Archive for May, 2010

What’s in a name?

It’s not really until your children have their own children that this becomes  an issue.  Until then you’ve just been ‘Mummy’, or ‘Mum’, when they’re older. Occasionally ‘Mother!’ when they’re feeling frustrated with you and sometimes ‘Ma’ when they’re being patronising.

Not long after the announcement that our eldest son’s wife was expecting our first grandchild came the question, ‘what are you going to be called?’ Gran, Granny, Grandma, Nanny?  None of them seemed appealling, all conjured up pictures of little old ladies in cardigans with glasses and a bun! We all know that grandmothers aren’t like that any more don’t we?  Take me, I run marathons, take part in cycling challenges, do the  decorating, gardening, voluntary work… I don’t have time to sit and knit.  And although I cook and bake, I like to think I’m more Nigella than Mrs Overall!

So to alternatives, what about ‘Nonna’?  A bit more romantic sounding in a foreign language, or as my husband is Welsh, what about ‘Mamgu’ for me and ‘Dadcu’ for him? Or ‘Yaya’ which is Greek, I don’t fancy ‘Gamma’, ‘Mom mom’ or ‘Gangan’ either.  The problem was compounded by the fact there were 4 great grandparents too, so we needed names for them as well.  I didn’t want to claim the ‘Glam-ma’ title, as used by Joan Collins and stolen by L’Oreal and Jane Fonda for their latest ad, it seemed a bit too pretentious for me.  I did toy with ‘GrandShar’ but in the end it will probably be what the children call us when they can talk.  My mother in law is called ‘Mussey’ by most of her grandchildren as the eldest couldn’t pronounce ‘Grandma’ and all the rest followed suit.  It seems as if it really is out of the mouths of babes!


My Moonwalk

So, the training, such as it was, had finished and the day of the Moonwalk had arrived.  I had done a 6 mile run first thing to warm up.  At around 5.00pm I went to try on my decorated bra, complete with feathers and fairy lights and fringing, all painstakingly sewn on by hand the day before. I couldn’t fasten it, Ichecked the size, I stretched and pulled it, I had stitched the lights on too tightly!  It had taken me about two hours and I thought I’d been SO careful and there was no time to unpick it all.  After some more stretching , panicking and tactical snipping, I eventually managed to get it to fit and we left home and headed for ‘Playtex City’.  

The vast pink tent was in a corner of Hyde Park and I made my way towards it,  the nearer I got the more I could feel the excitement. Women, and a few men,  of all ages and sizes in their decorated bras, feathers, fringes, coloured wigs, netting, glitter and fairy lights, were pouring into the park, from all directions. In the gathering dusk,  groups of people were picnicking on the rice or pasta meal provided, sitting on the reflective space blankets. Others were chatting, or texting frantically to try and meet up with their friends. There were screeches and giggles from those who suceeding in finding their walking buddies. The music throbbing  from the tent enticed some inside to listen to live acts and take part in a mass warm up session.

Deciding I didn’t neet to do aerobics, after my own morning warm up I went to look at the various stalls outside and chose a pink balloon to attach the strap of my bumbag.  Feeling  cheerful with my perky pink balloon bobbing aloft, I  joined the queue for the portaloos.  There are always long queues for these, but eventually my turn came around.  Closing the door I went to sit down and couldn’t, something was stopping me.   Then I realised that my balloon was trapped outside!  The only solution was to try to slide  the string down  the crack of the door, I could hear the laughter from outside as the pink balloon inched its way down until I had enough play on the string to lower myself onto the loo.  At least they had no doubt that it was engaged!

I had arranged to meet some of my Twitter friends for the event and I found them  inside the tent, after introductions and a few photos  there was a poignant silence to remind everyone just why we were taking part in this event. We made our way to the start and set off at 11.40 full of enthusiasm.  The night seemed to fly by, we were setting a good pace, there was always something to look at and someone to talk to.  The marshals were amazing, out all night cheering us on, escorting us across roads and encouraging us.  We passed lots of  London’s landmarks, The Royal Albert Hall, Westminster Abbey, the Eye and Big Ben, as well as dimly lit,  less salubrious areas.  If you want to know the exact route it is probably still lined with feathers, glitter and tinsel that fell off  the fancy bras.

 The cars and traffic hardly seemed to ease off all night and there was nearly always a bemused passerby (not all the worse for drink) wondering what all these bra-clad women, complete with fairy lights, were doing walking the streets at night.  Indeed, one girl shouted “what ARE you doin’?”   She could have been forgiven for thinking that we were off to an enormous hen party.

At 4.00pm the birds began singing, the sky gradually started to lighten and the air became slightly warmer, we were half way round.  The mood started to change, people who had become quiet started chatting again, it was all ‘downhill’  from here on, every step taking us nearer to the finish.

Approaching Hyde Park for the final stretch, the sun was shining, we donned our sunglasses and removed our jackets.   The pink tent glowed in the morning light and an arch of pink balloons, marking the finish, bobbed about in the breeze. It had taken us about eight hours to complete, which included a 40 minute loo stop at a firestation!  We hadn’t seen any of the ‘celebrity’ participants or famous faces at the start or during the walk, but it didn’t matter.  We had finished,  and, along with the thousands of others who did it too, we felt like celebrities, and for a few hours  at least, we were.

Mind the gap!

If you’re planning to have more than one child, there usually comes a time when you think about the gap between them.  When is the best time to have another baby?  Some people favour having children close together and there are those who think a big gap is easier. 

I have done both, I had my first baby a year after we got married. After the initial shock of sleepless nights, feeding non-stop and a crying baby, I thought that if we were having another one, we should go for it straightaway and get it all over and done with. The children would be close in age and I could use the pram, cot, clothes (all hand me downs) for the second one. This worked, sort of, and our second son was born 19 months later.  I felt permanently jet lagged, trying to feed the baby with the toddler running about, or getting one to sleep while the other was crying.  Stopping the baby from spoiling the older boy’s jigsaw, not even being able to go to the loo alone, I’m sure you get the picture!

Because they were so close in age by the time they were playgroup age, people often asked if they were twins. They played together, shared toys, bikes and a bedroom.  Of course they argued and fought as well, but at least I’d got the sleepless nights over in one go.

Fast forward ten years,  my boys didn’t need me as much anymore. My sister and sister in law were both expecting their first babies.  I got pregnant again, unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage at twelve weeks, but this only served to make me certain that I really wanted another baby.  Against the advice of the doctor, I didn’t wait a couple of months and was soon expecting what was to be our third son.

We had passed on all the baby equipment and had to start from scratch, buying a new cot, pram, highchair, car seat and all the other trappings you need for a baby.   Because of that and also because we didn’t want this baby to be ‘on his own’, we had our fourth child – a girl- 21 months later.  ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’ again!

There were definite advantages this time round, the older two were of an age to keep an eye on the babies so I could  do things like  cook the dinner while they played with them,  they would push them round the block in the pram while I caught up on housework, and were invaluable at bath time.   They even changed the occasional nappy!  They enjoyed having an excuse to re-visit their young childhood and could legitimately play with Lego, Playmobil and  Action Man, watch Fireman Sam and Postman Pat and read The Hungry Caterpillar and Peepo!  Up until they were 16, they even baby sat on the very rare evenings that my husband and I ever went out. (They had to stay in to do their homework anyway).

The downside is that they don’t let me forget all the help they gave me and take the credit for ‘bringing up’ my two younger children!  Surprisingly, it hasn’t put them off babies either, both boys have sons of their own now – all that practical experience definitely paid off.