30 December 2013

An update on your Talipes (Clubfoot)

It's weird. When you were born I didn't take any photos of your feet. Other parents on Talipes groups and forums took lots of pictures and shared and talked about them. I didn't. It's one regret I have. It's also how I deal with difficult things. I'm a bit of an ostrich.

Anyway, here you are three years into your journey with Talipes. When you're bigger you won't remember all this so this is to show you what your treatment was like. Talipes can be hereditary and if you have children one day, and if they have Talipes, then it might be interesting to look back at how the treatment has changed. You are having Ponseti treatment which was pioneered by Dr Ignacio Ponseti at the University of Iowa and has been practiced in the UK for less than twenty years now. Before this the only option was painful surgery which didn't always work very well. Some children, in countries with not much money, still don't have access to this treatment so we are very lucky indeed. 
Your boots and bar that you've worn every night since you were 8 weeks old (the boots have changed as your feet have grown - clearly)

I still vividly remember having to put these on you, my tiny little eight week old baby. All of my instincts were to wrap you in soft comfy things and swaddle you as I had since you were born. As it was I had to put these hard heavy boots on your tiny little feet held shoulder width apart by a metal bar. I knew it was right. It just felt wrong. 
Wearing your boots and bar tonight

Despite the initial shock and heartache at finding out there was something wrong with my baby and then having to go through all the treatment you have embraced it as you have everything we have presented as normal, everyday life. We've never given you the room or the cause to question them and so, you never have. Even during the worst tantrums, luckily, you've never thought to refuse them. Every other part of your bedtime routine has been refused at some point so I am delighted it hasn't extended to your boots. You currently tell me "they're not boots Mummy, they're dragon heads." Then you lift your feet to make them fly.
Minnie Mouse wears your old boots to help her feet too!

You have another two years of wearing your boots and bar and I hope that you continue to accept them as you have done. I will try to explain more to you as you get a bit bigger and I know you'll understand. 

I love you x

23 December 2013

"I promise I love you"

On the way into Cambridge today we had a chat:
"Why is the car bumping Mummy?" 
I replied that it was the little holes in the road. Silence...
"Or maybe it's little rocks Mummy?"
I agreed with that as a possibility. Silence...
"OR turtles Mummy?" 
"It's probably holes darling."
"Yes Mummy....or turtles."
Me and you :) 
As we arrived in the outskirts of Cambridge you declared, "it's so pretty here Mummy. Cambridge has lovely buildings." The voice comes out of my pretty little three year old girl but the words could be those of an old lady. Sometimes odd. Sometimes funny. A lovely juxtaposition though. 

From our cafe, we watched the people coming and going at the bus stop and you talked me through what might be happening. 
"That man's waiting for a bus Mummy."
"Yes darling."
"He's on the bus now Mummy."
"Is he sweetheart?"
"It's taking him home.....or to the jungle maybe."
"Now that lady is waiting...OH! The man's bus is back from the jungle already."
"That's a different bus baby."

You carried on chatting for a little while, happy with your own interpretation of the bus stop's comings and goings and I was happy to just listen.
I know all parents feel the same and that this is nothing new but I want you to know how I feel right now. Me at thirty six years old and you at three. In a similar way to not being able to comprehend infinity in space, I struggle to elucidate how much I love you. I look at your three year old face all questioning, excitable and caring and I could just burst. Your little body wrapped up in your winter coat and your little feet in your warm winter boots make me want to hug you forever. I adore your little girl's hands tightly gripping Right Bunny and I love how much you adore that rabbit. I love your evolving grasp of language and how you currently spin things to your advantage by slightly misusing "I promise..."

"Put that in the bin darling." 
"I promise you can do it Mummy."

Tonight I told you to choose the bedtime story. "I promise you can read the London book Mummy. Your favourite."
"Thank you darling."

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines..." ~ Madeline in London, Ludwig Bemelmans (1961)

Night night sweetheart. See you in the morning. I love you, from Mummy x

18 December 2013

Dear Molly, you talked about when you grow up tonight...

We had a sweet little chat at bedtime tonight about what you'll be able to do "when I'm bigger Mummy." I put my overwhelming desire to ignore the fact that you're going to get bigger to one side and settled down to see what getting bigger means to you at age 3 years and 2 months.
Number one on your list was to "drink coffee like you Mummy." Maybe I have too much coffee. 

Then you moved on to other aspirations. "I will be able to get my own teddies from my high shelf Mummy" you said excitedly. Yes baby, you will. 

"I will be able to drive your car Mummy." A pretty sensible suggestion for age 17+..."and press all the coloured buttons in it ALL by myself!"

"When I am bigger Mummy, I will cook you roast beef." I enquired about which vegetables we might have. You said "chicken." We'll do some work on the food groups. I said broccoli was a vegetable. You responded with, "oh, now I understand. We'll have cauliflower. Silly me." Not silly darling. There's a lot to take in. It'll take some time. 

"And for my work I will work on a computer like you Mummy and be a teacher and be a gardener. I can do those things all at the same time." For now I want you to believe you can be whatever you want to be. We have plenty of time for looking at the practical options for gardening teachers on computers at desks. 

And the last thing you'd like to do when you're bigger was a little mixed up but the sentiment was perfect. "When I am big Mummy, and you are smaller, I will read you a story and tuck you in your big girl bed. I will read you The Smartest Giant book to make you happy." 

"Yes darling"
"Can I still have my big girl bed when I am bigger?"
"Of course sweetheart"
"And will I still have Right Bunny?"
"Most definitely"
"Oh goodie" 

I love you so much baby and I can't wait to hear how your aspirations change as you grow. Experience everything you want to in your own time and believe in yourself. Just don't hurry. There's no rush.

Night night darling. Lots of love, Mummy x

"I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to explain them." ~ Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868-69)

12 December 2013

Dear Molly, you asked me once, "who is Auntie Choof?"

We had this sensible thought when you and your cousins came along that we'd drop all the silly family nicknames. I think they seemed even sillier when we tried to comprehend explaining them to the next generation.
Despite our best efforts they've crept back in, as deep engrained family traditions tend to because they've carved a furrow for us all to live in. I've actually come to believe that that furrow is where we belong. It's there for a reason.  

So, in answer to your question, when Cameron and Erica refer to "Auntie Choof" they are talking about your Mummy. I am Choof to many of our close friends and family. And your Uncle Peter is a pelican and  Auntie Amanda is a panda and Daddy is an eagle and sometimes I call Auntie Lulu, Bart and Grandad calls Cameron, the Pontipine and therefore, Erica, his little sisiter, is the Pinette (a female Pontipine). Your Grandad Foster initiated a lot of this with his animalisation of everyone to amuse us as children...and adults! 'Choof' came from school for me though. I just think that my lack of reticence to accept it as a name came from our family environment. It's no big deal. They're only nicknames. Just things which attach to our personae. Sometimes forever, sometimes until another name evolves. Some people use them and some people don't and they are just part of us. Who we are. Our family.
Auntie Amanda(the Panda)'s photograph of you and Cameron walking in Brinkley this weekend

I love being Choof. I love it because it is a natural evolution of different terms of endearment used by my friends and family since I was at school. When people use it today it means, to me, an acceptance of something which on the surface is superficial and silly but which is completely part of who I am. Not that it matters if people don't use it. Nor have I sought to influence who does and who doesn't. It's just happened. Or not. 

My friend (Auntie Lulu) sent me an e-mail yesterday because she hadn't seen me in a while. It made me smile for all the reasons mentioned above.....and, of course, because it made a beautiful reference to you, my little curly haired shadow.

"Missing - The lesser spotted Choof.  Very small of frame with a big fringe and eyes.  Can be tempted out with black coffee and cake.  Possibly kidnapped by turbo training fanatics.  Usually found with a wee companion with equally big eyes and a mop of golden curls."

Silly, but lovely. A bit like us :) 
My little shadow, my mini Choof (I could look at this picture for hours. There is something about your forlorn little face and your little hand on my leg. People may call me Choof but, first and foremost, I am Mummy and I'll always be just behind you baby, in case you need me.

So, my little Molly Mootle, there you have it. One day I can elaborate a little about why we are who we are in our funny little world but, for now, we just are.... 

I love you enormous amounts, as ever. Mummy x

"A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men." ~ Roald Dahl

11 December 2013

Dear Molly, who are we and where are we from?

I want you to know where I came from and therefore where you came from. History is so important. It is our DNA, in more than just biological terms. It's what makes us who we are. It influences where we are in the world and what we do. The people and places which make up our history are what creates our futures, in one way or another.

"I love not only you, but also your name and your numeral. After all, it's part of what you are." - Jennifer Cavalleri (Ali McGraw), Love Story (1970).

Last weekend we went to see your nana & grandad and found out a little bit more about our family history. I will piece it all together more comprehensively one day. I'd like to try anyway.
Grandad reading you a book that his parents read to him when he was your age

We had a lovely day together in Holt. We went to The Owl Tea Room for lunch and then we wandered round the shops and galleries picking up a few things and enjoying the town's quaint English charm. This is my favourite time of year to visit. Wrapped up warm, enjoying the town's famous (in Norfolk) Christmas lights, buying gifts and holding your little hand.
The church in Holt at night

We trudged back home to nana and grandad's to warm up. You were clutching your little bag of pick & mix sweets, eager to get home. You ran inside and snuggled up in your grandad's armchair and dived into your little paper bag. So happy.

I took the opportunity to rummage around in shoeboxes full of old photographs. There were lots of people I didn't know in photographs which your nana inherited when my nana died. I felt like I had made a new connection to my past by seeing images of my family that I hadn't seen before and by finding out a bit more about them.

I always knew that my mother's (your nana's) family came from France. I didn't know where though...and now I do! My great grandfather (your great great grandfather) Auguste Durand, was born on 16th December 1871 in Seurre in the Cote-d'Or, part of the Burgandy region of France.
I'd love to visit. This could be the beginning of an exciting new French chapter for us.....Maybe the north wind will take us there one day, like Vianne and Anouk in Chocolat.

"But still the clever north wind was not satisfied. It spoke to Vianne of towns yet to be visited..." - Joanne Harris, Chocolat

One day I will try to find out what brought Auguste Durand to England where he had a son who became my Grandad, Charles Durand (Charlie). 
One of my favourite finds of this weekend was this wonderful picture of my Nana and Grandad (Gladys and Charlie Durand) on their wedding day on April 16th 1938 outside Kensington Register Office where they married. They look so happy. It's humbling to think that had they never met and married, we would not be here today. They made a happy life for their children which taught them to do it for theirs and so on and so forth. They say that history repeats itself. To me that just means our children learn how to be, from their parents. So, whatever happens, it's important to do what makes you happy so that your happiness soaks into your children and lives on. We owe our families everything.

I feel that I owe it to you to teach you about your history. I want to show you where our family roots are to give you a sense of identity as you grow. I've still got lots to find out myself and hopefully we'll have lots of fun doing that together.

I love you, as always, Mummy x

"We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies." ~ Shirley Abbott

Dear Molly, you'll grow up wanting to leave and, when you grow upyou'll want to go back

Today I went back to Cringleford, and I took you. This is where my childhood was and I was proud to show you to my village and my village to you. This place is entrenched in my soul. Not for any spectacular reason or because I'm eulogising about it where it's not due but because I grew into who I am today right there, in that normal little village. 
I felt like I was on a film set there today. Whilst pointing out to you what used to be our doctors' surgery, "for when you were poorly Mummy?" an elderly lady on a bench who I hadn't noticed turned to us and said, "hello sunshine" to you and asked me, "did you grow up here dear?" It felt poignant. I'm not sure why. 

We spent a couple of hours at, "your park from when you were small Mummy" and I felt right back at home. The trees, the air, the houses, so familiar. I wanted to wrap you into that feeling so that this wasn't a strange place to you. You ran around playing and proclaiming that "I love it here Mummy, it's lovely. I love your park from when you were small." That made me happy.
I sat on the hill watching you playing in the same little playhouse I used to sit in and resisted the urge to interrupt your chatter and play. I heard you serving fake tea to make-believe tea party goers and telling 'everyone' where they should be sitting. I think children need solitude sometimes and I try not to forget that and smother you with my ideas of how you should play. When you were ready you called me over to put you in the swing and push you "really, really high."
I have this wish, desire, belief that it's right, whatever you choose to call it to try and help you to understand your roots, where you came from and who you are. I hope that being somewhere that was such a big part of me will help that process.
I had a lovely morning with you and my park and you have been talking about "Mummy's park from when she was small" all afternoon so I hope it was more than just a trip to the swings for you. I have lots more places to show you but we've got plenty of time.

Thank you for today. I love you. Mummy x

Dear Molly.....

All parents have a bond with their children. It's not a new concept but it is incredible. Sometimes it feels to me like your umbilical cord was never cut. I feel your emotions like they're happening to me. I wonder how nature does that? You climbed the slide at the park the other day to show the "big girls" how well you can slide down and they'd walked off before you got to the top of the slide's ladder. I think I felt your disappointment more strongly than you did. Feeling a child's disappointment, sadness and fear seems to be an affliction parents have to live with so I'll try and get used to it. I'll also get used to the paradox I feel in loving you so much and wanting to keep you close whilst knowing my role is to help you to be independent. Another parental challenge to rationalise and deal with. There are a lot of those. 

It's weird, I can cope with you physically hurting yourself more easily than I can when you are emotionally hurt. The day we left Right Bunny at a friends' house I sobbed with you through those horrible 20 minutes when you thought you'd never see her again. I hate it when people who aren't my own child are disappointed so I guess it was always going to be harder with you. 

You, Right Bunny & me, safely together

In contrast, I love how happy I can make you. I do hope that I can continue to do that as you get bigger. I appreciate it might get harder as your tastes become more sophisticated and I wont be able to make you ecstatic with some paper cups that you've never seen before and that you can fill with gravel. I have three pretty tins in my room to keep things in. You've always played with them and the other day I let you have the smallest one for your things in your room. Your little face lit up. You let out a big gasp and said "really Mummy?" You were so delighted and you have chosen to keep these things in it: your Lucy lobster which Grandad brought you in Sheringham, your silver heart necklace which our friends gave you, your bracelet which your Great Grandad gave you when you were born, your 'I've explored Skipton Castle' badge and a crayon. It took you a while to decide where to keep your tin. After much deliberation you have put it in pride of place next to your books and in front of your lion bookend. You declared that "it looks really good there Mummy". I agreed.

I occasionally have pangs of guilt that I don't do more sums with you. We don't own any flash cards. I havent made you recite your alphabet and I never bought those expensive language DVDs that I meant to buy. But then I remember, you can sing entire songs so you'll easily remember the alphabet when you have to. You know how many strawberries you have left, or how many carrots have grown in your garden, or how many sandwiches you require for your make-believe tea party so when the time comes that you need to subtract one from the other, I know you'll get it. I want you to enjoy your childhood, learn about the world and all the people in it, be inspired and to naturally develop your interests. There will be plenty of time for being academic and I know you're bright and will be ok. 

More than anything I want you to want to experience and appreciate everything around you. Yesterday you saw your first hot air balloon. Open mouthed and amazed you stared at it as it floated across the sky over our garden. "Wow, Mummy. It's so colourful and big and high. Maybe one day I could go in a hot air balloon with you Mummy....maybe?" I welled up a bit and hugged you.

Tonight you said "sorry Mummy that you can't play on my Scuttlebug because it is too small for you" and then you hugged me and looked up at me and said "don't worry Mummy. You can play with something else" You thought I was sad and wanted to change that. I do chirp on about it but your kindness makes me so happy and is not something I have to bring out of you. It's just there. Just the way it should be.

You're asleep in your little bed now so, sweet dreams darling. Lots of love, as always, Mummy x
“Well, anyway, when I grow up, I'm always going to talk to little girls as if they were, too, and I'll never laugh when they use big words.” ~ L M Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)

Dear Molly....who's nearly 3

Sometimes a single event can change your life so profoundly that you can't quite remember what it was like before. You did that to me.

You are such a funny little girl and, as you will be three soon, I am writing to you to freeze frame some of my Molly who is two ("and half" as you proudly tell anyone who'll listen).

I don't want you to not be two anymore but I can't wait to watch you grow up. I want to see how you interpret the world and who you become. As your parent I face the eternal battle of my impatience for you to do new things versus my desire to stop time and keep you small. I want so much for you but am determined to influence by example and not by pushing you where I think you should go. Another of my own daily battles with myself.

Right Bunny is still a big part of your life. We still can't leave the house without her. You call her "my friend Right Bunny" and you really do love that scruffy pink rabbit. Your attachment to her is unbelievably strong. I have to clean her face when I do yours but if I try to feed her you call me silly and tell me that "Right Bunny's mouth doesnt open Mummy." You know she's not real yet you shower her with your very real human emotions. You earnestly look at me and ask if the people who love you also love Right Bunny and I love that that matters to you.

You walk up to other children in shops and at the park and you tell them your name and that your Mummy is over there. I love that you are proactively social. A quality that I want you to hold onto and take through childhood into adulthood. It will serve you well everywhere you go. You look to me for explanation when when other children don't reciprocate and it breaks my heart a little bit. It takes everything I have not to intervene and tell them to talk to my little girl. You will learn as much from rejection as you will from acceptance so I know it is important to stand back. It is reminiscant of when Joy and George Adamson had to watch Elsa holding her own against a wild lioness for the first time in Born Free....maybe not quite as dramatic, or dangerous.

Your ability to reason is coming along. When questioned as to why you might have just thrown a toy on the floor your stock answer is "that's why I did Mummy." It seems to work for most scenarios. "Come and jump in puddles Mummy. That's why it will be fun." The addition of "that's why" in a sentence satisfies you that you have explained yourself adequately. One day you'll realise that the world demands a little more. For now, that will do.

You are singing more and and more and I think my early over-exuberant delight at your little solo performances has led to your use of singing as a defensive weapon. If I get cross or upset, you sing a song and then look up at me expectantly before asking "are you happy now Mummy?" You're a bit tired now and you just shouted at me to let you have your strawberries in the lounge. I huffed a bit. You asked if I was happy. I said "no, because you shouted" and you said "oh please be happy Mummy. I love you" You are either a sensitive and lovely little girl or quite the manipulator. I think you may be a clever and wily mixture of the two.

I try to keep you safe, to help you grow and to give you an environment in which to develop your views and personality. I don't want to shield you from the world because I want you to grow up empathetic and caring about the people around you. Hold on to that visible desire you have now for everyone to be happy and safe. It's a lovely quality.

See you in the morning.

Lots of love, Mummy xxx

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ~ C S Lewis

This is a man's world?

"Mind the maternity gap"

"Male bonuses double those of women says study" 

"Working mothers risk damaging their child's prospects" 

(That last one was the Daily Mail....just saying)

This issue is all over the media at the moment. I have been asked to be a guest on a BBC Radio Cambridge programme on the subject next week which I am delighted about because it is a subject I am very passionate about. 

Feminists hate it when women say that they are not feminists and if you take the dictionary definition of the word then, yes, I am one. I do believe women should be allowed the same rights, power and opportunities as men and should be treated in the same way. I do not however, believe that feminism should be a crusade or a cause. I hate the prospect of female quotas on boards. I am vehmently for equal opportunities and I firmly believe it is then up to each individual to make the most of those opportunities. I would really like the focus to be less on whether there is a glass ceiling for women or a gender pay gap to address and more on making sure that our business environments are conducive to career development for everyone and that our girls are coming out of school fired up with confidence and ambition.

I've blogged on the subject before but I work for money, for me and so I can be the role model I want to be for my daughter. She gets lots of quality time with me but, in addition, I can demonstrate to her that women and girls can be whoever they want to be. I want her to see me enjoying work and I then use my fulfilment to be a more engaging parent to her. It's not a one size fits all, but it fits me. 

It's just my view but I believe we should embrace what makes us men or women and use those attributes to create a balanced workplace. Women trying to compete with men, blaming glass ceilings for lack of progression and shouting about gender pay gaps and inequality need to sit down and re-evaluate their focus. I think we should all focus on what motivates us rather than what we think is holding us back. Blaming someone else for not achieving what we think we should will never see us prosper in the way we want to. We should embrace failure as another experience and get on with it. Don't get me wrong. I cry, get upset and sulk with the best of them but once I've revived my logical mind, I move on.

I consider myself to be a big supporter of women in the workplace, reasonably good at my work, reasonably successful and reasonably ambitious. Despite all this I still recognise my own character traits which prevent me from being able to ruthlessly claw my way to the top in the style of Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. Alpha female, I am not. These traits are:

1. I cry easily. Kelly Cutrone (alpha female and very successful business woman) wrote a book 'If you have to cry, go outside'. She would emotionally flatten me. I'd be outside all day.
2. I think I'm good at my job but will never ask for more money to do it. You won't change that about me (people have tried).
3. I hate upsetting people and can't deal with anyone thinking badly of me. So much so that I verge on pathetic sometimes.
4. I want people who work for me to be the best that they can and that sometimes distracts me from myself.
5. I don't want to be one of the boys. I'm happy being a girl and really don't mind making the coffee (shhh).

Feminist crusaders' heads will be exploding everywhere with that last one but it's true. Along with all of the above I want to succeed. I thrive on building a successful business and I want to be the best I can be.

I am not denying that the glass ceiling and gender pay gap exist and even that discrimination happens. I am simply suggesting that these issues may not have all been constructed by sexist men to keep us out of the boardroom and to keep all the money for themselves. Instead I think that they might be phenomenons which have formed naturally over years of some women making the perfectly valid and personal decision to focus on motherhood over their careers, some women not pushing themselves forward for pay rises as readily as their male counterparts, some women having a lack of confidence to apply for the top jobs and some girls rising from school into the workplace with less ambition than the boys. It's not wrong, it's just the way it is. So, in my humble opinion, the number of women in the top jobs is lower than the number of men for no sinister reason. It's just nature and life. The jobs are there for the taking though girls. Let's just look at ourselves first if we don't end up taking them.

My inspiration ~ Molly Rose High at 2 years and 10 months

“Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't" ~ Margaret Thatcher

"A girl should be two things: who and what she wants" ~ Coco Chanel

"I don't mind living in a man's world, as long as I can be a woman in it" - Marilyn Monroe

What's happening to me?

Here I recall when everything went a bit weird, and why.

I was utterly convinced that I'd give birth and be one of those women who still looked pregnant, forever. I'm not lucky when it comes to how I look and I have to try quite hard to look nice so I was sure I'd probably quadruple in size in pregnancy and never revert to normal. You can, therefore, imagine my surprise and delight when my beautiful baby was born and I was back to my pre-pregnancy size. Not skinny, because I never was, but I hadn't quadrupled in size and I hadn't morphed into a weird Mr Blobby shaped version of myself. That was all I could have hoped for.

Unfortunately the delight at not being permanently huge was short lived because now I had to work out how to keep this little human alive. No plump faced, homely, warm smiled apparition of a fairy godmother appeared to tell me how on earth to do this so I had to work it out myself. Somehow, despite the lack of apparition, I managed. We bumped along together, Molly working out the world around her and me working out her.

When Molly was 5 months old I went back to work. After a few tears, at the thought of my baby wondering where I'd gone and me not being able to explain to her, I settled back into work with minimal upheaval. I likened that bit to the uncanny ability of a situation such as animals being lead into a truck to go to slaughter, or a dog to the vets, or a child for vaccinations to reduce me to tears without fail. I am just not programmed to deal with another person or animal thinking everything's ok and as it was, when it isn't. It really gets to me. This felt like that.

As we all adapted to our new regime I became less and less able to cope with everyday stuff, with life. I was putting on loads of weight, couldn't stay awake and could not stop crying. With the 'able' assistance of Google I managed to persuade myself I had postnatal depression. Or was it anaemia? I'm always anaemic. That makes me tired and cold. Not fat though. Shit, was I eating too much because I was cold and tired. Or was it postnatal depression? Depression, really? I've heard that can make you fat. But I am one of those people who don't believe in depression, for me anyway. I am not denying it in others. I just don't get depressed. I get on with stuff. It's what I do. Anyway, I wasn't right so I went to the doctors. Something else I never do. 

The NHS website will tell you that 'An underactive thyroid means your thyroid gland, located in the neck, does not produce enough hormones. Common signs of an underactive thyroid are tiredness, weight gain and feeling depressed.' Why did nobody tell me? Textbook broken thyroid. Phew. I had armed myself with every possible defence I could in case he tried to put me on anti-depressants but luckily he, being a doctor, was able to spot a very obvious textbook condition. The relief swelled up around me and washed away all my irrational fears that motherhood had somehow broken me. I could go back to working out how to help my baby to grow, to be happy and to discover the world around her, which was what I was trying to do when it all went weird.

Just over 2 years in and I am much better on medication which replaces the hormone that my thyroid gland can't be bothered to produce anymore. It needs tweaking from time to time because it is a hormone issue and the body is constantly chucking in curve balls to mess with the hormones therefore you can't assume that the levels of the drugs will stay correct. I still fall asleep a lot and get fat easily and, apparently, I am allowed to blame the Hypothyroidism but I have to make sure that I balance that with the effects of working too hard and eating too much. Other afflictions of mine.   

Mums on the run!

Sometimes it feels like I am falling through life and some of the people I pass make contact and stick and others don't get close enough and fade back into memory. The ones that stick are my friends. The ones that, for whatever reason, have become the people I share my life with. The people I bump along with sharing good times, hard times, trying times and just time. I like making my friends happy and I try not to annoy them and I think those are the ingredients for friendships that can stand the test of time. Only time can prove or disprove that one.

So, in my eternal quest for happy friends and a happy me I planned to to take one of them to London for her birthday. As I have got older, and since we both had children, I have favoured experiences over gifts. There is something much more important about building memories with the people close to you than just buying them another scarf.

We got into London just before midday. We had a lovely sunny stroll from the underground to Bankside past St Paul's Cathedral. St Paul's is an iconic, religious symbol of London. To some it is synonomous with royal weddings, to me it's Mary Poppins.

Time for a coffee outside Tate Modern watching the world go by. At that moment in time the world consisted of a man with a microphone talking about writing, a man with a string loop on sticks making massive misshapen bubbles, a gold man posing as a statue and an American Dad failing to point out St Paul's across the river to his disinterested kids.

Next we wandered round the collections in Tate Modern. Some amazing works, some famous works and some which remained a mystery to our untrained eyes. Louisa had a couple of giggling fits at people earnestly searching for the meaning of an art installation that we thought was part of the building! Based in the former Bankside Power Station, the building itself  is an integral part of the whole experience. It's vast amazing spaces are a perfect backdrop to the subject matter.

We had lunch at The Swan Bar & Chophouse at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. It was perfectly balanced. Informal but civilised. Light and airy with a warm atmosphere. Busy but sociable with a long sharing table which encouraged light interaction with other diners, but only if you wanted it.

After lunch, a boat trip down the Thames to Millbank, past the London Eye and Westminster, was the best way to travel to Tate Britain. We had a look around the public collection there, the Pre-Raphaelite works taking me, as always, back to age 17 and my sixth form art class. Sun streaming through the open window, the smell of linseed oil hanging in the air and where I first began to understand these amazing works and why the movement happened.

Then we had time for a glass of wine in the shady gardens of the gallery surrounded by trees and pink roses. 

We finished our day with Lowry at the Tate. The exhibition we'd built our day on. I'm not an art critic, or even close to it, but I have always loved Lowry. To fully understand that love you need to be aware of my weird longing for 'the industrial north'. Moors, valleys, mining towns, rows of terraced houses. The irreducible spirit of people and families juxtaposed against the cold, hard reality of industry and of bleak landscapes is real and beautiful to me. Lowry painted everyday life depicted against that immediate, imposing backdrop of heavy industry and captured poverty, pain, anguish, love and resilience in his work.

Why do I have this affinity with the north of England? It might be my love of the Brontes and their haunting descriptions of wild moors and harsh conditions, or my childhood memories of meandering canal holidays through rolling countryside interspersed with the industrial centres of northern cities or The Railway Children. A childhood favourite of mine which captures the essence of being a child perfectly....and is set in Yorkshire. Or, most likely, it is a combination of all these things. The exhibition was everything I hoped it would be and rounded our day off perfectly.

So that was our day. Another memory formed rather than another scarf on the scarf hook and, best of all, the Dads didn't kill the kids!

"The most important thing in life is family. Sometimes it's the family you're born into and sometimes it's the one you make for yourself" 

7 December 2013

Dear Molly, the cinema can be a little bit scary...

Today I took you to the cinema for the first time ever. I feel like I might have deprived you by not taking you sooner. More truthfully I think that I feel like other people might think that. I often feel like the world is judging me. Are they? I think most parents wonder about this from time to time.
You looked so perfectly small and overwhelmed in your big seat

I don't want you to ever stop being overwhelmed sweetheart. I won't flood you with all the experiences life has to offer you too quickly. The world has so much in store for you and you really don't need to do it all at once. I couldn't bear it if the little things you love became so commonplace that you were no longer amazed or excited by them.

You were definitely overwhelmed here!

You were a bit scared during the film. Maybe scary snow monsters in 3D was a little ambitious for my sensitive little girl. A strategically placed Right Bunny over one eye and the comfort of Mummy's arms saw you through the scary bits. You were very brave although when the wolves appeared you did turn to me and ask, very politely, "could we go home now Mummy please?" You carried on watching but your little body felt tense. I'm not sure you trusted that those wolves wouldn't be back. I know that, as your parent, I should be toughening you up and not shielding you from the world but, at the same time, I want to preserve your delicate nature. I never want you to become desensitised to the things which scare you or touch you in some way. Being frightened for the safety of the characters in a film shows me your capacity to care and, I've said it before but that is such an important quality baby. Don't ever lose it. 

I love absolutely every fibre of your little being and my sole aim is to provide you with an environment which promotes the growth and development of everything you are...including some gentle introductions to scary things!

See you in the morning sweetheart. All my love, Mummy x

"Fear makes us feel our humanity" ~ Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

4 December 2013

Dear Molly, today we went to the pantomime

Hi sweetheart. Today I took a rare day off work to take you to your very first pantomime with all of your little friends from school. I was pleased to meet Finton, Ruby, Sebastian, Florrie, Francesca, Jack, Jude and George. What lovely children and it was very sweet to see them all shouting your name and running over to see you. Hold onto your friends baby. They'll be important to you all through your life. Some will stay and some will go but each friendship is important so work hard at it and it will reward you. 
Very excited and ready to go!

Our pantomime was here, at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds...

...And it was Aladdin

Aladdin was a colourful, musical, funny and exotic adventure...

...which held your attention perfectly from start to finish

It was a wonderful show. Beautifully performed and a good mix of laughs for you with a lovely rendition of Hushabye Mountain for Mummy. You turned to me and whispered, on several occasions, that "this pantomime is really brilliant Mummy". It was though. You were right.

"So close your eyes on Hushabye Mountain
Wave good...bye to cares of the day
And watch your boat from Hushabye Mountain
Sail far away from Lullaby Bay."

We had lunch at The Brinkley Lion on our return and had a nice walk home afterwards. Our village is beautiful in autumn.
Kicking the autumn leaves

Me and my shadow on our street!

And when we got home we made some paper dolls because I'd promised you that we would...and you don't forget that stuff! You wanted me to show you how to make paper dolls "like the Mummy in my book does for her little girl Mummy!" you said. 
...And so, we did

"And the little girl grew...into a mother, who helped her own little girl make some paper dolls. They were Poppy and Pinkie and Binky the Blinkie and Fred with one eyebrow and Flo with a bow" ~ Paper Dolls, Julia Donaldson & Rebecca Cobb (2012)

I had fun today sweetheart and hope you did too. Lots of love, as always, Mummy x