Birth Day.

Ah, my Birth Day.

Even when I was little I would always feel totally, overwhelmingly emotional about my Birthday. I always carried this expectation that it would be one way, and if it dared differ in the slightest then my world would feel like it had come crashing down. That my one day for it to be all about me had been ruined.

The selfishness of that isn’t lost on me, please know that I’m not a total twat and I am well aware of how precocious and self-centred that all sounds and it’s not something I’m proud of being like as a child.

Time has moved on and I’m no longer wearing puffball 80’s party dresses (except on very special occasions) and I would like to think I have a flash of clarity and understanding that, shocker, the whole world doesn’t revolve around me.

I think that there comes a point, especially when you’ve had children that you can see the beauty in small things, the delight in the quiet and the unexpected and today, on my birthday, all I wanted to do was go to a coffee shop, write for a bit, buy myself some knickers that make me feel nice and eat some cake. (I also wanted to see Taron Egerton in the new Elton John film but that felt like too may brilliant things in one day so I think I’ll extend the celebrations to the weekend. Yes, I like listening to metal music and Elton John and that’s Ok.)

It’s got me thinking about why I would freak out so much around my Birthday. I think it’s in some part to do with that feeling of reflection and mentally ticking off what I’ve achieved in the last year and it has to do with that other mental checklist we carry around of ‘I still want to/ buy/ be/ travel to/ achieve…’ and that’s the one that has tripped me up the most over the years.

When I was little I was desperate to own a pony, not in the fad or hobby sense but the waking and sleeping, obsessive, training like a jockey and up at the stables every day before school type desperation. Each year that passed, I still didn’t own my own pony. I had put aside the fact that I had been lucky enough to get lots of free rides on excellent horses, trained to teach younger riders and taken away on holidays to ride horses on cold windy beaches. All amazing things, all not good enough because I wanted my own horse. Then I got injured, quite badly, I had spinal treatment that meant wearing a brace, I started college and I discovered boys (horsey girls make that last discovery much later!) and the dream faded away and I realised that owning a horse wouldn’t have given me the freedom to travel in my gap year. Or to do a placement at a National Newspaper. Or time to appreciate that they cost money, and time, and dedication and sacrifice of nearly everything else in your life.

The next big thing to tick off the lift list was to write. I had to get my big break in writing and I had to do it straight out of uni. A journalism degree in hand and an enthusiasm to write for pennies if it meant getting published, I scoured the ads, emailed desperate requests for work experience and tried getting contacts who could offer me a break. And when my temporary job started to feel more permanent, and the emails being sent lessened I realised that the writing dream was stalling and the day job that paid the bills was now my priority. As that Birthday came around I was no longer calling myself a writer, I was working in the Public Sector and working for the greater good for lesser money than I’d imagined.

By 23 I wanted to be living in Paris. I’d spent my life dreaming of the day I would up sticks and move to the land of bohemian arts, dirty Euro Pop and decent café crème and I had the opportunity to work there for a few months on a job trial. But that Birthday was shared with a boyfriend who didn’t think that fitted with his plans. That it wasn’t what was in out future and so I declined because I was silly enough to give up on a dream for a boy, and I’m still kicking myself a little at that decision. (The job and the boy, for clarity.)

More recently in the last few years the big ticket item was babies. I wanted a baby desperately, thought I’d done everything to prepare myself, had a partner, bought a house, got married, was patient, and patient and with every birthday that passed I felt like I was hanging on to the last nugget of patience I had. Everyone around me was pregnant or a new Mum and it felt incredibly unfair.

And this year it’s properly struck me that with every birthday I’d cry and I’d whine and as an adult I’d mourn turning another year older and I had totally missed all those bloody wonderful, unplanned and unexpected things that had happened throughout the year.

I didn’t get a pony but I did meet some amazing horsey friends, learned confidence, resilience and bravery whilst flinging myself over jumps so high that I had no business trying to jump!

I hadn’t got the writing job but I’d also just come out the other side of a messy parental divorce, a break up and a loss of someone in a very short space of time and writers block had been medicated with some of the best nights out I’ve ever had. We called it the summer of love and it was. I loved my amazing friends, loved travelling Europe with my best buddy and returning to the security of a job that had real career prospects.

Babies. I wont pretend it was easy, or that IVF and fertility treatments were all fun and games but we laughed through it, we came out the other side stronger than we’d ever been, we saw vulnerable sides of each other and we could be there for each other through some of the darkest times using every single one of those marriage vows to pull us through. And at the end of it, we had our baby, the one meant for us, with his perfect (month early) timing, he entered our world as he was meant to.

Messy, unexpected and imperfectly perfect.

And that’s just what birthdays are going to be for me from now on. And I am totally happy with that.

Happy Birthday fellow Taureans! May your day be as lazy as you like, the cake to be as glutenous as you prefer and for the other signs to recognise we may be stubborn as hell but the most loyal you will find.

 

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‘I wish I loved anything as much as my kid loves bubbles’ – big feelings for little people

You’ve got to be a proper scrooge I think to not have at least half a smile when you see a small person with bubbles or a balloon.

It’s like they’re seeing magic for the first time and everything they thought they new about the world in the short time they’ve been in it has changed. Like anything is possible and they might literally explode because they’re that excited.

I was talking to a friend the other day and we were laughing about how intense everything felt when we were teenagers. Missing a party because you were grounded, not getting a reply on MSN from that boy you were obsessed with even though he’s showing as ‘online’, or worse, falling out with your best friend and your whole world turning upside down even if it only lasted about 2 lessons before you made up again. It was all sooo intense I felt like I was living in an episode of Dawson’s creek minus the smug, professor level language.

I think it’s experiencing love and loss and excitement for things for the first time that it’s so overwhelming you think your heart might explode (or break, literally into 1000 pieces). I used to feel excitement that literally made my body fizz and meant I couldn’t hear a word most of my teachers were saying I was just desperate to get out of lessons and chat to my friends.

It’s so intense it feels like you’ll never be that excited or happy again when in fact, the next time is literally just around the corner. You feel things so deeply and with such raw, innocent emotion and because you’ve probably not seen things from a mature point of view you experience life without any of the cynicism or negativity that comes with being an adult. You feel like there’s not another person on the planet that’s ever felt the way you do, love someone as much or hurt as bad and only a blink 182 song can sum up what you’re going through.

That rollercoaster of emotions is what I’m starting see in K now that he’s a toddler (minus the brutal teen breakuos obv) and I want to just bottle up all these emotions for him so he gets to experience them all over again when he’s older.

He loves things hard; us, the cat, his family (especially his grandparents), food and giggling and footballs more than us I sometimes think.

He laughs and (happy) screams like it’s the funniest thing he’s ever seen and cries so hard i worry that his little heart can’t take it. But I know it’s all part of getting older and I love seeing how he expresses his emotions and let’s us know what he’s thinking even if he can’t tell us yet. It’s dramatic and hilarious and over the top but it’s as if his body is too little for these big feelings he’s now feeling.

He’s brave and reckless and when he falls or bumps himself I see him upset but there’s a look in his eye which I know means he’ll go back and do the same thing again.

And as per the title of this post (respectfully sort of stolen from ‘knocked up’) when he sees bubbles I look at him and I can’t belive I made him. That I had someone so happy and silly and loud and beautiful that can see something so simple and believe that it is magic. ‘Bubble’ was one of his first proper words. It’s his favourite game and his happy place. Every time he sees them flying up in the air he stares open mouthed looking around and on the rare occasions he manages to touch one he is literally beside himself with joy.

I can remember getting older and starting to feel irritated by Disney plotlines that I’d once memorised and spent hours rewinding on video and making my brother watch with me. They seem ridiculous now, and I see flaws in the characters that weren’t there before. And I know it’s because being an adult has made me wary and cynical and practical and my adult brain tells me that things rarely work out that well.

But for my little hurricane, the way his face literally lit up when he saw the characters spinning around in the Greatest Showman I could see he genuinely believes in magic, they were real to him and he was frozen taking in every move and note. I hope that feeling stays with him for as long as possible. When I’m blowing bubbles in the garden for the 3rd time that day and he’s squealing and shouting I feel like I’m little again too and there’s magic in the air. He is my tonic to the grown up world and we may sound silly and whimsical and infact this whole post is not who I’ve been for the last year but he’s changed me and made me see things through his eyes and it’s a very happy place to be.

We left her overnight, she survived – So did I

A spa afternoon and a night away sounds bliss right? What about if it means leaving your baby overnight for the first time…Eeek! Forget about her having separation anxiety, I’ve got it!

My little one was 5 months old at the time, she wasn’t an easy baby, she still isn’t and my anxiety was still there, clouding my head. Half of me desperately wanted a little bit of time, time to be with my partner, time to sleep and time to recharge my burnt out batteries and the other half of me wanted my baby at reaching distance at all times, to be there if she needed me.

My parents came to stay the night at our house and of course I knew she was in safe hands, they managed to raise me and brother and we turned out ok… although I’m sure others would beg to differ 😉 You just can’t help but feel like no one else, not even the ones closest to you, can care for your baby the way you do.

I packed an overnight bag and threw in a pre-pregnancy bikini (ain’t nobody got time to go cozzy shopping these days), my mum tum would be out there for all to see, but at the time the way I looked didn’t bother me one bit. There was a time I would of planned well in advance what bikini I’d take, what outfit id wear for dinner and my toenails would always be painted. As a new mum I was consumed with everything baby and dry shampoo was my new best friend.

When we get there we’ll have lunch and I’ll have a couple of vinos I thought, that will help me relax. All it did was make me emotional, it used to make me dance! My lunch arrived and so did my tears. ‘Don’t cry’ my OH said ‘She’s fine’. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a sobbing, blubbering wreck but there may have been some stray mascara. Like I said, I knew she was absolutely fine I just missed her and felt a little guilty that I was away from her.

On went my bikini and out came my belly, I was getting a grip now and looking forward to some pampering and chill time. It was so peaceful and relaxing, just how you’d imagine, beautiful music, dim lighting and the sound of water, bliss…. But, If my phone goes off it it’s on the loudest setting and I can’t remember what my ring tone is as it’s been on silent since the day she was born. Of course it’s in my dressing gown pocket,  she might need me, I was relaxed but now I’m a mother there will always be part of me that’s never fully relaxed.

We had a swim, a massage, a sauna, it really was wonderful and I only text my mum about 6 times that afternoon/evening, that’s not too bad is it? We had a meal, a whole meal that was hot! We stayed at the table and talked, we had wine, a bottle in fact, I hadn’t done this in over a year.

Ahhhh a whole night of undisturbed sleep, I was genuinely more excited about this than anything else! Oh how I took this for granted and scoffed at people who told me to get my sleep in before she arrived! ….The hotel fire alarm went off at 2am…..WTF!! I ran around the room in my naked, frantic state looking for my baby, then I realised where I was. Was this really happening! It turned out to be a false alarm, it had to happen that night didn’t it! We we’re awake in the middle of the night, like we had been every night for the last 5 months… you’ve gotta laugh!

Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I need it? Yes, more than I realised. It certainly wasn’t going to be a regular thing but taking time out on occasion is important, as well as being someone’s mummy, I was still me. Don’t lose yourself to motherhood and don’t feel guilty for needing a break, you deserve it. We did it, we left her overnight and she survived, I did too.