Saturday, 31 October 2009

My little pumpkin

Tonight I stood beside my firstborn's bed, the dim lamplight brushing the contours of his face, I watched his chest rise and fall with the regular breath of sleep and started as he rolled over in bed, afraid I had woken him with my silent regard. He is six today, a Halloween baby and always our little pumpkin. I am wiped out after throwing a spooky birthday party for him and traipsing the local streets trick or treating, bringing home a haul of sweets that should keep him going until his next birthday.

As appears to be the case with children, each milestone you reach seems to race up upon you at an ever faster pace. I cannot believe the boy sleeping peacefully in his room below where I type is the tiny baby I held in a hospital bed, petrified at what I had gone and done, just six short years ago. I think the bond I have with number one was forged in such adversity that it has a quality that none of my other children can match.

I love all my boys with a passion that defies belief, but nothing is quite the same as the experiences you share with your precious firstborn. I am not sure this is an unalloyed benefit to either of you. I certainly made many mistakes with number one, and the intense gaze of parental attention isn't always a good thing, but it's certainly unique.

My first pregnancy was so magical. I found the whole sensation that something, another human, was growing inside me, so alien. I couldn't quite equate that burgeoning bump with a real live baby, and when my boy did arrive he was nothing like what I had expected. Conditioned by adverts on the TV which portray babies using six-month-olds who can sit up, smile and play, my newborn son was a revelation to me, and more in an apocalyptic sense than a pleasant one. His blank eyed stare chilled me, and I found it hard to wait hand and foot on this being that seemed to give nothing back.

We never got along with breast feeding and I still recall one night when he looked up at me, his dark blue eyes seemingly filled with malice as yet again I was unable to satiate his hunger. I almost flung him away from me across the bed I was so frightened by him. I would grimace smiles at him as I had read that you must smile at your baby, lest he feel unwanted, but every time I heard him cry I would cringe away from the inevitable painful battle that would ensue as I tried, and invariably failed, to feed him.

That said, although I found getting to grips with being his mummy unbearably hard, he is also the only baby I could devote myself to without distraction. When I look back at his baby days I recall holding my tiny son close and dancing away with him for hours, feeling proud that I could bear a child and still have some idea of what 'the kids' were listening to. I can't hear Maroon 5 or Keane without instantly being transported back to my old living room, holding my baby son close to my heart and weeping tears of love for him, wetting his bald and uncomprehending skull with the damp outpourings of maternal passion.

We went everywhere together, me and my boy, we spend every hour of his first few months learning how to be mother and child, learning how to love each other, and the result is an intense adoration that can, at times, exclude all others.

This is the boy who leaves me love notes under my pillow and the child who made me realise how much I loved being a mummy. I think with all my subsequent children I have been trying to recapture that feeling of wonder (tinged with a heavy dose of terror and trepidation) you have with your firstborn. I have since come to understand that you can't turn the clock back and that it is a feeling exclusively reserved for number one.

The others get the benefit of a more relaxed and confident mummy, but they can never experience that topsy turvy journey into parenthood, where you become aware of the depths of passion and despair that your child can stir up in you, where you experience the first kick, first birth, first night feeds, first crawl, steps, words and on and on it goes.

My first baby taught me how to care for him and for his brothers, and as he grows older I learn more and more from him. But no matter how old he gets in some part of my heart he will always be that blue-eyed baby who taught me how to be his mummy and for that I am forever in his debt. He owns a special place in my heart that no one else could ever share and that will be my birthday present to him for the rest of his life (although at six I think he preferred Rosie, his sparkly pink unicorn from Build a Bear!)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

I heart London

I have lived in London for the past 15 years, the longest I have ever lived anywhere and in that time I have lived, studied, worked and partied in most areas of the city, so when I take a walk amidst its grimy backstreets and grand boulevards it conjures a multitude of memories. Today, thanks to a confluence of circumstances including daddy taking a day off over half term to take the big boys to see the Lion King, my indomitable mother's help B taking charge of the babies and me being booked in for an appointment with my dentist whose surgery is just behind John Lewis on Oxford street I found myself trekking from theatreland in Covent Garden to the bustle Oxford Circus.

This was a real trip down memory lane as I used to work in the heart of Soho - not plying the traditional trade associated with that area, but writing interminably dull reviews of even more boring computer products - as you can imagine the the best bit of the job was the location. I could while away my lunch hour exploring the back streets around the office for everything from exotic sex toys (not that I ever did) to sifting through the sparkly gewgaws in the dusty little bead shop perched on the corner of a forgotten street just behind the altogether more regal Regent Street.

Inhaling the exhaust fumes, stalking the cracked pavements, watching the taxis, buses and white van drivers wrestle for precedence on the clogged streets, dodging pedestrians dressed to kill for a day behind a desk transported me instantly to my days as a young, free and single girl about town. I strolled past the famous Algerian Coffee Stores on Old Compton street, the toasted tang of roasting coffee twirling itself into my nostrils and the distinctive rich dark scent of the beans reminded me of the day I stood in that very shop just hours before a deadly bomb ripped apart the gay bar next door.

That was a surreal night with all the streets of Soho cordoned off by banners of rippling yellow police tape. My friends and I sat in the pub, shocked that such violence had been wrought so close to home, and yet somehow enlivened by the drama of it all as panicked calls and texts poured into our mobiles from worried relatives and friends. In London you always feel at the heart of the action, and that's an addictive sensation.

The Christmas lights are strung up above Regent Street, webs of light bulbs forlorn and shorn of any finery by the daylight and without a purpose until some Z-list celebrity is plucked from obscurity to switch them on so they can glint and twinkle bringing festive magic to glint and glimmer as they're reflected by the tempting store windows so desperate to part us from our cash in exchange for that perfect present. The shops here are just so much more majestic than the average high street, there is no tacky Tesco or ill stocked Boots with shambolic shelves of shampoo and shaving foam to break the run of gleaming plate glass-fronted emporia, no matter that most of them are hawking made up tartans and gaudy crystal to the passing tourist trade, there is still a feeling of majesty to the shops on this elegant avenue.

Cliched as it may sound even the air seems to pulse with an energy that is lacking in the sleepy suburb that motherhood has washed me up in. Everyone is a hurry, being swallowed into the maw of the tube, as stale warm air belches up from crammed subterranean stations, sharp-edged carrier bags swing from chic wrists, slicing their way through the crowds, their expensive contents demanding the path be cleared for them, gaggles of tourist giggle and jostle earning irritated tuts and sharp elbows aside from locals with a more pressing destination than the next branch of Starbucks or a tat merchant selling I Heart London Ts.

I used to be part of all of this, I used to push my way through these crowds, I used to shop in these shops, drink in these bars, eat in these cafes. I was one of the throng of Londoners who move at a pace that makes a pushchair a liability and a small child a ball and chain dragging at your hand.

Do I miss it? Of course, sometimes, on a day like today when I feel my pulse quicken with excitement as I walk through the centre of my home town past Nelson's Column, The Royal Opera House, the magicians and opera singers of Covent Garden's street theatre, the vice dens of Soho. The dusty little hardware shops that still cling on amidst the sleek chain stores, the bars where a messy crowd of actors, singers and wasters spill out onto pavement tables savouring an expresso and a cigarette as they watch the world go by, the elegant squares with their pristine wedding cake white Georgian facades, which no longer hide the salons of the demi monde, but dull firms of lawyers, accountants and financial advisors.

I love my city and perhaps that's why, unlike so many of my mummy contemporaries I cling on to London life rather than packing up and putting myself out to pasture in the provinces. Of course I know all the arguments about schools, quality of life, smaller mortgages and bigger gardens, and I am not so smug as to not say never say never. But could I live without my fix of metropolitan life? What could I find to dazzle me in the same way as the shimmer of the white lights strung along its banks glittering on the glassy ripple of of an ink black Thames?

My London has shrunk beyond belief since I had children. Anyone who has ever tried to navigate the capital with a buggy, let alone a double one, will know that after one or two sweaty journeys which saw you hefting child, pushchair and assorted paraphernalia required for a day out of the house up flight after flight of precipitous stairs amidst the tuts of a hoard of commuters, knows you soon give up and stay local. I have tried to hush a screaming baby as I wheeled him around an exhibition at the Tate, I have almost been thrown out of the Tate Modern when my boys refused to accept that those primary coloured installations where not an imaginatively conceived play area but priceless art. I have almost lost one son amidst the pressing Christmas crowds at Fortnum & Mason and I have lost count of the number of times I have tried to explain why licking anything on a Tube train is a BAD idea.

In short I find it safer and less stressful to stay within a three mile radius of my home when I am with children, where there is ample parking, plentiful baby change areas and no one is annoyed when half of a meal ends up spread beneath the chair of a tiny diner. But despite this it still makes me feel that little bit better about my tiny little life, knowing that there is one so much bigger just a few stops down the tube line.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

I am not worthy

Just a quickie as I am wrung out after having to actually care for my children without the assistance of school or nursery, courtesy of half term. I wanted to offer a big, slobbery kiss of gratitude to for namechecking little old FDMTG as one of the Top 50 websites and blogs for parents. I even managed to come in at number 18, which isn't bad for a blog that has yet to reach it's first birthday.

Now it's blush makingly flattering to be placed in such eminent company as the queen of kids grub, Annabel Karmel and the government itself, albeit in its nanny state Change4Life website format, I do feel that I really am not worthy.

I began my blog, not to offer advice to other parents struggling under the load of too many children, but as a means to write about the thing I love the most, my family. If along the way my syrupy praise for my twins makes one or two multiple mummys feel that bit less like topping themselves after a day of tandem screaming all to the good, but what I really wanted was to be able to record my precious years as a mum to little boys before they faded from my ever diminishing memory for good.

I wanted to record in black and white those fleeting moments when a 36 hour labour, flabby belly, not a moment of peace and a bank account that weeps in gory red every time I dare to check it, all seem worthwhile, or indeed a small price to pay for the joy that my boys bring into my life. I wanted to remember the pride that swelled my bosom when twin two learnt what a reaction it got when he started to clap, when twin one started to sprout the odd incongruously long hair from his barely there barnet, when son number two fells me mid rant about his untidiness/rudeness/downright violence, with a cuddle and the words 'I love joo mummy' and I wanted to grasp hold of the last few years as my firstborn transitions from my baby into a big boy.

In short my motives were purely selfish and if some of what I say strikes a chord or makes someone else smile, that's a bonus. So thanks so much for elevating my blog into something more noteworthy than the drivellings of a time pressed mum of four, but the pleasure really is all mine.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

My mummy must haves

I note with interest that a lot of successful bloggers seem to devote quite some time and energy to reviewing products. Now clearly my own little wafflings are far to esoteric (and under read) to merit anyone trying to promote a product contacting me with a view to canvassing my opinion on baby products.

To be fair with my background I wouldn't be too keen on reviewing much for free in any case. I have worked as a professional reviews editor in the past and have also reviewed the odd thing or two for (a pretty paltry) fee for the Made for Mums website, and as a writer by profession I only give my words away free here.

However, as the internet is awash with people eagerly advising mums on the merits of this or that bottle warmer or deluxe pushchair it got me to wondering about those products that have stood the test of time over the past six years with my boys. Those things that really have been indispensable, that proved to be worth every penny and that I was always glad I'd bought. As opposed to all the bits and bobs I was seduced or cajoling into buying, which made the trip from box to bin without ever really making much of an impact.

So here in no particular order and for no financial gain, but perhaps to be of some use to any new or prospective mummys out there, are some items we couldn't have lived without:

1. The Symphony in Motion mobile from the dubiously monikered (or is that just my dark mind) Tiny Love. This beauty gave me 15 minutes of peace and quite for the first few months of each of my baby's lives - enough to have a shower, a silent scream or just to lie on the floor to regroup - vital at that newborn stage.

2. Grobag sleeping bags. When son number one was born, my friend who lived part time in France, gifted me with a couple of baby sleeping bags, at the time an unheard of in the UK. They were fantastic ensuring my son was kept warm and cosy with no risk of suffocating himself under deadly blankets. Since then bags have become de rigeur over here, and for good reason.

3. A Whoozit. This is the toy I send to all my best friends when they sprog., After trying pretty much every toy under the sun to keep my baby amused this one came up trumps every time. I will admit the twins are not as enamoured as their singleton brothers, but they have the altogether more amusing option of playing with each other's hands/faces/feet, but I'm afraid these diverting playthings are for display purposes only, so I am unable to recommend them for purchase.

4. A Little Tikes Adjust n' Draw table. I always blench a bit at the price of any Little Tikes wodge of moulded plastic, but this table was worth every one of the many pennies it cost. It gave sterling service throughout the toddler years of son one and two, being used as a dining, play and drawing table, and once boisterous number two came along as a climbing frame and perch from which to watch the television and torment his big brother. It now languishes in the garden, thanks to our smaller house that can no longer accommodate a dedicated children's table, but I have plans for it should we ever finish the garage/playroom project.

5. The Gruffalo. To be honest I can't take credit for this as it was bought for me by the same friend who introduced me to baby sleeping bags. I sure do owe her as she also explained the merits of Calpol, without which I don't think I would have survived the last six years. This book is a gem and my boys have heard it a thousand times and been to see the stage show about three times. If you haven't read it, do.

6. Baby Björn baby carrier. Another one with a price to make you wince, but again ours has carried three babies (we bought another - on eBay where it was much cheaper, in fact free as my mum paid - for the twins). It's the most comfortable sling I could find and is a Godsend when you want to get a baby to sleep but have chores to do, or just want to walk without a pushchair, or with one of your other children in the pushchair.

7. Maclaren pushchairs. I have written about my pushchair habit before on this blog, and in fact our tally has now risen to nine in total, following an unfortunate incident involving a senior moment from grandma, the double buggy and the school run, so I feel qualified to comment on the merits of various models. I have owned many buggys from the eyewateringly expensive to the downright cheap and nasty, and every time I return to the Maclaren. It's the lightest, most reliable and least ridiculously overpriced brand on the market in my opinion.

8. Baby Björn Potty Chair. Without this throne of the potty world, so number two would probably still be in nappies at 4. It was the only potty that was remotely regal enough for his pampered botty to patronise, and it had the added benefit of an easy to flush away removable bowl, which made the whole job as palatable as pouring away poo could be.

9. Pampers. It might sound stupid, but I simply couldn't cope without these nappies. When I first got pregnant I toyed with the idea of being eco friendly and not leaving my children with the legacy of a landfill filled with their poop, but after a few explosive experiences I knew that I had to leave the nappy department to the professionals. I have exclusively used Pampers ever since and in six years of using nappies I can count the leaks after the wild newborn stage on my fingers.

10. Our TP Big Bouncer trampoline. An 8ft enclosed play area that has kept the boys amused, fit and out of the house for the whole two years since I bought it in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity. No garden should be without one.

11. Ugg boots and Birkenstocks courtesy of Costco. Comfort is next to Godliness in the life of a busy mum, so bugger the high heels as long as they slip on quick and comfy for the school and supermarket run they have pride of place in my wardrobe.

12. Little People Ramps Around Garage. Most toys are utter crap. They may entrance the children momentarily, or even for a month or two, but then invariably they end up cluttering up endless toy boxes until they make that unceremonious trip to the dump, or if they are still in good nick, the charity shop. This toy, however, proved to be the exception. It was bought for son number one for his first birthday by some childless friends of his daddy. Despite their then lack of progeny, they hit the jackpot and it's still a favourite almost six years on, we even have all the cars and people...somewhere.

No list of things I couldn't do without would be complete without mentioning the cuddlies. I can't recommend where to buy them as your babies will all adopt their own, but of everything I have bought over the child years the only ones who have become family are Barnabus, son number one's teddy from Mothercare, Rabbit and the Misses Starry Nights, son number two's constant and smelly companions. I am still waiting to see who will fill this starring role for the twins, but there is a certain gangly knitted toy who is my favourite for twin one, while twin two is very fond of his Taggie, but I'm not sure it's a done deal yet.

I am not big on memes, as I don't want to overburden other bloggers with tasks to complete when most of us have more than enough of those in our everyday lives, but if you are interested then why not have a trawl back through your baby years and see what you remember of all the gubbins you acquired. Perhaps we could come up with the ultimate list and save new mums a pretty penny or two with our wisdom. Although I know I for one was in such a baby retail frenzy I wouldn't have listened to a word!

Happiness is....

Yesterday I had a day alone with the twins, thanks to various social arrangements keeping the big boys out of the house all day. What bliss it was to spend the day with my two babies, without the constant interruptions and demands of their older brothers.

After our long and much needed naps for both me and the babies I took them out for a walk in our local park. The leaves on the trees are all turning so the horizon is an dazzling blend of shades, with bright golds blurring into darker umber and vibrant red, all sprinkled with the odd prickle of acid green from those trees determined to hang onto their summer finery until the bitter end. Those leaves that have fallen from the branches crunched under the wheels of the pushchair and the light was that unique mix of day and dusk with a dark, rose pink sunset just peeking out above the clouds. The air was chilled without the bitter bite of cold that is just around the corner. In short it was my perfect sort of a late afternoon.

As I wandered past the playground where both my big boys have spend many happy hours since they were little, filled at this time of day with the after school and after nap crowd of little children and their parents, all enjoying the last few afternoons where the park is still a tempting prospect, I got to thinking about what a lovely phase of life we are all in right now.

Of course us mums of little children have it hard, they are a lot of work and I am certainly not immune to days when I long for my boys to be grown up and able to wipe their own bottoms, make their own meals, stay in bed past 7am and go out and leave me in peace. But if I am honest I suspect this is the happiest I will ever be in my life.

I don't mean that the rest of life is a bleak canvas, but I think that for me my little sons add such a vibrancy to life that once they are grown and gone I will spend the rest of my years reminiscing about the glory days of their youth. I have a sneaking feeling that everything else one does with life is just filling in time, creating pleasure that is simply there in the gummy smile of a baby, the wobbly canter of a toddler, a cosy cuddle with a tiny child or the gushing adoration of a little boy.

I love a decadent weekend away, a good film at the cinema, a meal out or a cosy evening in a deux as much as the next person, and I do look forward to the days when these leisurely pursuits feature more prominently in my life. But I savour the days with my children in a way that I never have with any of these other transitory pleasures of life. I know my time with my little boys is finite and this gives it a profundity that is absent from the more indulgent joys in life.

I suppose I adore being needed, feeling like I am the leading lady in their little lives. I love watching them grow and develop, watching indistinct newborns turn into people in their own right. I love the silly words they pronouce with such gravitas in those early days of speech, I love the wobbly walk of a boy who has only just acquired this new skill, the shuffling crawl that gets them into all sorts of trouble. The baggy bottoms of those toddler trousers, swelled up with a nappy that sags and bags to indicate the dire need for a change. I love the empassioned cuddles, the limitless enthusiam and energy of the very young. The way that they can find fun in everything they do, from a baby in screaming fits of giggles as he bangs a saucepan with a wooden spoon to my eldest boy laughing with delight as he played chicken with the icy waves on a Welsh beach.

I wish that I could capture this time in amber, bottle it up along with that delicious baby fragrance of warm, sweet milk, crushed rusk and powdery talc, so I could take a deep draft of it when my life is tidily, peacefully free of little ones, just to roll back the years and step back for an instant into the happy chaos of mummyhood once more. I suppose that's what grandchildren are for.....

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Birthday boy

Today son number two is four, and very proud of the fact. He marched into nursery this morning declaring 'I am four, I am a BIG boy now', and instantly set about that uniquely male pursuit of comparing spoils with one of his best friends who is also four today. It turns out that although his friend's badge is bigger, it's not a Transformers birthday badge and is therefore infinitely inferior, phew.

Whenever one of my sons has a birthday I try to carve a few quiet moments in the day to recall the day of his birth. I am assuming this will become ever harder as they get older, but at just four years distance I can still remember pretty clearly how I was feeling on this day in 2005. I had been induced the day before and all the midwives were convinced that because this was number two the moment the magic gel hit my bits I would instantly pop out my boy.

Oh how wrong they were. I spent a boring night waiting for those elusive contractions to start and begging the midwives to give me more drugs to kick start the whole show. Despite my recalcitrant womb, which remained stubbornly contraction-free, they were still unwilling to move things along and by morning there was still no sign of him. My husband was very happy about this as, although he claims to scorn all superstition, he didn't want his son to be born on the 13th of the month.

Day two of twiddling my thumbs and waiting for any sign of action found us taking a walk in a beautiful nearby park. I still remember that the weather was unseasonably warm and we sat outside the park cafe on pretty white garden chairs, the sun beating down on our backs and me, on a strict fast, lusting after the cakes and crisps being consumed by the usual crowd of mums, toddlers and retirees. I lumbered around the park, feeding the ducks and missing my own toddler who was back at home with grandma, hoping that the rolling movement of my cumbersome body would somehow persuade Mr Baby to make his entrance into the world.

It was a sign of things to come though, as son number two is wholly disapproving of both doing as he is told and doing anything at speed. On dragged the hours, I was back in bed and finally more drugs were dripped into me in the hopes of getting those elusive contractions going. At last it seemed to work and I was wheeled into the labour ward. More drugs, a fuzzy sickness descends and much of the next few hours is lost in an opium induced haze.

My experience of hard drugs is entirely limited to those administered during childbirth and from the effect they had on me then I can safely say that I don't think there is any chance of me becoming a junkie. Far from making me feel floaty light and full of joy, morphine and its ilk send me into a vomiting, shivering state that I wouldn't replicate for pleasure.

When I was at my posh private hospital after having the twins, I entered this 'delightful' phase as a result of the morphine drip I was given after my C-section, the solicitous midwife mopped my brow and said 'You don't do recreational drugs do you dear", in the slightly awed tones of one more accustomed to dealing with a far more louche celebrity crowd.

Anyway I digress. After many more hours of sickness and delirium, a reassuringly efficient consultant came in and said that if the baby wasn't out within 15 minutes it was a C-section for me. By this point I would have agreed to someone gouging him out with a rusty spoon I was so desperate to give birth. Fortunately the doc had one more trick up her sleeve, quite literally as it turns out, as she shoved her hand inside me and rummaged about in a manner that brought to mind James Herriot birthing a reluctant calf from it's surprised mother.

Fifteen minutes to the second later my darling baby popped out into the hands of the consultant serenaded by the dulcet tones of Jamie Cullen. The first thing he did was look for the food, setting the pattern of a lifetime.

He was the most adorable baby, after my skinny little firstborn, his thick padding of baby fat was a pleasant change, as was his readiness to eat. Son number one had wailed and screamed at the mere suggestion of breast milk, chewing down agonisingly on my nipple only to bat it away in disgust. We never really settled with each other until I moved onto the bottle which he took to instantly. Son number two didn't mind where his food came from, as long as it was plentiful.

My first night with my second baby remains one of best nights of my life. It distilled all the adoration and passion of first love into eight dark hours in a stark hospital room. With son number one I had clung to my husband when he had to leave, terrified to be left on my own with my firstborn. With son number two I shooed him away as soon as possible so I could get some alone time with this gorgeous new boy in my life.

I was as exhausted as the first time round, but what was absent was the abject terror, I was a confident mummy by now and I knew how change a nappy, bring up burps and feed, so rather than being scared of my baby I simply couldn't wait to get to know him.

That first night was spend in a daze of love, I would feed him from breast and bottle so he was satiated, he would sleep for two hours and then wake with a gentle, crackling newborn cry. I would hold him close, feed him up and he would go down to sleep again. We spent the night recovering from the excess of labour and birth and falling into endless, infinite love.

When my husband returned, with some trepidation, in the morning he was greeted not with the white faced fear of two years before, but with the beatific smile of a woman in the first throes of a love affair. How he must have heaved a sigh of relief.

Four years on and I love my boy even more. He still eats and sleeps like an angel, he is even more beautiful than those big brown eyes and mole soft cap of velvety black newborn hair suggested he would be and he still likes to dictate his own timetable.

Happy birthday to my big four-year-old boy, and thank you for proving to be just as amazing (and more so) as I believed you would be on that very first night I spent falling in love with you.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

My boy is growing up

This morning I stood at the side of son number one's school hall and watched his Year 1 assembly (and a big thank you to my twin mummy friend who told me about the show and made sure I didn't miss this seminal moment in his school career). My boy played the part of a pig with aplomb and panache, I am sure there could be a career ahead of him treading the boards, but apart from this Thespian talent the big thing that hit me was how grown up he looks and acts.

Just 12 months ago he was in the yellow uniform of a Reception child and sat and squirmed through performances. As soon as he spotted a parent in the milling throng he would be waving, blowing kisses, shouting out 'I love you mummy and daddy'. This year I got a reserved wave and coy smile before he turned back to whispering and giggling with his friends.

He looked so tall and handsome in his white school shirt and tie, nothing like the tiny, yellow clad little ones who had come to watch the big children's play. It's hard to believe how much my baby has changed in just one year. I will admit to a strong pang of nostalgia for that little sqidge of a child, but to be honest I am proud of how my boy is growing so independent.

I waited behind to give him a sneaky cuddle after the show, and while he was happy to curl himself into my arms and let me kiss his thatch of curly blonde hair, he was soon pulling away to get to the playground with his friends. This time last year he would have been clinging to me in tears, begging me not to leave him. I can see that in a few years, perhaps even next year, I won't be permitted these public displays of affection with my adored boy, so I am just happy to take what I can, while I can.

I love to see him growing up, becoming a boy and no longer my baby. I love that he has his own life with his own friends that is entirely independent of me, I know how important my own private life was to me when I was growing up. The friends you make take you through all the ups and downs your parents can never truly share in and they are essential to a happy childhood. I wouldn't wish for a boy who still clung in tears to his mummy when he was too old for it to be appropriate, but I will admit that I do miss the tiny boy for whom it was entirely appropriate.

My darling boy is so handsome and clever, so perfect to me and a source of such pride and joy, I revel in each new experience he brings into my life, but I am afraid that I will always cling on, silently weeping, to my memories of him as a baby boy. Ah well I shall just have to gracefully accept my starring role as embarrassing mother, as clearly it is the part in his life that has my name written all over it.

Monday, 12 October 2009


This morning twin one was wailing in his cot, most put out at the slow delivery of breakfast and parental attention, though not necessarily in that order. Unfortunately as he is at the bottom of our litter of little boys I knew he would have to wait until the older boys were dressed and breakfasted in time to rush out to school and nursery.

As a mum of four I am pretty immune to baby wails, but I took pity on him and decided to try an experiment to see if I could calm him down while I wrangled his brothers. I popped him out of his cot an in next to his twin. The silence was instant, as he wriggled up next to his brother and began to play with the unfamiliar cot toys that lived next door he was as contented as he had so recently been choleric.

It struck me once again how nice it must be to have a twin. With my single babies there was no such simple route to serenity. They required the full capacities of mummy to soothe their woes, and even she got pretty boring at times as there is no substitute for a playmate of your own age. The twins, though hard work in the practical sense are proving to be quite a bit easier in the entertainment stakes as they find each other so endlessly fascinating.

A good natured game of tug-o-war over a toy, or just staring at one another's antics, is so much more diverting than the incessant re-runs of Tellytubbies that I used to quiet the older boys. In fact the twins aren't in the slightest bit interested in the charms of CBeebies, so perhaps this time round I can earn my good mummy badge and not resort to the remote every time the going gets tough, at least not with the twins.

The only thing is that I do wonder if they are holding each other back, as each is so content to roll about on his tummy watching his brother at play, that there is still no sign of sitting up, let alone crawling, and they are now the grand old age of 8 months. Not I hasten to add that I am bothered, son number one failed to crawl until he was 14 months or walk until he was 18 months, and I must admit that twins who can only get around on their tummies are far easier to keep track of than ones who can get around on their hands and knees, so long may it last.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Time flies

Tonight my mum put the babies to bed and when she came downstairs she commented on how fast they are growing up. It seems only moments ago that I was beached on the sofa, counting down the minutes until the twins were born and now they are such squirming bundles of energy, working so hard to learn how to sit, crawl and ultimately, walk, talk and wreak havoc for themselves.

They look so different to their newborn selves too. Twin one was a scrawny little creature with plucked chicken legs and a baggy face that had too much skin for its delicate bones, while twin two was just a tiny streak of a thing with long skinny legs and a concave little belly. Now twin one is a chubby cherub with ruddy cheeks bursting out beside his berry bright eyes, arms and legs solid with many bottles of milk and dishes of pureed goo, tummy a rotund, replete ball of a thing, twin two is still slender and tall, but there is more flesh on his bones and his hair is a glorious crest of tufty blonde curls.

I still remember the early days when they would curl around one another like kittens in a basket, half filling their crib, serene and unmoving, now they are rolling around in two cots, waking up upside down and back to front in a chaos of toys and blankets. Twin one can wriggle around the room on his belly and is determined in his pursuit of wheeled toys. Twin two is still mastering the art of rolling from front to back again, but he's a mean bouncer and seems to have understood that shaking his head violently from side to side is a great way of saying NO to anything he doesn't want to eat, drink or do.

The biggest change though is that they are finally starting to notice each other. Admittedly it is often only so they can steal each others' toys, but today as they sat side by side in bouncy chairs twin one reached up to touch twin two's face, and then they both sat staring at each other, smiling shyly as if they'd only just been introduced. Twin one's hand dropped down to grasp his brother's fingers and they held hands tugging gently at each other as if to test if this brand new toy was really real.

All babies love other babies, so I can only imagine how much fun it must be, as a baby yourself, to find that you have your very own, live, baby to play with in your house all the time. Twins can be hell on earth from time to time, what with their stereo screaming and endless needs and demands, but at moments like this I feel sorry for all those singletons who will never know the joy of having a permanent playmate, of never being lonely or bored because there is no one of your own age to amuse you.

The sight of my twin boys, fingers entwined, eyes entranced and mirrored smiles, makes up for those millions of nappy changes, those fraught meal times where I try to satisfy two appetites instantly, those days when the moment one stops, the other starts. It might not be easy with twins, but the rewards are twice as great, so it all evens out in the end.