Oh wow! My very own blog I have been umming and ahhing over what should be my first blog post. Brexit and the American elections are obviously prime targets at the moment – should I do a piece on the advance of the far right and the fact that the Western World seems to be going down the toilet? Should I write about feminism and Hillary Clinton? Feminism and Marine Le Pen? Which I admit are two items that I never considered shotgunning together until I wrote it down just now. I intend to tackle a range of subjects from the sublime to the ridiculous. I shall ponder on issues such as – is it really a good idea to let a man with a quiff cum comb-over loose with the nuclear codes? Why does our government insist on spending lots of money on reports (love a good report) and then announce the results to us as if it is news? Is your family doing a mince pie survey for Christmas 2016 and which is your favourite? It will all be on here so please have a look and see if you fancy reading, sharing or commenting on whatever I am spouting about.
For my first blog post, I thought that I should perhaps strike a lighter note than fretting over whether we are marching towards total annihilation or the state of festive baked goods in the United Kingdom. And today is my youngest daughter’s fifth birthday. I wrote all three of my ‘Mummy’s Guide’ books when my children were tiny little dots. And now I have not only waved my youngest child off to school, but she is one of the oldest children in her class. Today, in about an hour and a quarter to be precise, she turns five. Five years old. How did that happen? I cried when she was born. I cried when I left her at nursery to go back to work. I cried when she left pre-school. I cried when she started school. And anyone who knows me would say that I am not a crier. For someone who is not a crier, I seem to have spent quite a lot of the last five years leaking salt water.
Naturally my daughter is so excited about being five that she woke up very early this morning, having been bursting with excitement for about a week. The night before last I had to go into her room at around 3am and suggest that whilst her singing was lovely, I did not really want to hear it in the wee small hours. And I particularly did not want it to wake her brother and sister up. If I was honest, I would have been less upset about waking her father up, given that he would probably sleep if a marching band went through the bedroom. This morning she ripped open her presents, throwing cards and clothes onto the bed and running around with delight at a plastic necklace that I had bought for her. She happily ate her birthday breakfast request of pancakes before bouncing off to school with a bag of sweets to share with her class. Tonight we are going out for birthday pizza, at her request. On Sunday I have the prospect of twenty seven four and five year olds for lunch. My daughter is excited; I am not.
Birthdays are different when you’re a mother. At least for me, I am thinking, “hmmmm, well my waters broke around eight o’clock this morning…” I remember my husband dropping my son at school and my daughter off at nursery. Almost as soon as we drove out of the car park, my contractions ramped up as if my body was saying “right, they’re all right now, you have until 3pm to get this human out, so let’s get on with it”. As we walked to the labour ward, pausing every time I had a contraction, a woman who was trying to be helpful gave us directions to the ultrasound department. “Er, no, this one is going to be in colour very shortly.” As I write now I am remembering that I was really in quite a lot of pain at this point in time five years ago. In an hour, it was all to be over in the sense of the agonising physical pain part of proceedings; the non-stop worry was only just getting started. And I think that if your baby grew in your heart and not your tummy, whilst you leap-frogged the excruciating pain bit, I think we all landed fairly squarely at the bit when you become a parent and we all think, “shit, what have I done? Time to step up.” For me it was that moment when the hospital staff told me that I could go home with my child. I wanted to ask if any of them were coming with me, but apparently not. We were on our own now. We had made our cot, and now we had a baby to lie in it.
So whilst my daughter leaps about the classroom like a coiled spring today, I sit here remembering that I was screaming the hospital down because they wouldn’t give me any drugs. Whilst we eat pizza later, I will remember my own mother decided that she wouldn’t bother to visit her new granddaughter that evening – she’d come the next day because that was more convenient to her. As my daughter scoffs her ice cream this evening, I will remember that my mother in law came into the ward, laden with food because I had mentioned that I was a bit peckish. And as I read her a bedtime story tonight, I will remember the first time I changed my daughter’s nappy. Battered and bruised I couldn’t really see what I was doing and I was faffing about quite a lot. And how did my baby thank me for bringing her safely into the world? She pee-ed in my face. Just charming.
Editor’s note: To celebrate the launch of the blog, ‘A Mummy’s Guide to Gardening’ by Natalie Gist will be on free download on http://www.amazon.co.uk from 8am GMT tomorrow Friday 18th November 2016 until midnight GMT on Saturday 19th November 2016.