Urges

Something strange has happened (yes, stranger than usual) to me recently. After being adamant I was happy that R and G would be our first and last children I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmingly sad that I won’t have another child. Ever.

It’s completely and utterly irrational. It’s also anatomically impossible because Dh has been turned off at the mains. Yes, vasectomies can be reversed but, as Dh has (firmly) reminded me, they take a whole section of tubing out these days AND they don’t do reversals on the NHS so he’d have to pay and go private. Hmm, wonder if he’s trying to tell me something…

My sadness was triggered by a few little things. Lots of people we know have babies now and the girls have already asked me (why me? Why not Dh?) if they can have a baby brother or sister. R and G are growing up so quickly – they’ll be starting school this time next year – and I can already feel them growing away from me. This is no reflection on them. They’re simply wonderful (99.9% of the time) but I know that the years are passing incredibly quickly.

There are so many things that I feel I got wrong with R and G (don’t start me off) and I think, with the experience I now have, I’d do a much better job with a subsequent child. I’m also curious to see what having a single child is like. All of my pregnancy, birth and child-rearing experiences are framed around twins and I’d like to see how different it really is with one baby.

R and G are absolutely Dh’s children. They look like him. They have quite a lot of my personality, but they are the image of their father. I always said that if I had girls I wouldn’t want them to look like me but I thought they might have my wavy hair or colouring or….something.

We were in the park a couple of weeks ago and a (I guess) two year old girl ran in front of me as I supervised R and G on the swings. She had long dark ringlets (just like I had when I was little) and was wearing pink Birkinstocks. Her Dad called after her and her name was Freya. I really wanted one of the girls to be called Freya but Dh absolutely hated the name so we had R and G instead. When I thought of the name, all those years ago, she was the image of the child I had in my head.

After feeling down for a month or so I feel I’ve made my peace with it now. I spoke to my Mum about it and she said that the urge doesn’t go away until it’s physically impossible for you to produce a child. I also know, through speaking to friends with children that what I’m going through is absolutely normal.

My head knows that R and G are my first and last children and is content with the decision. My heart knows that I couldn’t mentally cope with any more. I’ll scratch my itch by enjoying everyone else’s children from now on.

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The end of 46 Days

At the beginning of March I had a crazy idea. Instead of giving something up for Lent, I would try to do something every day. The idea for 46 Days came from there. Today is the 46th and last day.

I thought I’d have a look back through the last 45 days and see what’s happened:

0 people offended (that I’m aware of…)

1 holiday booked

1 disastrous week of night training

1 graduation attended

1 Margot Leadbetter moments

2 bouts of nostalgia

2 guinea pigs (Charlie and Lola) arrived

2 fish (Eddie and Bob) bought

3 fish (Maisy, Eddie and Bob) died

3 Easter bonnets made

4 3rd birthday parties attended

4 One Born Every Minute liveblogs

5 separate illnesses (2 for me, 2 for G, 1 for R)

6 twinny observations (I could have written hundreds of posts on this)

7 Friday photos

8 rants (I’m amazed there aren’t many more)

That’s a fairly average seven or so weeks in the HoT. Ok, so you don’t buy guinea pigs and kill off goldfish every day, but everything else was pretty normal…for us at least. It’s a nice little snapshot of our lives.

I only missed one night – when I was away for work – and I made up for it the next night with two long posts.  I have to say, as the weather improved dramatically in April I found it much harder to generate enough enthusiasm to sit down every night and write a blog post. Last night I ‘cheated’ and uploaded the Friday photos from my iphone whilst slumped on the sofa after another busy day. Thank Steve Jobs for the WordPress app!

I speculated at the beginning of all this that a period of sustained creativity might make me want to do some creative writing. It hasn’t, but only because I haven’t had time after writing 46 Days posts. There are a couple of ideas percolating in my brain but I can’t commit them to screen just yet.

Instead I’ve been exploiting my creative mind in different ways. I’m really into card-making at the moment. If there’s an event coming up I’ve probably made a card for it! My cards aren’t going to make me rich and they definitely look ‘home made’ but I hope people appreciate the effort. I attempted my first scrapbook – a graduation present for my Mum. I love getting creative with photos, bit of paper, a stack of embellishments and a ton of pritt stick. I have also made great progress with my latest cross-stitch and am already thinking about the next stitching project. I might do something really challenging this time…

As I get older I can no longer sit in front of the telly of an evening once the girls are in bed. I have to be doing other things, so that I feel my evenings aren’t wasted. That reminds me…I have very strict rules on my ‘me time’ activities. They are all done in the evening in the precious few hours I have when the girls are asleep and before I go to bed. During the day I’m either spending time with the girls or working.

I’m looking forward to having a few nights off (maybe even a week or two) from blogging – or the tyranny of the blank page (which only affected me twice in 46 days) and the feeling that I ‘have’ to write something. I might try something similar later in the year. November is my bogey-month so I might try 30 Days or something like that to ward off the SAD.

That’s all in the future. Now, I’m off to make a Mojito and await our take-away delivery.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Lobotomy

NEWSFLASH: Women who have children do not have full-frontal lobotomies.

SHOCK HORROR!

There seems to be a perception that all women, once they become mothers, instantly dissolve into a massive puddle of hormones the moment they come into contact with a baby. Any baby. Babies in the street, babies in shops, babies in workplaces apparently reduce us mummies to gibbering idiots.

Erm, nope. To be perfectly honest I have very limited interested in children that aren’t R and G. I absolutely adore them. I also like babies and children belonging to friends and family. I’m hopeless with them, but I like them and I’m interested in their development and all-round loveliness. Babies of strangers? Not so much. My womb doesn’t twang the moment I catch sight of a baby.

Amazingly women who are mothers are also perfectly capable of having interesting conversations about things that have nothing to do with babies or children. Speaking for my people, we actually love talking about non-child things. The first thing that people tend to know about me is that I have twins. Some people move beyond that. Most people don’t.

I don’t mention R and G at work unless someone asks me a direct question about them and even then I try to steer the conversation round to something else? Why? Work is my grown-up time; my escape from family life. I have a photo of the girls on my desk and people are welcome to look and ask questions – I won’t be rude – but it’s not what I’m there for. I can’t bear women that constantly reference their children in conversation in the workplace. Do they know that they are spouting drivel? The funny thing that thingy did is probably hilarious to them but no-one else. Everyone smiles when someone tells an anecdote but you can actually see the boredom, the ‘Kill me now’ look in their eyes.

Yes, I’m a mother. Yes, I have twins. Yes, I think they’re marvellous. I also have three degrees. I’m a Librarian. I work with social workers. I’m married to Dh and we’ve been together for years and still like each other. I love music. I do cross-stitch and make cards. I love shopping. I adore handbags. I like expensive make-up. I watch television. I do some writing. I’m an avid people-watcher. I love sport (Harlequins RFC, Surrey CC and Boston Red Sox, since you asked). I’m a space geek. I love 19th Century British History. I’m a bit fond of trains. I’m a Socialist. I’m an avid reader. I love my family and friends. I like eating out. I’m fond of wine and cocktails (not together). I’m sarcastic and love nothing more than some good humoured banter. None of this has stopped being true since I had R and G.

When you pigeonhole me as ‘just’ a mother with nothing else of note to offer you devalue me and every women who also happens to be a mother on the planet. We don’t lose our minds when we have children. Our minds are enriched by children, not decimated. When you choose to define me in such narrow terms you expose the limits of your imagination.

Maybe you’re the one that has had the lobotomy.

p.s. This  post is not about *one* person or one event. It’s not aimed at *anyone* in particular. It’s a general observation. Ok?

Holiday! Celebrate!

We’ve just booked our first family holiday.

The last holiday Dh and I had was almost FOUR years ago. We spent a week in the Cotswolds and brilliantly managed to time it so that my morning (pah! All day) sickness started in the service station on the way there. I proceeded to see almost everything we ate on the holiday – every hotel breakfast, every cream tea and every evening meal. On the first day I ate a full English breakfast…and promptly saw it in reverse mere minutes later. By the final day I was reduced to nibbling a piece of toast. I kept falling asleep at random intervals and was only ok when I was a passenger in the car, which meant Dh did a lot of random driving around. One of the few highlights was buying my first maternity bras because my underwired ones were agony thanks to my MASSIVE SORE BAZOOKAS.Our romantic holiday, booked before I found out I was pregnant, was a bit of a washout.

We haven’t managed to have a holiday since because, well, we couldn’t quite face the hassle of transporting everything the girls need to a different place for a few days and then carting it back home again. I admire people that take their small children on holidays. They must be made of much sterner stuff than I. Basically, I’m a massive wuss.

We’ve done a couple of nights away from home with the girls. Two of those were very cheaty because we went and stayed with people that already had twins so they knew what to expect. We stayed in a hotel for a wedding last year and the girls LOVED it. They strutted around the hotel like they owned the place and thought being ‘grown-up’ was simply brilliant. That, coupled with the fact that the girls are toilet trained and desperate to do anything that might involve being ‘grown-up girls’ inspired us to think that maybe we could all cope with a proper holiday.

So, we’re off to <insert name of well-known UK holiday park> for five days in May. To compound our stupidity bravery we’re doing a Monday-Friday break, so the girls will miss three whole days at nursery. This is completely and utterly unheard of. It nearly put Dh off the idea completely but I managed to persuade him that we wouldn’t all kill each other on the third day….

Best of all, it’s at the start of three weeks off work for me in May and June, so I have two weeks at home to recover afterwards.

Whoop! Whoop! 🙂

Home and community

I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of creating a home and becoming part of a community recently.

Just after my 30th birthday I felt a need to build a home for my family. No, I didn’t retrain as a hod carrier and get busy with bricks and cement! I’ve lived in plenty of ‘places’ over the years but none of them has really been a home. I still refer to my parents’ house as my home in conversation and I haven’t lived there since I was 19. Since I left home I’ve lived in (deep breath) four different halls of residence, two different shared student houses, a one bed flat, a two bed house and now a three bed house. Until our current house, they all felt quite transitory. I knew that at some point we’d be moving on again. That hasn’t necessarily changed with this house but I feel differently about it.

I didn’t ever care that much about furniture and decoration – things like CDs, books, clothes and DVDs mattered hugely, but the big grown-up stuff didn’t really bother me. In the nesting phase of my pregnancy I used to take the Ikea catalogue to bed with me every night. I still get quite giddy at the thought of ‘storage solutions’. It’s not the ‘stuff’ that makes a home though. It’s the feel of the place. As the girls get older they are marking their territory (not literally, thankfully) and we now have certain things because they’re here: toys, picture books, teddies and more kiddie kit than I can possibly list here.

People that know me well were quite shocked when we started accumulating pets recently. To them I didn’t seem like a pet person. However, I think they help to make our house a home and Maisy, Eddie, Charlie and Lola are already part of our extended family. I was saying to my Mum the other day that I’d happily have a house and garden full of pets. This is a huge shift for me. I think I’m going soft in my old age…

An extension of that is my new-found interest in our local community. I’m a passionate advocate for my area of London and if I hear of anyone that’s thinking of moving to our patch I practically put them in a headlock and tell them how wonderful it is until they agree with me. The girls’ nursery is in the process of setting up a PTA/committee and I want to be involved in it. Through R and G we’ve developed a local network of like-minded parents who have become friends. My Dad asked me who would look after the piggies if we went on holiday. I think he was reassured by the list of names I reeled off!

We’ve lived in this area for nearly four years now and we’re now on nodding terms with lots of people, including those that work in the local shops. It freaks me out no end when I pop out to buy a pint of milk or a loaf of bread and someone random (but clearly not a stranger) asks me where I’ve left the girls. It’s a level of recognition I quite like. I couldn’t quite cope with everyone in the vicinity knowing what I had for breakfast before I’d even eaten it.

While I don’t quite see myself as a Midsomer Murders-style local busybody yet (give me time) I now realise the importance of making connections with the local community and becoming part of something. Londoners are notorious for not speaking to their neighbours but owning a. children and b. pets changes that. You have to build relationships or you would go mad. That, or start baiting people on online forums and I really, really don’t recommend that to anyone.

I think I can attribute this sea-change in attitude to R and G – another thing to be grateful to them for! Dh and I had a lovely time together before they were born but we led quite a solitary life, in our own loved-up bubble. Thanks to R and G we now connect with the world beyond our very happy, and very loving, home.