Only child. Lonely child?

When we had our son in November 2010 we fell completely in love with him. I knew the moment I held my bundle of gorgeousness that I wanted another baby. We talked about it, decided to give it a year or so and then get cracking with giving him a little brother or sister.

Fate then stepped in and after an accident and a couple of surgeries my back is too ruined now to even consider getting pregnant. Even if I spent 9 months in bed, I’d still have to do all the lifting and bending that comes with a baby. Sooner or later I’d be in a wheelchair and my children would become my carers.

I can’t have any more children and my son will be an only child.
Only child

I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and worrying that he’s lonely, it hit me today when we took him to the playground and he met a little boy, they hit it off immediately and spent nearly an hour chasing each other, rolling around and laughing. It was really wonderful to see.

I can’t shake the feeling that he’s missing out on something, that being an only child deprives him of all kinds of childhood joy. There is a voice in my head which tells me that because he’s an only child he’ll get more of us and he’ll get spoilt more for sure, but he’ll also get more focussed attention with homework and play as well as discipline.

He’s at school now so his days aren’t lonely, his weekends are pretty packed with things we do together as a family and I don’t think he’s quite as lonely as he used to be, though he probably was when it was just me and him at home.

I worry that because he’s an only child this will adversely affect his confidence with his peers, though he’s usually very forthcoming with adults. Maybe I worry to much.

I’ve got a little brother, he’s two years younger, we got on, we played together but we were not best friends and we had frequent arguments and falling outs. But we’d always look out for each other in the playground and I’d muscle in to warn the big boys off if he needed it. But having a sibling is probably no real guarantee that you won’t be lonely.

In a few months we’ll be getting a puppy. When we got our first dog I got a best friend and a constant companion, he loves dogs and I think they’ll be inseparable. I know it’s not the same, we’re doing everything we can to stop him feeling lonely, lots of play dates, lots of special time with mummy and daddy. I hope it’s enough. I hope he never feels lonely and alone, because he isn’t.

Growing up: A childhood full of cuddles

The small boy started big school this week. We were both brave and have managed the transition quite well; but it’s made me all reflective about my little baby growing up.

He’ll be four in November and those years have gone like a blur. I know it’s a cliché, but sometimes, most of the the time, clichés are so very true. The memory of holding him when he was born; doing the skin to skin thing and I was just shocked, amazed, full of love and terrified that I had a real life baby in my arms. I knew at that moment, I would fight anyone to the death if they so much as gave him a funny look.

I remember holding him during our first days at home, when I was alone and wondering who on earth had decided I was grown up enough to care for this beautiful, helpless, vulnerable creature. He smelt great too, newborns are almost edible, almost.

Growing up: A childhood full of cuddles

I remember his Christening and watching his grumpy face as he was passed around family and friends when he just wanted to cuddle his mummy or daddy. I remember holding my breath in case he cried when they baptised him. He didn’t.

I remember taking him to nursery for the first time, just short of his first birthday and breaking my heart in the car on the way to work. I held him extra close for a long time that night and for several nights after.

Growing up: A childhood full of cuddles

In the nights before I went into hospital for my operations, I stuck a brave face on for him and squeezing him tight before bed; knowing that I wouldn’t see him for a few days. Those nights in hospital when I hadn’t been able to kiss him goodnight, they seemed horribly long and lonely without him.

He’s not overly cuddly, but when he’s poorly he really craves cuddles and reassurance. I make the most of his under the weather snuggles, when he’s burning up and he just wants his mummy. I know he’s coming down with something when he just climbs on my knee and nestles in.

His first day of school, he was all manly and grown up. No proper cuddles for mummy, just a cursory hug of my knee and he was off. He’s growing up fast and I hope we’ve done enough to prepare him for big school.

Growing up: A childhood full of cuddles

He’s a tough little monkey; independent, funny, chatty, charming, with eyes that’ll get him both in trouble and out of trouble in equal measure. I know his affectionate cuddles will become less frequent now he’s growing up and becoming a man of the world; so when they do happen I’m going to make the most of them, and hold him extra tight for a little bit longer.

He’ll always be my baby, no matter how grown up he is. I hope he’ll still occasionally give me a special mummy cuddle. I hope one day he’ll feel his heart fill with love for the tiny newborn in his arms, and understand for himself what unconditional love really is.

You know you’re a parent when…

Fifteen ways you know you’re a parent… can you think of any more?

  1. Your bed is inexplicably full of Cheerios.
  2. You go to work with sudocrem on your trousers and when people point it out you say it’s bum cream, they recoil in horror and you have to point out it’s not your bum cream. This does not dispel the horror.
  3. Hot drinks are something you enjoyed in the past, a time long, long ago.
  4. You always have a biscuit and a used tissue in your pocket for emergencies.
  5. You stop using expensive face cream and use baby lotion instead.
  6. Boy toddlers leave puddles in the bathroom, so you’re always wearing at least one damp sock that smells a bit funny.
  7. You don’t need an alarm clock anymore. At 6am someone always wanders in, throws a toy car at your head and demands a snack. Now.
  8. You eat something involving pesto at least three times a week.
  9. In the shower you sing “Wind the Bobbin Up” instead of the indie classics from your youth.
  10. Getting everyone ready and leaving the house, having brushed your hair and ensuring everyone has shoes on in under an hour is an Olympian feat.
  11. The remote control has been through the washing machine twice and you still can’t find it.
  12. You spend 42% of your time winding toilet paper back onto the roll.
  13. Your car is full of raisins and you think the hamster might be nesting in there somewhere.
  14. Approximately 10 minutes after a successful bedtime you’re so exhausted you decide to turn in for the night. It’s 8.15pm.
  15. Your idea of tidying up is kicking all the toys out of the way to form a narrow path across the room.



Multitasking Mummy

In the days before I had a child I had a job. A good job in which time management skills were essential. The ability to juggle conflicting priorities; deal with an angry patient, a clinic seriously overrunning, a piece of essential theatre equipment breaking, all whilst dealing with urgent paperwork were all literally in a days work for me. I usually dealt with all that with casual aplomb, quietly congratulating myself on my cool head under pressure.

This morning I was sat on the loo, brushing my teeth and running a bath. The small boy wanders in and needs his bottom wiping, which I do, still sat on the loo, toothbrush hanging out of the side of my mouth. He needs clean pants so he fetches them for me and we get him dressed. I’m still sat on the loo because I haven’t had a chance to get off it yet and I reflect on what glorious multitasking skills a parent needs just to get even a rudimentary wash of a morning.

Cooking tea is a similar rigmarole. Stirring a pan whilst the small boy brings his potty to show me, complete with its little brown friend, I have to deal with the contents and the dirty bottom whilst trying not to burn the meal I’ve slaved over. If he’s not proudly presenting me with his doings, then he’s drawing on the wall, or falling over and needing a cuddle, or a million other things which demand my attention.

The small boy can have my attention. As much of it as he wants and needs because he won’t be a small boy for long. But why does he always need it when I’m sat on the loo, or in the bath trying to snatch five short moments of peace or juggling four pans and a hot oven. Why?

I know I’m not alone in this, I know if you’re a parent and you’re reading this, you’ll be nodding along. You might even maybe sat on the loo, toothbrush hanging out of your mouth, reading this on your phone whilst a small child is doing the I want attention dance around you.

Knowing that you have corporate level multitasking skills won’t make your day-to-day life any easier, but it does mean that you have a tooth-brushing, bottom-wiping, teddy bear-finding superpower than non-parents almost certainly lack. Well done parent. Well done.


The Mothers Project

In April this year I was lucky enough to take part in The Mothers Project.

The Mothers is a photo project documenting the stories and experiences of Mothers of all ages, with children of all ages. Complete with beautiful photography from Rebecca Lupton.

Rebecca asked me to answer a set of questions around my experiences of motherhood and then she came round to photograph us. Writing the blog itself was cathartic and it helped me to address and work through some of the issues around his birth as well as being something he can read in later life.

For me the real treat was having some beautiful photographs of us. I am usually the one behind the camera so rarely get a decent picture of us together.

In hindsight I wish I’d waited a bit longer, looking back at the pictures I can tell I was in pain. My first back surgery hadn’t worked and a few weeks after I was rushed in for more urgent surgery. I look tired and bloated (I’ve lost a lot of weight since) and I can tell I’m not happy and relaxed. But it does serve as a pictorial reminder of an awful time in our lives.

If you get the chance or want to take part I can’t recommend it enough. It was a really terrific experience. You can read my story here. Do let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy it.