I have called this “part 1” because I have the feeling that this may be a lifelong theme. For instance if I am still breastfeeding when I am 85, we can put that top of the list.
Ok let’s start there. Breastfeeding.
Well ok it’s no surprise that I chose to breastfeed Snooks when he was born, 20 months ago. I mean, you would have to be pretty scary to refuse to breastfeed your own newborn baby when it crawls up your belly and latches on right there, as mine did, all on his lonesome.
But to be honest I would not have had myself down as card-carrying TFW (Toddler Feeding Weirdo) in the years before Snooks’ arrival. I think if someone had asked me I would probably have said what most people now say to me – “It’s good to breastfeed for a bit but not once they are talking” or “Yes it’s lovely and natural but best done behind closed doors” or “I wonder if the mother is really getting more from that than the child?” (To that, I just have to say, ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha and ha!).
To this particular shift in thinking I can only attribute sheer maternal instinct combined with the wealth of scientific evidence about the benefits of extended breastfeeding. Asking why I still breastfeed is a bit like asking why I don’t smoke anymore; in the light of all that I know, to do otherwise would be just plain stupid. And you can call me a TFW, call me a tree-hugger, call me a milky mama but don’t call me stupid. I don’t like that.
The other day I was out with a friend, her giggly boy, her dad, our Snooks, a bottle of bubbles and a kite.
We were soaking up one of the glorious autumn afternoons we have been enjoying this week and had brought together all the elements of a walk with our boys; stuff to eat, stuff to drink, stuff to put on, stuff to clean up, stuff to chase after and stuff to coax back into the buggy for the journey home. We have long since given up trying to meet for coffee in cafes. We now gather in the dog free zone of the common and let the boys run wild until they conk out.
The bubbles had provided a spectacular show as the low sun illuminated their prismatic effect against the cold blue sky, but the boys were in need of more action, if nothing else, to keep them warm.
And so this is how I ended up running hell for leather across the sodden grass – the only way to keep a kite aloft on a perfectly still afternoon - with the two littl’uns tumbling after me in pursuit of the kite’s zig-zaggily elusive tail.
“I bet you never thought you would do that,” my friend remarked as I returned, gasping for breath, to our buggy-bench base and attempted to resume my former life as a grown woman with a home, a car and a husband.
It reminded me of something the chief midwife said during the ante-natal classes we attended leading up to Snooks’ birth – classes which incidentally told me little I needed to know but instead filled me with such terror that the Engineer had to talk me down from the ledge each week over the tear-filled lunch which followed.
The midwife was talking about something very specific, but used a phrase which could easily be applied to much of the experience of being pregnant, of giving birth, of having a new born baby – and then, indeed, of being a mother.
She was talking about the moment when, you think your waters might have broken during the night but you are not really sure because for some, it is a bit of a non event (mine, to this day, have never been found) and you sniff the bed sheets after finding a strange wet patch on your side, which you can’t attribute to anything else.
“Yes, you will do this,” the midwife said with undisguised glee as we all looked at her in horror.
She need not have stopped there.