Table for one please

In Australia, the relationship strategy of some men is to make you one of the lads. Unless you are attuned to this larrikin love mode, your relationship flounders. I can only describe it as being strapped into a very fast, very fun plane but never actually taking off the ground.

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10169439_10152997326675428_6492784962384980323_n.jpgIn Australia, I noticed that the relationship strategy of some men is to make you one of the lads. For these men, there are no romantic dinners, no talking into the night, no hand holding on a beach. From the moment you are officially an item, you become part of the team. The football team, the friend team, the drinking team, the Saturday night team.

They don’t think any less of you; in fact being one of the team means they hold you in the highest regard. You’re just hardly ever alone with this man. As a result, unless you are attuned to this larrikin love mode, your relationship flounders. I can only describe it as being strapped into a very fast, very fun plane but never actually taking off the ground.

If you don’t spend any time with someone, it’s hard to form a strong connection or any kind of bond. I was reminded of this the other day as I mused on early motherhood, and the time when you are rarely alone and almost never alone with your thoughts.

Preoccupied day and night with the wants and needs of small people, you don’t get much time to laugh at your own jokes, remember your strong points, be reminded of your appeal, learn anything new about yourself. You can very easily lose your sense of worth, your powers, your passions. You can start to feel dull because you have nothing to say to yourself and no time to say it. You can start nit picking at your faults.

You fall out of love.

Which is why dropping BUB.1 off at school this week for the first time was such a great experience. There was no sense of letting go, no sense of an ending, just a sense of elation that he would be getting more out of this life and so would I. School has filled a space that I could no longer fill for him and he has been full of life and excitement.

From next week BUB.2 will be at preschool for just three mornings a week, and BUB.3 is due to arrive in January, so by no means will I be jetting off to Rio with myself or booking a dirty weekend.

But I have at least cleared a little space at my table for one, and I might even get to sit down at it.

Under my skin

With the impending house move, it has dawned on me that neither of the BUBs are going anywhere for weeks. For now it’s just five days a week, me and them, a house to pack up, swear words to be swallowed, fists to be bitten, tears to be dried and activities to find. But weirdly, I feel a little bit relieved.

IMG_9296With the impending house move, it has dawned on me that neither of the BUBs are going anywhere for weeks. Once we have moved BUB.1 will go to preschool again, but for now it’s just five days a week, me and them, a house to pack up, swear words to be swallowed, fists to be bitten, tears to be dried and activities to find.

But weirdly, I feel a little bit relieved. For two months leading up to Christmas, BUB.2 had been looked after by a lovely childminder for five hours every Wednesday. The idea was that I would sit at my desk and ignite my freelance career with gusto. But with three of those eight weeks seeing her or us call in sick, and two of them spent on the phone to estate agents, and the remaining three spent writing a newsletter for a client and updating my CV, I had high hopes for the last day.

I spent fifteen minutes searching for my car keys after dropping BUB.1 off at preschool only to find I had popped them helpfully into his little school bag which was hanging on his peg. So back I went.

Running fifteen minutes late, I dropped a clingy,  crying BUB.2 at the childminder and  I drove five minutes home only to hear his little bag containing a change of clothes, nappies and hat and scarf drop off the front seat. So back I went.

When I finally got to my “desk” (kitchen table), I was interrupted four times by the postman bringing Christmas parcels, and once by the delivery of my weekly shop. Putting the sausages away, I noticed the dishwasher needed emptying.

No. I drew the line at that. How do working mothers do it, every morning? I guess the key is they generally go to work and leave the devastation and interruptions behind. I guess I am out of practice.

But these few weeks packing and playing with my two boys is a one-off, never going to happen again. BUB.1 will always be somewhere for part of the week from February. So for now I am trying to enjoy them under my feet, under my skin and under my control (sometimes).

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Baby don’t go

I expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

IMG_7627.jpgI expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

It was BUB.1’s last day at his first pre-school today and the leaving ceremony they inflict on us during morning ‘circle time’ is a killer. I cast my mind back to BUB. 1’s first term when I had to sing along to the ‘Goodbye song’, as a little girl I hardly knew skipped off to big school. I was a mess. What is wrong with me, I thought. And again, and again, every time I was witness to one of these events, I would fight back hot tears of sadness and sentimentality.

Maybe the other Mums are right. Maybe it’s because it’s the first upheaval in our little ones’ lives that we can’t control, can’t protect them from, can’t stop happening. Or maybe I’m just a blithering idiot who needs to get a grip.

And so to yesterday, when the first round of goodbyes began. Ten in all this term. I wept for those children. And to last night, when I went to bed dreading my own son’s ceremony at 3pm this afternoon, during the final sing-song of the day. The feeling of tightness as I arose. I wanted to be strong for him, to allay his worries about what lies ahead for him (another pre-school in another town, just as lovely I’m sure). But he has made strong attachments to several little characters at the school and I know he will miss them.

But what is this? At 9.15am this morning they asked if I would like them to do it now, with the three other leavers that day. I had no tissues. I had nowhere to run. But better this than dread it all day, I thought, so yes. And he was up first, as we sang the ‘Memory song’ and then his ‘Goodbye song’ which we had been practising for days to prepare him (me). The presentation of a folder and two books brimming full of photographs and observations about my beloved boy, and a fluffy “memory bear” for him to keep.

And not a tear from me. Or him. And just a little face next to ours, one of the little characters that BUB.1 is most fond of, asking: “Where is he going?” to which I answered the name of his new pre-school, many, many miles away from this one.

“I am going there too,” he said, plainly.

Baby don't go

I expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

IMG_7627.jpgI expected torrents of tears. Snorts of despair and denial, frantic rubbing of face with tissues. And that’s just me.

It was BUB.1’s last day at his first pre-school today and the leaving ceremony they inflict on us during morning ‘circle time’ is a killer. I cast my mind back to BUB. 1’s first term when I had to sing along to the ‘Goodbye song’, as a little girl I hardly knew skipped off to big school. I was a mess. What is wrong with me, I thought. And again, and again, every time I was witness to one of these events, I would fight back hot tears of sadness and sentimentality.

Maybe the other Mums are right. Maybe it’s because it’s the first upheaval in our little ones’ lives that we can’t control, can’t protect them from, can’t stop happening. Or maybe I’m just a blithering idiot who needs to get a grip.

And so to yesterday, when the first round of goodbyes began. Ten in all this term. I wept for those children. And to last night, when I went to bed dreading my own son’s ceremony at 3pm this afternoon, during the final sing-song of the day. The feeling of tightness as I arose. I wanted to be strong for him, to allay his worries about what lies ahead for him (another pre-school in another town, just as lovely I’m sure). But he has made strong attachments to several little characters at the school and I know he will miss them.

But what is this? At 9.15am this morning they asked if I would like them to do it now, with the three other leavers that day. I had no tissues. I had nowhere to run. But better this than dread it all day, I thought, so yes. And he was up first, as we sang the ‘Memory song’ and then his ‘Goodbye song’ which we had been practising for days to prepare him (me). The presentation of a folder and two books brimming full of photographs and observations about my beloved boy, and a fluffy “memory bear” for him to keep.

And not a tear from me. Or him. And just a little face next to ours, one of the little characters that BUB.1 is most fond of, asking: “Where is he going?” to which I answered the name of his new pre-school, many, many miles away from this one.

“I am going there too,” he said, plainly.