I’m so caught up in a social whirl that I’m extremely dizzy. Oh, not mine, but Mac’s. He’s taken to asking me, in world weary tones as I pick him up from school, “Mummy, am I in or out tonight?”. He’s had Santa parties, cinema trips (Madagascar 2 is “sooooooo funny mummy”), outings for pizza and Christmas themed play-dates that fair boggle the mind. He has enough plastic crap to fill several bins (including the particularly sharp bits that stab you in the foot during your midnight visit to the littlest room) and his excitement levels are somewhere above roof level.
But most of the excitement is reserved for Sunday and Queen Bee Mummy’s Festive Extravaganza. I’ve heard rumours that she’s employed the best Santa impersonator this side of Lapland, hired several snow machines and has a team of elves and fairies all ready to give a handful of festive fun to hyperactive children. He “can’t wait” and, when my mum’s brother rang last night to say that he’d be popping in on Sunday afternoon, Mac begged to still be allowed to go to Queen Bee Mummy’s house. I felt so sorry for Uncle Harry (he could hear the wailing) that I invited him to Sunday lunch as well.
Lydia did a very brave thing last night. She came to the cinema with me. Without Freddie. She was surgically attached to her mobile phone throughout and, when the nice men asked us to turn off our mobiles during the run up to the film, she said “not bloody likely” and risked the wrath of Sweet Munching Couple who were sitting directly in front of us.
“I’ve not left him. With anyone. Not even Matt” she wailed as I drove her to Surrey Quays in a locked car (for fear she’d bolt). “I mean, will he be alright?” she said as she speed-dialled Matthew for the third time in half an hour. “Is he okay, is he feeding okay? Does he miss me?” Matt’s answers were obviously short and not so sweet as she took on the look of a bulldog sucking a lemon soaked wasp.
I managed to get her through the ticket queue, into the popcorn section (where she hesitated for all of ten seconds before getting the biggest box of the confection that she could carry) and into her chair before she rang Matt again. “He’s not answering. Oh my God, there’s been an accident! He’s ignoring me because Freddie’s not breathing!” Sweet Munching Couple turned round and stared. She stood up, shooting popcorn everywhere and paced. Not easy to do in a cinema seat aisle.
It turned out that Matt was upstairs feeding Freddie when she rang and so missed all nine of her calls. I practically had to sit on her to stop her from leaving. “He’ll be fine, everything is fine, don’t worry, it’s okay, it’s okay, sssh, sssh….” I said, stroking her arm as if she were a racehorse that had been frightened.
Still. The film was good and after about the first half an hour she’d relaxed but kept checking her mobile for missed calls or texts. We exploded out of the cinema at half past seven and she received the news that Freddie was asleep, had been asleep for an hour, was fed, winded, changed and happy. I heard Matt say, witheringly “And I’m okay too” before she rang off. “Food?” she enquired cheerfully and headed off in the direction of Frankie and Benny’s.
As we ate our way through a pile of garlic bread (mobile phone sitting between us on the table) she revealed that she wasn’t quite getting the hang of this motherhood lark. I refrained from commenting. “I get so paranoid and worried and then panic. Even when everything is okay, I feel that I’m not doing it right or I’m not giving him enough attention or he’s not eating enough or he’s eating too much…or he’s not developing properly, he keeps getting hiccups..and…oh, I don’t know..…..” she shoved a slice of bread into her mouth and chewed mournfully. I told her that she’d just summed up Motherhood. “You mean I’ve got this Fear of Getting It Wrong and Associated Paranoia for the rest of his life?” she gaped at me. “Well, until he’s at least sixteen, yes” I said, quite encouragingly I thought. “Everything’s changed since he was born” she revealed as we tucked into Steak with Garlic Prawns. “I mean, poor Matt has taken a back seat and he does so much for both of us. He does all the nights while I try to sleep but I can’t because I worry that he’s doing it wrong and……well, down there is still not right.”
I’ve had discussions like this before. I’ve even shared intimate information with my mummy colleagues (even though I was cringing so much I thought I’d turn myself inside out). My friend Rosie once brought an entire tea party to a standstill by informing us that, after the birth of her pride and joy, her entire lady garden went numb for six and a half months. “I’d never have an epidural again – it froze the wrong bit.” she added, biting into a slice of carrot cake. Janey thinks nothing of telling you that “my minnie has stretched a bit”.
Lydia looked as if she was going to lay bare (as it were) an entire problem page full of issues and concerns and all over dinner. “I mean. After you had Mac did you and David wait…..well, how long did you wait until…..you know?” she whispered, leaning forward and draping her scarf into her coleslaw. I fudged the answer in a completely unsatisfactory manner and pretended I was choking on a prawn to avoid any more questions.
“My mum said that after she had me and my sister she was never right again.” She went on. “Mind you, she was quite pleased to get out of what she calls the whole mucky business so our being born was a boon to her. But it explains why dad went off with that barmaid from the golf club……” We ate the rest of our meal in silence, during which time she’d made a few decisions.
She outlined them in the car on the way home. “Number one, try and relax a bit more – look, I haven’t phoned Matt for half an hour! Number two, try to be less paranoid about his breathing and feeding. Number three, seduce Matthew when he least expects it.”
She seemed quite happy with this and even managed to put her mobile phone away in her bag.