I have this form on my bread bin.
It’s been there since last May. A whole year.
It’s the form that will enrol my daughter for pre-school.
At the time I was given the form, I was perfectly okay with the idea of The Toddler going to pre-school eventually, probably in September 2013, when she’d be exactly two and a half. But over a year ahead of her provisional start date, there seemed no rush to actually submit the paperwork. So I didn’t.
At various times over the past year, I’ve spotted the form while trying to rationalise the pile of paper that accumulates on top of the bread bin, and put it back, meaning to turn my attention to it soon.
It’s still there. Continue reading
Once upon a time, I was a proper muso. According to my biological father, I attended (or at least overheard) my first ever gig (Lou Reed) at just a few months old, on holiday in France. I have my doubts as to the veracity of that statement, but for a long, long while, I felt that a love of music was in my blood.
It wasn’t so much playing it. I learned violin at school, and got to a reasonable standard; I taught myself keyboard and guitar, too. But it was other people’s live music that really got me excited. So much so, that when I was choosing my university options, I decided against Oxbridge, to my father’s disgust, and instead put Cardiff as my first choice, thanks to its impressive gig schedule. I got in, and over my four years there, I saw on average two live acts a week.
When we moved up to London, we still went to a few gigs, but they were expensive and harder to fit in around working life. And once we’d had kids, that was it. Until tonight, it had been over seven years since I – former chief music reviewer for the student paper – had been to a concert. Continue reading
My spare time has been at a premium lately, thanks to an incredibly busy few weeks with work. One of the drawbacks of being freelance is that it’s very hard to turn down a job, not knowing when the next one will come along, and the result is that I’ve been overbooking myself somewhat and pulling lots of late nights to meet my deadlines.
This work glut has made me realise how much I appreciate the time I get to myself, and also how wasteful I am of it.
It’s fair to say that Facebook is by far my biggest waste of time. In some ways, it’s a wonderful thing, as it gives me the adult-to-adult gossip and banter that I no longer get in my working life, having given up my one-time office job, but I know that if Mark Zuckerberg pulled the plug tomorrow, I would have so many more hours in my day. Continue reading
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, I had a fantastic opportunity, through work, to go for a 4D baby scan. This was a proper bonus for us, as we live in one of the few remaining areas of the UK in which you’re not allowed to ask the baby’s sex at the 20-week scan – and we really wanted to know.
So, at 25 weeks, we went along to the private scanning clinic, and there we were told that we were expecting a baby boy.
If I’m totally honest, I wanted a girl. But as soon as we found out, I felt completely resigned to – and happy with – the fact that I had a little boy on board. Sitting in the car afterwards, looking through the scan pictures, I thought, ‘That’s my son,’ and I felt such a rush of love and pride that my eyes filled with tears. Continue reading
I love my family very much. And I enjoy my time with them very much.
I enjoy listening to The Boy rabbit on about the dream he had last night, his future career plans (pilot/writer/artist/train driver/actor/lifeboat crew depending on his mood), and the frog he and his friends found in the school playground.
I enjoy my days with The Toddler, reading Topsy and Tim (or, more accurately, reciting it from memory), building Duplo metropoli, picking daisies and buttercups, and kissing her all over until she’s squealing with laughter. Continue reading
To my Toddler:
Dear baby girl,
I am so sorry for neglecting you this week. I am so sorry for all the hours that you’ve spent playing by yourself, begging for me to come and play with you. I am sorry for the books that I have read so half-heartedly, with one eye on my computer screen. I am so sorry for putting you to bed for your nap early, knowing that you weren’t ready to sleep, just so I could get on with work without you chattering around me.
To my son:
I am sorry that I couldn’t take you to church after-school club today, because I had work to finish. I am sorry that you haven’t been able to stay and play in the park after school this week, even though it’s been sunny and warm, because of my deadlines. I’m sorry for shouting too readily. I’m sorry for using you, seven-year-old you, as a sitter for your baby sister.
To both of my children:
I love you both with all my heart. This week has made me realise that I can’t go on working like this and parenting you the way that I would like to. I feel so guilty that at the times you have needed me – to read a story, to have a bedtime snuggle – I have been too preoccupied.
This is not what I want for us. The time I spend with you is worth far, far more than money, cool clothes, amazing holidays.
I have a lot of thinking to do.
But while I think, please know that I love you both. And that after this week, this week where you have had to fend for yourselves because of my work, I am sorry.
My friends have always teased me about the way I fall head over heels in love with every stage of development my children go through. First smile… ‘I wish they could stay like this forever.’ Crawling… ‘I wish they could stay like this forever.’ First steps… ’I wish they could stay like this forever…’ You get the picture. I’m often found bewailing the passage of time and wishing I could freeze things for just a little while longer.
But the stage that I really love, more than any other (yes, really), is the learning to talk stage. You know, the one where they’re almost verbal, but still make the most endearing errors in their speech.
The Boy was rather late to talk fluently – a fact that will amaze anyone who has met him in the past couple of years; since he found his voice, he hasn’t stopped talking for a second. But his little mispronunciations and non-sequiturs from way back when have become part of our family lexicon. Continue reading
Today is a sad day. Today I finally said goodbye to a faithful friend who has seen me through three long winters, come rain, snow and ice.
My adored purple Fat Face boots have gone in the bin.
It’s silly, I know, to get attached to a pair of boots. It’s not the first time; I still pine for the green DMs that I owned as a teenager, having nagged my mum to buy them until she was at the point of breakdown. In fact, I still have them somewhere, but they’re in such an appalling state that even *I* wouldn’t put them on. But these boots, my lovely purple boots, are going to be sorely missed. Continue reading
At last, the long, gloomy winter has departed (for now, at least) and in its place we have beautiful, glorious, much longed-for sunshine. Spring has finally sprung: hallelujah!
The Boy’s school is next to a playground, so every afternoon after school this week, we’ve spent half an hour or so in the park before continuing our homeward journey. It’s been lovely to see the play area thronging with children again, to see their pale, skinny limbs unleashed from their winter uniform and slowly regaining their colour.
But while my two love the park, it’s not the most relaxing experience for me. The Boy has a tendency to disappear out of the fenced-in play area into the trees alongside on some mission or other, which guarantees a few heart-stopping moments until I’ve located him, while The Toddler is at that stage where her sense of adventure exceeds her physical abilities, meaning I have to hover around her all the time. So, today, after just 10 minutes in the park, I told them we were going home. I was hot, tired, and my feet were aching from the mile walk to school in flimsy summer shoes. I wanted my garden, and my sun lounger.
Yesterday, The Toddler and I went shopping. Nothing unusual in that, except that for the first time, I decided to risk it without buggy or reins. Compared to The Boy, who had hung up his wheels by this age, The Toddler still spends an awful lot of time in her pushchair, mostly because I do the two-mile round-trip to school on foot, twice a day. She doesn’t get enough practice at walking, so I figured that a trip to our nearest undercover shopping centre on a quiet weekday would be a good opportunity to try her out.
Now, I know that The Toddler is a bit of a girlie-girl. But I hadn’t realised quite the extent of it until we hit the shops together. Continue reading