Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Seizieme mois avec Mademoiselle Eloise

Eloise -

I won’t tie in the last few days with my recap of your 16th month on this planet, because if I did I would have to say that you’ve been a hot snotty mess with the ability to cry at the drop of a hat and cling to me or your father like the world around you is crumbling. But you’ve got a fever and molars the size of child’s fist breaking through your gums so we’ll ignore the last few days. Especially since this month is the month you learned to WALK! We’ve had little steps here and there and that great running-at-an-ever-decreasing-angle-between-me-and-the-floor-until-you-either-catch-me-or-I-face-plant walk. But this past week you have finally gone from bum shuffler to walker. You got a bit of Charlie Chaplin thing going on, and you often stop and look around you in surprise that you got this far and in even more surprise that the rest of the world moves so fast.

You love to sing and I am amazed at the speed with which you pick up new songs. I sing. A LOT. And I know one day you’ll get fed up with my singing and tell me stop. But for now, you love it. When I was pregnant I sang lullabies to you in my belly. I’d often take a bath at night to help ease the aches and pains and to have a calm place to let my pregnant emotions out. I would sing “Tender Shepherd” from Peter Pan and “My own Home” from The Jungle Book and The Beatles “I will” while rubbing my belly, feeling my body pulse with love for you. When you were born it was a few weeks before I could finish a lullaby without crying - my adoration for you was too new and intense and the words all felt too true. During your first year I sang to make you laugh, to calm you down, sometimes I sang just so the house would not be filled with your cries alone. And now 16 months of listening to me sing you’re joining in. And in tune. And it is awesome. Eloise, you can duet with me wherever whenever.

Along with the singing is the dancing.

You have different dance moves depending on the tempo. A slow song and you sway back and forth and I swear once I saw you raise your lighter in the air. A fast song and you are quick to rock your diapered hips and nod your head up and down.

You have also become a lot more affectionate. You hug and kiss on command - obviously not every time, but it is becoming less and less frequent that you’ll turn down a chance for a cuddle. The other day I was getting you ready for your bath and I put your sweater on my head, you stopped and looked at me with a huge grin, clapped a few times and then put your little hands on my face, pulling me towards you and planted a wet one on me. It was the first time you had kissed me without me prompting you and it was the best thing ever.

There are moments every day when my heart swells and I am overwhelmed at how much I love you. A new look, an excited smile, a contented sigh. You are my heart. And to think that my heart just might love me back, even just a fraction as much, is pure indulgent icing on this mammoth mama of a cake.

Je t’aime.


Friday, 26 November 2010


There's a half written letter to 16-month-old Eloise kicking around my computer. The post was written late because I wanted to surprise my mother who came to visit on the fact that her granddaughter is a walking being. The post is half finished because since my mother arrived Eloise went into full on sabotage mode and reverted to waking multiple times a night, nursing for hours non stop and generally complaining to whomever would listen.

I'll post more when I get some sleep that lasts longer than 3 hours and/or doesn't involve a snorting toddler trying to suck the life essence from me at 4am.

Until then....This.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Hover hover

Am I the mother I am because she is my daughter or is she the daughter she is because I am her mother? It is hard to see where her personality ends and my parenting influence begins.

At the moment I think I could be classed as a "helicopter" parent. When Eloise and I go to playgroup in the morning - big bustling rooms filled with newborns to four-year-olds and a whole plethora of toys - I struggle to leave Eloise's side - or rather, I guess we struggle to leave each other. I want her to be independent, to go forth and make friends and discover new ways of playing. Instead Eloise tends to either sit on my lap, or hold my hands as she walks around the room observing. When she does get comfortable in her surroundings and wanders off to read some books or play house, I try and keep my distance and chat with the other mothers, but I find I can't entirely take my eyes off her. To me she is just a fragile little child, incapable of running away or defending herself and when she is no longer attached to my jeans I fear that it will be only moments before she gets pushed down to the ground or the toy she's playing with will get unjustly ripped out of her hands.

But kids need to get pushed down, right? They need to learn to get back on their feet. They need to learn to share and also to learn that sharing is a tough lesson, one not everyone you come across will have learned properly. So when Eloise does (more often than not) end up on the floor in tears I squash the initial reaction to punt the other child across the room and help Eloise pick herself up and tell her these things happen.

But inside I'm thinking, Oh cruel world! What can I do to make sure nothing harms this beautiful little being before me. I hope I'm not alone in this (because if I were I would start to doubt my sanity) but ever since I became a mother, lost scenes from my upbringing have sprung to the foreground. I remember at my own nursery having the worried feeling that the adults did not have enough control, that there simply wasn't enough of them to witness all the injustice that was occurring on the playground. So clearly my anxiety has been there from the get go. What I don't want to do is pass this on to Eloise through nurture if she managed to dodge the anxiety bullet potentially handed to her via nature.

As I have spent these last 16 months getting to know Eloise, I can clearly see that she has a reserved personality. She takes her time and gets to know her surroundings before jumping in. She chooses who gets to see her with her guard down and who doesn't. I wouldn't call her shy. A) because I don't think she is shy and b) the more you tell a "shy" person they're shy, the more withdrawn they become.

I guess I'm just struggling to find the balance between honoring her emerging personality and exacerbating it.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Confessions of a Mother of a Bum-Shuffler

If she's not bum shuffling from room to room she is crawling.

If she's not crawling she is holding her hands out so we can "walk" her.

Adorable tights with frills on the bottom are now encrusted with garden dirt and playground sand.

A naively purchased pair of white trousers hangs unworn in her wardrobe.

As soon as I get into an interesting conversation with another mother at playgroup (and by interesting I mean anything not about baby poo), Eloise bum-shuffles over to me hands up in the air demanding me to walk her.

When I see other babies her age running around I know that I have it easy. The mothers look tired, and rightfully so, seeing as they now have to look after a child that walks like a drunk elf and has the same concept of danger as one.

But I envy them too. I want to see where Eloise will go. I want to chase after her at the park. I think I am finally ready to see her walk away from me.

Monday, 1 November 2010

A kiss Goodnight

What if I don't remember the little details of being her mother in the days before her memory takes hold? What if I forget that the first time I put her to bed without nursing her I had tears in my eyes while she drank her cup of milk reading Goodnight Moon. What if I forget that when she lay down in her crib, belly full and a smile on her lips, she took her bunny and teddy bear and pressed their lips together with a kiss.

When she gets too old to kiss me on the lips what if I forget the day she first kissed me?

Tonight after she brushed her teeth in her father's arms, he handed her to me and she planted her minty mouth to mine. She pulled away and we both laughed. She kissed me again and again, laughing each time. Then her father said, Et Daddy? Bisous a Daddy? And when he leaned in for her to kiss him, she pushed her father's face towards mine, preferring that he kiss me instead.

What if I forget this? What if the pictures and even the words aren't enough to remember exactly how it felt to have her in my arms at the exact age she is now, to hold her so completely in my heart.

Hopefully some things are never forgotten.