Saturday, April 28, 2007

You'll Never Walk Alone

So there I was standing around at a function and amidst all the serious discussion of Art and Culture, three of us grabbed a drink and peeled off to form our own discussion group.

It’s the broken sleep, one girl said and we all nodded and cradled our precious precious glasses of white wine. But it does get better, she added and we all brightened a little.

It really throws your body around, I said, it took me months to get over it. In fact I’m still not over it, I’m still not like I was before I was pregnant.

We all sighed at the truth of this and sipped at our wine and then as if at an unspoken command we put down our glasses and surreptitiously lifted our shirts to compare pouchy stomachs.
But I think most of all, it’s the sex that suffers, said the third girl and we all groaned and our faces dropped and we drained our glasses and looked around urgently for a refill.
But it’s worse for me, she added. Because my girlfriend and I were together for nine years before the baby was born so we were already suffering from Lesbian Bed Death and now it’s a hundred times worse.

There was an odd silence as the drinks waiter appeared at our shoulders and caught these last few words.

Fill her glass first, I said.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Letter To A Nine Month Old Clicking Beetle

Dear Tricky

“He’s now been out as long as he was in,” people say to me but they forget that you were nearly a month early and so in fact, my darling one, you’ve been out for quite a bit longer.

This month I am completely and utterly besotted with you, not that I’m not every month, just that this month so many tiny and enormous steps have been strode by you along the road to Not Being A Baby Anymore.

Small things, looks and gestures and knowing smiles. One day this month I woke up and thought for the first time that you understand what we say to you, you just don’t want to say anything back for now.

You like to grab toys that contain jingly bells or rattles, one in each hand (in this morning’s case a blue striped monkey and a multicoloured whale) and shake the bejesus out of them as you bounce to your favourite cd which happens to be Beautiful Creatures - Children’s Songs Of Africa.

This cd is on equally high rotation along with U2, Mozart clarinet and bassoon concertos, Paris Combo and Charlie Parker, but the song that runs constantly through my head is not I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, say, or Je Suis Un If, but Imvubu The Happiest Hippo (which comes with helpful post-song disclaimer and warning that actually Hippos ARE dangerous, so if you see one, move very quickly away).

We tell you we love you constantly but now we also tell you “Don’t Touch” as you reach out for those tempting power boards and that overwhelmingly delicious taste sensation: the pedal on the kitchen bin.

Sadly, “Don’t” and “ Touch” were apparently my first words after Mama and Dada, which I think says so much about my personality. Your father and I are determined that you will not follow in my paranoid overly sensitive footsteps, yet also not be electrocuted nor succumb to salmonella. It’s a complicated dance.

Your increasing heaviness, your strength, your mocking laughter and wry smiles at our stupid schemes for the future and excursions to Ikea remind us of how you are ever growing and changing. The tongue clicking for instance, useful in several languages I believe, including Clicking Beetle-ese. Hilarious, especially when parents click back.

Thank god for night, for those times when you wake at five am and I pick you up all sleepy and squashy in your wearable sleeping bag and nurse you and watch the fringe of your long dark eyelashes (when I can keep my own eyes open) in the faint light through the curtains and we bob and sigh and snuggle with just the sound of you drinking and me yawning until finally I tip you back into nod. And this morning, when you woke mid nap and stood in your cot, shouting for me, with your face all red and crumpled and your eyes still half asleep and I picked you up and you tried to burrow (tick-like it has to be said, fingernails again) into my neck…

You climb and you stand and you reach and when you’re not quite tall enough you get up on your tippee toes and then we stare at you and muse about whether you will be a dancer and if we do enroll you in dancing will the other kids call you a nancy boy and bash the tripe out of you… (solution: enroll in dancing and martial arts)

Twinkle Twinkle is our song of the month and I firmly feel that you can do the diamond in the sky bit you just don’t feel like it at this point and fair enough too.

We have been trialling you in your port-o-cot in…gasp…a room other than our bedroom, aka the spare room, and the increase in quality of lifestyle is enormous. At night, I can turn on the bedroom light, speak in other than a whisper and, shockingly, watch tv (not that I do).

More importantly we all seem to be sleeping which is always a great relief. However this means your sleep patterns more directly affect the rest of the Big House, you are for instance sleeping in the room beside your biggest cousin, Naughty Nephew the 1st. A couple of days after you slept in there for the first time (with accompanying waking at 4 and 5 etc) I bailed up NN1 and asked him if he was disturbed by your presence next door. He looked at me thoughtfully and then said…no, I don’t hear anything. I could have hugged and kissed him except he’s just about 10 and you don’t do that to Just About 10’s.

This has been a lovely month for you being one of the boys, aka your cousins. NN3 comes up nearly every morning before school to play with you, or perhaps to play beside you at times. You laugh happily and chase him and think he is the funniest thing on two long spindly legs and you are very probably right. NN2 read a story to you the other night before bed which was another lovely Cousin Moment. And indeed, during the day or evening when you are asleep and they shout and call and race up and down the hall, oddly, you rarely stir. You seem to know their voices which is very nice indeed.

That Separation Anxiety thing began last month, that time when babies realize that they are separate beings to their mothers, and then worry and fret when they leave the room.

No one told me that mothers suffer from it too. I have now realised that you are a separate being, you’re no longer part of me and I can’t be there for you and with you every step of your way, and what will that do for you and what does that do for me thinking it?

I lost my own mother at 25 and that hurt and still does, but my youngest sister was only 14 and I see how the scars run through so much of her life. Two clouds I have at the back of my head, Mum’s breast cancer, and MS – my very own, no known family history, look ma I made it myself disease. I try not to let these encroach, let them become a source of Separation Anxiety but the truth is they are there and when I get cysts in my breast or a virus knocks me down for a day and I get tingly feet, that’s when it kicks in, breaks through, those dark clouds that I can’t quite ignore.

But I do. Mostly. There’s so much more for me to see - you standing and you bouncing and you crawling and laughing and clicking and clapping and you not quite doing the diamond in the sky for Twinkle Twinkle. Your funny wet open mouth kisses (at least I think they’re kisses, it could be just you trying to put my chin in your mouth), your two bottom teeth and your soft fat legs and arms.

You are my joy, my sweet baby, my currant bun, my clicking beetle, my screaming tomato (still, now and then, like when we miss serving you dinner on time) my tiny gleaming diamond in a darkly uncertain sky. My son.

Thankyou for these nine beautiful, blissful, perfect months.

With all my love. Together. And separately.

Your very own
Ova Girl

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dum de dee...

As I write this Tricky is chasing Naughty Nephew the 3rd around his dad's chair. Well, when I say 'chasing', I mean of course the patented frog hop that Tricky seems to have mastered. It's a strange method of locomotion and when other people see it they often stare because frankly it looks wierd as all get out. It's the kind of action that only a baby or a very very wiry gymnast can do. It's all about the tummy muscles it seems. Kid has abs of steel and he's not a year old.

Things are trotting on here although it's patentedly obvious I have been abusing my poor blog. Time is such a rare commodity these days. Sandwiched between bed and bath and food and walk and play and work. The latter - has eased off thank God.

My editor rang me about the book while I was in Newcastle last week. Unfortunately my mobile phone was plugged into the charger on the kitchen cabinet and Tricky had decided that that exact moment was the right time for a feed. Cue me topless on the kitchen floor with one hand holding the phone and the other propping up baby. She's happy with my rewrites, yay hooray, "you will," she said "have a book before you know it."

But in the meantime there's bed and bath and food and walk and play...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

S e a s o n s

The other day it was hot and sunny and then overnight the rain started falling along with the temperature and then daylight savings was over and so was summer.

Except it wasn't the other day, it was a couple of weeks ago. And since then it's got hot again and then cold, and now it's Easter.

I don't know why it is that I can never remember this time of year, the crisp brittleness of the autumnal sky and the golden glow on the trees.

It always comes and I find myself saying 'ah yes, there it is, it's this season, this time of year... ' and I think how beautiful this city is, between seasons.

The book is in, at least for this part of the process, more changes to come of course.

Other writing, a short play in the style of my london compadre sbs's miniaturist phenomenon (more seasons) on at a theatre nearby, which went very nicely indeed. Another play, a bit longer, about the riots that happened on a beach. And, funny this, an episode of a popular tv show. Things we do.

And it's also the anniversary of my mother's death which is another kind of season too.

If my mother was here now I would ask her about baby hair and spit.

The other day i found myself licking my fingers and scooting Tricky's locks first up into curls and then down into smooth waves and suddenly remembering hearing my mother talking to someone about my hair, my curls, which were either all thanks to my grandma's spit or else had survived despite it. At the time of hearing I think I was a teeny thing but I felt my mother's disapproval.

And then, a connected memory, on my grandmother's lap, with her fingers damply patting at my hair.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure my grandmother was still a smoker then. Ew. I'm not sure I'd be happy if my smoking mother-in-law was spitting on Tricky's head... (not that she smokes. or spits)

Was the spit meant to curl or straighten?

Neither of them alive to tell.