I am writing this just before I go to bed on Mothers’ Day. Having just read a few blogs by writers reflecting on their own Mothers’ Day thoughts, I thought I’d jump right on that band wagon and spread some love.
As I write this my Little Panda is asleep next to me. It’s a lovely image; mother in bed with her baby; cuddled up, watching him breathe. His little eyelids flutter as he dreams and a slight smile plays over his lips. The reality is quite different actually. Firstly, he sleeps with his eyes half open and when he dreams they roll back in his head so all I can see is the whites. This reminds me slightly of the zombies in Dawn Of The Dead (original, not the rubbish remake). Secondly he groans in his sleep. Not those cute little baby moans but full on guttural groans which only serve to add to the zombie image. He does have a little smile on his face but with the half open zombie eyes it looks a little bit demonic if I’m honest.
And then there’s the smell. If I lean in and smell his little head it’s lovely. That comforting milky, baby, fluffy smell that makes the ovaries jump up and down and the heart skip a little beat. Move a little further south and the smell emitted from his nappy area brings tears to the eyes. Little Panda is breastfed and likes to hold on to every single little drop of it. He parts with nothing unless absolutely necessary so we eagerly anticipate what is known as ‘Poo Day’ with the same enthusiasm and excitement as Christmas. It usually occurs once a week although we’ve been known to get to Day 12 still poo-less. A sure fire warning sign that Poo Day is imminent is the ungodly smell he propels into the atmosphere. I have never known a baby so downwardly windy as Little Panda. Imagine, if you can, the smell of a teenaged boy’s room after a night on the park drinking cider and sharing a kebab with his friends. Multiply that by a thousand. Now imagine queueing up at the checkout in Sainsbury’s on a Saturday with Little Panda in the sling when he lets out a long, loud fart. You cringe. The sound was bad enough but people around you chuckle at the smiling baby, giggling away on your chest; it’s natural after all. A few seconds later you see their faces change. Noses start to wrinkle, cheeks fill with air as they puff out large lungfuls, trying to clear the putrid stench from around their airways. They look at you with an expression of confusion and disgust. Why is that smell coming from your direction? What is it? You look down at the giggling, smiling Panda on your chest; ‘cheeky boy, you smell funny!’ But you can see it in their eyes; THAT smell can not possibly have come from someone so small. They look at you and their judgement is made; I’m a terrible mother for blaming my own flatulence on him. I will admit to avoiding public places on Poo Day, or at least keeping him in the pram where the seat liner can absorb some of the smell.
The other Small Person in my life is Little Monkey. He is three and currently snoring away in his bed. He sleeps like a starfish; flat on his back, arms and legs spread out so he’s touching either side of his bed. He snores like a rhino at the moment because of a lingering cold. This also results in an abundance of snot all over his pillow, his face, his hair, the backs of his hands…everywhere. It’s funny; before I had children the mere sight of snot would make me heave. Now I think nothing of going in search of it in my quest for a clean-nosed child.
He’s also a dripping, pouring, sweaty mess when he sleeps. He wakes in the mornings and after naps absolutely wet through. He is a naturally hot child, people look at me strangely when we’re out together. Me in my coat, boots, scarf, hat, gloves and Little Panda dressed similarly; like we’re off on an Arctic Expedition. Bobbing along next to us is Little Monkey wearing little more than a rain coat or a hoody and still complaining he’s hot. The slightest bit of sun leaves him a sweaty, tomato coloured mess; hair sticking to his head and beads of sweat running down his nose.
Admittedly I don’t paint a particularly attractive picture of my sons but upon looking at us in real life, queuing up in Sainsbury’s or winding our way through the one directional crowds in Ikea, this is what strangers would observe.
Now turn your attentions, if you will, to Facebook. Read all the ‘Happy Mothers’ Day to my wonderful mummy’ or ‘A Perfect Mothers’ Day from my perfect boys’ messages and you’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone out there leads a better life than you. That their mothers really are perfect and wonderful and their sons don’t smell of last week’s veg peelings and are well behaved in Ikea and don’t go running off to hide in wardrobes…with their father. You see the expensive and glittering gifts being snapped and paraded all over your timeline and feel, what? A pang of jealousy? A little green fluttering of envy at the brand new, filled, charm bracelet and the voucher for a spa day and the flowers and the bottle of fizz and the new clothes and afternoon tea at the exclusive hotel? Of course. We are only human and even the best and most virtuous of us covet what we cannot or do not have but lying here next to my smelly Little Panda I can tell you what I did have today and how it made me the happiest mum in the world.
Today I was woken at 4am by Little Panda trying his best to undress my top half and burrow in for his pre-breakfast snack. He had a little singsong and we chatted until he dozed off, milky-full and snoring. I cuddled him close and we slept until 8.30am when Little Monkey came bounding in, jumping in my bed and shouting ‘HAPPY VALENTIMES DAY MOTHERS’ BIRTHDAY!’ I opened my card and my present (Paloma Faith’s album to listen to in the car) and the husband came in to take both kids out so I could sleep. YES! An extra hour in bed! I closed my eyes.
I actually lay in until 11.55am when the smell of pancakes dragged me from my pit and forced me downstairs. We then tackled Ikea for bits and bobs for Little Panda who is nearing the six month mark, despite me desperately trying to convince myself he’s still a squishy newborn, and will at some point be wanting something other than breastmilk. Bibs, plates and an inflatable insert for the ever-reliable Ikea high hair we already own, we hit the food stand. No trip to Ikea is complete without Little Monkey insisting on ‘an ‘ot dawg’. So while husband and Monkey tucked into ‘ot dawgs, Little Panda had milk and I had meatballs. (N.B I know the horse meat scandal was a big hoo-haa and everything but honestly, I miss the old meatballs. These new ‘no horse meat included’ balls of Swedish mystery meat just aren’t the same.)
Just as we got back to the car Little Monkey announced that he had a belly ache and needed a poo. Unsurprising considering his hot dog was easily as big as his head and he refused to be beaten by it. My predicament was that I forgot to bring spare Monkey clothes in case of accidents and we were a good 4 minute dash from the toilets and that’s assuming there would be no queue. Luckily I do keep the travel potty in the boot so there he was, in the middle of Warrington Ikea car park with his pants round his ankles climbing into the boot of the car for a poo. Whilst sitting there singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in his loudest and bestest singing voice, telling me all about his girlfriend at Pre-School and ordering up pasta and cheese for tea, Little Monkey also announced that I was beautiful and he loved me. It’s those little moments, with the breeze bringing faecal scents dancing towards my nose while drivers did a double take at our makeshift loo, that make me the happiest. Those little moments of utter innocence and honesty from my small person.
The rest of the day passed in a similar vein and as Little Panda lies next to me, farting away and doing his best Dawn of the Dead zombie-baby impressions (today was not Poo Day, despite my prayers) and Little Monkey lies like a sweaty, beached star fish in his bed across the hall I realise that yes, I could have a spa day booked and mounds of expensive and glittering jewellery, I could have bottles of fizz cooling in my fridge and vouchers for new clothes and shoes and a designer handbag, and there is nothing wrong with receiving any of those things as gifts. Nothing at all. I’m still a tad envious of all those mums who have time to get their nails done and lashes tinted and I don’t begrudge anyone any kind of gift, no matter how big or small. What I have realised today is that my sons aren’t perfect but they are beautiful and funny and entertaining and they love each other and us fiercely. They laugh and they cry and sometimes they prevent me from showering and eating but their cuddles and kisses have magical healing powers for the soul. At night, when they’re asleep and dreaming after a day of love and laughter and painting and getting muddy and building Lego farms and playing peekaboo, my world is just a little bit perfect.
Happy Mothers’ Day.
For a more sentimental read check out Paula Kelly-Ince and her beautifully written letter to her children.