I got other people’s kids in the pictures. There was no way to take a picture without getting at least twenty other children in the background. (Did I mention it was busy?) So, instead I thought you would appreciate a picture of the Other Half sitting in a tea-cup in the blazing sun (only two days ago) as you know how much he loves a ride.
A little context:
Remember when you were a kid and you got yourself so immersed in a book that you lost hours in the day? Was it just me? I would sit in my room and read and read and read.
We were once on a flight home from a holiday in Turkey and the plane landed and then suddenly took flight again due to there already being a plane on the runway. My mum was terrified (so much so that she needs a drink before she steps on a plane these days) where as I never took my nose out of my Point Horror book.
I am a little obsessed with ‘Game of Thrones’ at the moment and finished reading the first book two years ago on holiday; to read one whole book was a miracle with a then 20 month girl. I started reading ‘A Clash Of Kings’ as soon as I returned home from that holiday and I am still reading it now. I am on page 479…
Having recently watched series five on Sky, I have started reading again. However, having two young people hanging off me day and night, a house to clean, too many American TV series to watch, and come September, there will be work to complete, my reading is falling by the wayside and it’s making me sad. So here is my ode to my lovely lonely Kindle written with a glass of red wine in hand and with my tongue firmly in cheek.It was Christmas 2012 and Santa had been along with his elves.
Lying hidden amongst the girl’s presents and tinsel, there was a box marked ‘Amazon Kindle’.
Now, being a lover of books and pages, I was assured a love would blossom that would defy the ages.
I read a few novels that I bought and owned. But one day there was an offer on ‘Game of Thrones’.
Laying by a pool, I read it, loved it and saw my obsession begin. So much so, I paid full price for ‘A Clash of Kings’.
Two years down the line, it cuts a lonely figure laying on my bed. I’d even forgotten that Ned Stark lost his head.
I delve in and out and Arya is a prisoner at Harrenhal and even though I have seen all the series, I wonder, will she ever make it to the damn Wall?
I’ve read about Jon Snow getting beaten by Craster and yet I know he stupidly allows Sam Tarley to leave and be a Maester.
Ah my Kindle, my son’s favourite chew toy. How will I ever learn the fate of Ned’s Bastard boy?
The girl plays with you and pretends you’re a phone and I’ve so often left Sansa mid chapter at King’s Landing lost and alone.
I notice my fonts have been changed again and again and despite book marking my page, I can’t find Daenerys Targaryen.
Ah my Kindle how many bedrooms have you been thrown across? I need to keep reading to learn more about the Free Cities of Essos.
Will you ever sleep for longer than an hour, my son? Just so I can see if Tywin Lannister ever marches on Riverrun.
The characters are frozen and locked in an electronic state. Will poor Ned’s bones make their way back to his beloved Cate?
And what becomes of the evil King Joff? Okay, so I’ve seen season four and I know he’s killed off.
Ah reading for pleasure, I miss you so dearly. Long gone are the literary worlds I once imagined so clearly.
My Kindle, a device so often chewed that my girl actually thinks you belong to the Ninja Flippin’ Dude.
I know I am complaining about my lack of time and the desire to read my Kindle, but my life is so much richer now that I am no longer childless and single…!
With the rain torentially beating down upon my bedroom window on this fine Summer’s Eve, I thought I would tell you about our family day out at Lightwater Valley Theme Park on Friday.
We don’t have many family days out due to the Other Half being terribly allergic to all things outside of Ackworth; I think it is called ‘Othertownsilitus’. He becomes hot, sweaty and jittery. His allergies worsen, bless him, when he is within 500 yards of my mum’s house – hmm weird that. It’s very strange, but it is a bonafide medical condition, or so he tells me. With this being the case, we don’t go out as a family much, but at least I am always reasurred that while the munchkins and I are out with our friends or family, he can be found laid out on the sofa watching a few rounds of UFC or a couple of episodes of Storage Wars . They ‘calm his jitters’, apparently.
We were headed towards the very north of North Yorkshire to a town called Ripon. Just as we were leaving the house, I heard the washing machine click to tell me that my load had finished. With the sun shining, it was a perfect day to hang the washing out, but the kids were in the car and it was packed up and ready to go. I didn’t dare rock the boat by insisting that I hang the washing out as I feared that I would be chasing the car all the way up the A1.
The car journey was rather serene; we played Radio Two’s Popmaster (when did I reach Radio 2 age?) listened to ‘Let it Go’ at least five times and in just over an hour, we arrived.
With everything but the kitchen sink piled onto the travel system, we entered the park gates. The first ride the girl ran towards was the chair swings. Screams filled the air as teenagers were whizzing around above us. I had visions of my three year old slipping out beneath the bars and I steered her away from the chairs to the much more child friendly carousel. The girl grabbed her own horse and climbed up and the Other Half claimed his own trusty steed to ride. From behind me, I heard the recognisable giddy screams and laughs from an approaching group of teenagers. Like us, they avoided the chair swings and headed for the carousel. The Other Half is also secondary school teacher and a Head of Year so his job often involves daily run ins with unruly teenagers. He, more than any teacher I have ever met, looks forward to his six weeks holiday so to have a group of very loud teens approaching him would be his idea of hell. The giddy kids had the pick of the ride, but they sat right next to my partner and his precious girl. Within a heartbeat, the girl had been scooped up from her horse and was now perched in front of her Dad on his. He is a little over protective of his princess. The young teens (who were in no way misbehaving) were just a tad over excited for the slow family orientated carousel and were randomly shouting the name ‘Archie’ over and over again. Either Archie was very far away or very deaf as the poor kid never made it to see his mates bouncing up and down on a load of horses with poles protruding from their bottoms. What was I doing during this ordeal? Watching, laughing and loving every second, obviously.Next up was the tractor ride around a miniature farm and it was the Ninja Flippin’ Dude’s first ever ride. He sat stony faced in the back of a tractor while the Other Half (being the ever professional educator) pointed out a sheep with a very unsightly bulge dangling between its legs, some “small horses” (so ponies then?) and a huge pig that “probably weighs as much as your mum”. Having received a thorough educational insight into all things farmy, we disembarked and headed for the next ride.
We eventually made it into some kind of Swashbuckling Land and saw some pirate ships. Like Goldilocks, we were faced with three choices; one was too big and went upside down, one was too small and filled with two year olds and one was just right. Or so we thought. The ‘midi’ rides were deemed suitable for five year olds, but always one to rebel against rules and order, the Other Half insisted on taking his three year old onto the middle sized pirate ship. Together they walked the plank onto the boat and sat right at the very back. I saw this as a perfect opportunity to start feeding the boy with some of my homemade Ella’s Kitchen pouch so I found a bench. Suddenly, I heard blood curdling screams coming from the pirate ship and I looked up. The girl was screaming to get off and was having to be held down by her Dad. The ride hadn’t even started yet, she was just freaking out at the bar coming down over her knees. Perhaps sitting at the back of the pirate ship was a bad idea, but hey, it wasn’t my problem for once. By this time, the boy was happily now chowing down on his home made Cow and Gate fruit pouch and every few seconds as the boat rose into the air once again, I could hear the terrified screams of my three year old.After a few minutes and looking a little sea sick and green, the girl climbed off the ship and wobbled over towards me.
“That made my tummy feel all funny,” she said. “What’s next?”
With that, she saw her Dad running off towards a rollercoaster and chased after him.
I eventually begged the girl to let me go on a ride with her. Reluctantly, she agreed and we were in the queue for a Ladybird Rollercoaster. The Other Half took the boy for a walk around the park to try and get him to sleep. Within seconds, he was back and the mission was aborted as he had been spotted by some students in his Year Group.
“Did you say hi?” I asked.
“No, they just nudged each other, looked at me and laughed.”
Bless him, I could see in his eyes that all he wanted was his sofa and a new episode of Deadliest Catch.
Despite being warned in the queue that the Ladybird ride would be too scary for my little lady, she rocked it and we headed for lunch.
After we had eaten, it was the water rapids. I ‘don’t do’ water rides and went to sit on the grass to watch. By this time, the blue sky had clouded over and there was a distinct chill in the air. Even though the push chair was packed with everything from cardigans, nappy bags, wipes and Sophie the Giraffe, there was no jacket, jumper or anything remotely water proof for the Other Half. He was the only person in the queue wearing just a T-Shirt and, once again, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. As they boarded their raft, the boy woke and I saw the perfect opportunity to change his nappy on the grass in front of the ride. He flipped at least five times before I wrestled him into his nappy; I knew that I would be cursing myself later that evening when I would no doubt be pulling blades of grass out from between his bum cheeks.
After the nappy was finally placed, I was faced with another bum in my face.
“Look at my a*rse! It’s soaking.” the Other Half complained.
With that, we made our way to one of the final rides of the day. The Ferris wheel. It wasn’t a Ferris wheel that went round and round as such, it was more like a – and I quote – “a crap London Eye” in the fact that it moved really slowly and stopped at the very top in order for you to take in the breath taking views of plastic swans on a lake, the tops of trees and the old abandoned log flume. I insisted on taking a couple of family photos in case we never made it down alive due to the girl standing up and rocking the pod. Upon, pulling out his phone, the Other Half’s face lit up and for a moment his ‘Othertownsilitus’ vanished as he spoke the words:
‘I have 4G up here. I can check the cricket score.’
Ahh, family time; it’s so special.