December: what I’m looking forward to…

  1. Russell Brand on his ‘Messiah Complex’ tour  in London on Thursday with my sister – can’t wait – first night out in I don’t know how long!
  2. Booked a few days off work to get my Christmassy bits done which should get me into the Christmas spirit!
  3. Taking JJ to see a show called ‘Gorilla’ at the Polka Children’s Theatre in Wimbledon with my Mum on the 14th – wonderful place to take little children, highly recommended.
  4. NCT kids & mum’s Christmas get together on the 23rd at my lovely friend Suzy’s house – another fab excuse to get into the Christmassy vibe with mince pies and festive fun!
  5. NCT mark II (the EJ ‘Refresher’ years) Christmas get together at my lovely friend Anna’s house on the 16th – more of the above!!
  6. Christmas!!! Say no more.
  7. Going to the panto in Woking on Jan 4th (not December so cheating a bit here!) – Cinderella starring Justin Fletcher (AKA Mr Tumble) which will probably make JJ’s year!! Going with my lovely friend Clair and her son.
  8. Meeting up with friends we haven’t seen for ages on 7th with their son who is EJ’s contemporary – Christmas time really does encourage us to re-connect!
  9. Christmas pressie swap and meal at Jamie’s Italian with one of my oldest besties on 14th. Bit of a tradition, lovely to indulge ourselves and reminisce about old times.
  10. Big family pre-Christmas ‘in the place of Christmas’ celebration with a meal out at a lovely pub on the 15th. (My sister, BIL and nieces will all be skiing in the Italian Alps (again!!) for the festive season this year so this will be our chance to raise a glass and enjoy each other’s company for the last time in 2013).

And one for luck – albeit another January one! – Jan 18th going to the National Theatre in London to see Tori Amos’s musical “The Light Princess” described as “a dark fairytale about grief, rebellion and the power of love”. Its been a long time since I’ve visited the National although I was brought up on theatre-going, particularly this amazing venue and I absolutely love, love, love the vibe both inside and out on the South Bank.

So yes, once again I find myself counting my blessings and realising that, whilst time enjoying the children is fab (especially at Christmas) not everything in my life has to involve them!

Linking up with http://www.mummyfromtheheart.com’s Reasons to be Cheerful (R2BC) (currently being hosted by Becky at Lakes Single Mum http://www.beckywilloughby.blogspot.co.uk)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Better get going on the Childhood Bucket List!

childhood bucket list

How important is it to involve your children in everything you consider to be childhood-related from the youngest possible age?? Having just missed both Halloween and Fireworks Night I’m feeling a bit deflated after reading and hearing about so many seasonal activities from so many friends and other bloggers. I have friends who have been taking their four year old to amusement parks and trick or treating (at age 2), and motor shows, museums, golf, cinema trips and even a science centre at age three (which I was told was suitable for kids from about 7). I’m not in any way saying that any of this is a bad thing, I’m just trying to understand why we haven’t done any of this stuff and figure out whether its because I’m just a lazy mum or whether I can actually justify this by saying its too much too soon for us. Kids will have time to experience all these kinds of things after the age of four and on throughout their childhoods won’t they?

I also think that its much more likely that EJ (or any second or subsequent child) will experience things more advanced than their developmental level much earlier than they would have done otherwise simply because of the fact that they will be ‘along for the ride’ with their older sibling.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve done the seaside, children’s farms, Peppa Pig World, Legoland, we even took JJ with us to Menorca for our honeymoon (there was an onsite creche!). So its not like we haven’t done stuff but its just been chosen with the ‘tiny tot’ age in mind.

I’m sure I read something recently about people who are so excited about having a child that they whip out the childhood ticklist immediately, ending up at a zoo with a 6-month-old baby who turns out to be more interested in a one-legged pigeon than the rhino hanging around behind it. (Having said that I did take JJ along on a zoo trip aged 9 months but it was a trip organised by our local baby group so I guess its not unusual!).

Now I’m beginning to wonder if parents of the future won’t write a ‘bucket list’ for their kids as they slip into adulthood and get them started early with a tandem parachute jump (aged 15), a trip to Everest base camp (aged 16) and a five-star weekend at the Ritz (aged 17). They’ll hit their 30s and there’ll be nothing left to do but sit and watch mindless telly for the next 4 decades…

Right now I’m just glad that the seasonal stuff is almost over – oh, then there’s Christmas!!! I can safely say that JJ will be more excited about Santa’s imminent arrival than ever before this year so I’ll make every effort to make it as special as possible for him. I just wish I had a week child and work free so I could get my head round the shopping, organising, stocking filling, decorating and…erm..baking?? (Ha Ha Ha! ((as opposed to Ho Ho Ho in this context!).

Is there anything you wish you’d done with your children younger or feel guilty about them missing out on? Should I be planning that trip to the National Gallery/Natural History Museum within the next six months so that my children get some culture rubbed off on them (possible screaming, tantrums, over-tiredness/hunger/boredom aside)? I’d love to get some comments on this subject…

Getting religion?

Here’s the thing: I kind of wish I was religious. I’m not. I was christened as a child but my dad is an atheist, my mum a lapsed Catholic (the nuns at her convent school put her off) and the only times I have been to church were as a Brownie, Venture Scout (mostly with a hangover for that phase – post 18!), weddings, christenings, funerals and Christmas services. I also went to a C of E school as a child and happily chirped along to “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands”, “Lord of the Dance” etc. during Assembly. I enjoyed the Christmas Carol concerts and the magic of visiting church with the school at Christmas time and for Harvest Festival.

I was also in the (award winning!) school choir at junior school and we often put on extravaganzas based on biblical stories – Jonah and the Whale, Noah and the Flood, etc. Happy memories.

But as an adult? I find it hard to relate. I feel that I live by Christian tenets, good will to others (most of the time unless they are BMW drivers!), kindness, generosity and doing to others as I would have them do to me (or something). But the times I have been at church for non-celebratory reasons I have found myself getting a little bored and restless. I don’t really like being preached at however much goodwill there is behind it.

My maternal grandmother was brought up staunchly catholic and, although lapsed from being a regular churchgoer later in life it became clear to me how much those beliefs had stayed with her when I was in my early 20s and she told me one day that she was sorry that I wouldn’t get into heaven when I died (or something along those lines) – purely because I wasn’t a Catholic, not because of anything I’d done. It was quite hurtful at the time, because despite not believing in those imagined places of a life beyond, it felt like a massive criticism from her. And I don’t believe that its really possible to convert from no religion to any religion (it might be doable to go from one to the other?). If you are not brought up as a true believer then you are brought up as a cynic and a sceptic and realist and a “scientist”. I tend to pride myself on living my life without the mumbo jumbo.

However since having children I have really noticed the  benefits of being a church-goer: being part of a supportive community (a Christian friend told me that the members of her church would be bringing her and her husband home cooked meals for the first two weeks after their baby was born!); the choice of having your children christened which would give them the benefit of being considered a part of the Christian community in their own right (we could still do this but I feel it would be hypocritical); and the one that’s really on my mind right now – being able to get your children into a great school when the time comes.

I have recently found out that the best junior school in our area, winning an “Outstanding” OFSTED report is the Catholic one. Unfortunately I fear that our children won’t have a hope of getting in there due to our lack of religion (of any sort!). My sister actually converted to Catholicism – because her husband was brought up Catholic and she really did have an interest, but it also meant that her girls have been able to access great schools in South London.

It makes me want to sigh. I took Sociology at A Level and I remember studying the theories of Karl Marx – that religion is “the opiate of the people”. I remember having a lightbulb moment “!” – yes! Religion was designed to keep the proles from rebelling – religion was their comfort in hard times – it was a way of imparting the message to them that, no matter how bad things got in this world, they would be rewarded in the next. As far as my dad is concerned that is a complete nonsense because there is no “next world”. Personally I don’t ever think about this – I don’t want to believe there is nothing and I do believe that there is magic in the world in the form of electrical impulses and things about how our brains work that we will never truly understand – life is miraculous when you think about it. But that doesn’t mean my kids will get into a great school…

My Angel

098

I’ve just discovered what’s known as a ‘linky’ thing through another website called Podcast

Its called What’s the Story and its an open invite to choose a picture which means something special to you and tell the tale behind the image.

This one dates back to Christmas 2010. It makes me laugh and it reminds me of an answer I gave in one of my NCT ante-natal sessions. Our leader went round the circle asking what it was we were most looking forward to about having a baby. I can’t really remember what everyone else said but I’m fairly sure they were really focussed on the whole ‘baby’ thing. At the time I had been with my partner for about three years and got to know his daughter from a previous relationship. She was only two when we got together and I think spending time with her flicked the switch on my biological clock. The time I did and didn’t spend with her also left me feeling somewhat impotent. Anyone who has ever had a relationship with a partner’s child must know how it feels when you develop a love for them and a feeling of protectiveness and closeness (she once called me her best friend – I think we were going through the checkout at Tescos at the time), but you are also kept from them at the most important moments – the special occasions in a little child’s life: sports days, nativity plays, easter parades. This was the thought that struck me when I realised what it was I was most looking forward to – motherhood as THE special person in that gorgeous little person’s life – the one who gets to make all those important decisions and be there at all those fun events.

The picture above clearly shows that, special or not, it was also a bit traumatic for poor JJ! Last year’s pre-school Christmas extravaganza was no better – he was the only child to spot mummy in the front row and break down in tears, later leaving the stage early for a reassuring cuddle. The fact that there is someone in the world who would always turn to me first for that cuddle is probably one of the most special parts of motherhood.