Posts Tagged ‘birthday message’

I have often said that when Tiddles McGee turned three years old, it was like we turned a corner and found some remnants of our old “pre-children” lives waiting there. Life suddenly seemed full of possibilities again…

Now that he’s turned four, however, we seem to have turned another corner – and found a puppy waiting for us there, wagging her tail and with one of my perfect red shoes already in her mouth.

I’ve only got myself to blame. You see, I have also often said “We can’t get a puppy until Tiddles turns four.” It seemed a safe enough thing to say when he was two, for example. Or even three. But when it was a week before his fourth birthday? Not so safe. I should have set the goal posts further away – fourteen or, better still, forty-four – but I was only echoing what the experts said. Stupid experts. They really should know better.

I tried to put the kids off, saying it’d be better to wait until Christmas (and such) but then my husband started in on me, too.

“If we don’t buy the puppy today, I’ll then be away for work for two weeks and then it’ll be practically December and every man (and his dog) will want a puppy for Christmas and we’ll have missed out all together,” he whined.

The general gist was that if I didn’t let him go out and buy a puppy At That Very Moment, we’d never ever get a dog and the kids would blame me, like, FOREVER. I was in the midst of pre-party “planning” so I just agreed with him so we could go back to talking about the important stuff, such as where to hang the disco ball and why I couldn’t find any coloured stockings that weren’t “Tangerine Explosion” in the local Coles.

Of course, when he took me to see the dog he’d found, I fell in love with her.

“You fell in love with the cat, too,” my dear friend KT warned me. “And look how that turned out.”

“Well, I didn’t know that the cat was going to grow up to be homicidal!” I exclaimed. Of course, as I’ve admitted before, calling him Genghis Cat instead of, say, Fluffy Fluffkins of Fluffville Manor, may have contributed to this a little.

So here I am. With a puppy. She’s half-Staffy, half-Jack Russell and 100% Love. And her name is Roxy.

(An aside: I thought Roxy was a safe enough choice until KT started singing a song from ‘Chicago’ that reminded me that ‘Roxie’ was a fame-hungry murderer. I’m hoping the ‘y’ instead of the ‘ie’ will make all the difference, frankly.)

In the days leading up to Roxy’s arrival, people took great pleasure in telling me how having a puppy was like having a baby in the house. And when she first came home, I cried alternate tears of happiness and of grief and had to have a Little Lie-Down shortly afterwards.

But then there I was the very next day, showered, fully-dressed, drinking a hot cup of coffee and about to leave the leave the house – WITHOUT THE PUPPY – and I thought “There’s no way in fuck this is like having a baby.” And I simply stopped panicking.

As for Tiddles McGee, whose birthday was a little hijacked by Roxy’s arrival, and who had the unnerving experience of opening a big cardboard box and finding a living creature inside instead of, say, a Kung Zhu Battle Hamster Ninja Training Ground Dragon Alley U-Turn set… Well, all I can say is he’s stopped hassling me for television quite so much when his siblings are at school and I regularly hear him saying to her stuff like “Would you like cheese, Gromit?” in his best Yorkshire accent and “Let’s get on my pirate ship, puppy. You can be my pirate dog!”.

Yes, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship… for all of us. Except for my shoes and the distinctly murderous cat, that is.

Happy Birthday, Tiddles-McGee-Who-Is-No-Longer-Three

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Eight years ago, I turned up at a hospital in London to be induced, armed with whale song CDs, aromatherapy massage oils and my birth plan.

“Here is my birth plan!” I said, handing a copy to the midwife on duty, as if I were Moses handing down the Ten Commandments.

The midwife smiled slightly and stuffed the plan away in my file without even looking at it. She probably already knew what I was yet to discover: the baby didn’t give a flying proverbial if I wanted to have drug-free birth on all fours like a cow. The baby had plans of his own and, it turned out, those plans mostly involved staying exactly where he was, thank you very much.

Indeed, twenty-eight agonising hours later – two hours of which were spent with the Oxytocin dial turned up to eleven – the baby had yet to make an appearance.

This is the point where the doctors revealed their own birth plan for me and my baby. A team of medical professionals began waving legal documents under my nose for me to sign while another team shaved my nether regions. Before I knew it I was being wheeled away from my birthing suite and all dreams of a drug-free cow birth, my aromatherapy oils unopened and my whale song CD cast aside. Turns out obstetric surgeons don’t like to listen to whale song while they operate. 

In the operating theatre, the failed epidural I’d been given during my labour was upgraded to a failed spinal block and the operating surgeon kindly requested that I stop moving my legs while he operated. This, in turn, forced my anaesthetist to upgrade her assessment of me from “Whinging Bitch With A Low Pain Threshold” to “Possible Medical Malpracdtice Suit” and she offered to put me under general anaesthetic whenever I gave the word.

Must… See…Baby...” I said, through the pain.

And then suddenly, there he was. My Mr Justice, held aloft and bathed in golden light. (My husband to this day denies that there was any golden light but he obviously wasn’t on the right drugs).

“Quick! Someone help me deliver the uterus,” I heard the surgeon say.

Doesn’t he mean the placenta? I thought vaguely to myself, as the pulling and tugging behind the curtain became so intense I became convinced the surgeon was pulling out my lower intestine like scarves out of a hat. Turns out that my uterus had gone ‘boggy’ – which is another way of saying it had started ‘haemorrhaging like a bastard’ – and needed to be  ‘massaged’, although, sadly, not with my aromatherapy massage oils.

Since I didn’t really want to see my uterus held aloft and bathed in golden light, I turned to the anaesthetist.

Put… Me… Under,” I hissed and then everything went black. Four hours later, I awoke, alone in the recovery area, seemingly intact.

“Where’s my baby?” I panicked and, with as much authority as a woman sporting compression stockings and a pubic mullet could muster, I demanded to be taken to him.

I needn’t have panicked. Back in the ward, my husband was in control of the situation. Braving the nervous giggles and strange looks of onlooking medical staff, he had taken his shirt off to give our baby the skin-to-skin contact I had taken such care to include in my birth plan.

At least someone paid attention to the fucking plan, I thought, somewhat despondently.

But listen. While the birth wasn’t what I had planned or wanted, the baby and I were both alive. And that, in my opinion, is what’s called a result.

And a lesson for me, too. The journey we’ve shared together as mother and son hasn’t always gone the way I planned or wanted – from controlled crying, to buying Wiggles albums, to fast food, to shoot-’em-up computer games. But as a parent, you can’t always stick to The Plan and there’s not much point beating yourself up when you don’t.

Today, my first born, with his shining eyes and his ready laugh – and who, incidentally, is still bathed in golden light – is turning eight years old.

Happy birthday, Mr Justice.

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I think I understand the real reason why Samson never cut his hair. It’s because his mother wouldn’t let him. No, really. There’s something about a little boy’s first hair cut that jettisons him away from his mother’s arms towards adulthood and Samson’s mum knew that. 

It is not surprising, then, that I did some top-class procrastinating when it came to the cutting of Tiddles McGee’s baby hair. I’m really very extremely adept at avoiding things that I don’t want to do. Unfortunately, those very same procrastination skills were also applied to the brushing of said hair and it was rumoured there were many small birds in the neighbourhood who were seriously considering making it their summer residence. I even contemplated using the back of his hair as a cup-holder a number of times. Yes, it really was getting that bad. 

And so, last week, my husband manfully took charge of the situation and cut away McGee’s somewhat dread-locked mane with his clippers. And there, underneath all that hair, we found ourselves a Big Boy. 

And today, that Big Boy turns three. 

It’s all been a bittersweet pill to swallow, my friends. A bittersweet pill, indeed – especially since Mr Justice has ceased to acknowledge me at all in public (see “Too Cool At School“). I mean, if he’s like this at seven, it’s entirely likely he will have changed his identity and moved continents by the age of fourteen just to get the hell away from me. 

Tiddles McGee has been my consolation through all this. 

You still love, Mama… don’t you my iddle-widdle Tiddles?” I’ve often cooed to him, while trying to nurse him in my arms like a baby and vaguely wondering if Norman “Psycho” Bates was a youngest child. (Answer: highly likely). 

And Tiddles still does love his Mama. He still curls himself in a little ball on my lap and tries to tuck himself into me. He still cries when I leave the house without him. He still rushes at me with open-mouthed kisses, full of love and just a bit too much saliva.

And today he is three. 

Now I know you’re probably all thinking that Tiddles McGee deserves a nom de guerre more fitting a boy of his advancing years and Big Boy haircut than “Tiddles”. But sorry, folks, he ain’t gonna have one. No matter how big he gets, no matter how many degrees he receives or countries he invades or Cannonball-style roadtrip movies he ends up making, he’ll always be my Tiddles McGee. Fact. 

And now he is THREE. 

The road to three-dom has been hard for Tiddles McGee, who has had to endure a whole string of other (lesser) birthdays in the lead up to his own: his father’s, his brother’s, his sister’s and, most recently, mine. Why, just last Friday, he walked into my bedroom with the rest of the family, singing “Happy Birthday To You!” only to crumple into a heap of inconsolable sobbing at the end of the third line when he realised the song was for Mummy and not for him. The injustice of it all!

But today, Tiddles McGee, the song is all for you. Happy Birthday! Now, come give your mama a huggle and a big sloppy kiss on the lips. There’s a good boy. 

So, you’re really three now, huh?

Oh, my aching heart. 

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Recently I watched my friend L with open admiration as she breastfed her three-month-old baby while simultaneously coaching the three year old at her feet to do a poo in the potty. And I realised how far I’d come from the days of multi-tasking with my tits out.

We found ourselves discussing whether parenting really was “easier” the second time around. Most certainly, we both agreed we felt much more relaxed with #2 (why, with #3 I’m feeling positively catatonic!) but, as L wisely pointed out, no-one – no matter how many children they’ve had – knows what they’re doing during those first six weeks. Babies are newborns for such a short time, you never get a chance to become an expert.

My guess was that the difference with subsequent children was that you know that first six weeks is, well, the first six weeks. But with your first born?

Well, there you are, at the beck and call of this strangely furious creature who has no respect whatsoever for your need to rest while you recover from major stomach surgery or vaginal augmentation. And you trudge from the feeding chair to the cot to the change table and back to the feeding chair, all the while spraying breastmilk on everyone and everything in your wake and wondering if you’ll ever get out of your pyjamas again.

Yep, those first six weeks are all give give give, with very little return. The only thing you do seem to get are those cheerful pastel-coloured “Congratulations on your new arrival!” cards that arrive in the mail and just make you cry because everyone appears so happy for you and confident you can do this mothering gig and right now you’re not sure you’re going to make it through the week and you’d trade a vital organ for an hour of your Old Life.

And just when you resign yourself to the fact that the relentless grind and broken sleep and never-time-to-wash-you-hair for this Angry Little Dictator is what parenting is all about and this is how it is going to be FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER, the game changes.

At about six weeks, the smiles start, then the smiles turn into laughs, and then into the word “Mama!”. And then one day that once-was-baby winds their arms around your neck, hugs you tight and an “I love you!” tumbles from their lips, unprompted.

Rubbing chamomile ointment into razor-blade-slashed nipples turns into watching lovingly-prepared vegetable purees being unceremoniously spat out and then becomes a licked-clean plate punctuated by a “That was the Bestest Meal Ever, Mum!”. 

Having a child burst into inconsolable tears when you leave the room and cling fearfully to your legs in Strange Places eventually gives way to them informing you that they don’t need you to walk into the school with them, followed by a discrete half-salute and the briefest but most knowing of smiles before they rush off into a wider world by themselves.

If I’m sounding uncharacteristically sentimental, it’s because my Mr Justice, my first born, turns seven today and I wanted to share a little of our journey so far as Mother and Son.
Only yesterday, Mr Justice announced with great certainty “I know exactly how many flies I’ve killed in my life: Two, Mum! I’ve killed two!”

And I remembered at the same age starting a list of all the films I’d ever seen and how I’ve forever wished I’d kept up with that list and often wondered how long it would be now.

Perhaps I should keep count of the flies for him and one day he’ll thank me for it. I hope there are other things he’ll thank me for, too because I certainly know I’ve got plenty to thank him for.

Happy Birthday, darling boy. 

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