Sunday, 20 January 2019

The end of a chapter - week 3

If I were a crow, I'd be that one. Over there. Bottom right. I start back in the City tomorrow, albeit only for a short while. It's all a bit up in the air. Oh, motherhood, the curveballs are a joy. The old me would have felt horribly vulnerable, but I'm just excited to see what happens.

My year and a bit with O has both flown by and dragged. I've not achieved half as much as I hoped but am happy to be closing the chapter with new friendships, a bonny boy, a happy family, a new understanding of me and a new outlook. I'm slowly reconnecting - and accepting that my new response level is, well, slow. And that's ok. It's a long overdue gearshift.

That said, I've obviously spent the last week rushing around - trying to cram my maternity leave to do list into 5 days. Success was limited but I did get to spend time with some of my nearest and dearest.

So - tomorrow - I have a love/hate relationship with the grey part of London, because it's just so...grey. There are glorious nuggets which make my heart soar, and then fall when I realise that the majority of those around me haven't looked up from their phone since leaving their desk. So I've bought a new yellow coat to zig against the zag. Do give me a wave if you spot me.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The coat of dreams - week 2

Let me introduce my new coat of dreams. Or maybe I should call it my memory coat. We met on Friday in John Lewis and it was love at first sight. The deal was sealed thanks to a dreamy sale price. You see, I've been half hoping to stumble across a furry bundle for the last couple of weeks. And I blame it entirely on my somewhat battle-weary memory.

You know when you're minding your own business and suddenly, ping, a memory starts to play so vividly of a moment in time that you're immediately transported back. There are the normal triggers - a smell, a tune, a taste, a picture, a bird call. But just recently I've had a few pop up for no obvious reason.

I think it's probably because my poor, addled brain has finally stopped rocking in the corner after almost a decade of non-stop madness - house renovations, big job, big stress, no babies, concussion, baby 1, baby 2... A decade of sleep deprivation and teeth grinding, aided by ample lakes of damn good French, Italian and Spanish vino.

But, oh, the joy that Oscar has finally started to sleep through. It's been a whole 6 weeks and I can almost feel my brain recalibrating, rebooting. If the last 13 months have taught me anything, it's that I am no good on broken sleep - words fail me, sentences give up the ghost and coherent thought melts away. My sense of humour and delivery of acerbic wit fell by the wayside. My ability to construct sensitive conversation on the hoof resulted in streams of offensive prose, holes dug deeper as I tried inarticulately to explain myself further. My dreams disappeared. My short term memory was, is, like a sieve. I hope never to experience that form of torture ever again.

And so - early nights are on the agenda. As are wine free days. And it's helping. Slowly. And the memories are popping up hither and thither, without a care in the world - an old friend, a final dinner, a lost book, a trip, a conversation, an exhibition. And, a couple of weeks ago, from out of nowhere my memory served up a coat. My beloved fake fur charity shop coat that I adored age 18. I arrived at University with it, and I loved it dearly. It kept me warm at an age when dresses were small and strappy heels were a thing despite sub-zero weather. My introverted self could, in my head, look alluringly cool, whilst in reality I was just hiding in a sodding big coat that, pre-cigarette ban, absorbed the smells of our nights out like a giant sponge. It was loved, forgotten, and found. It went on 'holiday' without me at the end of term once when I accidentally left it on the back of my bedroom door - me frantically calling the only two people who had mobiles in my block from my Dad's mobile as he drove me home with a car bursting at the seams - from that time when we remembered phone numbers - a thing that ended with teens of the 90s I suspect...

I can't remember what happened to that coat - but I do remember it seemed to go with everything. And it felt like a glorious hug each time I slipped it on. And that perhaps my wardrobe could do with one again. And that when I tried this new coat on I felt like a million dollars. And a little bit edgy.

I suspect this may just be the start of me having a little identity wobble before I hit a certain big birthday this year...

Monday, 7 January 2019

We are anew - week 1

A new year and a new normal. I can't believe it's been such a long time since I last hit 'publish'. 2017 disappeared in a muddle of morning sickness and a short stint back at work. Last year whizzed by in the carnage that is two under two and chronic sleep deprivation. It would be an understatement to say that Mr M and I had been willing 2018 over the finishing line.

So - we now have Oscar who is 13 months, Alice is now 2, Pickle continues to rule the roost and the cottage still isn't finished.

I have high hopes for 2019. If you ignore the political and economic carnage on the horizon. I'm really excited about having adventures with the littles. Making time for the two us, for family, for friends. A new direction for me work wise doing who knows what. Making progress in the cottage, however little - and being ok with that. Being realistic about what can be done. Making time to sketch and read. Rediscovering what makes us tick. Simple stuff.

This year's shaping up nicely - a stomp around Bushy Park with old friends, nursery reopened to much cheering, a jaunt to London, Granny day, a child free trip to Guildford with a super unplanned lunch at The Ivy with a brilliant view of the castle.

How about you?

Monday, 27 March 2017

March musings

There have been some glorious days this month that just cried out for short sleeves and sandals and sunglasses. The daffodils and tete-a-tetes have replaced the snowdrops and crocuses, the primroses are quietly creeping along the base of the front wall as the aubretia flows from above in a pale lilac-y blue cascade.

Alice is developing at a rate of knots. I can't believe that she's 10 months old tomorrow. She's found her forward gear and is now crawling. She's starting to pull herself up to stand so her cot has now been lowered. She now naps in the cot during the day which is frankly a revelation - you can do so much in an hour! She slept on her front for the first time today. She's developed a love of grated Gruyere cheese and follows The Gruffalo's Child with her finger. Her little personality is starting to come through - cheeky, wilful and loving. She does the most adorable cuddle. She's now on two bottles of formula a day in preparation for nursery. She chatters away to the kitchen flowers (subscription flowers are honestly one of the greatest gifts to receive) and the plants outside, and shrieks in delight at Pickle. My heart swells to the point that it feels like it will burst, and yet it swells more.

As for me, I'm trying to enjoy every minute because it won't be long before I'm back at work with someone else earning her precious smiles and cheeky glances and dirty giggles. I'm not going to lie - it's been hard - some days are brilliant and other days are seriously tough. There are days with tears. There are those where I have to dig deep and patience is lacking. I can't/shouldn't/mustn't complain because she sleeps through the night and is a delight by day. I blame my hormones, frankly - they still haven't quite settled back down to 2015 levels. And perhaps a large dose of unpreparedness. I'd spent such a long time wanting/hoping/trying to have a baby that the focus was only ever to get pregnant/stay pregnant rather than the 'ta-da you're a mother' bit. Perhaps deep down I thought that the sheer amount of wanting Alice would automatically make me brilliant at mothering. Ha! I had no idea that it was such a bloody tough gig. Hats off to my friends who always appeared to be acing it in the early years. With all that said, I love where we're at right now and I go to bed each night knowing just how fortunate we are.

What motherhood has taught me so far:
  • It is not guaranteed (and there's a no returns policy).
  • I am only human.
  • Tears are fine - even over the smallest of things.
  • Speak out when things are hard because it gets lonely - turns out my NCT group were going through/had gone through many of the things I was, but silently. I'm usually the world's greatest bottle-upperer, but tired-based delirium led me to over sharing on WhatsApp and others saying thanks. Sanity restored with the 'me too' messages as they came through. If you don't have an NCT group, it's likely that there are local new mother groups. Sure Start Children's Centres are a great place to start - you can find your local one here
  • Put that idea of wanting to email/ring/blog to the back of your mind. If you don't do it immediately it won't happen. That also applies to texts/WhatsApp and replacing toilet rolls. I honestly don't know how @modelrecommends does it - she is a legend.
  • You will silently weep when someone brings you a cup of tea, the biscuit tin and remote control and puts them just out of arms reach when you're breastfeeding/have baby asleep on you.
  • 'They' say that the first 6 weeks are the hardest. It really depends on the baby. Alice had silent reflux for the first 4 months - so for us it was the first 16 weeks. The most important thing to remember is that it does get better. You just have no idea when.
  • It pushes relationships to the brink - Mr M and I have never argued so much. In part because I'm rubbish at communicating.
  • Get someone else to write the thank you notes.
  • A glass of red wine post baby bedtime makes everything better, two and half glasses makes the room spin.
  • Try not to compare yourself or your baby to others. Everyone develops at different rates. Ignore those around you who compare you or your baby to others, including those who weren't involved in 'the process' and then chide you for being overly sensitive. 
  • All advice is well-meaning but guess what, you don't have to listen to it. You do however have to perfect your fake smile and 'thank you, I'll take that onboard' line, albeit through gritted teeth, because people get so easily offended if you snap. They seem to forget that you've just had a baby, your stitches/boobs are screaming in pain, you've had 4 hours sleep, your ears are ringing and really the only line you want to hear is "here, let me take her" and not "is she hungry?"
  • The line that will turn the most heads when pushing an apoplectic howling 5 week old around a supermarket is "And this Alice, is why you will always be an only child". 
  • You will want to hug the stranger that calls across the car park that "You're doing a f-king great job being out and about, well done".

Monday, 20 February 2017

Tweet - in the classic sense of the word

Our apple trees are a-flutter with blue tits, great tits and coal tits currently. Every so often we're treated to a flock of long-tailed tits. This feeder was a brilliant Christmas gift for Mr M and has been an immediate hit with the cheeky little blue tits. One did get a little too cocky for his own good today and flew into our 'full to the rafters' conservatory. Mr M managed to coax him to an open window with the lure of a mighty fine peanut. Luck was on our feathered friend's side as Pickle was gently snoring upstairs having abandoned her usual conservatory spot for the freshly laundered bedding.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Winter's beauty

Our front garden is in a delightful state of decay and dormancy. The stepover apple trees are fast asleep. The whiskers of the rose have survived the snow, frost, wind and rain. The hydrangea petals are slowly turning into lace. Delicate seed pods could be mistaken for an insect wing snagged on the tip of the acer branch. Hard frosts of late have slowed the allium and daffodil march. But there are tiny colour pops of promise. The crab apples are a brilliant red that the blackbirds have been merrily gobbling having stripped the orange pyracantha berries, whilst the witch hazel teases with a taster of what's to come.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Butterflies at Wisley

It was always going to be a steamy affair in the glasshouse at Wisley, but the chill in the air this morning accelerated the fogging up of glasses and cameras on arrival. Our little NCT group decided that butterflies and babies were a match made in heaven, so six of us rocked up with our almost 8 month olds (?!) in baby carriers ready to be dive bombed by butterflies almost too pretty to be believed. It was busy, despite being ticketed, but then it has only just opened. The butterflies were incredible - some, the giant owl butterflies, were the size of saucers, others looked like they'd flown too close to the MAC eyeshadow counter. Quite a few looked as though they'd been in a fight, but were still able to fly and feed despite chunks missing. I'd forgotten how bat-like they are whorling around you as you follow the trail. If you're planning to visit, wear bright clothes and you're in with a chance of being a resting place for one of these beauties, albeit fleeting.