Sunday, 27 May 2012

Week 38- The Bridge, wet dogs and over zealous housekeepers

Bright sunshine combined with a crawling baby makes you realise how totally, disgustingly, dirty your house is.

I thought I was doing OK, keeping on top of everything.

All of us were leaving the house looking reasonably clean, if you excuse the mango/ spaghetti bolognaise stains on virtually all of Nancy's clothes.

And things had become much simpler since stopping sterilising bottles.

Which, in actual fact, was a bit of a pointless exercise, as Nancy's drank one bottle in 8 months. And that was only because I had mastitis and the poor girl was half starved as I frantically pumped out calcium blockages.

In fact at this very moment she is pushing the latest fad bottle around the room with her feet.

Which I will later empty, wash up, and refill tomorrow for her not to drink.

So, on the first lovely morning in what's felt like weeks, the sun streamed through the windows, and illuminated the grubby, stained, dusty front room that Nancy has been crawling around in.

And as if to really bring the point home, she'd crawled backwards into the cul de sac behind the sofa, and as I picked her up, had to remove fluff balls from both her hands. As well as an Asda receipt from her mouth. Not sure where she'd found that, as I haven't been to Asda in about 6 months.

I just don't understand how anyone can get anything done when their baby is mobile.

I'd love to be able to get stuck into the house or the garden.

That's a lie.

I'd love to be able to guilt free catch up on 'The Bridge'.

But when Nancy is moving faster than I can catch her sometimes, it's virtually impossible to finish the washing up from breakfast.

I want our house to smell like clean washing and bleach. To have a fridge full of food from Marks and Spencer's, and a Molton Brown hand wash/ moisturiser combo in the bathroom.

Not be one of those houses than people refuse a cup of tea as they're not sure how hygienic the cups are.

Or where Nancy's mates make excuses not to come and play, as the house smells a bit like wet dog, even though we don't have an pets.

But the fact is I only really remember to clean stuff when I'm doing something else.

Like getting out of the bath and then seeing how minging the bathroom floor is, so giving it the once over with the towel I've been wearing.

Or cleaning down the work surfaces with a wet wipe that moments ago has been sorting out Nancy's face.

Or worst, using dirty socks to dust stuff, before putting them in the machine.

I even thought about getting a cleaner. But as I'm in a lot of the time, we'd either have to lurk in Boots or Card Factory on London Road for the morning. Which wouldn't be the end of the world. Or follow her/ him around the flat while they worked, like an over zealous housekeeper.

Also, it seems a bit much to pay someone to clean our two bedroom flat, which is small enough to Hoover throughout, without having to change plug sockets, or use an extension lead.

It sometimes feels like being a parent is just one juxtaposition after another.

Your baby is tiny and sleeping loads in the day, but you don't have then energy or clarity to do anything other than get through it both unscathed.

When they're that bit older, and you might have come through the fug a bit, and feel like doing a bit more, they need so much more attention and energy that's it's near on impossible.

Having family close by would solve a lot of these issues, and I envy those whose mums can just drop by to give them a hand, or mind their baby for an hour while they get on with stuff.

But for the moment, I guess I just have to be thankful that we couldn't afford a bigger place.

How does one cope if they have an upstairs?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Week 37- posh sandwiches, Holby City and charity shop T-shirts

I think I need to learn how to budget. Maternity pay divided by lattes, organic vegetables and Boden baby clothes won on eBay, doesn't seem to be tallying up.

And there's only so long I can keep spending £6.95 on an open sandwich, which is realistically only half a sandwich so a bit of a rip off if you have to buy Monster Munches afterwards to fill up, on the justification that I'm saving money by not going to the pub.

My maternity pay comes to an end soon, and I'd decided to take another month before going back to work as I felt that at 8 months, I wouldn't be ready for Nancy to go to the childminders yet.

But financially, it's a mess.

And I don't understand why government contributions to childcare don't kick in until your child is 3. How do they expect working mothers to make anything for the two years previously?

We also received the letter this week from HM Revenue and Customs to say that we would now be receiving £0.00 child tax credit since the threshold has gone down.

They send the letter to both me and Ben separately.

Which was nice. Just to make absolutely sure there was no confusion that the figure was definitely £0.00!

So,Ulrika and I have been desperately trying to invent something.

You hear about these amazing mums who come up with a fool proof idea while looking after their children. Like a car seat that turns into a backpack. And before they know it, John Lewis has ordered two thousand, and they never need worry about money or going back to work again.

So far we've come up with a cardigan that gets thicker when the weather gets colder. Like when you step outside on a sunny day, get to the bottom of the road and wish you'd put another layer on as it's bright but chilly.

A bit like reactor lens glasses. But with material that hasn't been invented yet.

So, as that's not going to instantly earn us millions, I've started hanging around in the big charity shop at the bottom of our road when taking Nancy out for a walk to get her to sleep, as there's less chance of spending a fortune if I avoid unnecessary trips into town.

I don't know what I've been doing wasting my time lurking in Boots or Card Factory, because this place is brilliant.

Everyone is either ill, been ill, about to get ill, or knows someone whose just died.

And that's mainly what they talk about really loudly.

That, and how, by law, they can't sell electrical goods, so could people please stop donating them.

This was my first induction into the code of ethics there. As I handed over a bag of stuff which included some curling tongs I'd won on eBay, but obviously don't need as my hairs already curly, the woman tutted loudly at me, 'the sign says no electrical goods.'

It's a hand written post it stuck under the glass counter.

'Sorry, I'll take it out.'

'It's not your fault love. I said we should have a bigger sign, but the boss put it up and now she's on long term sick.'

And then the other shop assistant told me about how she's had a cough and a cold, which she's having troble shifting. And as if to prove her point, started wheezing into a hanky.

The woman behind me said about how I should be careful with Nancy, as her granddaughter was sent home from nursery with diarrhea.

I overheard an older man in the changing room talking on his mobile, asking someone to pick up another prescription for him.

It's like a tame episode of Holby City.

And on top of that, there's some real gems if you have the time to rummage through all the stuff that smells of Brut and fags.

I bought Nancy a sun hat for 50p, which I was going to go into town to buy for her anyway, and would have cost a fiver, and four quid for the bus.

A T-shirt for Ben, that was 3 pounds, a Topman one that must have cost at least a tenner new.

And, a Reiss dress for me, which was the ultimate bargain. I couldn't afford not to buy it at £9.99. It must have been ninety pounds plus in the shop, and it looks virtually new.

So, by my reckoning, I've actually saved about £95.50.

Which is quite a few lattes and lunches out.

Actually I'm pretty good at budgeting now I come to think about it...

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Week 36- childminders, baby teeth and boobs like Jordan

Nancy has spent her first full day away from me. And she was fine.

Which I was a little disappointed about.

I mean, I obviously would prefer that she's happy and having an ace day. But seeing as we've spent the last two weeks with her in floods of tears when I leave the room, I thought she might have been a tad miffed that I was away for nearly 10 hours.

Especially as I'd expressed more milk than you'd need to make a vat of rice pudding, and as a consequence I'd totally confused my body, and my boobs had filled up to the size of Jordan's by mid morning.

I was up in London and had packed the hand expresser in case of emergencies, but couldn't quite bring myself to sit on the loo in Costa coffee pumping milk, while all the other customers think I've been in there for ages, because I'm a) doing a poo or b) taking heroin.

So I suffered in silence, safe in the knowledge that Ben would be consoling my poor baby who was pining for me.

Until we spoke on the phone and I could hear her laughing away as I was regaled with stories of her eating without complaint and sleeping when she was meant to.
And I realised that when I have to start leaving her with the childminder, it's not Nancy who'll be freaking out. It's me.

At the moment she's developing virtually everyday. She has two little teeth at the bottom which make her look a little bit like a guinea pig. And she can crawl backwards as of the other day, wedging her bum under the sofa, where she waits for you to pull her out and point her in a different direction.

She's making babbling noises that sound like words but clearly aren't.

And she laughs all the time. Which is immense.

What if she starts doing other ace stuff when I'm not there, and the childminder has to tell me about it? I'm going to end up totally resenting her for it. Like she's nicking bits of Nancy.

But what's the alternative? Get her to ring me whenever anything new happens? She does have another three children to look after.

Or ask her specifically not to tell me. So I can pretend I saw it first. And I can tell her about it. And she can smile and nod at me like I'm simple.

Or perhaps tell the childminder I've had a change of heart.

That we don't need her anymore. 

And just never go out. I could bin off the idea of work, seeing friends, doing anything past 8 in the evening.

And just watch everything Nancy does all day, every day, like some kind of weirdo.

That would be nice and healthy for her.

Instead of going out, I could just reminisce about when I did do stuff. Tell her anecdotes about the time I went to London with a breast pump I didn't end up using.
I'll probably have to get some better stories under my belt first before battening down the hatches, mind.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Week 35- velour tracksuits, separation anxiety and Floella Benjamin

I've got two jumpers that I wear on rotation these days. Partly because I like them, but mainly because I don't have the imagination to work out what else I can discreetly get my boobs out in public in.

One's blue, and the other one has anchors printed on it. That one's more obvious if I wear it several days on the trot.

I remember looking at pictures of my mum from when I was little, and thinking it looked like she only owned one purple, velour jumper, as she was wearing it in virtually every picture from 1978- 1981. Now I understand why.

As I put the blue one on the other day, I noticed that it had mango puree smeared all down the front from when Nancy had lobbed her spoon earlier that day. But instead of changing into the other jumper, I just covered it up with a scarf. Didn't even think about sponging it off. And then we went out for the day.

The week before, as I was changing Nancy, she did a live wee that went all over the changing mat, and soaked into my jeans as I was kneeling on it at the time.

I've got more than one pair. Granted, they don't all fit properly. In fact the other pairs were ambitious charity shop purchases for me to 'slim into'. But instead of even attempting to squeeze into them, I hair dried the wee, and wore them for days afterwards.

I can't work out if it's because it's Nancy wee, and she's part of me, that made me not care.

Or if it's that I've turned into a skeff.

There was a time when I was about 15 when I would have spent half a years allowance on getting dreadlocks, if it wouldn't have resulted in getting grounded for life.

Instead, I settled for not washing my hair loads, putting twat wraps in it (embroidery thread wrapped around a thin plait with a bead at the end, reminiscent of holidays in Portugal) and wearing tie dye T-shirts and MC Hammer style trousers.

I must have looked a bit like Floella Benjamin.

And I thought I looked brilliant.

Now I genuinely can't get it together to wash my hair as much as I should, I know I don't.

But is this just what happens when you have small children? You stop giving a shit all together?

Nancy is starting to realise she's not part of me anymore. She cries when I go out of her sight line. Or if I give Ebba a cuddle. Or put her down for a second.

She thinks I'm going to leave her and not come back. Separation anxiety. It's heartbreaking. And I don't know what to do to console her.

Well, I do. I sing badly at her. And she's fine, until she can't see me again.

And I wonder what it must be like to realise you are your own person. That the big lump in blue or anchor print, whose been feeding you and carrying you around since you were born is not, in fact, an extension of yourself, but an entirely different person all together.

What she doesn't realise now is that she'll always be a part of me.

I don't mean just emotionally.

But that she has my bum chin. That we already both throw our heads back when laughing. That there will be characteristics, and aspects to her personality that are already set out. That there will be similarities that will become more obvious the older she gets.

And I'll shine with pride when people say, 'ooh, you're just like your mum.'

But by the time she completely understands that, it will probably coincide with when she's desperate to resist it and claim her independence.

Find her 2030 version of dreadlocks and tie dye dungarees.

And she'll look back at pictures of us when she was a baby, and be like, 'mum, did you seriously only have two jumpers? And what's that all down your jeans?'