Why I wanted to walk with my son in the rain

Why I wanted to walk with my son in the rain

The rain was falling hard. Last week I excitedly picked up my four year old school boy child from his minder. The door opened, I saw his pocket sized face and all the work day’s crap melted away. “Come on darling!” I said “Now put on your coat, it’s really raining outside.” And it was – great big pelts of angry water thudding on top of my yellow mac.

“I’m going your way, I’ll give you a lift” the lady said. “No, no, that’s fine” I argued. ”

I insist” she squealed, half watching the rain wondering why I wouldn’t take her up on her kind rescue.

“No, really, no thanks.” I said seriously, and I led my son towards our special short cut in his matching yellow mac.

She is a lovely, kind lady. She’s a life saver. But I wasn’t going to let her take the walk in the rain with my son away from me.

What she can’t understand is what that walk means to me.

I work hours that mean I can’t take him to school, I can’t even pick him up from school – but I can pick him up from a childminder and walk home with him, whatever the weather.

This isn’t just a walk. This is when I have my precious boy all to myself, his attention purely on me. It’s a time I get to hear what he did at school, which is, granted, only usually ever “I can’t remember,” but that still matters.

It’s the time we get to take our own special short cut that only we know. It’s the time we get to stop and look at the leaves and their different shapes and colours, and even pick a few and stuff them in our macs like we are sharing an exciting secret.

It’s the time he can use expressions I have never heard before like ‘therefore’ or ‘terrific’ which results in me bursting into spontaneous laughter for the first time that day. It’s the time he can tell me his feelings in soft, safe quiet. It’s the time he can tell me my shoes are beautiful (out of nowhere) before asking me if that’s a nice thing to say, because he always wants to say nice things.

On our walk I can tell him he makes me happier than happy, and he can tell me he wants to always make everyone happy.

I can say a silent prayer, as the rain falls, that he will never change. Then we can get his younger brother from the nursery. Finally, the three of us are together, completely together. Nothing else matters.

God willing, when they are older, I’ll remember these precious gifts – these simple walks, hand in hand with my boys – the only things that matter in my entire world.

Our walk, our time together, is as precious as life. We might be sodden, we might be cold, we might slip and slide, but we can warm each other, keep each other grounded, and some days we might even get to share a rainbow.

The Tiger Who Came To The Walk In Centre

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when your child finally sleeps the sort of hours you have dreamed about for years, you won’t sleep a wink and will be utterly convinced something catastrophic must be wrong which will result in a call to NHS 111.

My son (three) just hasn’t seemed right for a few days. He’s been as emotional as me watching a John Lewis Christmas ad, he’s suddenly terrified of everything, he hasn’t been eating and he looks as white as a sheet. His neck seemed to be stiff and swollen. Then last night he slept from 4pm to 8am.

So at eight o’clock this morning we (myself and grandma) shivered into the walk in centre with our little soldier to wait for two hours to be told we were wasting their time.

The walk in centre on a Saturday morning is a lovely snap shot of life. Simply lovely. If you didn’t feel ill before hand – it’s sure to make you come down with something. There was a one year old toddler walking about in his slippers and dressing gown, ever so often letting out a ridiculously loud battle call. His exhausted mum was trailing after him apologetically nodding at everyone, especially the elderly gentleman clutching his chest with his hearing aid on maximum.

There was a tiny baby who wailed every time his poor new mum tried to pull him off her breast. I remembered that feeling. I nodded at her in solidarity.

There was a little girl in the corner clutching a cardboard bowl. The dreaded cardboard bowl you’ll all know about if you’ve ever been to A&E of a night time. I remembered it well from my first labour as I vomited throughout the entire three days of it. I remembered my husband pretending to use one as a hat to try and get me to smile at ten centimetres dilated. Nice try mate.

I prayed she wouldn’t be ill both for her sake and for mine – I started to feel queasy. I shot her mum a sympathetic smile. I assumed if she had norovirus we probably all would soon.

My mother leaned over to let me know she could smell poo, making a disgusted face before asking me what veg I would like with my roast later. Not now Mother. Not now.

Last time I went to a walk in centre I had to sit next to man in a high vis with a nail through his thumb, and sitting next to my Mother for two hours was a close second to that kind of torture.

“Grandma, will you read me Tiger came to Tea?” he said in his tiniest sick voice.

“Yes Darling.” She said and in the middle of the house of plague my mum read aloud The Tiger Who Came To Tea. 

The room fell silent as we all listened to her Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet if you please) voice reading the familiar story.

The baby being breastfed fixed his eyes on us, the Gladiator toddler sauntered over with his mum, the ladies behind us stared, even a burly drunk looking gentleman in a tracksuit looked over and listened. The audience of sick people united as the Tiger made his way through all the food in Sophie’s house. Everyone was captivated till the end. The baby fell asleep. My mum in the centre of the room like Mary Bleeding Poppins.

Everything felt nicer, safer. I felt less nauseas. Maybe this is all the divided world needs to unite – a grandma reading us all a nostalgic bedtime story.

We were called in after an eternity to be greeted by a rude Doctor who told us there was nothing wrong with him (my Mother’s instincts don’t seem to work).

So we all put our coats on and we walked down the road to go to a cafe. And all the street lamps were off and all the cars didn’t have their lights on but the little boy screamed that he hated cafes. So we walked down the road to a Sainsburys where we had to buy a toy for the poor (milking it) lamb.

And we got a very big bottle of calpol in case the cold should come again. And it did.

And Mummy got a very big bottle of wine because that’s what she did. And it was just right.

The end.

 

Good Lord, he really is a little shit isn’t he darling?

 

You could never have met anyone on this planet more desperate, more excited and more suited to be a grandparent than my mother.

She had me, her perfect only child, obviously, and then began her wait to become a grandma. She waited a long thirty years. I saw her disappointed face after every relationship went sour. I think she thought it might never happen.

However, I was slightly worried about telling her I was pregnant as it wasn’t great timing, wasn’t planned, and I was living in sin in a fairly new relationship. I took a deep breath in Costa coffee and told her “you’re going to be a grandma.”

I apologise to the patrons of Costa that morning who were witness to a lady shrieking, screaming, howling and jigging about like Ed Balls doing a Samba. As soon as my son was born she had moved cities to be near him and is practically down the road handily popping by on a daily basis with milk, bread, wipes, ready meals and a million kisses for her little Lord Fauntleroy angel who can do no wrong. Then we surpassed her expectations and gave her a second grandson – well, you’ve never seen a happier woman.

However, like Marie Barone, she can be slightly critical of my parenting.

When she pops round the first thing she will comment on is how the boys smell. Apparently they always smell of something. She has the fully oxygenised nose of a greyhound, my nose has obviously curled up and died after living with three males.

“Hello darling, oh… has someone done a poo?”

“Hello darling, oh… I think he’s done a wee… shall I run them a bath?”

“Hello darling, do you mind me asking when you all last had a wash?”

After the smell notes she will comment on whether they are too hot or too cold (there’s never an in-between).

“Hello darling, oh…shouldn’t he be wearing warm socks on his ickle footsies?”

“Hello darling, oh… does he need that jumper on? he looks overheated to me.”

“Hello darling, HE’S NOT WEARING A JUMPER HE’LL CATCH HIS DEATH!”

And to top it off she will comment on how I should go out more. Why don’t I just pop down the road for example. Why isn’t the dishwasher filled. What have I been doing all day?

Last week she took us all on another little Yorkshire break to give me a “rest” (HA) and to spend quality time with the little darlings she had wished for for three decades.

On the second day after getting around five hours of sleep I saw her in the kitchen. She said our eldest woke up at “FUCKING FOUR! FOUR!”

“Yes” I said calmly, he does that.

My youngest was strapped to her leg letting out a high pitched dolphin sound trying to claw his way up her body. She was trying to fill the dishwasher dragging her leg around with my one year old attached to it like a dead weight. My eldest was running from room to room singing “Away in a manger” throwing hula hoops across the carpet. It was around eleven and she had been up for seven hours already.

“Grandma!” my three year old was shouting in his ridiculously high pitched Elmo voice, “can you play my game? can you play my game grandma?”

“Yes … just …. I’m …. I ….. need a cup …. of…”

“But Grandma? Grandma? Can you read the three bears now? Grandma?”

“Well….just….the dishwasher….I”

“Grandma? Grandma? Can I have a chocolate biskwit pwease Grandma?”

“You didn’t eat your toast…so….I”

The one year old was demonically howling now at her feet, his head buried into her crotch desperate to be picked up. She picked him up and held him with one hand whilst trying to boil the kettle with the other.

Both boys were wearing no socks and no trousers and I could smell a waft of turd.

She let out an agonising sigh and said to me

“Argh… he (my youngest) really is a little shit isn’t he?”

We laughed and I have never ever felt happier in my life. That feeling when someone else sees what your daily life is like, they get it. The moment when your most loved thing in the whole world is a “little shit”. She got it. I felt validated.

I held the little shit while she prised open a bottle of wine with her teeth and we had a splendid holiday. Hic…

 

 

 

Been there! We’re all in it together

mummy's writing, darling

Been there !” the lady shouted out of her car window, a huge smile on her face, the silhouette of two older children sat in the backseat. She had stopped in the middle of the road to let me cross.

I was on my usual power walk to my son’s nursery. My nearly three year old goes twice a week for his benefit and for my sanity. I walk the significant distance with my first son in a buggy and my five month old son on my chest in a sling. It was raining and bloody freezing. Everywhere there were huge rivers of water I was carefully navigating myself around, just waiting for a car to screech by and drown us.

A man in a van had just swerved into the side road we were about to cross seconds earlier without pausing or indicating and I was too busy giving him the ‘death stare’ and tutting to notice her. But then I did. She didn’t need to stop – she just did, because, it would seem – she remembered how it felt. By ‘it’ I mean, being a parent and the difficulty of getting about with two young children, in the pissing down rain.

But ‘been there’ has deeper connotations than just that moment. In that moment we connected; The kind stranger and I. I shouted thank you and smiled, and in that smile we connected over the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, the worry, the feelings of inadequacy, the guilt, the judgement, the small daily struggles that seem never ending.

I have had a few moments like this in my three years of being a parent:

The moment when I had my first born in a pram in a supermarket queue. He was screeching and I was panicking as the whole store stared at me. I was frantically rocking the pram back and forth. The lady in front of me begged me to go in front of her. She told me she knew what it was like and that was perhaps the first time when I felt like “oh! other people have been this crap before?” I thought it was just me.

Then there was the man who offered to, and then held my child and entertained him while I desperately tried to get my new high tech buggy folded down on a bus for the first time. He was so sweet with my son and if he hadn’t offered I probably would have just gone back home red faced with my new mum confidence at an all time low.

I have no idea if this man had ‘been there’ or was just a lovely human being. There can be, of course, some parents you meet who don’t appear to have ever ‘been there’ and scowl at you or tut and make your day a whole lot worse.

Sometimes it seems being a parent is a competition and there sure are a lot of really negative comments thrown at us everyday. You’re damned if you do and you’re a crap mother / father if you don’t. It can all get a bit depressing and you can feel like you’re failing at every stage. But it’s those ‘been there’ times that I hold on to and sometimes make my day.

In the months and years to come it might be me helping out a new parent in the supermarket queue or on the bus or in the street. I hope I can make someone’s day a little brighter. Although at times it can feel like we are on our own – don’t ever forget that we are all in it together.

 

Ten reasons why baby’s first Christmas is a bit crap

Mummy's Writing Darling

A baby is a Christmas miracle in itself – and it’s an absolute joy to have a new addition to the family. But get your hopes up for an amazing “baby’s first Christmas” and you may be a tad disappointed. Why? Well…

1/ Everyone knows it’s perfectly acceptable to pop open the Cava before midday on Christmas day. But on baby’s first Christmas – suddenly it’s frowned upon to guzzle prosecco with your smoked salmon blinis at 10am because you’re now the designated “responsible adult ‘parent of a tiny person’ person”. Gah. They don’t even give you any points for your sober nine months previous.

2/ Your new baby is still at the stage where they look like a misshapen butternut squash weebling in their door bouncer – and let’s face it – though you’d like to imagine otherwise, they don’t have a fucking clue what’s going on and won’t do for probably another year.

3/ The only thing your baby is good for at this point is dressing up as novelty Christmas items. The retailers know this and will sell you an over priced Olaf outfit that you’ll only put on them for ten seconds while you take a dozen photos to upload to Facebook before Grandma pulls them out of it because they’re terrified it’ll ignite with the LED lights.

4/ They’re not much fun on the day. They’ll sit there like an undercooked stuffing ball in their Christmas tree outfit looking at you with the same disdain a dachshund would if you dressed them up as little bo peep on Halloween.

5/ You’ll waste money on shite tat for them they don’t need and don’t understand. They can’t even open the things. Next Christmas you’ll have to buy less because you’ve got no room to put the new crap because of all the overpriced “baby’s first Christmas” shite that you were duped into purchasing last year because you were so excited it was “baby’s first sodding Christmas”.

6/ Everything you used to decorate your home with or that you used to love is now considered a baby death trap device. Say goodbye to Christmas candles, tree lights, fancy glass baubles and say hello to the chore of vacuuming up bloody pine needles every two hours in case your baby inhales them up while he’s rolling about the floor getting caught up in tinsel and trying to eat the glitter off the wrapping paper. Who put the chocolate brazil nuts on the coffee table? Abort, abort.

7/ What’s that smell? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Freshly cooked Turkey? No, that there is the stench of baby’s first Christmas turd. And guess who’s changing it? You. Muggins. “No bread sauce for me actually Dad, on second thoughts”.

8/ Say goodbye to any presents for you from now on from parents and relatives. From now on you’ll hear the immortal words “Now Darling, we won’t be getting anything for you this Christmas – we’ll just be treating the baby / babies / kids – ok? I mean, you don’t really need anything now do you?” Er… yes. We need wine. More wine than ever. I also need oven gloves, a year’s supply of Cillit Bang and, it appears, a nose hair trimmer. What. The. Hell?

9/ The day will be long. Like every other day. And you can’t even enjoy the late night Christmas telly. You’ll be in bed by 7pm, annoyingly sober and then up at 11.45pm, 1.27am, 2.16am and so on. Merry Christmas.

10/ You’ve now got to gear yourself up for “baby’s first New Years” which may well involve tears, calpol, colic and not counting in the new year pissed again for eighteen years.

In a couple of years of course they’ll start to understand Santa – and then it’ll be pure magic. But until then – don’t believe the hype. And you can stick your elf on the shelf up onto the shelf in your arse.

Ho. Ho. Ho. Merry Christmas.