Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I missed my baby

About ten seconds ago, I had this:

And then I blinked, or I turned away, or I did something; but I don't know what, and when I turned back, and opened my eyes, I had this:

And I'm not saying that the second isn't every bit as magical and astounding as the first; I'm just saying that  all I did was blink.  And I missed my baby.

Because he's six months old tomorrow (or possibly the day after: B and I disagree on this one.  If you're born on the 31st May are you six  months old on 30 November or 1 December?  And how much more complicated if you're born on 29 February?) and he's not a tiny baby any more.

And somehow, where with L, the first six months took years: an endless, wonderful,  wouldn't change it for a second agony of learning curve and colic and sleepless nights, and with S and A they were a focused marathon, feeling every yard of those twenty-six miles, don't worry about whether you're enjoying them or not (for the record, I did; in parts), just get through, the last six months have disappeared in the blink of his unbelievably long eyelashes, or the flash of his ever-ready grin.

But I didn't want them to. I wanted to savour them.  I had plans. There were pictures I wanted to take, that I never managed to get of the girls: the mole-rat face of a tiny baby, just off the breast, nose to the fore, eyes tight closed, like a naked rodent and no less adorable for it; the bottom lip, pushed out in fury beyond the seeming stretch of those tiny muscles; the first taste of solids (adores them, for the record, but I still haven't taken a picture); the first weighing in the calico hammock the health visitors bring; the moments he mislaid his thumb...

Because all those are gone, fleeting as daybreak, a moment in time that will never be repeated.  Like the sounds and feelings that I will never experience again: the tiny weight of my newborn, the blind seeking for milk, the first hesitant squeeze of my finger, the tearless, angry, babybird cries.

And I tried, I really did.  I have found myself thinking, countless times, that I wanted to bottle that moment, that feeling, that smell.  But it passes, and I forget, and now I can bearly remember what he felt like at three weeks, or looked like at three months.

M is not the baby he was.  He has lost his startle reflex. He has lost his skinny new baby look.  His voice is older, his smile is more knowing.  He has grown and changed and I am so proud of him. But despite all that I can't help wishing I had noticed the moment that I lost my baby.

Friday, 25 November 2011

What do your children call your friends? (Or your friends' children call you?)

1.  My mother, overheard a couple of weeks ago on the phone to the utility company:

No, you may not call me Mary.  You may call me Mrs F....
Good on you Mum.

2.  My friend Elizabeth, taking her children home after worms in goo (spag bol) and snot (stewed apple) on Hallowe'en:

Say thank you for a lovely supper and goodbye to Mrs C

Excuse me?  Mrs C? Who is this Mrs C of whom you speak?  I'm not Mrs C.  Or at least I'm not if you're not the utility company, or my mates having a laugh.  I'd like to say that Mrs C is my mother-in-law, but I think most of the time she'd be aghast at being called that too.

But why?  When did that happen? 

When I was a child my friends' parents (and my parents' friends) were all Mrs or Mr Whatever.  There was an awkward stage when we were at university when we were all separately told, "Call me Marjorie" and we used to mumble "Mrs, erm,  you, erm, Marjorie" and revert back to Mrs Whatever where we felt more comfortable.  In fact there are still friends of my parents whom I feel much more natural calling Mrs and Mr than I ever will, despite my degree and my four children, by their first names.

But my children call people whatever I call them.  And that's almost always first names.  As a result there are, I think, only two categories of people that they call by their title and surname:  teachers, and the elderly neighbours.

Because I call the neighbours Mrs Black and Mrs White.  Of course I do. They're both in their eighties. They're both utterly charming and have said on numerous occasions "Call me Whatever" and firmly, both to their faces and behind their backs, I stick to Mrs Whatever.  That's what you call elderly ladies, after all.

But is it still?  And will it be what my children's friends will call me in fifty years time?  And will I mind then, as my mother (not eighty) is clearly beginning to?  Because somehow I feel that I will, and that it matters.  That there is an element of respect implied in the use of surnames that people of an older generation deserve.

And so I wonder if Elizabeth is right, however odd it may have felt.  I asked her whether she wanted my children to call her Mrs Cotton, and she said "It's entirely up to you,  I'd just rather my children called you Mrs C".  

I suspect it's too late to change the names of most of my existing friends, but should I be changing the names of the new ones?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Just call me Santa's little helper - The Craft Market has reopened!

Welcome to the Christmas Craft Market!!!

Beautiful items made by real bloggers....

It's over a year since I last updated the BMB (now BritMums) Craft Market, and new stalls have arrived in their droves.  Who needs catalogues or busy high streets when you have this much lovely stuff all handmade by brilliant bloggers?  
Where better to get all your Christmas shopping done in one go?! (And they're a good read too)

For the background to the craft market, click on the craft market tab in my blog homepage, or to see the wares for sale, read on...


Tracy Glover makes beautiful dolls

Kerry Goodman makes amazing photo albums and wedding stationery as well as bespoke items

she also hosts crafting parties in West Sussex and Hampshire.

Tracy T makes artisan jewellery and crafts in silver, beads, paper and fabric

Fee makes really beautiful solid wood decoupage blocks which she sells through Notonthehighstreet.com.

Alyson makes pretty much anything with words on it: clothes, canvases, signs, wall art, name art, table plans...

Heidi-Elizabeth Storer makes all sorts of beautiful things in her Beehive 

Becky at Hazel and Blue is a thrifty Kiwi who loves sewing and ribbons

Aimi Rowe makes various toys, soft furnishings, wall hangings, decorative door hangings and bags. all out of your childs clothing


Nicky makes stunning handmade paper products which she sells under the name of Gooseberry Moon

The Butterfly Experience is this month opening her bespoke online jewellery shop: Lunar Moth Jewellery.  Check it out...

Zoe Grant is inspired by the seaside with products for you, your home and your Summer holiday (and Christmas too!)

Viv Smith makes jewellery and accessories including mummy necklaces and birthstone jewellery.  She also creates ribbon flower corsages, available as brooches or hair accessories, including in school colours

Melisa Moody is originally a textile designer but now makes delicious looking jewellery and accessories.

Helen runs icklebabe.com  producing all sorts of beautiful hand made things for babies, boys and girls, their mummies and daddies...

Amanda loves making shabby chic and primitive sewn items.

Fiona makes stunning personalised children's artworks:

Helen Rawlinson  has two shops.  One on Etsy, selling beautiful fabrics, mugs, bags, cushions and more fabulous stuff:

 as well as her own website of lighting and textile design

Claire Mackaness also has a shop on Folksy, in her case selling vintage inspired gifts:

She also makes beautiful cards and occasionally runs classes in Brentwood, so pop by her website for more information.

Helen McIntyre also makes hand-made gifts for beautiful girls of all ages.  She also sells crafting supplies if you're feeling inspired!

Janice Thomson makes baby gifts

Hilary Pullen makes little purses and beadkits for children

Harriet McAlonan makes bespoke children's jewellery for boys and girls  Click the link for lovely pictures

Grit doesn't sell her playbags, she gives them away to local toy libraries.  What a star.  The playbag blog is here.

Louise Horler makes funky bibs, tooth fairy cushions, baking bags, activity bags, buggy blankets, aprons and more!


She is also the UK co-ordinator for Dress a Girl Around the World, a charity which asks crafty types to make a dress for sending to a girl who hasn't got a pretty dress.  She's always looking for more sewers so get in touch if you think you can help!  (Louise, you've got me inspired for one...) 


Aingeal at Mum's Survival Guide creates unique one of a kind pieces of jewellery (and cards)

 Tola Popoola makes personalised chocolate bars

Maggy Woodley paints children's pop art and greetings cards 

Kim at Four Teens and a Teabag makes beautiful bespoke bunting

Fanciful Alice makes handbags, brooches, children's toys and anything else she fancies

 Petra Hoschtitsky (and a friend) make jewellery, knit, sew, embroider, crochet and work with many different materials (textiles often recycled/upcycled). They also organise jewellery making parties for children and adults, as well as art and craft or sewing parties in the Manchester/Cheshire area.

(No picture because the links never stay live to this one, I don't know why, but click the link to have a look)

Sew Mental Mama makes children's (and adults') clothes


Steffi loves to knit, make cards and has recently explored felting

You can also buy her book, A Hat in Time which contains 37 patterns for hats to knit and crochet and from which all profits go to Save the Children.

Jude specialises in creating personalised nursery art (including canvases and framed, boxed Christening prints)

she also turns your children's artwork into masterpieces for your wall ....

Suzanne Harulow is a freelance textile artist.  She makes bespoke wall hangings and lots of other stuff

Mummy Mad at the Madhouse makes all sorts of wonderful crafty things with (and without) her children.  She's also been known to sell them from time to time.

And then there's me.  I make personalised children's stuff.  T-shirts, towels, bedclothes. Anything you like really... 

And I'm also a trained milliner.  So if you need something special for a wedding, Ascot or just running round the park, let me know:

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night....

Monday, 21 November 2011

I killed their imaginary friend.

No really.  I did.

I pushed her out into the path of an oncoming car.    To be honest, I pushed her out into the road and held her there until a car came along and then I said:

Look.  The car squashed her.  She's gone.

It's A, you see.  The child, not the imaginary friend, although her name begins (began?) with A too.  Alla.  L discovered them, Milly and Alla.  Sisters, I think, or sometimes possibly just friends, but either way they get brought into the conversation from time to time.  They don't particularly do naughty things, or get blamed when the children play up.  They just occasionally come and stay, or have a race, or dress up.   A and S have also become rather taken with them, so now we have several Millies and Allas. ("My Milly and Alla, not your Milly and Alla....")

So, as I say, it's A.  A is, at nearly 3, determined.  I know all nearly-three-year-olds are determined, but A, well, A is part ox, part autocratic dictator.  If she doesn't like something she'll let you know, and if she isn't sure where the boundaries are she will push, and push, and go one little step beyond.

Which is literally what she did today.  She and I had gone to get L from school (actually pre-school, but there is pride and English friends who really are at school at stake here) and were coming back across the park.  I had the pushchair, into which, apparently, Alla had been put, and A was pushing her, ziggaging across the muddy grass, bent almost double with the effort.

She got bored after a while and asked me to push while she ran ahead, through the arch and into the layby.

A! Stop!
A! Stop!
A! I said stop right there!

She was on the kerb then.  Momentarily paused.

A!  You stay there!

She looked round.  Right at me.  And she stepped out.  Both feet.  Into the road.  As she has twice before.


There was nothing coming and I was right behind her by this point, so I picked her up, heart in mouth, while she screamed and kicked, and manhandling her, L and the pushchair (and imaginary friend) crossed the road.

We turned into our lane.  It's a cul-de-sac so I normally let them run along, but I couldn't trust A not to run back into the road just to prove a point (it's been done before) so I tried to put her back in the pushchair.  She screamed.  Louder.  "Alla's in the pushchair!".

And out of nowhere I said,

No she's not.  She got out.  Look! She's run into the road.  Come back Alla!  No! She isn't coming back.  
Oh no.  A car's coming.  It's squashed her.
She's gone.

And now I honestly don't know if I've solved the running into the road problem once and for all.  Or scarred her for life.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

If I'd never wanted children

In my next life, if I'm not a beetle, I want to be someone who doesn't want children.

I've been imagining it.

Not that I didn't have children.  That's a totally different imagining.  I'm nearly 35 now.  We started trying to have L when I was 29.  In the parallel world in which we didn't conceive we've now had six years of trying.  Six years of disappointment and doctors. Probably thousands of pounds of IVF and other treatments. Possibly now wondering when we get too old to adopt. Wondering when we give up.

I can imagine perhaps only a tiny bit of that life, only a minute part of that heartbreak; and I am so, so, endlessly grateful that that wasn't us.

So don't think about that.  Think about a life in which I didn't, you didn't, want children.

Because that's what we mean, isn't it, when we have those guilty, secret thoughts?  The ones we have at 8.34 on a Tuesday evening when we're trying to write a blog post and someone appears because there's a moth in her room.  Or when she bites her sister.  Or when a nappy leaks.   Or when you have to turn down champagne, or a wedding, or the volume.  The thoughts that say: "What if I hadn't had children?".

Imagine that life.  Two incomes.  No children and no regrets.  Late nights.  Classy (and not so classy) bars. Exotic holidays. New restaurant openings.  Country pubs.  Muddy walks with people who want to be there.  Weekends spent in bed.  Reading Sunday's paper on Sunday.  The cinema.  Dry-clean only clothes.  High heels.  Sheer tights.  Filling other people's children full of sugar and then not having to clear up the mess.  Pretending to be interested in stories about poo.   New paintwork that stays new.   A small car.  Dangly earrings.  Sleeping off a hangover.  Finishing a cup of tea.

It's another life.  And it's a life that, sometimes, I yearn for.  But it was never a life I could have had.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Life lessons from the under fives

Oh fu-pause-udge, I've done that badly!
Why Mummy?
Because driving backwards is difficult and it's not made easier by you three first messing around so we're late, and then whinging and fighting so that I can't hear myself think or concentrate on what I'm doing.*

 We-ell Mummy... (Were ever two words more calculated to raise a parent's blood pressure?)...you and Daddy should have been thinking about that when you did say "Let's have children".

She's right of course.  And I've been trying to remember that.  It was only yesterday, but I'm trying.

*and yes, I do talk to her like that.  I probably shouldn't, but I do.