Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The treadmill with no gym - back to work and the ticking clock

I'm surprised all mums aren't size zero, competing for the last pair of skinny leg tapered trousers in the Benetton sale. I mean, it's not like you have any time to sit down, is it?

This was my thought as I smashed an Easter egg to pieces on the passenger seat of my car (late lunch) as I made my daily commute to pick up my daughter. Just for reference , you can change gear quite easily holding a piece of Easter egg as it is nice and curved.

So, here's the thing. I haven't been to the gym for months, so why am I on a treadmill? Sure, it's one filled with oodles of love for that sumptuous baby, but boy, at items it feels uphill.

I just need more time. I live in a world of bulging Boots shopping bags, Ella's Kitchen pouches, stained Muslins, damp washing, Calpol and ticking clocks. Mysterious objects collect in my car. Lunch hours pass in a blur as I trot through town in flat shoes, trying to remember what is on The List. My mind races to keep up with my feet. Time has become my enemy; there's just not enough of it. It drips through my hands, hides behind my back, runs ahead of me and sneaks sideways.

The to do list (alongside all that love, and trying to snatch memories of that babyhood slowly slipping away as Baby J wobbles against furniture) is my new elephant in the room. It's replaced the back to work elephant, which disappeared as soon as I logged onto my computer and sat down at my desk. Work, ladies, if you're dreading going back, is something of a release and a blessing. You get to talk to people and have a hot cup of tea. You can write whole communication plans without a chubby hand pulling at your leg. You do not trip over Lego, straighten toys, fold washing, push a pram or change sheets.

And yet, every so often, as I suspected before The Return To Work, I feel a pang so deep that my immediate wish -  no - desire - is to breathe in the scent of my daughter's head, wrap her squishy body in my arms and sing her my nonsense song about her being the mango mango baby, which makes her smile. I want to make her laugh. The moment I see her face at the end of the working day is like the purest gift.

And that is the real Return. The return home.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The tango with the mango and the elephant in the room

Just when I thought I'd never have anything to blog about ever again, three things happened to herald the start to 2014: (I mean apart from resolve to go to the gym, eat better and spend less). Dull.

In no particular order, they are:

1. Baby J rolled off the bed (bad, but according to the GP who listened to my rant about how I'd only turned my back to grab a pair of tights, this does actually happen to other people,  and babies are quite tough)
2. Baby J's teeth appeared (this made her mad)
3. I looked at the calendar and realised I only have weeks left until I go back to work (this made me sad)

All three events made me realise that, as time goes by, bits of babyhood are slipping away as fast as others approach. I can't catch them. I want to breathe them in, store them up and bottle them. But I can't. I can only enjoy them for a while. They are, like bubbles, delicate and fleeting. If they had a taste, it would be short, sweet sharp bursts, moreish and good.

The weaning has landed. I spend much of my time doing a tango with a mango around the high chair. Everything seems to be attracted to the mango magnet which are the pudgy hands and smiling face of Baby J and is stained bright yellow.

If I'm not locked in battle with carrot batons and purée, I'm kneeling at the altar of the Calpol fairy, or shaking teething powders onto a spoon. But that's fine, because both of these milestones help to squash down that enormous elephant in the room which had landed with a giant thump, which just won't disappear; the return to work in four weeks.

If I think about it too much, I start shallow breathing and my stomach feels like it did I knew I was going into my History A level exam. It's the only time in my life I knew, for sure, I was going to fail. Sure enough, after three fruitless hours of panic, worry and hollowness, I came out with a D. But, how I felt, frowning, as my pen froze above questions about The Reformation of Britain and Europe 1450 - 1600, will, I fear, lag leagues behind the tumult of emotions which I am trying to squash down as mid February approaches.

So, in a bid to be positive, I made a mental list about the benefits of paid employment. I know the following to be true:

I will have conversations with people who talk back (important)
My brain might work again (this would be welcome)
I will earn money (fairly important)
I can buy things with the money (very important)
I will get to drink a hot cup of tea (crucial)
I will get to wear high heels and dress like a member of the human race (More important than you might think)
I will not need to plan my days round a trip to the supermarket
My mum and my mother in law can't wait to look after her. For this I am truly grateful.

I will miss my baby
I will miss my baby
I will miss my baby
I will miss my baby
I will miss my baby
I will have a Blackberry
I will miss my baby

I am reminded of a time when my friend came to my hen party when her daughter was only a few precious weeks old. She had a tiny, soft, white pair of baby socks in her handbag, and as she lifted them out and held them up, an emotion flickered across her face which I can only now identify with. How a love can be both fragile, but strong.

So, I tell myself this. My lists are both true, both valid, both important. But I know that there will be moments when in the longest meeting, or on the shortest phone call, I will, for a few moments, leave the room in my mind and think about how I inhale my daughter's sweet scent when I hold her, and how I will have to resist the urge to drive to her, to hold her, and never let her go.

At least now I've written about the elephant. And I will adapt to this change as I have adapted to all the others. It'll just take some time.