My Mothers Day dream goes something like this… I hear the children rouse quietly at 8.30am (crying with laughter at the thought of a time not beginning with a 6!!) and they sneak downstairs with Jon while I drift gently back to a snooze and dream about bacon. At 11am I am gently awoken by three immaculately dressed children who are carrying a tray of breakfast in bed, (not Ted- he’s only four months and although is obviously extremely advanced, as yet shows no signs of tray carrying abilities) which they have lovingly made themselves with just the right ratio of eggs to shell to prove its home made authenticity! They present me with a beautiful homemade gift, probably a vase made out of half a fairy liquid bottle (or at least it would be if the bloody stuff wasn’t so efficient and a bottle ran out every now and again!) or some kind of ceramic creation which had been devotedly painted by our little munchkins at a pottery café that they all snuck off to a few weeks ago with Jon! I make a huge fuss of just how delicious my breakfast is and then they all leave me in peace for one full hour while I have a bath (with no one coming in to have a poo while I soak!) and to apply my own make up without any ‘help’! I walk downstairs, with bouncy voluminous wavy hair obviously, and we head out for a wonderful afternoon of wholesome family fun that would make Topsy and Tims mum jealous! Maybe a walk in the spring sunshine or something involving feeding baby lambs! We have dinner out, no-one spills anything or runs around the pub peeling off their clothes and then we return home where we have a fun filled bathtime and playfully daub bubbles on each others noses (with no one taking it too far and ending up with tears and/or someone being punched!) and I read all three a story at the same time which we managed to agree on without any arguments and which all three sit perfectly still for the duration of! Then I sit down on the sofa (there’s no washing or tidying up to do- it’s a dream- the fairies have been!) a large glass of Pinot Grigio in hand and smile smugly contentedly at just ‘how blessed’ we are and how ‘I cherish every moment!’
In reality though, Mother’s Day ends up being pretty much the opposite of this! February into March is mental in our house… 5 big family birthdays including our big boy which brings with it much organisation, present buying, cake making and party throwing! Snuggled in the middle of all this madness is Mother’s day and to be honest, it always feel like more stress… Mums, Mums in law, nans, god mothers… More presents to buy, more cards to write, more things to wrap! Mother’s Day ends up feeling a bit like Christmas where you have to fit in seeing everyone and risk spending most of the day driving round to various houses or pubs and restaurants rather than allowing time to have voluminous hair blowing in the wind and moments to reflect on how blessed you are! It’s also a day which for many people serves as a kick in the guts for what they have not got or what they have not become.
I had a very difficult relationship with Mothers Day for a number of years. We battled with infertility for 3 very long years before the wonderful people at Jessops ACU helped us to create our beautiful baby boy. During that time, Mother’s Day served as the ultimate reminder of what I hadn’t achieved. I was not a Mother. I had not managed to bring another life into this world that would clutch my finger, or call me Mummy or snuggle up to me to read a book. The rows of cards in Tesco and the insipid pink candles served as reminder after reminder that this was yet another year that I would not be the recipient of one of those gifts. My only desire on those days was to open a card that had been made by my own child making a handprint into a flower and I would have given away everything I had or would ever have to achieve that. The battle with infertility is probably the biggest struggle of my life so far and it’s easy with hindsight to look back and forget the depth of pain that this time brought as the second you get what you have so desired, the pain instantly dissipates. But for those years- Mother’s Day sucked! It never ceases to amaze me how many people infertility effects and how little we talk about it.
I also read a heart breaking article the other day about being a mum without a mum. Mothers day is a day when we reflect on how lucky we are to have our Mums (including all the variations on this, in laws, grandparents, step parents, god parents etc.) around us but if they are not here, the gaping hole they left behind is made even more visible on this day of Mother’s.
I can’t even begin to imagine how I would have made it through this mental journey of Motherhood without my mum by my side. George didn’t sleep for the first 8 weeks of his life! That sounds like an exaggeration… it wasn’t! The boy would only close his eyes if he was laid upright on your chest- he would be absolutely and completely soundly asleep and the second you put him in the Moses basket his eyes would ping open and he would start screaming! I had this wonderful image in my mind where I would lie in bed all dewy eyed and stare at my sleeping baby laid beside me- in reality I hadn’t slept for more than 25 minutes in one go for 8 weeks , I couldn’t remember the last time I’d brushed my hair and teeth in the same day and I was slowly but surely losing my mind and wondering what the bloody hell we’d got ourselves into! My mum came round, took one look at me and basically sent me to bed at 2 in the afternoon while she entertained ‘the screamer!’ I came back down half an hour later in tears because I was actually too tired to sleep- I’d reached the point of being completely manic! My mum packed us up and whisked us off to her house for the night! There was a pretty amusing moment in the middle of all this when Jon came home from work to half our worldly belongings packed up by the front door and thought I was leaving him… I swear he almost looked a little bit relieved at the prospect of a full nights sleep! My only job that night was to feed the boy! I got up every 3 hours between 9pm and 9am but my mum stayed up all night jiggling the bundle of colic and grumpiness so that I could get some kip in between feeds… If I hadn’t had that night I think I may have actually died!
I can’t imagine not having our mums on hand to be able to ring for reassurance when they’ve got a temperature or to vent at when they’ve shown me up in the middle of the supermarket or to call over immediately because your 14 month old just bounced all the way down the stairs after his hand had slipped out of yours and you were too pregnant to catch him (true story- he was fine- I was not! Terrified the life out of me! Turns out toddlers are quite bouncy though!) But it’s also the practical things- calling round for a brew and making it herself while simultaneously loading the dishwasher with the breakfast pots I never got round to, even though its tea time! Being invited round for Sunday dinner and standing and ironing Jon’s shirts for the week in the five minute interval before dinners ready; taking the kids to the park for an hour when she can see I’m knackered and on my knees after a week of 4.30 am starts (no thank-you Ted! You’re cute but the novelty will soon wear off!). The child care so I can work, the invites for tea to give me a night off juggling the cooking and surviving, the list is endless and stretches far beyond my mum to mine and Jon’s whole family (don’t worry dad- you’ll get your blog on Fathers day! You’re amazing too!)
I also couldn’t imagine not being able to share the lovely bits with the mums in our lives too. Telling them about Esme’s trip to Wickes with Jon last week where she wandered off and came back asking him where to wash her hands after having a wee in the bathroom display toilet and all of us not being able to speak for laughing! Facetiming them to get Esme to repeat that when she starts school she’ll be wearing her ‘school unicorn’ or when I’d finally managed to get her first pigtails in at 2 and a half (bald baby girls- future blog!)! George running in with his ‘effort trophy’ and seeing the smiles and pride on everyones faces. Sending video clips of them dancing and singing; sharing first kicks; first smiles; first giggles; first wriggles; first steps… every single one of these moments as a mum is made better by sharing it with our mums and wider families and seeing the joy that it brings them too. For those who are being a mum without a mum, it must tinge all these moments with sadness that you can’t hit share.
I am so lucky to have so many people in my life to be thankful for on this and every other day. This year I am making an effort to be more grateful and less flustered. I don’t need a ceramic cup that the kids painted in a pottery café with Jon- the whole thing would have been a disaster and ended in tears anyway- Jon + Kids+ Paint has ‘battle for control’ written all over it. I don’t need a lie in till 11am to show me how lucky I am (shall we say 10 instead?? And leave the eggs- we’ll go out!) Dotted all around me are perfectly imperfect examples of just how bloody blessed I am.
The car journey where George helps his little sister do something on her Kindle without being asked because she hasn’t quite figured it out yet; the smile I get from Ted when I pick him up for absolutely no reason other than the fact he thinks I’m pretty amazing (and the main source of food which is also very important to him!) The giggles he gives when his brother and sister do him their ‘naked jumping show’- Don’t ask! Dancing with wild abandonment in the kitchen to the Trolls soundtrack for the 46th time that day and secretly loving it!! Sitting at the table and eating dinner as a fivesome and laughing hysterically- even if it is because someone said the word ‘bum’! Having a mum and mum in law and nan that I can call on at any time to help or share stuff with. Having an army of mummy friends who will listen to you rant about how bloody annoying three year olds are or husbands are (sorry Jon!) or how tired you are! Even the tantrums in the middle of the supermarket; there are thousands of people in this world who would love to be able to have the chance to have a child have a meltdown in the middle of Sainsburys or to be able to call their mum up after the event to rant about what a chuff bag their child has been that day, but can’t.
So this year I will enjoy the madness of Mothers Day, because having to run around all day to fit everyone in shows just how truly lucky and loved we are! Plus we have a new plan where everyone comes to us and we all eat shop bought pie which feels like a win/win to me! Just the small matter of a 5 year olds birthday party with 30 kids to get through first… Oh and a 3D R2D2 cake to make!