Last Sunday was the first Mother’s Day since I became the mother of two children. Since it was also the day before my sister’s birthday, we marked it by going to stay with my own mother for the weekend. This was not only the first overnight trip we’d been on since having a second child, but the first in about six months, as we’d stopped making long trips in the latter months of my pregnancy and had not been organised enough to anticipate that we would be doing this and arrange a Last Trip Before The Baby’s Here at the point where I still felt up to doing so. So I approached the weekend with a major degree of trepidation – on top of the extra difficulties caused by having double the number of small children to transport around, I felt totally out of the swing of packing for a night away at all, and was convinced I’d forget something crucial. (I’m always convinced I’ll forget something crucial, but at least when we’re going somewhere every few weeks I feel I’m staying in practice in the not-forgetting-anything-crucial department.)
In fact, however, it all went swimmingly. Katie slept for the entire trip there and Jamie entertained himself beautifully with the Zen, an MP4 player purchased by my technogeek husband for just such occurrences. (An MP4 is like an MP3, but records and plays films as well as music.) On the trip back I did a slightly less good job of timing Katie’s feeds around the trip (difficult to do with a baby who still feeds both extremely frequently and very irregularly) and she decided she was hungry just as we set off on the long drive home, but I revived my nursing-in-car technique as tried and tested with my first child (which enables me to nurse a baby in the car seat next to me without either of us needing to remove our respective safety harness – uncomfortable but possible and exceedingly useful), and she went back to sleep for the remainder of the trip, thus allowing me to do the same.
And, during the time period between those two journeys, we had a brilliant time. I took full advantage of having my mother and sister around to help with the children, we enjoyed my mother’s delicious cooking and my sister’s birthday cake, and Katie took the new environment completely in her stride, settling in the travel cot just as well as she does in her Moses basket back home. On the Saturday afternoon after lunch, while Jamie had what was at least nominally his nap (actual sleep was a bit too much to hope for, but he spent the time alone in the bedroom that used to be my room once upon a time, and it afforded him and us some much-needed downtime) I took Katie in the carrier and went for a walk up to the nearest Mothercare to hunt for bibs. Katie is the spittiest of babies and for some reason, probably the fact that I am a moron, it had not occurred to me until that week that perhaps I did not have to spend quite as large a proportion of my time as had hitherto been the case on putting clean clothes on her only to have to remove them a minute or two later as she spits up yet again, as these highly useful inventions known as bibs do at least minimise the need to change her entire outfit. So I bought out a large proportion of their stock of bibs, getting a nice and healthful walk in the process.
Jamie had great fun with Granny Constance, especially since she had been stocking up on puzzles and books since he was last there – I was quite bowled over by the amount of stuff laid on for his amusement. The most notable purchase she’d made for him was two enormous laminated posters with numbers on – one of them listing the numbers from one to one hundred, one of them counting to twenty with associated pictures of numbers of items and labels stating that there were seven shirts or whatever – the sort of thing people normally buy because they feel they really ought to be educating their child rather than because the child actually wants them. Jamie, of course, was delighted. "I love number 4!" he announced in ecstasy, proceeding to read his way through that one and all the rest of the numbers. We were very impressed by how many of the words on the poster he knew. He also loved being asked how many of one object or another there were, a game instigated by my sister which he then wanted me to play as well: "Mummy should say ‘How many?’," he assured me.
And I got my Mother’s Day loot – a card with a No. 1 Mum badge, chocolates, and a small pot of primroses (the latter being a triumph of hope over experience on Barry’s part, but maybe this time I’ll actually remember to water the poor things occasionally). Best of all, I got the fruits of Jamie’s most recent nursery session – a peppermint cream and a hand-made card bearing more glitter than a 70’s disco night, hand-made for me by Jamie.