The Toddler Chronicles: 2 years & 4 months

imageYou’re my best buddy, my little companion and I love every minute I spend with you. The times you spend with your Dad make me appreciate you all the more and my heart melts when you tell me you miss me. So when I’m not at work and we spend our days together, I love planning our time together. Your current favourite is going to the soft play centre and climbing everywhere. We climb up on the older childrens bit and go on the slides together. Today we even went on the bumper cars. In all honesty the play centre is my favourite too. We have so much fun! The climbing has also extended to the house and you climb on your bed, your changing table and my coffee table: “me good at climbing”. Yes. This could pose problems in the future!

You’ve been speaking really well for ages now and it’s not just a few words but full on sentences and conversations. You’ve even started to use similes- ‘it’s a bit like…’ You’ve used it a few times to make comparisons. You even crack jokes by mimicking or pretending to  do something. Now and again though you get all excited, tense and grit your teeth and gently hit me. I know it’s an expression of love and emotion but if I tell you it’s not funny you giggle and say ‘it’s a bit funny Mummy!’ You’re right it is. But I’ve got to pretend it isn’t in order to be Mummy.

You’re going through a phase of asking who bought you all the lovely things you have. You are quite repetitious and I tell you over and over who bought what. But if the answer is “me” you also reply “oh thanks Mum”. My pleasure my darling.

I’ve lived in Manchester for 18 years and yet there must still be a small part of me that is southern enough to find the northern accent you’re developing hilarious. Your Dad of course, doesn’t notice but I do. Mummy,  nuts, bath, castle all have a northern shortened vowel twang. Grams and Gramps will find it funny when they ask if you want a “barth” and you call it a “baff”.

I love living with you, cooking for you, taking care of you, doing bubble paintings and gluing and sticking with you and of course watching films with you too. I can’t imagine life or things anyway else now. You and me. It’s the best. And I love and thank you for that.

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Sharing.

I became pregnant because I wanted to be a Mummy. Moreover, I wanted to be a family. I wanted to share in the happiness and joy that it would give me; that it would give us. But that was taken from me. She stole it from me. They stole it from me. I don’t get to share in my daughter’s joy. And when I feel ill or a bit run down I remember that and it hurts. Still. Instead, I get to share via facebook. Or, in telephone conversations with my family, where by the time I speak to them I’ve forgotten the minutia detail that made my heart sing at the time or made me smile and by then it’s a half story. And, yes, I do get to share with family and friends but it’s all too infrequent and most of the ‘firsts’ and amazing things tend to happen when it’s just me and her.
Hold on a minute…..let me just re-write that last bit and read it properly: most of the ‘firsts’ and amazing things tend to happen when it’s just me and her. I do get to share. I do! Of course! Stop being a melancholy fool! 
That was never the purpose of this blog or writing. It was always meant to be therapeutic and has served as a useful tool in the healing process to stop me being bitter. I do get to share. I share with her. With my daughter. And I can’t think of anyone better to share things with.

My daughter turned 2 at the end of October and we have been having proper little conversations for a while now but she is getting more and more articulate and creative every day. This afternoon, whilst we were playing, I suggested we listen to music and sing as we usually like to do. However, this time my daughter took charge and said we were to play a new game, saying, “we play Gaga game Mummy’. She said this over and over as I listened to what she meant. She waddled over to her keyboard and pulled out her toy guitar. She then said, “We sing ga ga song, play ga ga game, like ‘Let it go’ Frozen”. I said, ‘What is the ga ga game?” She replied, ‘The gaga game is…. and trailed off with a little puzzled look n her face as she tried to find the words. So, I still wasn’t sure what this game she had created was so I told her to go first. She gently pressed on her keyboard and sang ‘Ga ga, ga ga’ to the tune of Baa Baa Black sheep. She then encouraged me to do the same with the guitar and so I did. We then swapped instruments on her instruction and of we went again, in unison, “Gaga gaga ga” but this time to the tune of ‘Let it go’. All the while, my daughter instructing the game and what to sing and me following. It was a funny game and we laughed our heads off doing it. She then led me from place to place and toy to toy in our house. We danced in the kitchen to the Frozen soundtrack with, my daughter singing all, yes all, the words with arm actions and facial expressions to match. I pushed her around on her toy car singing “Hi ho Hi ho it’s off to work we go!” as she announced, “Me off to work. I work with computers’. She also stuck stickers all over my coffee table claiming, “me make Mummy’s house look beautiful’.

And you know what my darling? You do. You make everything beautiful. In these moments you astonish and astound me and give me so much joy. We share in this joy together as we experience the fun and the giggles together. WE share. I realise I don’t need to share with anyone else. As you get older and even more chatty and creative I can’t wait to share more good times with you. I mold you just as much as you mold me. You teach me things every day – about how to be the best Mummy I can be and to develop your wonderful creative nature and language even more. And I can’t wait until we share something special or new again.

Two!!

Two balloons, two candles and the two of us. Happy Birthday my ‘ena beena berry. My darling. Where have the last 2 years gone? My life has altered beyond comparison but you have made it better and enhanced the every day simple things. You are by little companion, my wonderful daughter and the love of my life.

You make me proud and make me laugh every day. You’re such a happy joyous little girl with a very funny sense of humour. “The birds will eat it” you say if you drop food on the floor. I said it one day to stop you picking it up and eating it. It’s stuck now, even indoors. The other day you decided displaying the contents of your mouth at dinner time was hilarious. I simply said “be careful don’t open your mouth because you know who’ll come and eat it?”. “Birds!” you cried and quickly shut your mouth. You dropped my phone the other day in the car and said “the birds will eat it!” You laughed your head off and then said,”no Mummy not dinner”. A very funny joke. One of many.image

Your Grams and Gramps visited for your birthday and were astonished at how you always say please and thankyou and have a fantastic vocabulary chitter chattering about what you like, asking questions, your favourite things and what you’re going to do. You love role play and putting me and your toys to bed.  In fact, you like pretending so much you use the word ‘pretend’ and even pretend to be me with your toys but trying to change nappies, putting on ‘special cream as they’re sore’ and telling them off for being naughty and giving them a cuddle when they say sorry. Just like you and me. I’m very proud you are so polite and understand being naughty and being ‘kind’. However, sometimes you get a glint in your eye where I know you’re enjoying being naughty even if it doesn’t last long because I distract you!

You’ve also recently grasped the concept of ‘me share’- thank goodness! No more tantrums as you know sharing means being kind, getting Mummy kisses and means making friends. You proudly list the names of your friends at nursery and attempt to befriend children with a cuddle. You won’t take any nonsense  though and if you don’t like what another child is doing you say ‘no little boy/girl’. My you can be bossy! I wonder where you get it from?

You got a Peppa Pig hair set complete with pretend hair dryer for your birthday from your Grampses. You love pretending to do my hair and say, “me do it gentle”. Bless you. You love Peppa pig so much that you watch episodes over and over. To the point you reinact episodes and know all the songs! The other day you announced, ‘my talent is singing and dancing’ and pretended to have ‘me a secret club-you not in Mummy. Me my toys’. Classic- straight out of her favourite episodes.

You love to run, play chase around the house saying ‘catch me!’ You love cake, food in general, going on my shoulders, and ‘big cuddles’. You love to sing, your favourites are ‘Let it Go’ like all little girls and you love singing all the nursery rhymes at your little keyboard. I’m sure you’ll be an actress when you’re older with all your singing and pretending- especially as you pretend ‘me sad’ to try and get attention. You clever little chipolata!

I can’t wait to nurture you through the next year of your life to see what you say or do or what your talents truly become. One talent I know for sure is that you’re the best daughter in the world and I couldn’t be more proud or in love with you.

Happiness

This summer I realised I was truly happy for the first time in 2 years. It has been nearly 2 years since my ex walked leaving me to be a single parent from the start. It’s now autumn and feel compelled to write about why.

I’m a very reflective person yet it didn’t take long to work out why I was happy.

At the beginning of the summer I split up with a guy I had been dating. It was quite an intense relationship and although he was a lovely guy he just wasn’t right for me. It meant that over my summer holidays I focussed on devoting my time off to the job I actually want to do- being a Mum. My daughters Dad, the perennial part timer took himself off for 4 week holiday so I didn’t have to share her. I loved it. No work, just play with my angel.

And she excelled herself. Lots of fun days out (National Trust rules!), activities and I talk to her incessantly so she is very articulate for a little girl. To the point that she declared herself a ‘chatterbox’. She recently said ‘my talents are singing and dancing, Mummy’. Amazing. She’s not even 2!

I’m back at work now and I’m still happy. Work is always hard but that is another reason why I’m happy. It dawned on me to celebrate my successes. I’m good at my job. It’s hard and I balance it with singleparent hood. I didn’t go under  with stress last year and rose to the challenges despite divorce and everything stressful that goes with it. I am a good role model to my daughter and I hope she is proud and follows in my footsteps to be a strong career woman.

Im also happy because I’ve accepted singledom. I know who I am again and I’m not seeking someone else to define me. My daughter’s Dad is back as chief babysitter and I’m loving spending my time off with my friends and family rather than pursuing dates and relationships with inappropriate people. For the first time in 10 years I’m pleasing myself and putting my wants and needs first which includes raising my daughter how I want to.No compromise. I feel 24 again.

There was a mini set back- the ex announced he was trying for a baby with the ‘the mistress’. My first feelings were rage. Then I remembered how emotionally abusive he was when I was pregnant and after I had given birth and I felt relief. He hadn’t changed, although hope he has learnt from his experiences. She will have to put up with that. She will have to compromise to his demanding nature. She will finally realise the enormity of what they did. They’re not my problem anymore.

My daughter loves ‘Frozen’ and singing along to ‘Let it Go’. I love it too. I’ve let the past go. I can’t change it. I have peace as a result. I have happiness.

The Baby Chronicles- 22 months

I’ve had you all to myself this 6 week summer holiday to share with friends and family and you have surpassed yourself with how gorgeous and wonderful you are in every situation. Perhaps because every day has been different or exciting or perhaps because you and I have spent every minute rather than you in nursery but your language and development seem to have rocketed in the last few weeks. You also have a brilliant sense of humour and I love hanging out with you. You’re my little companion and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s times like this I’m so proud of you and also of myself as I know you are the product of my hard work and care of you. I love being your mummy- you make me want to be such a good one.

So I thought I would list some of your most amazing things to show off your awesomeness. This will also serve as a good reminder of what you were like when you were little. Photos don’t do things justice and I don’t want to forget.

1. You are addicted to Peppa Pig. It stems from working out I could keep you quiet on an airplane or on a long car journey. You love it so much you know all the songs from episodes  , love the books and have a Peppa pig doll (It’s actually George but I daren’t tell you!).

2. You are fantastic at speaking! You speak in simple sentences. It means you can tell me what is good or bad! You tell me what you like and you can tell me what we did during the day if I ask you, “what’s been your best bit of today?”.

3. You know lots of big words: Cinnamon, chatterbox (that’s you!), climbing, You also know what fruit is and came name all the fruits you love- strawberries, blueberries and bananas (lananas to you!)

4, You are very bossy! (Another word you know!). When I say it’s time to tidy your train track away you say, “Leave it Mummy!”. You have learnt to describe something as “rubbish’ if you find it boring or you don’t like it! You also tell me what you want to help me cook for your dinners and help me with what I should put on the shopping list!

5. You can count to 15

6. You can spell your name. I know it’s simple recall and reciting and you can’t always select the correct letter of the alphabet to go with the sound but it’s a bloody good start! Once we recite the spelling I say, “what does it spell?”. You shout “‘ena!”

7. You love climbing and are very adventurous if we go to a soft play or park. I’ve had to get good at climbing too as you always choose the slides that are very high!

8. You love to cook for real and in pretend. We visited aunty Sophie the other day and her son had the most fantastic toy cooker. You spent hours at it pretending to make “my favourite- pasta, sauce, and cheese”. .. I know exactly what to get you for your 2nd birthday.

9. You cannot identify colours. It becomes hilarious when you argue with me over what’s what! “That’s not blue!” You shout when I insist it is. The only colour you can successfully identify is red. We’ve recently agreed that colours fall into 2 categories: red and not red. Brilliant.

10. You call the skin of bananas once they are peeled, “Nana legs”. Genius.

11. You can proudly put your own shoes on.

12. You are very polite and regularly say “please’. You’re a bit rubbish at saying “thank you”, though!

13. You take a terrible photograph. You understand the concept of posing for a snap but when I say “smile”, you pull this squinty eyed face with your 2 teeth sticking out. Priceless.

The Holiday

Holidaying with friends with kids is the way forward- especially if you’re a single parent. I have another friend who recently became a single parent recently but incredibly sadly through widowhood. Puts my shit into perspective. Anyway, we chatted one day about holidays and you could see the lightbulb go on in our heads & so we decided to go together. I have another friend, who does not have kids but simply wanted a break and a beach holiday and was cool with coming along. She is awesome- I would have never gone in holiday with other people’s kids if I had had none. She also was happy to help with the kids and it meant we had an extra person for baby sitter so we could take it in turns for 2 of us to go out at night. Result. 
However, fun was everywhere and I can honestly say the holiday surpassed beach holidays Ive had in my previous incarnations as a party girl in Ibiza. My friends were chilled and there was lots of lovely girlie chat, the area in Alcudia, Mallorca was fantastico for kids, we had an aircon apartment I arranged with it’s own swimming pool and we were yards from the town centre with markets and close to the beach. We were also close to a water park. In my head it was practically Ushuaia in Ibiza- a pool party but with kids and water slides! Me and baby girl even had a boogie in our swimming outfits by the pool! She excelled herself, just as she did last year in Hong Kong.
My douche bag ex recently commented “what’s the point in taking her on holiday? She won’t remember it or appreciate it”. Nonsense you fool. It’s about my memories of her paddling, playing, making friends with my friends’ kids and playing in the sand. It’s about reminding her of the bird show, water parks, pizza and enormous amount of ice cream she ate. It’s about recording her running in the sunshine and trying to buy things at the market. It’s about her development and seeing her face light up at all the experiences. I feel like I can take her anywhere and do anything with her. She’s the love of my life. Who says life ends with kids? It’s only just begun.

Closure

I met the mistress the other day. She’s been playing step mum to my daughter since she was 9 weeks old and I had never met her. Now I’m divorced she’s the girlfriend and I’m the ex wife. A lot has happened and I’m out the otherside but I was still anxious. It was about time though. I don’t want to be her friend and I wasn’t going to have a cuppa with her but it was good to put a face to a name and see how she was with my daughter, which is even more important as my daughter has started to reference her name when talking. She is a significant other in my daughter’s life and as I pointed out to my douche bag ex, I had a right to know who was looking after her.
My anxiety dimmed as soon as I walked into their house they have bought together. He answered the door where far too much neon for a man of 36. He also had a bandage on his wrist from a sports injury, which amused me as he reminded me of Keith Lemon minus the ginger hair and moustache! I looked around carefully and noticed a few things about the decor. Several things were things I had talked about doing with ex when we had a bit of money. He clearly stored those ideas and when he needed to start from scratch again he remembered them. He boasted the dcor “was all his idea’. Of course dear, who else would get a look in? There were also photographs we had taken together of our favourite parts of Manchester city centre and a painting from St. Ives, one of our favourite spots we used to holiday. It started to dawn on me how different men are or at least he is to me. There was no nostalgia there for him. They were simply cool places and he could separate them from the person he experienced them with and even continued to experience them with his new girlfriend. I, on the other hand, rarely do anything that I used to do with him but perhaps that is more out of circumstance as I am a single parent and therefore dont have the ‘freedoms’ he has and i have thrown myself into motherhood and doing everything for baby girl.

The ex. no wait. Sorry - Keith Lemon.

The ex. no wait. Sorry – Keith Lemon.


Then there was her. Literally the polar opposite of me: tall, skinny, olived skin (mixed race?), beaky nosed and very young. His vanity clearly demanded he chose her not ‘boring’ family life. Excluding looks, she allows him to have the same relationship we had before I became pregant and ulitmately thats what his affair was all about. Selfish and shallow doesn’t even cover it.
I didn’t feel jealousy. It’s been a long time and I’m not in love with him anymore. I’ve learnt to live in a world without him. What I felt was closure. More so than getting my divorce through. I have no more hurdles to jump anymore. That’s it and it wasn’t that bad. I think it helped that it cemented and confirmed that he is just living the same old life, even in the same part of town, all the freedoms so he can have fun, get drunk, walk in the country, play sport, swan off backpacking for weeks at a time. He’s even dressing far too young for his age in a bid to stay ‘cool’ and ‘urban’ and youthful for his own vanity and his girlfriend, no doubt. He can do all the things we used to do but occasionally punctuated with my daughter who he can have fun with and hand back so he still gets his lie ins and go to the pub. Glamorous Dad.
Once upon a time I would have raged with jealousy that this girl was living my old life. But the closure I felt was not only because he was the final hurdle but because his existence is ulitmately shallow, selfish and self centred. My life is so different and unlike him I don’t consider it a sacrifice. What else is there in life that has more meaning? My bond is so special with my daughter who I get to see every day and cherish. When I wake up to her and go and greet her in her cot it’s like Christmas every day and I wouldn’t change it. It’s the best love I’ve known.