Monthly Archives: June 2010

In Praise of the Nannies

I don’t know how I would have gone about this whole becoming a mother business without my Mum. It’s almost five years since I lay on my bed and wept into the phone hysterically about how stupid I had been, while she calmly told me she’d support me whatever I decided to do. With a broken ankle, she rearranged my childhood bedroom to accommodate me, a load of crap and a cot. When I was in labour, I gripped her hand so tight that I caught her wincing at the the midwife and slipping off her rings because they had cut into her fingers (at the time, I confess that in some sort of warped way, I was pleased that someone else was experiencing pain that might come close to what I was going through.) In the early days, I’m not sure how Mum coped with getting up at 6am and driving to work: Surely she heard the hysterical midnight screaming of a baby who refused to breastfeed waiting while his mother stomped downstairs, slammed the kitchen door and prepared a bottle of formula.

Sometimes, I get emails from girls who are pregnant and don’t know what to do (I never advise them, just offer some comfort and tell them I know what an agonising decision it is.) The thing is, not everyone is as lucky as me and I don’t know if I could have done it without such a tolerant Mum. It works well because Tom loves going to stay with his Nanny as much as she loves having him. A couple of weekends ago, as I waved him off, I told him I’d miss him.

“Don’t worry Mum, Nanny will look after me and the gerbils will look after you.”

When I spent two days and nights partying at Eurocultured, a Manchester street festival, someone asked me where Tom was.

“Oh, he’s with his Nanny,” I said, realising afterwards that it probably sounded as though I could afford an au pair.

I am lucky because as well as Mum, I also get a lot of help from Tom’s Auntie J, a wonderful lady who I worked with when I was pregnant She ferried me and four car loads of my stuff back to Mum’s when I was seven months gone. Auntie J has made Tom a Man United fan (which bothered me at first but isn’t a bad idea I suppose, given the fact he doesn’t have a male role model and all his classmates seem to be little Reds). She was supposed to look after Tom while I went to work at Glastonbury this year. I couldn’t wait for my my lost week on Worthy Farm. Then my job there fell through. I became hell-bent on getting to Glasto, even considering selling things and paying megabucks for a VIP ticket. Then I stopped and asked myself what I was doing: going out of my way to spend a messy, muddy week away from my beautiful son. Silly me.

Auntie J and Tom walk through the tunnel at Old Trafford on his fourth birthday

It’s wonderful to have the Nannies. They certainly made the transition in to motherhood a lot smoother. Having a social life is important to maintain sanity when you become a parent, especially if you’re single, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. I have started to look at child-friendly festivals I can take Tom along to this summer.

Auntie J was supposed to look after Tom this weekend, while I went to Parklife, another Manchester festival but I have come to my senses: I eBayed my ticket and booked myself and Tom on a very cheap flight to the sun. We’ll conveniently miss the dreaded Fathers’ Day card-making at nursery. Sadly, I can’t afford to bring the Nanny along on holiday, but she is driving us to the airport and sitting on the house (and the gerbils) while we’re away.

Tom and his beloved Nanny

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More Metamorphosis Metaphors

I never did get round to writing about our holiday at The Yurt Farm, but it was wonderful. I can’t recommend it enough to families looking to experience the great outdoors with a few home comforts.

Here’s the inside of our yurt…

… and Tom looking out across the valley…

It’s all very well being able to visit places like that, but it isn’t the same as living in the countryside. I keep thinking I should move to the out to the sticks, but I think it would be lonely if it was just the two of us. At the weekend, I took Tom in a taxi to Clifton Country Park. You go along a main road, past a grotty tattoo parlour and a shop that sells discount fireworks for New Year 2008 and down a cul-de-sac of three bed semis, then you’re in the countryside. There’s a really good play area, some horses and donkeys and a lake where we saw a deer taking a dip last summer. This time, we ventured into the woods. We came across the remains of the old colliery, which has meta sculptures of miners and is a bit eerie. We walked on and found open meadows, ponds, wild iris, a blue insect called Thomas and a caterpillar called Henry. The whole time you’re there, you can hear the rush of traffic on the motorway and regular trains roaring through towards town, but these only make you feel smug to have found a piece of countryside so close to the city.

After Clifton, my friend, Tom and I went to view a house with a garden. It was OK – the inside was a bit grotty and the kitchen felt like a dingy cupboard but I felt as though I ought to put up with that in order to get the space outside. There was even a brick built workshop (garage – nothing I do necessitates a workshop.) It had ivy creeping over the roof and, there were a pair of crutches and a painting of Maine Road inside. My friend and I both left feeling keen, but when we got home, I couldn’t get the industrial, scratchy carpets of the big house (as Tom was already calling it) out of my head. The final nail in the coffin for the big house was the realisation that it had no burglar alarm and the landlord wasn’t willing to fit one. Memories of crap student landlords came to the forefront of my mind. Our current landlord doesn’t do things by half. We’ll stay put for now and enjoy the occasional drive out to Clifton when we need a bit of the great outdoors – let’s face it, how many days in an English year are actual good enough for sitting in the garden anyway?

After those cocoons on the last post, here's Henry the caterpillar (and Thomas the pale blue bug.)

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