Tomorrow

I never had that rush of love in the hospital when Oscar was born. The feeling everyone tells you about. That sudden lightening bolt of realisation that this is what life is all about and has been all along. No, I never got that.

Although it’s not something I’ve discussed before, the truth is, I spent so much of my pregnancy convinced the embryo, then the foetus, then the baby wouldn’t make it into this world, that when he did, all I felt was relief. I spent so long preparing for him not to arrive that when he did it was hard to reconcile that fact.

His earliest days in the hospital were harder than I ever imagined and being immobilised and traumatised by an emergency c-section, meant every ounce of energy I had was spent on just getting through the next minute. I don’t remember ever feeling love in those early days.

The first time I remember feeling anything close to the ‘rush of love’ people talk about was about three weeks later. It was the middle of the night. I guess he’d just been fed. Ben was asleep and I had just laid Oscar down in my crossed legs where he promptly fell fast asleep, something he wasn’t overly keen to do in the Moses Basket that night. It made me chuckle and I looked down to take a photo of the cheeky sleep thief lying there in my legs and boom! I realised I loved him.

baby asleep on a bed

The moment I realised I actually loved my son.

Fast forward (because it really has been fast) to today, four and a half years later. Today I am preparing for tomorrow; his first day at primary school. I have his uniform all ready. Everything is labelled, I just need to wash his coat and pack his bag. Ben has a couple of trouser hems to take up and then we’re ready. Only of course we’re not.

I thought I was. Summer has been hard and to be honest I’ve been ready to let someone else help with the effort of raising an autistic child for a while now. But turns out today I can’t stop crying. Big gulping sobs. All I can think about is my baby. The difficult, confusing, terrifying, baffling baby and wondering where did he go? The pain is visceral and I have wondered today whether this is why people have more than one child? To delay having to feeling this sadness? To know that’s it for them? That parenting a baby, a toddler is over? Maybe not. But right now it seems like as good a reason as any.

I’m writing this on his bed. Looking round his room that still has vestiges of the nursery it once was.  The pirate decal, the baby swimming certificates, the shelf where we kept nappies and wipes and nappy sacks. This room could do with a refresh I know that. Some things have already gone. The cotbed, the rocking chair, the changing mat. But I just can’t bring myself to change everything just yet.

Anyway, tomorrow. Despite being registered for transport, we’ll be taking him ourselves on his first day. I want to be there, to be able to reassure him. Hell, I want to stand by his side all day and make sure everyone understands who he is and what he wants. But I can’t. They will have to learn. Just as I did.

This is not a letter to my son on the eve of his education journey. It’s not an essay to discuss the benefits or downfalls of children starting school at this age. Its not about how I’m not ready to let him start moving away from me, or how frightened I am for him, an autistic child, making his way in a world that wont always understand him. I mean it’s a bit of all of things, but really it’s just a mummy,whose relationship with her son has never been easy, confessing how much she loves him.

And from three weeks old, always has.

End of an era

So here I am. Sat in my favourite Haslemere haunt. My plans for today much the same as the plans I’ve had most days since Oscar started preschool 19 months ago. Drink coffee, write words, catch up on social media. You know, stuff.

But today is different. In as much as it is the same, it really is different. Today is Oscar’s last day at preschool. They are having a big party in a local park tomorrow, but as far as walking him to the scout hut, dropping him off, and walking away, to any one of the local coffee hangouts, but more likely than not Dylan’s, alone, well this is the end.

I’ve cried this morning. I honestly surprised myself. I didn’t think I’d feel just so, well, sad. But I do. Wrapping the chocolates and writing the cards for his Keyworker and TA was hard. I guess that’s what happens when you leave these things to the last minute (typical me)!

Wrapped gifts

He felt it. Of course he did, he always does. He picks up emotions in the air like the smell of freshly baked bread. And it affects him. He cried and told me he was “sad”. That he was “crying from my eyes”. But he couldn’t tell me why. He doesn’t understand that he won’t be going back to his nursery again, and I don’t really know how to make him understand. I’ve all sorts of exprience of preparing him for things that are coming up, that are yet to be, but no idea how to explain the things that won’t be anymore.

The walk to preschool was harder than usual, but he ran in just as happy as ever. I feel like I should give him that. One last day when it’s all ok, all the same. Maybe I’ll regret not trying to prep him better somewhere down the line, but at the moment, for who he is now and what I know about him, this is the right way.

Myself, I thought I was prepared. I’ve been counting down the weeks, for weeks. And now here I am. And all that prep has made no difference. Because as much as it’s his last day, it’s kind of my last day too. The end of an era, the end of my routine. I will never be a preschool mum again. And while that is my choice, and a choice I still stand by, I didn’t realise it how sad it would make me feel. How lonely.

But I owe it to him to focus on the positive. So happy last day at preschool my beautiful boy. Let’s concentrate on the fun we’ll have this summer and the awesome school you’re starting in September. And mummy promises not to let you see her cry.

Much. Thank you card from Gin Bunny Prints

#BML16 and why I’m choosing to focus on the positives

I’m quite sure most of you who read my blog have no interest in the practical side of blogging. I can’t imagine how boring a post about a blogging conference would be to someone with no interest in the industry. But more for my own sake really, I’ve decided to write my reflections on my first one, #BML16, that I attended in London this past weekend.

So ok, I’ll be honest (as I always am) it wasn’t perfect. What event is? I could talk about how I spent some of the day wandering around alone, unable to find a familiar face or approach an unfamiliar one. I know now others were feeling exactly the same and I suggest next year giving some space over to a dedicated ‘making friends’ area. Not everyone who attends has a group to ‘hang out’ with. I’m pretty confident and even I felt I couldn’t always approach people in case they didn’t want to talk to me!

I could talk about how mixed in terms of usefulness the sessions were. The technical ones were fascinating, but waaaay too short. Other just felt like a massive ego stroking session (theirs not mine!), not really what I signed up for.

I could also talk about how I was so dismissed by the first brand I approached, that I barely spoke to another all day. I went in fully aware that, in terms of stats, I was a small fish in a big pond, but to be shot down like that so early, meant I didn’t get the network contacts I went to the conference hoping to get. My fault and not theirs I guess, but still….

But you know me. I try and focus on the positives when I can. And so I have decided to concerntrate on my personal highlights of #BML16.

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My dress

Come on! How could I not talk about my mushroom dress? Everyone else was! I received so many wonderful compliments on the dress, it’s material and look. Which was lovely! But the best bit was totally the amount of these faces 😱🙀😮 I saw when I told people that my husband Ben had made it for me. For one it was a great icebreaker (oh my god you’re the girl with the mushroom dress /didn’t you make this or something/ btw can I just saw I love your dress etc) but everyone was soooo nice about it that it also gave me confidence in a room where I knew practically no one.

Top conference tip: wear a dress in an eyecatching fabric that someone unexpected has made for you!

Mushroom pattern dress

The mushroom frock

A good lift selfie. Gotta be done

A good lift selfie. Gotta be done. The dress looked surprisingly good with my Next pleather jacket

Friends

Blogging is a funny old sport. You get to know people you have never met in real life, sometimes quite intimately. You can talk for years before actually meeting in person. So actually getting to meet and hang out with some of what I would class as my blogging buddies was fantastic.

Me and Natalie from Diary of an Unexpectant Mum

Me and Natalie from Diary of an Unexpectant Mother. This is a bit blurry but I had just had a bottle of wine!

Me and Maria SuburbanMum

Me and Maria from Suburban Mum. Crazy lighting in the main room for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards (which I was not nominated for boohoo 😉 )

Kelley from BringingupGeorgia, when we finally got our full size Coke Zeros. Happy!

Kelly from Bringing up Georgia, when we finally got our full size Coke Zeros. Happy!

Fangirling

Getting to talk face to face to some of the bloggers I admire was an amazing, if a little disconcerting, experience. Once I got over the “oh, I know her from somewhere don’t I?” feeling, I was able to approach people to thank them for their writing or to introduce myself (although the first time I did this it came out a bit gushing “hi I’m Lisa I follow you on Instagram I love your pictures” literally without pausing. I’m not sure poor Hannah from Make, Do & Push knew what to make of me!).

The Fat Girls Guide to Running

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I have nooooo interest in running. Never have. However, the keynote speech given by Julie Creffield from The Fat Girls Guide to Running, really touched something in me. Not to start running necessarily, but the points she made about motivation, self belief and setting goals, or as she calls them Big Fat Stupid Goals. My life is about to change. Oscar starting school is really going to shake things up around here and it feels like the time to DO something is coming. I got to talk to Julie afterwards and it was super interesting. Watch this space!

Making new friends

I’ve been joining Laura’s #effitfriday link up over at Life with Baby Kicks for a while, but we only started talking recently over Twitter. We had a great chat on Saturday. I couldn’t get over how much she reminded me of my sister in law Rachel, which may explain why I later went on to pinch her bum as I walked past. It was only afterwards that I wondered if that might have been a bit forward for someone who I’d only just met. Turns out not, when I saw this on Sunday.

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And this really is what I went to this conference for. The human connection. Reaching out to real people. I love blogging and the space it affords me and the friends it creates online but nothing compares to real human interaction.

Yeah the conference had it flaws and if I’d gone with the sole goal of making money I think I might be feeling pretty maligned. Thankfully I got to make connections and touch someone (and I don’t just mean their arse). Conference made.

This was next door to my hotel and seemed so very apt!

This was next door to my hotel and summed up my feelings about the day.

 

Mixing it up….

In just a few short weeks time, my bouncing little ball of energy, also known as Oscar, will be turning four. FOUR! Man alive, how on earth did that ever happen? A year. Over. Done. Never to be repeated. When you look at the passage of time through the ageing of a child it makes everything feel so much more transient, so here today gone tomorrow. Literally. Ahh my sweet sweet boy. Every day you change, every day you grow.

So aside from getting maudlin, and feeling all kinds of old ? we’ve been thinking about how to mark our little guy’s fourth birthday. Last year, you may recall, we threw him a wonderful party with the help of our friends at The Hen House, Haslemere. It’s was awesome! So awesome in fact that we weren’t sure what we could do to top it this year (not that it’s a year on year competition, but you know what I mean!) We ummed and ahhed and looked around locally, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Then we started talking about how much fun we had over Christmas and how it would be lovely if Oscar could share his birthday with his extended family.

So that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re going down to Plymouth for Easter. We’re staying in the same apartment as at Christmas, and we plan to celebrate his birthday, with his extended family, a week early, on Easter Sunday. I’ve been pinteresting like mad already for some Easter themed party food and while I won’t be going mad, a centrepiece always goes down well I find. My favourite at the moment is this one. Isn’t it too cute?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What's not to love?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What’s not to love?

Any other Easter themed party food ideas gratefully received. Seriously, if you’ve got any ideas, or blog posts to share, I’d love to see them!

So that’s the party sorted, but then there’s what to get him for a gift. For the last few years we’ve concentrated on large garden toys for his April birthday, setting him up for the coming summer. And that’s been great, but this year we haven’t really got anything in mind. Maybe a bigger slide? But where would it go? Hmmm. It’s a conundrum that’s for sure. And in terms of play toys, there’s nothing he desperately wants and nothing much he needs, to be honest. He’s got more Thomas toys than you can shake a stick at and Duplo coming out of his ears! He has no interest in any of the movie tie ins and flits between favourite cartoons most days (last week it was 1940s Tom and Jerry, this week it’s been 1990s Rugrats – all hail TV streaming services!) He has just started to pick up things (straws, sticks, the Hoover!) and use them as guns, but this upsets me no end and I have no wish to encourage it. So we’re back to the question; what do we get him? What is he in to?

There is one idea I had. It may sound crazy and you may think this is more for me than him, but hear me out. The boy loves to bake. This has been a thing now for over a year. But recently he’s decided he doesn’t like using my Kitchen Aid and instead wants to ‘mix’ everything himself in a ‘giant bowl’ (his words). For this you need a good sturdy bowl, and I just don’t have one. We tend to use my mixer bowl, which is light and topples off its tiny base regularly. He needs something better. I’ve always loved Mason Cash bowls. My mum had one, my Nanna had one. I used to think owning one was almost a prerequisite for being a mum. I always wanted a beige one, just like my mums, but recently Mason Cash released their Varsity range, in cream and Navy Blue. So I started thinking, actually, of all the things we could get him, how about his own ‘giant mixing bowl’? And if we’re going to do that, why not get him the grande dame of bowls?

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The Mason Cash Varsity Mixing Bowl in blue. The perfect gift?

Surely that’s what every four year old would want for their birthday. Right?

Come back in a few weeks, I’ll let you know what we decide!

The crossroads at which we stand

I’m finding it hard to write anything lately. Slimming World updates are OK, because they are about a thing, they’re structured and easy to formulate. My head, not so much.

At the beginning of the year I really thought stuff was changing for the better. I felt positive for the first time in ages. We had decided to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and build our long awaited kitchen extension, which made me happier than I can explain (or understand to be honest) and Oscar’s progress continued to be phenomenal (to us). We’d definitely decided which path we wanted his education to follow and had applied for schools, along with everyone one else. I joined Slimming World and Yoga and started to take some time for me. Ben was doing the same to great effect (taking time for his own mental wellbeing, not joining Slimming World!) Yeah, in one way or another, everything felt like the path ahead was clear.

Then all of a sudden everything isn’t clear any more. The extension is proving a much more difficult and expensive proposition than we envisaged and has made us question whether it’s actually worth doing at all. We’re getting more quotes to be sure, but if it really is going to cost that much then maybe it would be better to move?

And then there’s Oscar (and there’s always Oscar ?). We had a terribly negative meeting with his team two weeks ago and for the first time it’s made me doubt my choices for him and worse than that it’s made me doubt myself. And I’m not just having a wobble that’s going to be solved with a pat on the back, a high five and a ‘you follow your instinct girl’. In fact it’s more than a wobble (why do we play this shit down?) it’s a cannon shot. It’s winded me and knocked me off my feet completely. I no longer feel what I’m doing is the right thing. And that is petrifying. Even when you don’t really know, but you have that gut feeling, it’s ok. But that’s gone. And that scares me more than anything. It also makes me so angry. How dare anyone make me question whether what I’m doing for my son is right! But they have.

So all this has conspired to throw life back up in the air again. We’ve started to look at schools again, something I had assumed we were done with. Having never felt it was so, perhaps specialist schooling would be better for him. I seriously don’t know anymore. All I know is I want him to be happy. And for me never have to sit through a meeting like that again. I think we’re going to look at more schools less to find him a place but more for my own self assurance. I’m happy to come away saying, ‘ok I was wrong, this is better’. But really what I’m looking for is to come away saying ‘do you know what? I was right!’ Because at the moment I can’t feel either.

And then there’s the house. If we can’t get the extension done, our small house remains small and that raises the question should we move? And if so to where? Can we afford to stay round here? Do we want to stay round here? Do we need to stay here?

I feel like as a family we are stood at a giant crossroads. That there are so many paths we could take, in a way I haven’t felt before. It’s frightening yes, but in a weird and probably masochistic way, it’s almost exciting.

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I’ve found myself listening more and more to 90s indie lately. I think partly it’s because it’s familiar, partly because it makes me happy, but partly because it makes me reminds me of a time in my life I felt powerful and sure of myself. Something I need reminding of.

Also some of it is loud and a bit shouty. Just like I’ve always been ?

The 90s Indie chick who knew where she was going.

The 90s Indie chick who knew where she was going.