Mama Bears & Bin Drinks

It’s been a while hasn’t it?

Let’s see, what have we been up to? Frankly not a lot, what with winter and lockdown and so on. 

I have FINALLY cracked the sleep thing and she’s got the hang of sleeping in her own bed all night, and staying there until the sun clock comes up (I really shouldn’t say such things out loud, it always jinxes it…). And I’ve installed some amazing toddler toilet seats and got some steps so I no longer have to deal with the potty most of the time, which is nice, having slightly less of someone else’s shit to dispose of…

Our mornings are in a pretty good routine now, and are punctuated by the calm, repetitive nature of CBeebies…

We get up, I shower and dress, then the kid gets dressed and teeth-brushed etc. Then downstairs for breakfast and CBeebies goes on while I feed the cats, drink some tea, sort out my hair, sort our her hair, pack her bag for nursery etc. While I’m doing all this, CBeebies is a wonderful thing, as it not only keeps the kid happy while I’m faffing around waking myself up properly, but it acts as a brilliant time-keeper. All the CBeebies shows are always on in the same order. So I’ll be braiding her hair to Bitz and Bob, and glugging down my tea and toast to Octonauts, packing her bag to Love Monster. By the time Alphablocks comes on we need to be moving and getting out the door, and Oh My God Justin’s House is on??? We are SO late….

It’s very helpful at keeping me vaguely focused in the morning, as I am NOT a morning person.

Work is going well, it’s very busy at the moment with lots of big projects to wrap up before the end of the year, so I’ve been working most evenings, usually after I put the kid to bed I’ll go back to work for an hour or two. I’ve been getting pretty bored with this second lockdown, so aside from working extra hours, I have also knitted a jumper for the kid, and a Santa Hat, and started off another mega-quilt project to keep me busy in the long, dark, boring evenings on my own. 

Between work and my hobbies it’s keeping me nicely busy, and I even took another zoom baking class the other day to learn how to make Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts), as I’ve mastered sourdough and wanted something new to make. The kid and I also recently made our own mince pies (and by “made” I mean I bought a jar of M&S posh filling and some pre-rolled pastry), so it was more like assembling than baking, but they were delicious!

We’ve also been going for some big long walks on the weekends, sometimes meeting up with friends for a walk when we are allowed, and that has been really nice. 

And last night to celebrate the “end” of lockdown my lovely neighbours came over and we stood around 2m apart outside my house, next to my bins, and had hot mulled cider and custard tarts. It was really nice to be vaguely sociable after so long, and it was fun and silly. “Bin Drinks” have caught on so we’ll be doing it again nearer to Christmas!

In other big news I also had to flex my mama bear muscles for the first time recently.

You know the ones, when someone hurts your kid, and you turn into a completely irrational ball of fear and rage.

In this case it was a hit and run, though thankfully not serious and I should preface this by saying that my daughter is completely fine.

We were crossing the road walking home from nursery. It was dark, and a cyclist ran a red light at speed as we were crossing, clipping my daughter and knocking her over, and then he cycled away without stopping. It was really terrifying, and miraculously she was completely fine, just shaken up. 

From her perspective, I think it was a little odd – the bike flew past so quickly I’m not even sure she saw it, and normally when she falls down we don’t make a big deal of it. So to her I think it was like “I fall down all the time, and it’s fine, why is mum suddenly screaming ALL the swear words at that man on a bike?”

I think she was more frightened by my reaction than by the incident itself. I was physically shaking with adrenaline and after screaming blue murder at the cyclist had to pick up my daughter and practically run home as it was so dark I couldn’t actually see if she was hurt or not, though she seemed ok. Once home, and all winter layers removed, I checked her over inch by inch and I could see that she was in fact fine – sore knees where she hit the pavement, and a red mark on her head where he clipped her, but otherwise ok. It took me more than a week to be ok, and to process it as I just kept thinking of all the what-ifs. What if he’d been 2 inches to the right and hit her full-on? What if there had been someone standing on the pavement so he couldn’t swerve at high speed? At the speed he was going, 2 inches to the right and he would have put her in the hospital, which is impossible not to replay in your mind when you’re lying in bed at night freaking out. 

Anyhow, the important thing is that she is COMPLETELY fine both physcially and emotionally, and has only mentioned it once, about a week after the event, when she casually said to Grandma on the phone “A bike knocked me over” in a very matter-of-fact way.

I called the police at the time and reported it, and a very nice policeman called Eddie has been calling me with updates every so often, but it’s all closed and done with now, and there wasn’t much that they could do really. 

It was all a bit dramatic but we’re fine, and I have uncoiled and turned back into regular mum, my mama bear claws are retracted for now…

The other thing we’ve been dealing with lately is my daughter’s life story. I made her a little board book to try and simplify her life story and find a way for us to explore it together. She loves it, and wants to read it often, and she has now understood that she grew in another mummy’s tummy, but now I’m her mummy. Initially there were some quite funny comments – “I want another new mummy now”  – which prompted me to emphasise strongly that this is forever and I’m not going anywhere. 

But also increasingly, questions like “Where is my Dada?” and “What’s my Dada’s name?”, which is a lot more complicated to answer, and very tough to answer in a way that she can understand, as she’s only 3. I know when she’s older we can talk in more depth, but right now it’s hard to find the words to express to her that some things we just don’t really know. And she is filling in the gaps on her own for now, which is even more confusing. One of her friends from nursery has a dad called Sam, who we often walk home with as they live near us, so she’s started to say “My Dada is called Sam” or “My Dada looks like Sam”, and then we have to talk about how some people have different skin colours and her daddy definitely doesn’t look like Sam!

To try and help with the lack of Dada, I’ve tried various things, like “I’m your mama and your dada” (which she’s having none of), and “You don’t have a dada, but you do have a Grandada, and Uncle A, and Uncle F, etc etc”. None of it is really very clear to her right now, so she then thinks that they might be her dada, (she asked if my brother was her dada the other night!) and she sometimes calls my male friends Dada, because she isn’t really sure what a Dada is, and who or where hers is. 

So it’s a little complicated, and I feel sometimes my answers just aren’t good enough, because there isn’t enough I can explain at a 3-year old level. But we’ll keep trying anyhow and once she gets a little bit older it will hopefully become easier to explain the more complex parts of her story.

One good thing is that after about 18 months of battling bureaucracy I have finally managed to set up letterbox contact, which means that we can write a letter once a year to her birth mother, and she can write back to us if she wants to. There’s no guarantee that she will read our letters at all, or that we’ll get any replies, but it provides a potential link to her birth family, so that when she gets a bit older she can ask some questions about who she is and where she comes from, which might help. 

And that’s about it! Christmas shopping is mostly done, though our tree is not up yet, and most things have been posted as we won’t be seeing most people as usual in person this year, and I fear the post office will be so overwhelmed that if we don’t send things early they just won’t arrive in time! But I’m really looking forward to spending Christmas with my two best friends, who are my support bubble and also happen to be two of my favourite people in the world, and I know we’ll have a lovely time, and we have lots of exciting remote activities planned (remote theatre/panto, meeting Santa on Zoom, etc etc). 

We had a brief moment when the weather forecast was for snow this Friday, and we all got really excited about some proper snow! But then, in classic 2020 style, it was downgraded to sleet, the worst of the worst, freezing cold damp rain….  So we should have known, it’s 2020, the promise of snow was too good to be true…. 

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