Friday, 23 December 2016

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Review Of The Year 2016

It's certainly been a year of change.

What with Brexit and Trump's terrifying take over. The demise of so many great artists including Bowie, Prince and Victoria Wood. Not to mention the crumbling of The Great British Bake Off.

And amongst all this global unrest, Nursery Whines has experienced many changes in our little bubble too.

We moved out of the heart of London to the very outskirts, and went from pushing a pram round art galleries to sitting on mats in church halls with a mug of Nescafé, all in a bid to get out of the house and find some adult company. The latter is much more welcoming.
In 2016 I found my wardrobe had become a capsule of stripes and leggings.
And then I embarked on a conscious effort to... make an effort.
We began the year making strides with the Baby Bjorn, only for it to go horribly wrong when I took a tumble.
I'm a pushchair pro now though. I can even steer one-handed and drink coffee at the same time.
2016 has seen my daughter move into her own room and learn to sleep through the night.
And move back into our bed.
I've gone from breastfeeding to weaning.
And reclaimed my body. Well, what's left of it.
I've found parenting can be lonely.
Parenting can be competitive.
And parenting can be overwhelming.
Keeping a child fed and changed is one thing, but keeping them entertained is where the real challenge lies.
And sometimes you will do anything just to get out of the house.
Over the past year I've come to realise that as well as being a mother I am still me.
And I've learned to let go sometimes. Even if my daughter hasn't.
Perhaps the second biggest change for me in 2016, after parenthood, was that I started my blog. I have learned a lot about the blogging world - about link-ups and self-promotion and awards and conventions. The pressure to 'go self-hosted' and the burden of blogmin.

I have discovered some wonderful people and some fabulous blogs and they have helped me feel less out of my depth at this crazy new job that is parenting.

So, as one year comes to a close and a new one begins, with my daughter and I heading towards an ominous list of milestones, I am glad that I have the mummy blogger world for support and reassurance.

May 2017 bring you all you reach for.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Love Actually: Nauseating But True

It's 5am and I am sitting in a cold bath surrounded by plastic ducks singing Baa Baa Black Sheep.

I am suddenly overcome by an out of body experience as I find myself looking down at the naked, shivering, bleary-eyed woman with a child between her legs.

How did I end up here?

Rewind seven hours and a strange noise alerted me to the fact my daughter had just vomited up most of her supper in her cot and appeared to have gone back to sleep, lying in the putrid lumps.

That vomiting bug that has been going round had clearly struck.

I scraped chunks of cheesy baked potato and tomato off the blanket lining her cot and stripped it down before lying her on a clean towel.

Ten minutes later it happened again.

Hours later, as I awoke from a doze sitting awkwardly in a chair, my feet freezing, my bladder achingly full, covered in foul-smelling stains, with a hot, sticky little body curled up and snoring into my stiff neck, I thought to myself:

Richard Curtis - you were wrong actually. This is love.

Love is not big, overblown romantic gestures like standing outside someone's front door in the snow holding up signs that say you've (rather creepily) been secretly obsessed with them for ages.

Love is staying awake all night to rub someone's back and hold out your hand to catch their vomit and promise them they will feel better soon.

Love is not dashing to the airport to tell someone you think they're a bit of alright.

Love is managing to keep your temper when that someone wakes up at 5am and decides they are feeling much better and wants to sing Baa Baa Black Sheep and pat your face.

Love is not standing in the pouring rain until your shirt goes see-through while you tell someone you don't want to marry with them.

Love is, when you have got all hosed off and into fresh pyjamas and finally calmed that someone back down and convinced them it is still bedtime, not minding that the only place they want to sleep is lying on top of you with their head pressed into your oesophagus.

Love is not turning up at a press conference to tell some Hollywood star you want them to shack up with you in your zillion pound property in Notting Hill.

Love is cancelling your plans to see your friend before Christmas and staying at home all day because it would not be fair to drag a sick child across London. Even if they have stopped throwing up and they want to play the same annoying game over and over and over again.

All the rest is just romance. Parenting is real life, actually.
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Please Release Me: A Separation Anxiety Parody

Separation Anxiety. It really is a bind.

Up until four weeks ago my 13-month-old daughter had become really independent. She was always crawling off without me and would happily stay with total strangers while I popped out of the supermarket queue to dash back for the milk I'd forgotten.

Now I am struggling to leave her with her father for 10 minutes while I jump in the bath.

If I'm in the room with her it's fine - she'll ignore me and get on with playing on her own or with someone else. But if she looks round and realises I've popped to the loo - boom! All hell breaks loose.

So I find myself borrowing the ballad of a famous crooner, Engelbert Humperdinck, as I her sing her this plea to soothe her.

Please release me, let me go
It's not that I don't love you anymore
To waste our lives would be a sin
Do you really want to watch me pee again?

I just have to pop to the loo my dear
And yet you always want me 
I've crossed my legs for far too long
My darling, my pelvic floor is not that strong

Please release me, don't you know -
I'll soon be back to be the one who tells you, 'No!'
Is leaving you with Daddy such a sin?
I just need to hoover and put out the bins

Please release me can't you see
You're missing playtime when you cling to me
Pulling my hair out just brings me pain
So release me and let me live again

I need the loo...
Let me gooooooooooo!

What are your experiences of Separation Anxiety? Please tell me it IS a phase?!
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

Thursday, 1 December 2016

What Is In A Name? Top Baby Names 2016

When I was born, the midwife handed me to my parents - their first born - and said, "It's a girl! What are you going to call her?"

"Counceletta," they replied.

"What?!", exclaimed the midwife. "You can't call a child that! I am not giving you your baby until you change your mind."

This is the tale I have grown up being told and eventually begun to relate myself.

I am sure she was joking. But they did change their minds and I am not called Counceletta.

Only, they did still give me an unusual name.

Whenever I am introduced to people, have to give my name, or hand over identification documents, it is almost always commented on.

I have never had to follow up my name with an initial or precede it with an adjective to distinguish me from the others.

At junior school I was a little bit resentful of my name. I don't remember ever really wanting to be called something else. But I sometimes wished it didn't invite so much attention, unfortunate rhyming attempts and, well, name-calling.

But by the time I was 11 I had learned to fully embrace my name. Although I mostly chose to shorten it, I was no longer embarrassed of it, in any of its forms.

I even went as far as to tell my parents that I had decided our surname was incredibly dull and that the moment I turned 18 I fully intended to change mine to 'Rainbow'. 

I honestly was not as obnoxious a child as that might make me sound. But I hope it serves to illustrate that I was no wallflower.

I was not the star of the school plays, the head girl, the queen bee of the cool kids or the class hotty. But I am relatively confident and outgoing, and I believe I owe part of that to my name.

I suppose it is something I feel I have to live up to.

And so when it came to choosing a name for my daughter, it was important that I pass that challenge on to her.

By contrast, her father hates his name. He thinks it is boring and overused and has bad associations.

It is a name often given to the 'regular guy' in TV adverts, and always pops up in reality shows.

So it was really important for him that we give our child a name that was unique and interesting.

At the same time, we did not want to brand our daughter for life with a name that says, "My parents are pretentious bores and I will pay the price for their attempt to be 'quirky' for the rest of my life."

It is an extremely tightly-run gauntlet between picking a name that makes you stand out from the crowd, yet still holds gravitas.

We chose a traditional Edwardian name that has fallen out of fashion, which we think is pretty, elegant, and just unusual enough to be character-building.

It was to our horror that we realised Edwardian girls' names are having a revival, and so our attempt to be different could easily have backfired. But we have been relieved to see that our daughter's name has been absent from every Top 100 Baby Names list so far. And she has two middle names as back up...

I am not trying to do down the Williams and Kates of this world. Nor the Olivers and Olivias - as the Top Baby Names of 2016 turned out to be.

They have all got just as much chance of turning out to be brilliant and changing the world if they want to, and some of them will.

But having worked hard to be more than just an unusual name, I believe I am giving my daughter a good start in life.

And if she is a wallflower... she will still smell just as sweet.
The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback