Friday, 14 August 2015

I am a moustachioed, hessian-wearing librarian, and proud of it

My response to this.

Let's consider another example of what he might have said, to see how ridiculous this is.

"I don't know what it is with all these mothers these days, feeding their children bananas in public.  Don't they understand that I-and probably some other fellas for that matter-don't like to look at bananas?  They make me feel uncomfortable.  Don't they realise that bananas are quite phallic in appearance, and therefore they remind me of sex.  How inappropriate to be feeding your child-yes, a child-a banana in public!  It gives me associations in my head that I really do not want.  It's practically peodophilia.  And besides, bananas don't grow in this country so it's totally unnatural.

"Of course, it was different in the Stone Age, when people didn't have their own teeth.  Back then they had to eat bananas as they couldn't eat anything harder, what with the lack of teeth and everything.

"It seems to me that it's only these right-on, free-thinking librarian women that feed their children bananas anyway.  What's wrong with a bag of crisps?  They have some really nice flavours these days.

"However, if it's an attractive woman eating a banana, then of course that's fine.  I bet all the other fellas would agree too." 

Thursday, 13 August 2015

O Sleep How You Taunt Me

Piglet went to sleep at 7.15pm today.  ***KLAXON***

I am braced for a rough night when he inevitably wakes up in an hour or so, having regarded his current period of sleep as nothing but a later-than-normal nap, and sits bolt upright in bed, before launching himself at me head first and emitting a high pitched scream into my ear, headbutting me and biting my face.

This sort of physical attack is, I believe, what passes for a sign of affection with Piglet.

Either that or he actually detests me.

He is, of course, sleeping in the bed.  I would hardly be so bold as to put him in his cot.  For a start, there is no sheet on the mattress as the combined intellects of myself and my mother couldn't work out how to fit one on without the ends of the mattress curling up, and secondly, he will not sleep in a cot anyway.

An old photo, but one which I feel sums up roughly how Piglet feels about being in a cot.

I had long suspected this to be the case, but I had spent so many months gathering him up into my arms and taking him into the bed with me at the first sign of a whimper that he had barely spent any time in the cot and so I couldn't be sure.  Then, last week, when we were on holiday in Cornwall, came the acid test.

The travel cot we had ordered had been placed into what I can only assume was supposed to be the children's room in the caravan, judging by the size of the single bed in there, which was slightly narrower than the average shelf.  O the folly of these holiday caravan people who have never met Piglet and I, and who must have assumed that he has something known as a "routine," and sleeps at a time of his parents' (they must have assumed there were two, sleeping in the double bedroom) choosing, in a room which is designated for the exclusive use of a child or children plural.  O what folly (*shakes fist at the idea of a nuclear family with a routine*)

And so I bravely steeled myself for a night on the shelf (metaphorically, surely the story of my life), and laid Piglet down into the travel cot for his slumbers.

After feeding him to sleep of course (*guffaws heartily at the idea of him doing any of that "settling himself to sleep" that the parenting books are always talking about*).

It lasted about an hour.

I duly fed him to sleep again, and popped him back in the cot.

Another hour.

Now this, I told myself, was normal.  Piglet always wakes up at least every few hours and I then feed him to sleep again.  The only difference was that it would normally involve simply rolling over and proffering a boob rather than lifting him out of the cot, but still.  I even started to think that Piglet was getting the hang of this sleeping in a cot lark.  Who knows, perhaps in a few years time he'll even progress to settling himself to sleep like the parenting books say all babies should by the age of three months.

Again he went to sleep, and again he woke up an hour or so later.

Only this time, he was sitting bolt upright in the cot and surveying the room with interest.  Not a good sign.

The next two hours included the following:

Breastfeeding repeatedly in a desperate attempt to get him to go back to sleep
Leaving the room to find a fresh nappy only to wake up the entire caravan (damn you thin paper caravan walls!)
Piglet greeting the rest of the caravan's occupants with squeals and giggles
More breastfeeding

And finally:

Lying down on the very edge of the shelf with Piglet on there next to me, crammed against the thin caravan wall and intermittently banging on it, keeping my brother and his partner (in the "parents" room next door) awake.

I should probably add here that since I started writing this post I have had to put the laptop aside twice to feed Piglet back to sleep.

One day, he will learn to settle himself to sleep.  One day.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Piglet Breaks His Silence; Confirms He Is Dog-Lover

Piglet said his first word today.

So, was it "Mumma"?

No it was not.  

Let's forget the possibility of it being "Dadda," as he has been repeating that sound for months without, clearly, the slightest clue as to what it may refer in some circles, since he has never heard me utter such a sound.  This naturally makes me somewhat smug when I come across parents who swear blind that their seven month old has been calling Daddy by his correct title for several weeks now, as if Piglet can identify and pronounce the "dadda" sound, despite his never having had any sort of a Dadda whatsoever, then that is surely incorrigible proof that babies make random sounds without having the slightest clue what they refer to in the adult world.

This is what I have been telling myself since lunchtime today, anyway.

We popped into our new local haunt the Cafe on the Square, a fabulous place which used to be a public toilet with "Kelly loves Darren 4EVA" scrawled on the walls in marker pen, but which has been turned into a tiny but very friendly cafe staffed by helpful Christians doing God's Work of serving lattes and paninis to a surprisingly gentrified bunch of locals, and got into a conversation with a blind lady and her guide dog (well, the human lady did most of the talking, but it was the dog who was of interest to Piglet).  The lady kindly allowed Piglet to stroke the dog, which he did enthusiastically, having recently discovered that animals are A Thing.  Yesterday he met a cat, and was similarly enthralled.  The cat, unfortunately, was somewhat less magnanimous than the guide dog, and very nearly attacked him.

Anyway, the guide dog and Piglet (via their respective guardians) were formally introduced and exchanged pleasantries, and upon being informed that the dog's name was AJ, Piglet yelled "AJ!" to the universal joy of everyone in the cafe.

Yes, Piglet's first word was the name of a dog.  He loves a random dog, that he has met a grand total of once, more than he loves his Mummy. 

An actual dog.

Later on, we went to the park and Mummy felt even worse after facing her Diane Keaton in Baby Boom moment (not the one where she starts a successful business selling apple-flavoured baby food and gets to return to her old company in triumph and then totally give them the finger.  I am still waiting for that one) after being privy to a parkside conversation about "when you did your circus skills course Hermione dahling" and fretting that not only does Piglet love a dog more than his Mummy, but Mummy has ruined Piglet's chances of going to a good university forever due to not enrolling him in circus skills, baby sing and sign, or that one where the babies get tickled with giant feathers, which he is probably too old for now anyway and it's all just TOO LATE.

There may, however, be a future for him at the Dogs Trust.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Dangerous Times

Piglet is now a year old, and therefore almost a toddler.  I say almost, as he has not yet mastered the art of walking, and needs to be escorted around by a helpful adult, such as me or (more often) Granny, holding his hand at all times.

It's just as well that he is always accompanied, however, as he has become a walking Accident Waiting to Happen.

Basically, I have discovered that the world is a very dangerous place when you are a year old, and not just for the reasons the Daily Mail likes to dwell on (although the other day, when we were on holiday, I did insist that my mother not leave a sleeping Piglet outside the caravan because "LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO MADELEINE MCCANN!").

Today, for example, Piglet got his hand trapped underneath a door.  Underneath.  A.  Door.  I didn't even know that was a thing.  Luckily I was able to retrieve it without breaking the skin, but he did have the imprint of the bottom of the door stuck in his hand for a while.  On the plus side, he was trying to retrieve a copy of Spot Goes to Bed at the time, so at least his injury was the result of an interest in matters of a literary nature.

During a lunchtime visit to the pub (I know!  The pub!  At lunchtime!  For shame!  I am now One of Those Mothers who goes drinking during the day while Little One runs riot amid the drunks) I had to rescue Piglet from all of the following:
A large stick, to be thrown about on a field in the manner of a dog, but which he insisted on bringing into the pub and waving around, much to my mother's horror;
Wood chippings, which he tried to eat;
A log fire (deceptively not lit, so the danger was not at all obvious until Piglet pulled a metal grill off the front of the fireplace);
Rat poison (tantalisingly placed in a location close to several rotten apples, which had naturally piqued Piglet's interest, but fortunately in a clearly labelled container, so danger was relatively easily averted);
Several older children who were very keen to befriend him, but in a way that Piglet unfortunately found terrifying, despite the fact that they were far less scary than any of the above.

And this was just one brief lunchtime outing.  We didn't even stay for dessert.

Even our own dwelling is riven with danger, from the obvious perils of the cooker and stairs to the less clear hazards posed by the toilet roll holder (pulled off and used to attempt to smash up the toilet seat) and bathroom light switch (lovingly mouthed due to nobbly bit at the end which will at some point almost certainly break off and need to be retrieved from the said mouth before it can be swallowed).

Really, it is a wonder anyone has ever survived to adulthood.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

These are my peeps part 2: Are these really my peeps?

Part of the joy of moving house is, of course, getting to know the new neighbours, and so today, I took myself to the local cafe (not the one where Piglet previously disgraced himself by kicking a table over.  We're lying low from that one for a while) in an attempt to do just that.

Well, actually it was more of an attempt to distract Piglet from opening all the cupboards in Granny's death-trap kitchen and extracting the contents (so far today I have had to prise ceramic oven dishes, washing powder caps and a bottle of Tabasco sauce from his little hands).

Anyway, off we went to the cafe, and I almost immediately found myself in conversation with a local.  This particular individual was well over eighty, and was presumably suffering from some sort of age-related macular degeneration, as when I happened to mention that I was looking for a place to live, she suggested the flats where she lives.

These flats are known as "Homes for the Aged."

Now I know I am suffering a daily increase in the number of grey hairs on my 35 year old head, but I hadn't considered that this aged me twenty years, but presumably it must do as you have to be over 55 to live in these flats.



Luckily at that point it started raining and the cafe was overrun with middle class mothers and their offspring, who had been in the park outside, sheltering from the rain.  Aha, I thought, these are my peeps.  Here is my opportunity to make some new, local friends.  

I mean, I am a Middle Class Mother, right?  I have a Bugaboo.  We go to swimming lessons.  Hell, I even wore a Breton top yesterday.

"Look!" I cried gleefully at Piglet, "look!  Other babies!  Maybe you should invite them to your birthday party tomorrow!"

Piglet examined the other babies with interest.  The other babies sat in their pushchairs and ignored him.  The Mothers came in and ordered lattes in paper cups (I drink lattes!  I am a Middle Class Mother, right?)  They were all wearing sensible hiking jackets and flat shoes.  I was wearing these leggings.

And I looked 55 years old.  In THESE LEGGINGS.  Just let that sink in for a moment.  After five minutes, the Middle Class Mothers departed, once all their babies had started crying, and I was left thinking two things.

1.) This area must have undergone a degree of gentrification since the 1980s, when my dad once had to lead a local boy home by his ear after he karate kicked me in the street, and
2.) Are those really my peeps?

I mean, those women almost certainly have husbands.  And they almost certainly have cars, and don't have to take the bus everywhere.  And those women almost certainly never wear Black Milk leggings.  This is possibly because Black Milk leggings are designed for teenagers and not 55 year old women like me, but I am convinced that I will not be welcomed into the Middle Class Mother fold unless I wear sensible shoes and hiking jackets AT ALL TIMES.

I will continue in my efforts to find some friends.  For Piglet's sake, at least.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Piglet vs the World

Ladies and gentlemen, I no longer live in Wembers.

Well, it's not official.  I haven't even notified the bank I've changed addresses yet, let alone actually sold the flat.  However, Piglet and I are currently residing with my mother and are now the occupants of a room I previously shared with my brother in 1985.  It's great being 35.

The journey here was relatively uneventful, except for a few awkward moments conversing with someone I met once at a job interview who sat on the table next to us at Reading Services while I was trying to feed Piglet an appetising combination of Heinz baby biscuits and a jar of "cheesy fish pie," which was the only offering for babies (for some reason the only food available at the services seems to be chips, and I am convinced that once Piglet is introduced to chips, it will be the beginning of a long descent into morbid obesity that will end with him being lifted out of a hole in the side of the house by crane, while a finger-wagging Jeremy Kyle stands alongside narrating a TV documentary warning of the dangers of fast food).

Speaking of food, Mother and I are probably now barred from one of the local cafes after Piglet kicked a table over whilst remonstrating with his grandmother about not being allowed to crawl around on the floor of said cafe and pull himself up on all the other diners' tables and steal their food (which is undoubtedly what he would have been doing, had he been allowed to crawl around at will).  It would be an understatement to say that Piglet does not like being told that he cannot crawl around, especially in restaurants, pubs and train stations.  However, at least Granny is in possession of a highchair, so I no longer have to try to convince him to remain in his Bumbo seat for the duration of a meal, instead of climbing out, smearing food on every available surface, taking all the books off the shelf, pouring water over them, and then trying to push large pieces of furniture around the room as though they were toy cars.

I am pretty convinced that he is lying next to me now, having sweet dreams about which bits of Granny's house he is going to destroy first.  That is, if the house doesn't get him first.  There is quite a lot more babyproofing that needs to be done in a house than in a flat.  We should probably just line the whole place with crash mats.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Partying it Up In Wembers

I will miss Wembley.  Where else, with the possible exception of One Direction's house (do they all live in the same house?  I sort of imagine they do, except the one who left, obvs.) can you walk out of your flat, take the baby for a walk and find yourself in the middle of a crowd of excitable teenage girls all waiting around hoping to catch a fleeting glimpse of someone famous?

At least, I presume that was what they were all doing outside Wembley Arena today watching the X Factor being filmed.  Unless there was just a really, really long queue to get in.

Piglet was asleep, so I waited for a few minutes, noting that something must be about to happen as not only was there an expectant waiting crowd, but a paparazzi photographer was stationed on the roof like a sniper.

Of course she may actually have been a sniper.  Watching X Factor sometimes has that effect on me, too, especially when Cheryl rocks up wearing two dustbin lids and shaming a teenage girl on national television for being "a bit of a bully" and everyone swoons and says she's the nation's sweetheart.  Or when they cue the Sad Music and start talking about a contestant's "journey," and how every minute of their existence up until now has been utterly meaningless because all they have ever done with their life is have a normal job like everyone else that doesn't involve singing terrible dated covers to the nation on a glittery plinth every week, and also their gran died last year at the age of a hundred and three and it was all terribly tragic and unexpected, and now she must be watching over their moment of televisual glory from that great big living room in the sky, probably wearing a T-shirt with a picture of them on it.  Anyway, I digress.  Piglet let out a squawk of displeasure at the pushchair being stationary, and I moved on, noting with interest that the real action was not in front of the Arena, but along the side street on the way back to my flat, where Olly Murs was being filmed getting out of a car.  Yes, OLLY MURS.  GETTING OUT OF A CAR.  Take that, waiting public, you missed it.

After all this excitement, (please note I also saw Caroline Flack.  CAROLINE FLACK!  She was only, like, FIFTY METRES AWAY!  And also some other presenter who I didn't recognise, who was interviewing some people whom I can only assume were PROBABLY X FACTOR CONTESTANTS!) I had to calm myself down with smelling salts, and very nearly missed the yearly extravaganza that is the Forum House Residents' Party.

This was, in fact, a welcome break from trying to get Piglet to eat his dinner, an ordeal that basically consists of me repeatedly putting him in his Bumbo seat and him repeatedly climbing out and crawling away, although not before giving his sippy cup a nice big shake so that all the water comes out, soaking at least one book in the process.

Piglet seemed to enjoy the party, and it did have the desired effect of tiring him out before bed, as he spent a glorious hour exploring the courtyard of the building, being trailed by yours truly.  I was trying to strike the right balance between being a relaxed parent who lets my child explore his surroundings, thus meeting his development potential as encouraged by the likes of Penelope Leach, et al, and being suitably firm about boundaries at crucial points such as when Piglet decided to pick up some stones from the ground and attempt to eat them.

The main difficulty in gauging where exactly the appropriate limits might be, is that there is no one else to tell you.  Well, maybe Gina Ford, but like, facepalm.  Or my mother, but is it really necessary to avoid all grass just in case a dog might have once relieved itself on that patch at some point in history?  There is no rehearsal and no going back and putting it right if you get it wrong.  Let's just say that this evening, in the courtyard, no one else's baby seemed to be crawling around.  They were all either old enough to walk, or too young to do much more than sit contentedly in their parents' arms.  And not one of the assorted children of my neighbours were in any way covered in mud and grass, as Piglet very quickly was.  Eventually I gave up and took him back inside.  He crawled most of the way back to the flat, which is probably regarded in some quarters as unacceptable, but hey, we don't have a block party every week.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Piglet Vs. Literature: Part 2

Piglet seems to have developed a rather disturbing new habit.  Several times this week I have caught him banging his head-apparently deliberately-on his cot or my bed.  Upon consulting Dr Google about this distressing new hobby I have learned the following:
Piglet has above average intelligence
Head banging is totally normal
Piglet must be autistic
Piglet is a Romanian orphan

Obviously some of these possibilities are more appealing than others.

Anyway, in an attempt to stimulate the first of these options, today I took Piglet to the library.  Now I must admit that Piglet does not seem to be overly keen on books at this present time.  In fact, whenever I try to read to him he either a) tries to grab the book and throw it around or b) crawls as quickly as possible in the opposite direction, usually right off the side of the bed (I basically have to cling on to him at all times whilst on the bed.  The other night I was woken up by an almighty crash and the sound of hysterical crying, only to find that he had rolled right off in his sleep.  This did not go down well in light conversation at work, where I suddenly felt the eyebrows of all present company rise slightly as I regaled this witty oh-aren't-children-funny anecdote, as though I had just casually admitted to waterboarding my son during his evening bath).  Today, however, there was a Netmums meet-up at the library, during which they were going to be talking about some stuff that doesn't apply to me, such as flexible working (ha ha ha) and starting your own business (I once sold some stuff on Ebay and made an actual loss).

Now one friend of mine, a devotee of Mumsnet, once told me that she preferred Mumsnet to Netmums because the latter was "a bit working class," so I was expecting to feel right at home the place to be populated by people with Croydon facelifts and children called Chardonnay, but it turned out that in fact the Netmums posse consisted of nice well-spoken ladies with well-behaved children who sat still and looked on magnanimously as Piglet crawled around crazily trying to steal their scooters, pushchairs and any shoes they happened to have removed from their feet.  This meant that I ended up somewhat disengaged from the conversation as I was continuously having to run across the library and stop Piglet from emptying entire bookshelves and throwing the contents across the floor, in much the same manner to how he rolls at home with my own book collection, now sadly mostly ripped to shreds or soaked with water on a daily basis.  To be honest though, I pretty much switched off and decided to leave at the point when the speaker, who was talking about setting up a business when her children were small, decisively proclaimed that if you were always working when your child was young, by the time they turned ten you would have lost them forever, and due to your failure as a mother by not putting the effort in during the early years and being there to wipe away their every tear and change their every nappy, you were setting yourself up for a lifetime of emotional distance, bad behaviour, and basically having you and your child physically enact all the lyrics from Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin.

That song always made my dad cry.  Not sure why, as it seems that in real life it's generally only mothers who come in for the sort of criticism that blames every one of an individual's personal failings/murderous tendencies/despotic dictatorships on the failure of their female parent to be a cookie-baking, treasure hunt-organising, dedicated to home and hearth Perfect Mother.  The dads can work all they want and no one ever implies that they are neglecting their true vocation and ruining the next generation for all of humanity.

Anyway, my lack of motherly skills evident, I skulked off, only returning when I saw that the queue in Starbucks was a bit long, and I stealthily snuck back into the library to use the coffee shop, hoping not to be seen by any of the Net Mums.  Sometimes I think when Piglet is older he will turn on me and accuse me of loving coffee more than him.  The boy is basically being raised in the highchairs of Cafe Nero, Costa and Starbucks.  The Starbucks staff don't even have to ask me my name anymore. Some of them can even spell it.

And I made him play on his own while I watched an episode of Mad Men this evening.  I'm going to Hell in a Handcart.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Newsflash-Mother has time to paint own toenails!

Piglet is asleep and I have just managed to snatch a few moments to afford myself the liberty of painting my toenails.

I now look, with my lurid red toenails, like a woman who never wears anything but trousers and a woolly hiking fleece, who has suddenly put on a dress for the first time in ten years, to the astonishment of all her friends and colleagues: in other words, out of place.  And clearly I should be sleeping.  I mean, last night Piglet barely slept a wink.  He just kept waking up, wailing and reaching for the boob, coming off, rolling over and then starting the whole process over again an infinite number of times, until the sun was literally coming up and I couldn't bear to look at the time, knowing that it was bound to be ten minutes before the alarm was due to go off.

The weird thing is, I'm not remotely bothered.

In the past, when circumstances conspired to make me lose large chunks of sleep, either by long flights or long nights drinking inadvisable alcohol/energy drink combinations, I was like a crazed wild animal, attacking anything and anyone who stood in the way of a nice comfy bed.  But now, even when the alarm goes off and I have to drag my barely living carcass out of bed and make breakfast, heaving the still sleeping Piglet into his Bumbo seat as he bleats in protest and remonstrates with me about my being the Worst Mother Ever by flailing his arms up and down angrily, I am strangely calm and serene, when any other mortal being-or even nearby inanimate object-who behaved this way would have me praying for their imminent violent death.  I blame breastfeeding for turning me into this weirdly placid creature.  It must be the hormones.  Either that or motherhood has turned me into Martin Luther King, but without the bravery.  I am fearful of anything and everything that might cause harm to Piglet.  Except random bits of stale toast on the carpet.  Or the mouthfuls of toilet roll he insists on eating (one has to pick one's battles, otherwise I will shortly turn into my mother, yelling "NO!" and launching herself across the room every other nanosecond to rescue Piglet from the nearest plug socket or library book).

And so it is that at the shocking time of 9.45pm I find myself still awake and wondering whether I should be putting some sleep in the Great Sleep Bank that regrettably doesn't exist (if only I had been able to stock up on sleep during pregnancy.  God knows I tried), or whether I should be making the most of these precious few moments of baby-free time to paint my fingernails as well.  Or like, change the world or something.  Or write a novel and become brilliant at making my own clothes and baking prize-winning cakes.  Or start a multi-million pound business importing cherry-blossom flavoured alcopops from Japan.  You know, all those things you think would be great to do while the baby's asleep.

Or perhaps they would be better done at 4am, when he wakes up.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Catching a Train with a Baby

It seems that it is becoming increasingly impossible to write this blog.  Piglet is either awake, in which case he is trying to grab the laptop and/or one of the many other things he is Not Allowed to Touch (TV remote, plug socket, anything that isn't one of his toys or my collection of books and DVDs, which I have long since sacrificed at the altar of Anything For A Quiet Life) and then shrieking, going all rigid and flinging himself around when they are taken away from him; or he is asleep, and I cannot leave him in case he wakes up and rolls off the bed.

He is, it goes without saying, never happy with anything, unless it involves ripping books to shreds and eating them, dragging my mobile phone along the floor while I am trying to speak to my mother on it, or physically attacking the television.  He is currently doing the latter.  I'm pretty sure all the guidelines for How to Bring Up an Emotionally Secure and Intellectually Stimulated Youngster say no TV before the age of two, but as my mother would say, it never did me any harm.  At least I don't think it did.  For all I know every single fault in my personality could be directly traced back to time spent watching Playschool in 1982.

Over the weekend I took Piglet to Bristol.  Until now, I had never felt any desire to own a car and drive around in it, but after several journeys to Bristol and back on the train, the prospect of several hours driving down the M4 are beginning to look extremely appealing.  This is because I would then not have to endure any of the following:

Piglet doing a poo on the train.
The dreaded journey down the escalator at Paddington with the pushchair (yesterday I was bold enough to ask a member of TfL staff for help, and practically got shouted at for my trouble-"I'M ON MY OWN HERE!"  I thought I was going to be lynched by angry commuters after being held single-handedly responsible for the next tube workers' strike).
A man walking past while I was breastfeeding Piglet and remarking "aww how sweet," followed by "you're making me hungry now!"
A full scale battle with the pushchair involving several passers by, trying to fold it down and squeeze it into a luggage rack before abandoning the whole idea and leaving it in the buffet car to act as a makeshift table for yokels drinking cider out of cans.

Well, at least it gives me something to write about.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

These are my peeps


If I went to bed Right Now, I might get the full eight hours, time spent waking up to soothe a fretful Piglet aside.

But I am not going to go to sleep right now, because I am writing this.  And the glow of the computer screen is going to adjust my hormone levels, apparently, so that everything goes out of sync and I end up wide awake and wired as one of the Happy Mondays at the Hacienda in 1989, unable to sleep for three weeks.

And this is what it has been like every night since I last wrote on here, and that is why I never do.  Sleep wins out every time.

On Saturday Piglet went to his first birthday party. Not his own, obvs, as he is only ten and a half months.  The venue was a thing called a baby cafe.  In Islington.  We don't have such things in Wembley, as no one would be so shamelessly middle class as to actually name their business a baby cafe, instead of something much more sensible, like a soft play centre, or Cafe Nero, even if it ends up as the former due to the preponderance therein of both babies and coffee.

Anyway, you can imagine what it was like walking into this baby cafe.  

In short, it was a peculiarly upper middle class version of Hell.

There were women in Thai fishermen's pants of baggy denim with elasticated waists; there were bespectacled middle class men strapping on special trainers designed specifically so that feet don't slide off the pedals whilst cycling (doubtless with the baby being pulled along behind in one of those little baby-tents): there was eggs benedict being eaten; there were flat whites being drunk out of glass cups with no handles (rather precariously, given the surroundings, clientele and overall theme); there was a selection of tasteful wooden toys strewn across the floor, and with few exceptions, every parent in there, I am delighted to report, at least looked older than me.*

It was like walking in a dazed and confused state out of a mine in which you had been working for the last twenty five years as a pit pony and suddenly seeing the sun, blinking around for a second wondering what had hit you, and then deciding it was all rubbish and going blind.

These are now my peeps, I found myself thinking in wonderment.  THESE ARE MY PEEPS.  I am one of THEM.

I am that woman in the fisherman pants, who just wants to be comfortable whilst lugging a baby around in an organic sling (in my case, they were Topshop leggings.  I do have a shred of dignity).

I am that man on the bike with the baby-tent, regaling a nearby collection of mothers with the triumphant words "I bet you're all wondering what THESE SHOES are for, aren't you?"

I am the one who replied "I already know.  I used to be really into cycling."  And then, with a sigh, "used to," as though life as we know it is now over for all of us.

I am definitely all the women still breastfeeding children old enough to go to secondary school.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is my life.  These are my peeps.

*This does not mean they were.  I am of the opinion that I look about seventeen.  The mirror suggests otherwise, and that somewhat alarmingly I may in fact have inherited my father's terrifyingly accelerated rate of ageing, but I'm pretty sure it's lying.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Middle Way

And so another trip to the Baby Weighing Clinic draws to a close.

A trip in which I received a literal pat on the back from the health visitor for maintaining Piglet's centile, no less.

And then a metaphorical slap on the wrist for admitting that I sometimes (OK, maybe every day) feed him Organix baby fruit purees as desserts.

I can only imagine what the reaction would have been if I had said I gave him a tub of Ben and Jerry's. WHICH I DON'T, BY THE WAY.  What sort of mother do you think I am?

First it was "don't you make them yourself?" as though buying a ready made puree was the comestible equivalent of popping a fag in the baby's mouth "just so he could join in with the grown ups."  Oh sorry, I forgot, we are all supposed to be Surrendered Mothers now.  I am supposed to be carrying Piglet on my back in an organic woven sling while I go out to tend the fields, whilst simultaneously teaching him how to count to ten in Mandarin and contorting myself into a yoga pose, before returning home for a nutritious meal of self-grown quinoa and organic goji berries.

Then it was "he shouldn't be eating purees now.  It's time he fed himself."  This despite the fact that I had already pointed out that he ate the same food as me for his main course.  Like, real actual food.  Yesterday we had CURRY for Christ's sake.  And he feeds himself said curry, WITH HIS FINGERS. In fact, he wouldn't even accept a spoon until last month, and the only reason he's having any purees at all if because I'm so excited that he suddenly appears not only to like them, but to open his little mouth like a baby bird in the way that every other baby I have ever heard of has been doing since the age of six months.  FINALLY.

The Buddha once said that the best way was the Middle Way, which would presumably mean that the best way of going about things is somewhere between Surrendered Mother and My Mother, who advocates jars of baby food at every opportunity, because "it never did you any harm," and because it's the best way to preserve the carpets.  The again, the Buddha also abandoned his own wife and baby so that he could go and sit under a tree in the lotus position for seven years, so he's no Penelope Leach himself.  One simply cannot win.

Anyway, I came home and pureed an entire punnet of apricots.  At least I made them myself.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I appear to have accidentally told someone I hate being a parent.* I am going to Hell in a Handcart.

Sorry.  I just really wanted to use the phrase "going to hell in a handcart."  It is surely the best thing anyone has ever said, ever.  I mean, THE IMAGES.

Anyway, back to the point, I am talking about how, as a parent, you become endlessly obsessed with how good or otherwise a parent you appear to others.

Comments like "ooh you've got your figure back OK then" suddenly turn into conclusive proof of one's motherly virtue, rather than the result of random chance and genetic good fortune; but on the flip side, any recognition of such on the part of self, such as my sheer unbridled joy at being able to fit into an American Apparel bodycon dress three weeks after the birth, are swiftly turned into evidence for the prosecution at the trial of Worst Mother Ever; defendant: Me ("HOW THE HELL ARE YOU GOING TO FEED HIM IN THAT????")

Today I left work at 3.30pm, such as has become the custom, and was happily bounding along towards the train station with a sleeping Piglet in his pram, when I bumped into someone from work.  Now the only polite things to say to me at the train station are: a) "Well done!  I heard you can now pick up that pushchair WITH THE BABY IN IT and carry it up an entire flight of stairs!  You are surely the world's most accomplished mother.  And a seasoned traveller of the London Underground, at that!  You are a LEGEND in these parts!" and b) "Would you like a hand getting that pushchair up the steps?"  However, given that this was somebody from work who I don't know all that well, the conversation was far more likely to take a turn along the lines of, (*peers into pram, feigning interest*) "Ooh what a cute baby.  Are you enjoying being back at work?"

The only acceptable answer to the above question, of course, is no.

It is sometimes acceptable to admit that it is rather nice to have the pleasure of conversing with actual adults once in a while, and that it is still a pleasing novelty to be getting dressed in the morning into something other than a pair of ill-fitting and tragically see-through Primark leggings, but let's face it, if I turned around and answered that I was LOVING being back at work and pursuing my career like a wanton career-bitch superwoman in a shoulder-padded power suit, I would almost certainly be cast out forever from the motherly fold.

And so it was that I decided to sit on the fence and answer, "well, er, it's OK."

"Ha!  That means NO!" cackled Person From Work, as she walked off.

It was at that point that I realised that she had not actually asked me how I was finding being back at work, but how I was finding "it" in general.

So maybe by "it" she meant, like, MOTHERHOOD.

OH MY GOD I HAVE BASICALLY JUST TOLD THIS WOMAN THAT I HATE BEING A MOTHER.  I am surely now damned for eternity to burn in the deepest pit of Hell.

No matter how many times I tried to console myself with the true fact that it does not matter even one jot what someone from work thinks about my suitability or lack thereof to be a Holy Mother, I couldn't escape the image of other, more experienced mothers at work laughing and pointing behind my back about how they knew all along that I wasn't cut out to be a parent, much like I imagined my own mother did when she told me that she hadn't expected me to be a good mother as I was too concerned with "Going Out And Getting Dressed Up."  In clothing from American Apparel, no less.  THE SHAME!

I am now going to have to track down this woman at work tomorrow and do some sort of penance for my accidental apparent lack of glowing motherliness.

I'm pretty sure that the Duchess of Cambridge doesn't have this problem.  And I bet she never has to carry a pushchair up a flight of stairs either.

*I don't really hate being a parent by the way.  It's great, honestly.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Breastfeeding + Work = Nightmare

Well, it had to end sometime.  I am now back to work.

This is not as hideous as it could be, but it is like, JOKES trying to pump milk at work.  So far I have combed all the staff toilets looking for plug sockets "just on the off-chance," commandeered an office at lunchtime which then turned out to have a huge window looking out onto a building site, not to mention the students knocking at the door looking for the office's usual occupant; left various parts of the breast pump in the dishwasher and, most ridiculously of all, temporarily lost a crucial part of the pump, a piece of plastic tubing.  The latter led to a wild goose chase around every Currys and Maplin in the vicinity hollering at baffled teenage shop assistants about how I needed a replacement breast pump tube and did they stock them in here?

Luckily the tubing turned up just as I had given it up for lost and was on the verge of purchasing a new pump (I should probably add that the pump does not even belong to me), and I was so delighted that I nearly ran around the school holding it above my head in triumph.

Other than that, things have been fairly quiet.  Piglet is always glad to see me when I pick him up at the end of the day; usually spending the entire journey home headbutting my chest and wailing.  I'm sure what he actually sees when he looks at me is a giant boob full of forbidden milk, which to be honest is pretty much how I feel by the end of the day, especially if my one trusted pumping room has been hogged by the bloody careers advisor all day.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

More Unsolicited Advice from the Good People of Wembley

So I regale you with yet another tale of how when you have a baby, everyone considers it their God-given right to tell you how to parent.

I had, as usual, carefully considered how Piglet and I were presenting ourselves to the world, in order to deflect any unwanted comments.  Piglet was wearing his snowsuit, and despite the fact that it wasn't even that cold, I had also brought a blanket to cover him with, lest any well-intentioned individuals decide that I was a neglectful mother for not swaddling Piglet to within an inch of his life.  As we were travelling by bus, I considered taking him out in the sling, so that we wouldn't be taking up space that may be required by a wheelchair user, or a person with more children than me, whilst also winning bonus points by carrying my baby, which according to the doctrines of attachment parenting is better for the child than being pushed in a pram, because they can like, hear your heartbeat and stuff.  And also it's what people did in the olden times back on the savannah, innit.  Then I decided against it, as surely if babywearing is indeed better for the child, it wouldn't result in said child yelling all the way to Ealing because the way Mummy is sitting on the bus is uncomfortable for him, and then being knackered and unable to sleep the whole time we are out as there is nowhere for him to lie down.  So, like the selfish mother that I am, I took the pram.

This was all fine until the way home, when I was sitting contentedly on the bus with Piglet blissfully asleep, until a particularly loud party of schoolchildren walked past, and Piglet woke up.  Like he always does when there is any hint of noise.  After all, in the olden times back in the cave, he had to stay alert all the time just in case a sabre toothed tiger was hanging around, hoping for a bit of a nosh up.  For a while, he was content to sit quietly, looking around (there were surprisingly no sabre toothed tigers on the 83 bus, just a mad bloke who kept caressing the pole with the bell on it) but as time went on, the traffic got worse and he started to get bored, the whingeing started.

"Don't worry," I told him reassuringly, "we'll soon be home."

Judging by the state of the traffic, this was at best an optimistic estimate, and at worst an outright lie, but Piglet had not yet descended into actual shouting, so surely the other passengers on the bus could put up with the occasional whimper.

And then the elderly man next to me turned to me and explained everything.

"He wants milk."

Well, at least he had got Piglet's gender right.  This was an improvement from earlier in the day, when I had been in Boots buying mascara and the woman at the counter leaned over and said knowingly to Piglet, "you'll be wearing that before too long!"  Not wanting to conform to gender stereotypes by protesting that he was actually a boy, I had nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

I explained to the man on the bus that Piglet was going to be fed when he got home, but I didn't really want to breastfeed him on the bus, and anyway, hunger was not the cause of his discontent on this occasion.  Why I felt I had to justify myself to the entire cohort of the 83 bus I do not know, but I immediately assumed that the man thought that I must be starving my child.

Which he obviously did, as his next comment was, "he needs nipple.  Somebody give him nipple."


Emergency!  Emergency!  Piglet is showing a small amount of displeasure on public transport!  The logical conclusion to this is that I am officially such a terrible specimen of mother and general human being that I need someone else to feed my starving baby as I am incapable of doing it myself by means of breast, bottle or solid food.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Drowsy but Awake

Piglet is having a nap *KLAXON*

The flip side of this is that I am now scared to move.  I am backed into a corner of my own bed, based on the advice that "babies should nap in the place where they usually go to sleep" which, for Piglet, would be my bed.  This also means that I cannot leave the bed, since babies should "never be placed alone in an adult bed to sleep."  ARGH.

Still, the very fact that he is napping at all is a cause for celebration.  I had decided that instead of muddling along in a haphazard fashion, perhaps if I got him into a bit of a routine things might be easier, and so today I have been Gina Fording it up with the naps.  The results were as follows.

Piglet starts crying.  Argh.  This is not how it was supposed to happen.  The routine doesn't start until 7.  Must go back to sleep immediately.  Fortunately, after a quick feed, Piglet returns to his slumbers.

Crying again.  Nooooo, go back to sleep.  I open one eye and implore Piglet to let Mummy sleep a bit longer.  He ignores me, and continues crying.  I feed him again, but he stays awake.  How do other people get their babies up and fed by 7am?  This is just unacceptable.  At 8.30am I finally drag myself out of bed, and start making breakfast.  As for breakfast itself, I understand that most babies have porridge.  Not Piglet.  Piglet does not know how to eat porridge; nor does he allow you to feed him with a spoon, instead preferring to block your arm as the spoon hovers ever closer to his face, and turn away in disgust.  In lieu of porridge, I make a mushroom omelette and give some to Piglet.  He waves it around a bit and drops it on the floor, before pouring water all over it and himself when I offer him a cup to drink.  I am reminded of my mother's reaction to baby led weaning; "I still think it's a bit strange."  She had previously reserved this opinion for when I showed her pictures of Piglet's dozen or so half siblings on Facebook, and it basically means "O new-fangled folly. Things were better in my day when everyone ate rusks."

Ah, Heir Hunters is on.  Love a bit of Heir Hunters.  I always feel a bit sorry for the people in it; the dead ones.  Not because they are dead, but because they usually lived on their own and never married and their neighbours are on there talking about how they were a bit weird.  Then I start to think that I might be a bit weird because I'm not married either.  Then Piglet starts yelling and rubbing his eyes and I realise it's time for his nap.

I put Piglet in his sleeping bag and feed him again.  Miraculously, he falls asleep on the boob.  This routine thing is like MAGIC.  By 10.25, he's in his cot, sleeping peacefully.

ARGH NO THE PHONE'S RINGING. It better not be one of those electronic voices going on about mis-sold PPI.  Ah, it's my auntie asking if I'd like her to knit Piglet a jumper.  As soon as I start speaking, Piglet opens his eyes and blinks at me, wide awake, from the cot.  I feed him again, but to no avail.  He's not going back to sleep.

Right, let's go out and hope he sleeps in the pram.  Oh hang on, just need to do the washing first.  And clear up from breakfast.  And get dressed.

Finally leave house.  Catch glimpse of self in the mirror and realise I look haggard.

We walk to Wembley High Road and go to Wilkinson's, then to Primark.  This is exciting, as despite having lived in Wembley for three years, I have never set foot in the Primark before, but merely viewed it from afar with disdain.  However, I have now realised that I need some pyjamas, and the only thing I can find online is a set of Topshop loungewear for £47, which I'm not sure that I can justify.  I hold my head high, enter Primark, and purchase two sets of pyjamas for about 20p.  Piglet starts yelling while we are in the checkout queue (note to self, why are the queues in Primark always so massive?  It was a Monday morning, for Christ's sake!) and I implore him to sleep.  On the way home, he finally falls asleep.  It's now 12.45 and I pop into Wenzel's for a congratulatory Danish pastry.

Pour myself a cup of tea and sit down to enjoy the Danish pastry.  Maybe Gina was right about this routine thing after all.  It really is easy.  I have, like, totes got my life back.

Piglet is screaming.  But he's only been asleep for half an hour!  HOW CAN THIS BE?  I run to the pram, pick him up and feed him again while he kicks the Danish pastry off the side of the sofa.  He does not return to sleep.  Instead, I decide to start cooking lunch, and put him in the baby gym while I spend what turns out to be hours cooking lentils.  I can't even give Piglet any lentils, as the recipe contains vegetable stock, which is too salty.  Instead, he has pieces of cheese, avocado and red pepper, all of which end up on the floor.

Finally lunch is over and Piglet has also had a breastfeed and has fallen asleep on me, just in time for Escape to the Country, which I cannot watch as I can't move from the bed because Piglet is asleep in it.  He sleeps for 50 minutes, which is a marked improvement on yesterday, when I walked him round Wembley for an hour and his eyes remained resolutely open the whole time.

So, total amount of time spent napping today=one hour.  Not quite the three hours recommended for Piglet's age group, but I'll take what I can get.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Haters Gonna Hate

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been well and truly JUDGED.

And I say to thee, Ye Olde Judgey McJudgeys of Wembley, if you are thinking that someone has made a terrible parenting faux pas, unless it is quite clear that the parenting in question constitutes actual child abuse, please keep your thoughts to yourself.

Yesterday Piglet had his latest settling in session with the childminder, and we had to get up at the ungodly hour of 7.30am to ensure that we had two hours to get out of bed and present ourselves in some sort of reasonable condition at the station in time for the 9.34 train.  Gone are the days when I could roll out of bed and spend twenty minutes slowly waking myself up with a cup of tea in front of BBC Breakfast.  Nowadays, those precious twenty minutes are spent watching Piglet fling a spoon around, sending gloopy porridge spurting over the cowhide rug, and furiously pumping milk like a frustrated dairy cow after realising that I failed to defrost today's expressed milk from the freezer the previous night and it is still rock solid.  The knock-on effect of having to spend breakfast pumping milk is that unnecessary activities like having a shower and putting on make up go out of the window, meaning I basically had to go out looking like this.

It was a good look.

Piglet, for his part, was in the sling following the Stair Based Pram Disaster which led to my beloved Bugaboo being bent to one side after being lugged up some steps in a tube station which shall not be named (thank you, South Ruislip).

It should probably also be mentioned that there was an eclipse happening at the time, although it was impossible to see as the sky was completely overcast.  It did, however, mean that it was slightly chillier than I had assumed, it not having occurred to me that with 80-odd per cent of the sun being blocked out, it might get a bit cold.  As I had been expecting a balmy spring day, I had dressed Piglet in his (very warm) jacket, instead of his snowsuit.  He also had a felted cardigan underneath, and a woolly hat on, and he was snuggled close to me in his sling, so he would have been perfectly warm.  I was a bit worried about his feet as he just had trousers and socks on his bottom half, so I was rubbing them periodically to make sure he was warm.  He was perfectly content however, so I assumed-not unreasonably-that he was fine.

And then some random woman approached me and asked if Piglet was "OK in there, or do you need to pull your coat round him a bit?"

Like I was actually Jimmy Savile or something.  This woman, in her infinite wisdom, thought I was some sort of monstrous neglectful child abuser.  In years to come, Piglet will probably end up writing a harrowing book called A Child Called Piglet, where he describes how his neglectful mother used to parade him around the train station during eclipses in just his socks.  Well, and his nappy.  And his trousers.  And garters to keep his socks on.  And a vest.  And a felted cardigan.  And a frigging COAT.  And a very cosy sling.

Wembley Stadium Station: the scene of the crime

Of course, with some people you just can't win.  I spent the rest of the day in abject fear of what people might be thinking about my parenting skills, especially when I picked Piglet up from the childminder and he CRIED.  Like he was thinking, "please don't let me go back to that horrible, mean Mummy who took me out this morning without a snowsuit like I was Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol."

And then the weather changed.  The weather changed so dramatically that on the way home, as we basked in the spring sunshine on the sun-baked train platform where we waited for AN HOUR for the train, I actually thought Piglet was going to get sunburnt.  The poor mite had to wear his woolly hat and coat to protect against the sun's blistering rays.  I debated taking him into the shelter of the concrete steps leading up to the train platform, but WHAT IF HE FELL DOWN THE STEPS?  The same steps, I might add, which had the audacity to bend a pram out of shape.  Goodness knows what horrors they could inflict on a baby.  And am I allowed to put the baby on the seat next to me, even if I hold him there?  He might bang his head, for God's sake, and the seat is made of metal!

Parenting.  A minefield, eh?

No, not an actual minefield.  I didn't take Piglet to Cambodia to look at landmines!  Put your phones down, people!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Piglet Commences Destruction of Entire House

Piglet had his second settling in session with the childminder today.  This went well, right up until the point where we were on the way home and Piglet, who has never been one for eating and drinking anything other than breast milk, decided that he was now hungry.  Hungry enough to start licking the zip of my leather jacket whilst he sat in the sling.  I fervently prayed that there would be a train due when we got to the station.  Luckily there was.

It was due in 46 minutes, to be precise.

Now apparently, it is possible to breastfeed in my sling, at least according to the instructions.  Once, whilst carrying Piglet in it, I came across a heavily pregnant woman in the sling section at John Lewis.  She was thinking about which sling to buy, and wanted one she could use for feeding, as clearly we all do with the best intentions and plans that for most of us start to go awry right around the time of the first contraction when it starts to become clear that there is not going to be any whalesong involved in the whole birth thing, nor is it likely to take place in a bathtub strewn with rose petals and surrounded by fragrant Jo Malone candles while you practise your deep meditation techniques and allow yourself to open like a lotus flower to expel the baby gracefully and gently from the depths of your womanhood.   Like the wizened old sage that I am, I said that in theory yes you could breastfeed in this sling, but I personally had not quite managed it.

This is because it is IMPOSSIBLE.  Without even going into the nightmare that is breastfeeding in the early weeks, when you can't even wear a bra because your nipples are too sore and you end up walking around Tesco with big wet patches on your dress from the leaking milk, and where the baby regularly remains attached to the breast for up to an hour and a half (each side), leaving you with basically no time to do anything else; even now, as a relatively advanced breastfeeder, breastfeeding in a sling involves skills I simply do not have.

The trouble was, I was now at a station, waiting 46 minutes for a train and with a baby who was so hungry he was licking my jacket.  Remarkably, I managed to hoist up my top and discreetly proffer a nipple from within the sling without too much difficulty.  And would Piglet take said nipple?  No he would not.  He did not even appear to be able to see it.  After all, why would he be eating in an upright position, whilst being carried around, when on every other occasion he is reclining and being cradled in Mummy's arms?  This then led to twenty minutes of standing around trying to wave a nipple in Piglet's face while he, able to smell the milk, got excited and rooted around, completely unable to find the breast, before I gave up, took him out of the sling and sat on the seat and fed him normally, which is what I would have done from the outset had I not been worried about the location of the station being near to my school, and the possibility of truanting teenagers popping up and filming the whole thing and posting it on Youtube.

Anyway, things are now OK again, as I have just produced this.  Yes folks, this is what it actually looks like when not in the breast.  Like milk, to be precise.

O the wonders of new-fangled breast pumps.  I feel like a dairy cow.  I'm sure they have a similar sense of achievement when they see the vats of milk going off to Tesco and Asda.   Finally the mystery of how Piglet keeps getting bigger and bigger is solved.  It certainly isn't through solids, as most of them end up on the floor.  Piglet takes great delight in pulling the tray off the Bumbo seat and waving it around in a way that makes me wonder if he is going to grow up to be some sort of delinquent n'er do well.

Speaking of which, on Tuesday I was reminded during a particularly uncomfortable ride on the number 83 bus of a scene I once witnessed on a National Express coach, where a woman was trying to get her toddler to sit down on the seat, and said toddler refused and continued to stand up on the chair, even when the coach started moving.  I remember thinking that if it was my toddler I would have marched stridently off the coach, with the little urchin in my arms, saying they could kick and scream all they wanted but they would not be spending a two and a half hour coach journey refusing to sit nicely in their seat and we were not going anywhere until they did as they were told thank you very much.

That was until Piglet decided to re-enact this entire scene on a packed bus during rush hour.  I basically had to hold him aloft like the baby Simba in the Lion King for the entire gridlocked journey so that he had a panoramic view out of the window, lord and master of all he surveyed on Wembley High Road.

He is now exploring the living room and looming dangerously close to the DVD player, which he is examining thoroughly as though he is about to start taking it apart and destroying it slowly, piece by piece.

Oh, he has now moved on to trying to smash up the television with one of my bangles.  Time for an intervention, methinks.

Right, I've given him a ball.  That should keep him happy for a couple of seconds until it rolls away.  Already there is a lamp in the living room which no longer works after Piglet decided to pull on the wires attached to it for a few seconds before I rushed over, shouting "don't touch anything ELECTRICAL!  NOT THE PLUG SOCKETS!"

And he isn't even crawling yet.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

What is this nap time of which you speak?

I haven't written on here recently as I have been spending most of my life wandering around Wembley in a dead-eyed haze, pushing a pram containing a wide-eyed and alert Piglet, who sits staring at me blankly as I plead with him to take a nap.

He does actually need a nap.  He has all the signs.  All the signs that every baby book and website says are there to tell you that the baby has gone past his window of normal drowsiness, and has passed into the realm of the wired clubber at 6am getting second wind after fifteen vodka Red Bulls.  The yawning, the eye-rubbing, the screeching; even the frantic crying when put into the pram and forced to wait for an inordinately long period of time for Mummy to rush around the flat taking such obscene liberties as grabbing the keys and putting shoes on before we can actually leave.

And every time I tell myself, through the persistent and ear-splitting screams, he will be asleep as soon as we leave this flat and start moving.  Please God, don't let the neighbours think I'm some sort of heinous child abuser.

The thing is, back in Ye Olden Days (a few weeks ago), Piglet did fall asleep as soon as we started moving, but now he is far too excited at the prospect of having a little wander round Baby Gap, or  watching Mummy drink a latte in Cafe Nero, that he simply Will.  Not.  Sleep.

Today we walked the entire perimeter of Wembley Stadium (which is a surprisingly long walk, let me tell you), being buffeted by gales (it's randomly very windy up there.  Sort of like being in the middle of the sea), with Piglet wide awake and wired, eyeing me from his car seat with the slightly insane look of the sleep-deprived.  We walked so far that we encountered a whole new Sainsbury's which I didn't know existed (forgive me my excitement.  I live a simple life).  We saw people dressed as actual real monks and nuns.  One was in a full-on authentic Mother Teresa outfit.  I thought it was her until I remembered that she was dead.  I thought I might be hallucinating through lack of sleep but it turns out that there was a Catholic event at Wembley Arena.  Actual monks and nuns in the genuine uniforms people!  Who knew?  It was a bit like that moment in my first term of university when two people in the E block kitchen started talking about their boarding schools and I started guffawing with laughter as those things died out in the 1950s and only lived on in the Mallory Towers books, right?

And through all this, Piglet continued to sit in his pram, wide awake, taking it all in.  We went into Cafe Nero and he behaved impeccably, sitting bolt upright in his car seat like one of those black and white pictures of bonnet-clad 1930s babies in their humungous prams, fixing their gaze on the camera in a steely stare while children in rags play hopscotch around them.  We then went home and all hell broke loose, with persistent shouting interspersed with a few brief periods of quiet where Piglet was pulling his Bumbo seat apart while I tried to get him to eat his dinner, followed by an hour and a half of constant breastfeeding.

He is now asleep, but for how long?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Piglet's Top Ten Thoughts

Sat here with Piglet lying next to me on the bed while I type, as it is the only way I can stop him from yelling at me.  He is, as ever, showing absolutely zero signs of being ready to go to bed.

OK now he is trying to kick the laptop off me.  

Sometimes I wonder what is going through that little head.  Probably what an awful mother I am with my laptop and my sometimes needing to leave him in his pram for a few minutes while I go to the loo, and when the parents were being given out, why didn't he get Brad and Angelina who would surely at least have a nanny to keep him occupied when they're off making films and giving speeches to the UN.

In fact, here is a list of what I think probably are Piglet's Top Ten Thoughts.

1.) BOOB.
3.) Why sleep when you can large it up drinking milk all night?
4.) What is that glowing rectangle thing Mummy is always playing with and talking at?  I WANT IT.
6.) Why am I in this chair again?
7.) Look at my amazing kicking legs!
9.) Where is Mummy?  Want Mummy!  IF I SHOUT REALLY LOUDLY SHE'LL COME BACK.
10.) What is this?

It is number ten that has become most prevalent of late, as we have just started solid food.  Well, Piglet has just started solid food.  Mummy's intake of solid food consists mainly of Nutella.

Well, I say started solid food.  I'm not entirely sure any of it has actually got past his lips.  Most of it ends up either on the floor or smeared all over his face.  It has caused no end of consternation with my mother.

"WHAT?  You fed him chilli?!"

"If you had started earlier and fed him purees..."

Why does one always need to justify one's mothering choices even when following the guidance of the World Health Organisation to the letter?

Earlier on today I decided that it was finally time to use the baby hand and foot moulding set that one of my friends had given me as a gift, before Piglet's hands and feet get too big to fit in the frame.

As you can tell, this is in no way a disaster waiting to happen.

I had decided to wait until Piglet was old enough to find this fun and, after watching him sort of enjoy the experience of throwing spaghetti about at lunchtime it occurred to me that he might be ready to stick his hands and feet in a plaster mould.

Big mistake.  After the obligatory two minute wait for the mould to set was spent with Piglet wriggling around and attempting to dance on it, all that appeared in the frame was a big blob with no discernible shape, and the entire flat, including both Piglet and I, were covered in blue gel which then had to be hosed off in the shower and wiped down.  Note to self: do not attempt any form of messy play or anything that requires a baby to be still for even a nanosecond.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Note to self: Stop reading parenting blogs (that aren't this one, obvs.)

What is it about parenting that makes everyone go all Judgey McJudge?

Well, not everyone, but more specifically, me.

No, in fact, everyone.  Everyone does this.

OK I admit I was quite judgemental beforehand, in a "well that outfit isn't very suitable for work now, is it?" kind of way, but with motherhood this tendency seems to have gone stratospheric.  

Take our weekly swimming class for example; it's a veritable showcase of all the things I can get judgey about: four year olds with dummies, baby girls clad in head to toe pink outfits, babies wearing jewellery.  The list is endless.  And on Wednesday at Baby Club I almost had to slap myself when I started getting all judgey over a three week old guzzling a huge bottle of formula.  For all I know, it might not have even been formula.  It could have been condensed milk for all I knew, but the point is why should I care?  It's blatantly NONE OF MY BUSINESS.  I think I am turning into this woman.

Yes I am getting a bit obsessed with this blog.  I think it appeals to my judgemental side.  I quite liked it while it was banging on about things that I already do and Why They Are The Best Way of Doing Things and Everyone Else Is Wrong, e.g. breastfeeding, co-sleeping and hating on all baby books ever written, but my new found love (and smugness) quickly turned to disappointment when a post appeared which detailed why "married parents are the best parents."

Clearly I am not, after all, doing everything right.  

Or maybe I should just take the words of someone who calls themselves "The Alpha Parent" and illustrates their blog with a picture of a mother with a halo, Virgin Mary style, apparently with no trace of irony, with a pinch of salt.  What's that halo about anyway?  If anyone is like the Virgin Mary, clearly it's me.  I bet the Alpha Parent didn't have an immaculate conception.  Perhaps I should write a post about why parents who have immaculate conceptions are the best parents, as clearly all this judgemental motherhood is just all of us desperately trying to justify our own personal life choices, whether they be marriage, breast/formula feeding, babywearing, baby led weaning or being Gina Ford. Or maybe we should just all accept that there are a million and one acceptable ways of doing things, and we should all just be nice to each other.  What a revolutionary idea.  At least that way the Daily Mail would definitely go out of business.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Huffing and Puffing with Huge Pram on Dreaded Steps. THANKS AGAIN TFL.

Most.  Unproductive.  Day.  Ever.

Piglet woke up this morning at 7.30am, which I understand from my fellow parentals is usually described as "late."  For me, this is obscenely early, and I spent over an hour whimpering "Go back to sleep" whilst being enthusiastically hit in the face by an increasingly perky baby.  Once I finally did get up, I remembered that I had been planning to go to a childminder's drop in session in the vicinity of where I work, so I reluctantly put Piglet in the pram and headed off.  One delayed train, five minutes of peering mournfully at the huge staircase I had to navigate with the pram at the other end before some knight in shining armour took pity on me and came to my aid, and one brisk walk later, I was at the children's centre, only to be informed that the childminder's session had ended ten minutes previously, and yes there is a nursery here if you're interested, but you should probably know that there's a two year waiting list.


"I just got a place recently!" a young mother who happened to be sitting nearby piped up, with the pride of someone who's just been told that their toddler has just got a place at Oxbridge.

Newly enthused, I asked how old her daughter was.

"She's two.  I put her name down at birth!  Some parents put their babies' names down before they're even born!"

OH HELL.  I am DOOMED.  I am never going to be able to go back to work.  I am going to have to put Piglet in the nursery up the road, which is called "The Honeypot."  The HONEYPOT, I tell you.  It sounds like a porn movie.  This is HIDEOUS.

After a brief visit to work to show off how much baby has grown since last visit four months ago, I trudge wearily back to the station, only to spend ten minutes at the bottom of a set of stairs wondering how I am going to navigate them with a pram, wondering if it would be acceptable to ask someone who works there to help (I'm guessing no, based on previous experience with Transport for London.  I'm surprised they haven't yet gone on strike about it), contemplating whether it would be highly dangerous to attempt to lift entire pram, complete with sleeping Piglet (answer: yes) and most of all, wondering how I am supposed to do this every day after a whole day toiling away at the coalface at work, in the not-too-distant future.

I finally resorted to folding the pram, which was not Piglet's most contented moment with as I had to lie him down on the manky station floor while I did so, then holding the now-wide-awake-and unimpressed-about-it Piglet with one arm whilst dragging the pram up the steps behind me with the other.  I am not sure that the pram has fully recovered from the experience, and that thing was EXPENSIVE.  And don't even get me started on the state of my shredded nerves.  I am so going to have to bite the bullet and get one of those cheap things my mother had back in the '80s, which she used to expertly fold with her little finger whilst simultaneously hauling an armful of toddlers onto the bus.  Some things really were better in the Olden Days.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Let's all just end this madness now

Just come back from a visit to the health visitor where, in typical fashion, Piglet did an enormous wee on the baby weighing scales and I was told off for not taking vitamin supplements, despite the fact that (as I protested to the health visitor) they have been repeatedly shown to be useless.  Better just get used to the fact that whatever I do, there is always going to be someone judging my parenting decisions.

And speaking of judging, what is one to make of this?

Yes apparently, according to that bastion of the British high street, Poundland, these are the two vocations open to babies.  Pink-clad jockey, if you are a girl, and superhero, if you are a boy.  There are, of course, many problems with this.  Firstly, I have seen many pink-clad jockeys during my less productive Saturday afternoons spent channel hopping through Channel 4 racing, and few, if any, were women.  Secondly, superheroes clearly don't exist.  However, these points are unimportant (although more female jockeys please.  Given that women are generally smaller than men, is it not odd that horse-racing is mostly the domain of really tiny men?)  Bearing in mind the fact that encouraging a girl to ride a horse is significantly less bad than encouraging her to be a princess, I now give you that other bastion of the British high street, Wilkinson's (I know, I know, but when I say "British high street" I more specifically mean Wembley High Road, where the most upmarket establishment is a shop called Bland's that sells a curious mixture of cheap-looking prams and cots that actually aren't that cheap, ladies' underwear and hideous meringue ballgowns.  Because what everyone in Wembley needs is a hideous meringue ballgown to wear down the pub of a Friday night).

So this is a snapshot of the girls' toys section in Wilkinson's.  Now it goes without saying that the idea that there needs to be separate sections for boys' and girls' toys is itself abhorrent, but let's ignore this for a moment so we can look in more detail at what Wilko deem to be acceptable toys for young impressionable girls.  So let's see: we have a Barbie in a pink dress, a pink tutu outfit, a pink KITCHEN and a-yes, it really is-a PINK BABY CARRIER.  The boys' section is not shown here as I was too boiling with rage to linger in the aisles, but suffice to say it included police officer and fire brigade hats.

Yes ladies, the message here is clear.  Boys do the real jobs, like fighting fires and catching criminals, while the girls stay in the kitchen looking after the children.

The most ridiculous thing is that not only have things not moved on since I was a wee lass flicking through the toy pages of the Peter Craig catalogue lusting after a pink Barbie house and an A La Carte Kitchen, but they have got worse.  At least the A La Carte Kitchen wasn't pink!  And there were gender neutral toys available, such as the legendary Teddy Ruxpin.  Now admittedly I wasn't allowed any of the three toys mentioned above as they were all too expensive, but I do have photographic proof that for my second birthday, some progressive soul gifted me with a toy carpet sweeper.  Because, like, being a girl and all, all I could aspire to was a piece of already-obsolete equipment for cleaning a house, but AT LEAST IT WASN'T PINK!  End this madness now please!

For my part, I purchased both the bibs in the first picture, as at least then Piglet will know it's OK to be a boy who likes pink, right?

Sunday, 4 January 2015

More Hair-Raising Adventures on the London Underground

Travelling anywhere with a baby has begun to resemble a particularly farcical episode of Miranda.

Today, for example, Piglet and I (plus my mother) travelled from Bristol to London on the train (Piglet's first trip on the "big train."  He was fairly non-plussed, despite my mother's running commentary on the journey with all vehicles played by characters from Thomas the Tank Engine). All started well, although there was a brief moment of panic when we got the pram out of the boot of my mother's friend's car at the station only to discover that whoever had packed the pram in the car had disassembled it completely.  The last time the pram was taken apart Mother and I spent twenty minutes shrieking in the kitchen and cursing the makers of Bugaboo, watching Youtube videos on "how to assemble your pram" and yelling "it wasn't like this in my day!  I used to be able to fold a double buggy in seconds whilst running for the bus!" whilst unsuccessfully trying to fit all the bits back together, before giving up and taking Piglet out in the sling.  This time however, due in no small part to the somewhat calmer influence of my mother's friend, we managed to put the pram back together, and the journey to London passed uneventfully.

Until we got to Paddington.

"Look!" said my mother smugly as we wandered across the station concourse having successfully folded the pram, stowed it upon the train, removed it from said train and reassembled without incident, "I told you there was a lift!"

One lift.  That doesn't go all the way to the actual tube.  POINTLESS.

Needless to say, before long we found ourselves faced with the prospect of a perilous journey on an escalator; Mother with a large suitcase, and me with an empty pram and Piglet in the sling.

Mother panics.  "You're not allowed to take buggies on the escalator!  It's not allowed!  It's too dangerous!"  It'll be fine, I thought.  I've been on an escalator with the pram before, admittedly not without help, but IT'LL BE FINE.  Anyway, there is no other way of getting to the tube, unless buggies are suddenly banned from that too, which is entirely possible.

Seconds later, Piglet and I are on the escalator.  The pram has toppled over and is veering off to one side (THANK GOD FOR SLINGS), and the escalator has come to some sort of emergency stop.  Piglet is thankfully unharmed, and is gazing at me beatifically from the sling, blissfully oblivious to the fact that his hapless mother has just brought the entire Bakerloo Line to a standstill.  Mother and I tiptoe off the escalator, hanging our heads in shame, and wait for it to be repaired while a long line of fellow travellers gather at the top, looking annoyed.  It is even worse than that time I tried to get the pram-this time complete with Piglet in it-off a crowded London Overground train at Willesden Junction and the front wheels of the pram FELL DOWN THE GAP and had to be rescued by a crowd of quick-thinking commuters.

And there was me thinking the mass exodus of parents out of London had something to do with the house prices.