Sunday, February 28

8 months

Dear Molly,
You so want to crawl. As soon as I sit you on the floor, in the blink of an eye, you're on your belly, commando crawling your way towards some unsuitable object in the distance. In the last few days, you've even mastered getting up onto all fours and rocking back and forth, as if you're gaining momentum ready for take off. Any day now you'll be off and able to explore all those things you've been wondering about for the last 8 months. Meanwhile, you're fascinated with bits of fluff that you find on the floor, and especially enjoy pulling clumps out of Gwen's fluffy bedroom rug and trying to eat them.

I left weaning until fairly late, but once you'd got hold of some food, you just couldn't get enough. As soon as you sit in your high chair and see food coming your way, you cry until it's actually in your mouth. Tea today, for example, was a whole banana, a whole blood orange (you are all about the oranges), plus cheese on toast - that's a lot of food for a very small stomach.

As well as oranges, you love potatoes, going on the swings in the park, Blod, dancing around the kitchen, the This Little Baby book, baths and boxes.

We've noticed you've got this whole communicating through the medium of arm wiggling thing going on at the moment. You cautiously move your arms and wiggle your fingers in an "Hmm, that looks quite interesting" kind of way, progressing to more of a flapping motion when something's definitely taken your fancy, then a full-on 'wave your hands in da air' kind of movement sometimes accompanied by a shriek for real excitement (like oranges).

After only a few hours apart in the last 8 months, I have to go back to work in 3 weeks. I'm going to be out of the house for three days a week - I'm sorry. I would so love to stay at home squeezing your thighs and giving you a big hard kisses on the fat cheeks every day, but I'm sure your Daddy and Nana and Bampa will do that too. I'll miss you so much, my gorgeous Turtle.

Every day, I say to your Daddy, "She's a delight". And you delight me every single day, my happy, chilled-out, beautiful baby girl.

Love, Mama

Friday, February 26

On jobs

Going back to work in three weeks - bah. Looking forward to the social aspect, really like the people I work with and passionate about the cause we're championing. But, boy, I am going to miss the two petite croutons for three days of the week. And slightly concerned about how Molly, AKA The Limpet, is going to cope - especially as she is going through a phase of screeching as soon as I dare to go out of her sight. Even a dash into the pantry to grab her another rice cake is a cause for tears.

Ok, I'm lucky. They're being looked after by Mr Meep and the Grandparents. It's good for them to bond with the rest of the family and good for me to get a bit of 'me' back, but I'm going to miss our days of baking and hanging around in parks and going for a cuppa/apple juice/breastmilk in a cafe and playing in the garden and bouncing on the bed and dancing around the kitchen to Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.

Oh dear, I'm feeling all teary just thinking about it. I'll just have to fit all those things into the other four days of the week instead.

Anyway, to take my mind to other places, here's a list of jobs I've had.

  • Fairground ride operator

  • Summer job in Maryland, USA. Highlights included me running over a scary mulleted mom's ankle by starting the ride while she was still putting little Brittney on it, her going nuts, and me having to be hidden at the back of the Fun House for the rest of the week because she wanted my BLOOD.

  • Call centre robot

  • Almost too painful to talk about. Walking to work every day, I'd pass a man washing cars by hand in the freezing cold and I would wish I was him. One day the intellectually-challenged team leader came into the ladies while I was mid-wee and screeched - "Get back in here, there are CALLS IN THE QUEUE!". The calls were about the life-threatening emergency that is a credit card machine on the blink.

  • Butlin's worker

  • I got so drunk the night before my first day that I slept through my alarm and they sent the scary boss to my chalet (which had been condemned to be demolished in 1985) to wake me up.

  • Deputy editor of a motoring magazine

  • Yup, still confuses me too.

  • Cake pedlar

  • And, my favourite job of all? When I was 17, I worked on a cake stall! I was doing my A-levels, had a great crowd of cider-drinking, Indie-rock loving, nasally-pierced, henna-headed mates who'd come to visit me hoping for a free cream horn. The stall was on a market and my other mates worked on the flowers and the meat and the fruit 'n' veg (as did Sir Kelly of Stereophonic, who was very short, liked heavy metal and always bought a 15p mini-pasty from me for his lunch). The downside was that we had a meagre 50p allowance for lunch (which wasn't a lot even by 1993's standards), so there was a distinct lack of freebies. Unless of course, I 'accidentally' stuck my finger into the odd strawberry tart or had a squashing incident with a coffee puff. Ah, those were the days.

    Tuesday, February 16

    Mysteries of Life

    Last week I went into Molly's room at 7.30am to find her in her cot on all fours grinning at me... in just her nappy. She had wiggled out of a vest, a babygrow and a sleeping bag without undoing any of the poppers on any of the items of clothing. The clothes were still all inside one another, just without the baby inside. Answers on a postcard please...

    Tuesday, February 2

    The Day I Decided to Get a Cleaner

    Dear Gwen and Molly,
    I just want to let you know why I decided to spend the child benefit on getting a little bit of help around the house.

    I could save it for when you're bigger and need cash for house buying or uni or something equally sensible. I could use it to buy you clothes, but you have drawers full of beautiful hand-me-downs and you're not old enough to care. I could buy toys with it, but you're happier with a pile of blankets and pillows (Gwen) and a few kitchen implements (Molly).

    So instead, I am investing it in a different sort of way. You see, at the moment, I love being with you two, but I spend most of the day with a little niggly thought at the back of my mind. A little voice on my head is saying "Look at the floor, it's filthy. You need to Hoover the stairs. Oo, look at those dust bunnies under the sofa. The bathroom is mingtastic." All day long, I wonder when I will get time to clean, when my days are spent with you lovelies, my evenings are spent washing and tidying up and cooking lovely healthy food (and cakes) for the next day, and occasionally actually sitting and talking to your Dad or having a night out with one of my lovely lady friends.

    We have a doggy who you both love very much, but is very hairy, trails mud through the house and chews up sticks on the lovely stripy rug.

    We cook. A lot. We make bread and cakes. It's messy. There's flour all over the kitchen.

    We craft. And you love glitter. So there are sparkly bits all over the floorboards.

    We eat cake in the lounge in the afternoon and there are sticky fingerprints and crumbs on the sofa.

    Baby-led weaning results in lots of sweet potato and spaghetti being flung around the dining room.

    You splash about in the bath and the bathroom floor gets all mucky.

    In short, I live a charmed life. It's just a little bit... dirty.

    So I've decided to face facts. It's important to me that I spend time with my family, cook you all nutritious food, spend lots of time messing about outside, do lots of nice things like photography and cooking and gardening and meeting friends and reading and writing and watching films and eating Thai curry with Daddy Dave. And I can't do those and have a clean house too. But I also can't get full enjoyment from those things with the cobwebs quite literally looming over me either.

    I'm not lazy, honest. I actually like cleaning. Bit of loud music, bucket of hot, soapy water and a old-fashioned stringy mop and I'm happy as can be. And I could put you in front of a DVD for an hour while I went off to do that. But I don't want to do that. Because I like spending time with you. And that's worth a million dust bunnies.

    So we will welcome the fifth member of our family this Thursday - Lynne the cleaner. I can't wait.

    Love, Mama