Two year old you

Dear Fred,

17156074_2103858033173957_1695764839204359995_nToday is your second birthday, and whilst you’re spending some time with Daddy, I wanted to write a Blog about 2 year old you.

It was wonderful watching you and your friends enjoy your birthday party yesterday; clambering around on the soft play, eating “choo choo cake”, singing songs and generally having lots of fun. The only thing missing was your Grandad, who helped Momma plan the party – and was looking forward to it very much. In the car on the way to the party as I told you all the people who would be there, you repeatedly asked for “Gandad,” and Momma had to explain once again that she too would love to see him, how it was very sad, but how I was sure if he could, he would be there in spirit. I’m writing this because whenever you’re reading this Blog, Freddie; you will probably have forgotten the wonderful memories and times you shared with your Grandad. But yesterday you asked for him, and I know he would’ve loved your party and been so proud of you. Yesterday was the first big event  without Grandad around, and Momma did need a couple of glasses of wine at the end of the day.

So, two year old Freddie….

LOVES…. Thomas the Tank Engine, Postman Pat DVDs [you’re already quite au fait with changing the DVDs yourself in the player], chocolate buttons, Weetabix for breakfast, collecting the eggs from the chickens, playing on momma’s phone, driving your mini car – especially reversing when you’re supposed to go forwards!; Percy cat – who you call Lala, singing “twinkle twinkle chocolate bar”, Tots Rock on fridays, morning and bedtime “boobie”, reading books on Momma’s lap, going down the big slide at the park, bathtime bubbles … Your favourite meal of the week is chicken curry; the hotter the better…

DISLIKES …cleaning your teeth, eating the eggs you like to collect, sitting in the buggy …

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0,1,2

You are such a fun, cheeky little chap – forever making me laugh.It is incredible that you’re 2 already. I look back on the day you were born with such wonder and amazement, and always will. You rocked my world, little boy. Momma was pretty naive going into a pregnancy on her own, unsure what everything entailed. These have been the best two years of my life, and even in the present sadness, you keep me going and remind me of what’s important.

So bring on more adventures, little boy. You are so loved.

Momma xx

 

The little things…

Yesterday it was a chocolate orange in Tesco Express, sitting nonchalantly on the shelf. I’m not a fan myself, but Dad loved them and always had one at Christmas, on Fathers Day and his birthday; a Dad tradition. And there it was staring at me, reminding me that he wouldn’t have one again … that I wouldn’t buy him another. I’m getting rather good at stifling the tears now, so managed to pay for my petrol without sobbing; but it was another stark, insignificant reminder of the finality.

This morning I was cleaning my car – which is quite a mission given my soon to be 2 year old and the clutter of toys and hats and coats and mud, and chicken shit encrusted wellies. Anyway, there in the footwell was the newspaper from Tuesday 10th January – the day Dad died. I’d bought it that morning as a friend and I were collecting holiday tokens. With everything that happened afterwards, I’d forgotten all about it … couldn’t bring myself to throw it away. The day when my “before” and “after” line was drawn … when things changed forever. I have a growing amount of paraphernalia from that day; little pointless things that now have so much meaning; Dad’s receipts from that morning, the medical packaging found at the allotment, the newspaper..

This evening it was marking a new height on Freddie’s giraffe chart in his bedroom. The last measurement had been made on 5th January, when “Gandad” was still alive. Another stop the clocks moment,of which there are plenty. My little boy is growing and his Grandad can’t see it.

And so it continues. I think the adrenaline from the past [nearly 6] weeks is beginning to leave me and a malignant exhaustion has set in. A dark realisation that the present; the now; is hard. There are simply no words to describe it [so why, you may ask, do I try?]. Sleep remains difficult, and often I’m woken with the deep pounding of my heart in my chest as my subconscious relives the events of that Tuesday. It seems cruel that even sleep doesn’t offer respite. This afternoon when I’d failed miserably at napping whilst Freddie was with his Dad; I found myself at the allotment, sitting on the decking, watching the chickens, beside the funeral flowers which are still looking lovely. Some mummy friends have joined forces in project allotment, and it is there that I feel closest to Dad … where he last walked, the air he last breathed. It was an unfinished project; and making a good job of it means a lot to me.

I have realised just how big a part of my life Dad was. I always knew it, and always appreciated it – but I hadn’t quite comprehended the huge gaping void now so obvious. I listen to old voicemails, just so I won’t forget his voice. I miss his phonecalls, his presence, his companionship. I miss watching him be Grandad.

If you’re reading this, Fred, in years to come – Mummy’s sorry if she has been sad these weeks; if you’ve caught her crying in the kitchen or lacking the amount of energy she usually has. I’m sorry for not knowing what to say to you sometimes when you still stand at the window waiting for your Grandad or “Gandads car”. One day, my darling, you’ll understand how hard it all is – but for now, know that your cheeky smiles and snotty kisses, are keeping Momma going…

2016 – mixed, but survived …

For this first Blog of 2017 I’m sitting in bed with a mug of hot Ribena, whilst my teething snotty little boy naps in his cot – his faithful kitten curled up beside him. It’s quite nice, being snug in bed listening to the rain pitter patter against the windows. I was meant to go to Cheltenham racing today, but it hasn’t happened, and I’m not overly disappointed. My bets are placed though, and I may catch some ITV racing action later. I saw in 2017 around a log burner with good conversation and company whilst Fredders successfully slept in a travel cot upstairs [the kid is getting good].

We survived Christmas relatively unscathed but the lounge is now even more like a Smyths Toys outlet.

2016 seemed to rattle past at an alarming speed. This time last year I still had a baby, and now I have a bustling soon to be two year old – who never fails to make me smile. My heart could burst at the fun, the cheekiness, the giggle, of this little boy. This little boy whose feet grew a whole size in a month and is now sporting a very grown up size 7.

2016 saw the acquisition of an allotment, 3 [now 2] chickens, Percy Pickle the cat, a new car, a week in Woolacombe, a week in Pembrokeshire, days at Badminton Horse Trials, In the Night Garden Live, ThomasLand, the Safari Park. It saw Freddie starting a new wonderful nursery [Mayfield House, I love you], Freddie’s first Cambridge Formal Hall, his first proper pony rides [and a donkey on the beach at Weston!], winning “best dressed bear” for Bear Grylls at the NCT teddy bears picnic, and finally learning to SLEEP for more than 2 hours in a row. On the downside, we had a long, difficult summer with my father incarcerated in the QE awaiting a new heart. The long car journeys and the anxieties watching someone you love so poorly, was quite stressful – and I’m very glad to have Dad home again. Mum was diagnosed with Parkinsons which has also taken its toll.

It’s not always easy, this single parenthood malarkey; but it’s definitely worth it. I can hardly remember what it was like not to have Freddie in my world …

Hello 2017 … lets do this.

Respice Finem

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Punting on The Cam

Life with a toddler is an exhilerating and exhausting rollercoaster of chaos and sticky fingers. We’ve just returned home from a night in Cambridge; it has been nine whole years since I graduated, and there was a special dinner for a retiring Porter. This particular Porter had been known to assist an inebriated me up D&E staircase, akin to what a friend described as Steve Irwin wrestling a crocodile. The least I could do was show up to his leaving meal [sober!]

Freddie was a little star; we went punting on the Cam yesterday lunchtime, and the sun shone. Watching him smile as he marvelled at the other punts, the ducks, the bridges, was just beautiful. I think he will appear on many people’s holiday snaps, as he enjoyed waving to other “punters”. It was one of the most enjoyable afternoons Freddie and I have had together; I felt so unbelievably lucky, to be back in the microcosm of Cambridge, with my little boy. In those moments punting, life was perfect; and I’m sure I will look back on yesterday for many years to come.

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A picnic on the faculty lawn

We had a picnic on the archaeology faculty lawn. The last time I sat on that lawn was on a June afternoon in 2007 waiting for our degree classifications to be pinned to the Senate House. Needless to say yesterdays Pom Bears and cocktail sausages were a whole lot more relaxing. Freddie had an ice cream on Kings Parade, and I bought him a “Cambridge” t shirt from Ryder & Amies.

And then it was back to college, where once ready for dinner, we played in the grounds – Freddie ran with his little “tactor” and revelled in the space and freedom.

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With my mentor/director of studies, Kate Pretty

I hadn’t expected it to be so emotional. I love Homerton dearly; it wasn’t always easy to be there as a student; yet returning yesterday felt in many ways like a home coming. It was wonderful not only to see the people – but the bricks and mortar; the lawns, the same smell in the Buttery, the same pictures hanging in the corridors. I still felt as if I belonged there; and in turn; so did Fred. I didn’t expect to feel so proud – proud of having stuck it out when I might have walked away; proud of this little smiling toddler who slept through his first Cambridge Formal. How amazing, to have experienced life as a Cambridge student. My degree may not be put to its best use; but no one can ever take it away from me. I love the idea of taking Freddie to Cambridge for a weekend each year, introducing him to the museums and libraries; to the bookshops and pubs. I hope he grows to love it as much as I do.

It was such a luxury to eat a three course meal with a sleeping toddler, peaceful in his pram at the end of the table! Intelligent conversation; no mention of nappies or sick, or Ra Ra the Noisy Lion. I could almost feel the rusty cogs of my brain grinding into action! Of course, it was down to earth with a bump when I had to share a single bed with a restless boy who was wide awake at 5.20am. I’m going to hold out for 7pm tonight, but can’t make any promises!

 

A letter to Freddie

Dear little boy,

14079518_1984626361763792_8126995669735762084_nIn the early hours of tomorrow morning you will be 18 months old …  a whole year and a half in the world. On the one hand it seems like yesterday – I still yearn to press rewind and relive it all again …. yet on the other, I cannot imagine a time when you weren’t here. How much fun we’ve had and how much you’ve grown. I find it very strange that if you’re reading this one day, you won’t remember any of the things we’ve done in the past 18months. Of course, Momma knows that nothing is wasted and that everything you’ve seen and felt and done has contributed to the vivacious happy little boy you are today. I’m so proud of you, and I don’t think I’ll ever truly believe you’re mine …. I’m such a lucky momma.

Today we collected Percy Pickle kitten, our first pet; and you were very excited about playing with him. Momma has had to teach you to be gentle when you pick him up, and to let him sleep when he needs to sleep … but before we came to bed you gave him your Iggle Piggle, and I hope you grow to be good friends. I think it’s important children grow up with a pet; and Percy Pickle will be a buddy to get up to mischief with! Please don’t eat the cat food though darling …

We’ve just had a lovely week away with your friend Atticus and his Mummy to Bluestone in14183771_1985326771693751_456552263184359963_n Wales. It was a real joy to watch you play together and learn from each other. Whilst Atti picked up your very sweet and constant “Momma Momma Momma”, you learnt to say “tractor”, or “Tacdaw” as you so cutely put it. You’ve made sandcastles on the beach, eaten sausage and chips by the sea, seen lots of animals at Folly Farm, and had a blast swimming in the Blue Lagoon with your new arm bands. You had a really fun time, and Momma’s a little sad that it’s back to work tomorrow ….

Sometimes I lie here watching you sleep at night, stroke your little face, and hope that I’m getting this parenting business right. I want to be a gentle, fun mum … I want to say yes as often as I can; and I don’t want to be a shouty nag. You’re a good boy, Freddie Worthington-Phillips … and you light up my world.

Eighteen months …. from my 7Ib 9oz newborn, to my little boy … just think of all the adventures we have to come. But now, my dear one, your Momma is going to snuggle down beside you [at 20.25] because quite frankly I’m exhausted! Can’t take the pace these days …

Lots of love,

Momma x

Home sweet home

13728971_1962498990643196_2599286044627108033_nIt is 9.06am and my son is still fast asleep beside me. This never happens; but it has been hot, and we’ve had a busy few days. I’ve just made myself a cup of tea, and as I walked to the kitchen, the sun casting pretty patterns on the tiles – I was reminded how much I love our home. In October I will have lived here for 2 years [which means I’ve already been blogging for 2 years …], and it is lovely to see these four walls develop into a family home …. the type and size of toys changing, the evolution of photographs on the walls … and the pitter patter of toddling feet along the hallway. It is happy, bright and lived in. There is always more I would like to do to it, but Flat 7 has always felt like home, and moving here was such a good decision. How fast time has gone, since I sat with a huge Freddie bump on the Chesterfield [in a much tidier and sparse lounge] trying to imagine what life would be like post partum; since I sobbed in the shower wondering if I could do it all. Then of course it was here where I brought my newborn in his moses basket, squishy and gurgling. This modest flat has provided for me, for us; a security, our own little haven; and I don’t think I will ever want to leave … the memories here have been the best of my life … and ones I will cherish forever and tell Fred about when he’s older.

Perhaps I’m in a philosophical mood, ignited because my beloved father is embarking on his 4th week  in hospital. It raises so many emotions; watching a loved one suffer; having to trust other people to fix them, and dealing with the reality that life is fragile, unfair, and short. There has been a heaviness these weeks; that Dad can’t be with us to enjoy the little things. Life isn’t as joyful when he’s not home. I’ve spent time in hospital myself, and the days are long. I’m hopeful that this week we may have a plan … but it has certainly provoked a lot of thinking and sadness, knowing my dear Dad is so poorly and that there is very little I can do to help him. We take our health forgranted ….

I’ve held Fred a little tighter, a little longer, recently …. ever aware of how quickly he is becoming a little boy. There are no words to describe the love for this little chap; the surge of protection, and the pride at the cheeky faced fun loving boy he is. I can’t imagine a time when he wasn’t in my life; and still pinch myself that he’s mine. How on earth did I unintentionally create something so utterly wonderful? I’m sure all parents think the same … but it’s the motherhood miracle which I’ll never quite get my head around. Sure, some days I’m pushed to my limits and long for bedtime, but when bedtime comes, I sit looking at my sleeping boy and forget about the housework which needs doing.

It’s now 6.30pm, and another Sunday is nearly over. My baby is once again sleeping peacefully beside me. I hope one day he looks back with good memories on his childhood, and remembers this home as a fun filled loving place to grow up. I want to get this right; and I feel the time is slipping through my fingers like grains of sand. I just brought a newborn home, surely?! Oh Freddie, you give me so much, and I’m loving watching you develop and grow … it’s great, this adventure.

Call the Midwife

This morning I awoke to a smiling Freddie planting a sloppy kiss on my nose. After he threw his toast around the kitchen whilst I made lunches and a [decaf] coffee, we snuggled on the sofa in our PJs for half an hour of  CBeebies before it was time to get dressed and begin the day. Sometimes that half an hour is a manic one of Fred bashing mega blocks against the coffee table in time to RaRa the Noisy Lion. This morning he cuddled into me, and once again I was overcome by the tsunami of love which renders everything else unimportant … which is mesmerised by the life I created, the speed at which he is growing and developing, and in awe at the amount of love my heart contains for him. I still have to pinch myself and probably always will … [note to self: must not become embarrassing mum]

10427675_1725501787676252_6630502015762500153_nToday Freddie is 14 months old .. and it’s also International Day of the Midwife. I doubt there has been a day these past 14 months when I haven’t remembered Freddie’s birth and the people involved in it. If you’re a die hard blog reader, you’ll know that I had a natural water birth, exactly as I’d wanted, not even a whiff of gas and air, and even a second degree tear was perfectly stitchable. It goes without saying that it was the best day of my life, but that doesn’t quite do it justice; it was empowering, it was the birth not only of my son, but of Verity the mother … the Verity who left behind her hedonism and impulsiveness … and became entirely focussed on the little boy who shot from her vagina into the birthing pool at 4.39am on 5th March 2015. It was so affirming, so powerful … and so overwhelming. My body actually knew what to do; and I could still tell you every detail – from the tuna sandwich I was eating on the antenatal ward, to the shade of my nail varnish, and the “Hits of the 90s” CD we found in the birthing room which we listened to for a while [although we turned it off before things got properly heated, as I didn’t want Fredders born to East 17] … It was beautiful; there was laughter amidst the agony, and I will always be so grateful to those who were around the birthing pool offering support and companionship on the journey to becoming a mother …

I’ve recently begun volunteering as a breastfeeding friend on the postnatal ward at the hospital where Fred was born. Being back there reminds me of that first night, exhausted, hot, yet wide awake, looking with wonder into the crib beside me. Even the fear I was bleeding to death didn’t take away from the complete euphoria. I remember saying to him “we’re going to have so many adventures, you and I” … and here we are, 14 months on, chalking them up.

Every single day I’m grateful I decided to go it alone. Motherhood is exhausting, challenging, frustrating and messy … but I wouldn’t swap it for the world. I still hanker to relive it all …. to go back to the birthing pool and see that wrinkly little wailing face one more time. Beside me is a sleeping Elmo-pyjama-wearing Fred, hot and bothered, snoring, teething … 14 months in the world …