Peter Pan Syndrome

I am the first out of my group of friends to have a baby. The first to have my own home. And now, the first to get married. It could have been any one of us, but it just so happened to be me. Most of the time this isn’t a big deal but there’s no denying the dynamics of my friendships have changed dramatically in the last year or so, especially since becoming a mum.

“You’re a proper grown up now!” my friends often joke.

They certainly don’t mean any harm by that statement but what I hear is “You’re boring” and “You’re no fun anymore”.

Because that’s what being a ‘proper grown up’ means to me.

Today as I dusted in the guest bedroom (which definitely is a boring, grown-up thing to do), I looked over at the large glass frame proudly displaying many of the music gig tickets I have collected over the years. They were yellow and faded from the bright morning sunlight that leaks into that room each day. Most of those bands, whose names were emblazoned across the tickets, I haven’t listened to in an awfully long time. It made me feel a bit sad.

“Is this adulthood?” I thought to myself.

Forgetting about everything I ever used to know and love?

It was at this moment that I questioned whether I had, indeed, ‘grown up’.

I shuddered at the thought.

I suppose you could say I suffer with Peter Pan Syndrome. I don’t want to grow up. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly walking around in light up shoes (although, now that I think about it, that does sound fun).

I accept that I’m an adult. I accept that I have responsibilities (my mini human, being the most important of them all). I have bills to pay. A mouth to feed. A home to take care of. A husband to love and cherish.

But please, don’t ever tell me I’m a ‘grown up’. That is the WORST.

(I should point out I’ve recently had a birthday, I’m allowed to be oversensitive about this stuff!)

I can, of course, understand why my friends see me that way.

Because it’s my job to keep a little person alive, safe, happy and healthy.

And heck yeah, I love finding a good deal on loo rolls when I’m doing the weekly shop (we all do, right?)

And alas, I don’t spend my evenings going to gigs anymore. Nor do I stay up drinking until the small hours of the morning.

Instead I’m more likely to be found researching blackout blinds on the internet because nowadays? I’ll do anything to get more sleep.

But in all honesty, I’m having more fun now than I’ve ever had in my life. And I feel anything but ‘grown up’.

I can (and do) legitimately crawl around a soft play centre and nobody bats an eye-lid.

I can re-read the books from my childhood (and do all of the voices out loud).

I can play peek-a-boo in the middle of a shopping centre.

I can sing silly songs and dance silly dances.

I can make dens out of cardboard boxes and blankets.

And the best part is, I get to do it all with the coolest kid I know…

Who else has Peter Pan Syndrome?!

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The Twinkle Diaries
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Giving Baby Groups Another Shot: Sing & Sign

When Jasmine was a newborn, I attended as many baby groups as I could. This was mostly due to the fact that I was fairly new to the area and didn’t have many any friends around, let alone mummy friends. Slowly but surely I stopped going to each group, either because I lost interest or the term came to an end. Eventually, we were no longer going to any groups, lessons or meet-ups and it’s stayed that way for a while. My experience of baby groups wasn’t great. I’ll admit that I’m quite a shy person, I find it difficult to make conversation with strangers but the groups I attended seemed cliquey and unwelcoming. Jasmine, being so young, would often just sleep through them and I’d be left sat there staring at her, willing her to wake up so it would all be a little less awkward for me. At the very least, if she was awake I could talk to her, rather than just sit there like a lemon!

Over time, I have made some mum friends, just a few, but I realised that’s all I need. Just a few good friends. One of them I did meet at a group but the rest I met through other means. (I’ve talked a bit about my experiences of baby groups and making mummy friends before in this post.)

Recently, I’ve been feeling guilty about not taking Jasmine to any groups or classes. She’s so much more interactive now and I feel like she’s missing out because of my own selfish reasons. I don’t want her to not know how to socialise with other babies and children, I want her to have friends of her own and I know that she needs people, other than me, to stimulate her on a day-to-day basis.

I’d heard that a new term of Sing & Sign lessons was starting in my town this month and it seemed like the perfect starting point to get back into baby groups. Before she was even born, Stephen and I had decided that we’d like to teach Jasmine to sign – to us it just makes sense. (You can read about the benefits of baby sign here.) We started using basic baby signs very early on, more for us to get into the habit of using them, not because we expected her to sign back to us anytime soon! We use ‘Eat’, ‘Milk’, ‘Drink’, ‘More’ and ‘All gone’ several times a day but after that, my knowledge of baby signs is limited.

So yesterday, we headed to our first class! I was running very late as it was the first time in ages that we had to be anywhere at any particular time and I was totally unorganised. After rushing out of the door and walking quicker than I have in a very long time – I made it to the venue just as the class was about to start.

It was only the teacher’s second ever class and although she seemed nervous, she was lovely and enthusiastic. Jasmine was enthralled by her and the other babies and I could tell that this was going to be so good for us both.We learned lots of new songs and signs and it felt like we were having some proper bonding time. For the first time ever, I’m looking forward to going back for another session.

I think it helped that I was less concerned about making friends and putting pressure on myself to do so, I was able to relax and fully enjoy myself.

The local groups that I’m able to get to are limited (I don’t drive) but I am going to make more of an effort to try as many as I can. If they’re not for us then that’s fine, at least we gave it a go.

Which baby/toddler groups do you/did you attend? 

Did you/do you feel like you go to enough?

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A Mothers Meeting

I always knew that one of the hardest things about becoming a mum whilst living away from my friends and family would be the loneliness. Soon after Jasmine was born I made a real effort to go to baby groups and meet other local mums. Unfortunately, whilst the groups were good for other things, such as learning baby massage, I never really made any mummy friends (Except for one, the lovely Gina). The groups often felt quite cliquey, full of mums who have seemingly known each other for years just chatting amongst themselves. As someone who is naturally quite shy, I struggled to break into these conversations. I’d sit there, watching my sleeping baby whilst wishing I could be anywhere else in the world. Often at the end of the sessions I would leave the groups feeling more down and deflated than I had when I’d entered the room that morning. There were times when I’d be fighting back the tears on the bus ride home. Gradually, one by one, I gave up on the baby groups and have since found myself in a bit of a rut. I tend to stay at home by myself all day. Aside from it being incredibly lonely, I felt guilty for not making more of an effort for Jasmine’s sake. She loves being around other babies and I don’t want to deny her of all social interaction.
Recently, after reading two blog posts from Hayley and Rebecca – I felt encouraged to break the cycle and do something about this rut I had found myself in. After all, new mummy friends aren’t just going to come knocking at my door. I needed to put my big girl pants on, be brave and put myself out there. In Rebecca’s blog post she talked about how she used Facebook to connect with other local mums in her new area. Whilst I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook (I have an account but barely use it) I thought I’d have a quick look to see if there were any current groups in my area. To my delight, there was! A walking group for mums who want to get fit and meet up for weekly walks with their children. Perfect! Only, I was immediately disheartened when I realised that they met up at places that would be too difficult for me to get to (I don’t drive). I felt like I was back at square one. I closed my laptop and carried on with my day.
Later that night I thought about how I couldn’t be the only one in this situation. There had to be others out there who wanted to meet people too. I opened up the group page again and sent a message asking if anyone who lived on my estate fancied meeting for a walk. Within minutes there were lots of replies, I could barely keep up. Just as I had thought, there were other mums who had not been able to make it to the other walks as they too did not drive. Why hadn’t I thought of doing this sooner?!
A meeting was arranged for this morning but frustratingly, the weather had other ideas. Just as I was getting myself and Jasmine ready, it poured with rain outside. I checked the group’s board for new messages and, understandably, people dropped out of the walk. I was gutted.
Suddenly, up popped a message from one of the mums inviting a few of us over to her house for a coffee. 10 minutes later I was sat in her front room chatting with her and 3 other mummies and their gorgeous children. It was such a lovely morning and it felt way more comfortable than any baby group I had been to. We are going to re-arrange our walk for another time and if the weather’s rubbish again then we will just take in turns to host a coffee morning!
I am feeling so much more positive today.
I should put on my big girl pants more often.
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A night out with the girls

Four and a bit months. That’s how long it’s taken me to go out with the girls and have a baby free night. It’s taken this long for two reasons:
1) Until recently I just wasn’t ready to leave Jasmine for any real amount of time 
2) said ‘girls’ live almost 200 miles away.
Since Jasmine was born I’ve probably spent no more than an hour away from her at any one time, dog walks and my evening runs are the only time we’ve been separated. With no friends or relatives living close by to do a spot of babysitting, there’s not been so much as a sniff of a ‘date night’ for Stephen and I. A night out with my friends was also a distant memory. You see, going out without Jasmine hasn’t really been an option. 
Like I said, I wasn’t feeling ready to leave her anyway so it didn’t bother me that much. However, last weekend I decided to take the opportunity, whilst we were visiting Bristol, to go out for meal and some drinks with my best friends. Stephen stayed back at the hotel with Jasmine (cue my first episode of guilt) and I went out to let my hair down. 
I was apprehensive about the night, very excited at the thought spending some time with my pals but also feeling nervous about it too. Stephen is more than capable of looking after our daughter and sometimes I have to remind myself of this. It’s also good for them to spend time together, just the two of them. 
As I stood in the hotel bathroom, getting ready to meet my friends, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. “Well” I thought to myself, “I still look like the same person I was pre-baby” but I wondered if I would be capable of allowing myself to relax and have fun. I wondered if I’d bore the girls to death by constantly talking about Jasmine. To me, my friends still seem very “young, free and single” and I often worry about losing them because of how different our lives are now.
Well, as is the case with most things, I’d needn’t have worried. We went out, we drank cocktails, ate too much food and essentially, picked up from where we left off. It felt just like old times, I felt like me. The person who isn’t just Jasmine’s mum. I was relaxed and enjoying myself thoroughly.
I laughed so hard I cried, several times. 
A ‘sensible’ photo – clearly one the first to be taken that night.

Walking back to the hotel I did have another sudden pang of guilt because I didn’t think about Jasmine as much as I thought I would’ve done. I was glad to be getting back to her, I was starting to miss her little face. When I arrived back to our room she was sound asleep in her cot.
She was absolutely fine.
Of course she was.

So, whether it’s 4 weeks or 4 months, or even longer, a new mum will eventually feel ready to have some baby-free time. When that time comes we need to remember that it’s good for us to go out and let our hair down every now and again. After all, we are more than just somebody’s mum.

I’m hoping to pluck up enough courage to spend a whole weekend in Bristol, on my own, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon. And not forgetting there’s Britmums next year too!
 For now I am just happy that I had my night out with the girls.
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Miscarriages, silver linings and rainbow babies

One evening last week I received a much anticipated text message. It was the message to say that my friend Lorraine had given birth to a healthy and beautiful baby girl. I cried a few happy tears as I know just what this day had meant to her. Her journey to motherhood had not been an easy one but it is one that we had shared together. You see, Lorraine and I have never actually met, not in person. But she is my silver lining, a lovely, caring and supportive person and was the best thing to come out of an awful time in my life.
On the 13th November 2012 I had a miscarriage. An unplanned but truly and utterly wanted baby was leaving my world as quickly and dramatically as it had entered it. The night before it happened, Stephen and I lay in bed, working our way through the alphabet coming up with baby names for each letter, some more ridiculous than others. We did this until the early hours of the morning at which point we eventually fell asleep, dreaming of our future family. The three of us.
The next day I awoke early with period-like cramps. I knew that cramping in early pregnancy was pretty normal so I didn’t think much of it at first. Unfortunately the pains grew stronger and stronger and after a trip to the bathroom I discovered that I was bleeding rather heavily. I knew straight away it was all over for me.
Now that I have experience of both, I can honestly say that having a miscarriage was more painful than natural child birth, for me anyway. I’m not sure if it’s because I learnt to manage pain in my second pregnancy or I was more relaxed during Jasmine’s birth but my miscarriage was agonising. I remember hitting the bathroom sink with clenched fists in order to distract myself from the pain of my uterus. It was contracting rapidly to expel a baby which, at that point, would’ve easily fit in to the palm of my hand. I sobbed because of the physical pain and I sobbed because of the emotional torture I was being put through. How cruel that I’d received one of life’s greatest gifts only for it to be snatched away from me just weeks later. What exactly did I do that was so bad that I deserved this?
I was truly the saddest I had ever been in my life.
I told a couple of close friends about what had happened and whilst they were sympathetic, they couldn’t really comprehend what I had been through. I don’t think anyone can truly understand unless they’ve experienced a loss themselves. I turned to the internet for help and it was on a miscarriage support forum that I found Lorraine. She had, just a couple of days before me, lost her first baby too. We understood each other’s anger, frustration and disappointment. After all, we were both feeling those emotions first-hand.
We continued to bond as we sent messages of support to each other and we stuck together through the emotional roller coaster that is trying to conceive. I shared Lorraine’s grief when she subsequently went on to lose yet another baby. It was then that I realised that these things have no rhyme or reason. Sometimes bad things do happen to good people. And as hard as it is to accept, they just happen.
Nine months (to the day) after my miscarriage I found out I was expecting again and whilst I was obviously overjoyed, I was extremely cautious not to get my hopes up. Once bitten, twice shy. A few months later Lorraine found out she was pregnant again too and we were able to bond further over swollen ankles and backaches!
Twenty months on and we finally both have our rainbow babies in our arms. This is the moment we told each other would happen one day. So, Lorraine, for every ‘we can do this’, ‘it will happen’ and ‘you are stronger than you think’ message we exchanged, I want to say a million ‘thank yous’. Thank you for being there, thank you for your kind words and thank you for being so pleased for me when you still had a way to go yourself. Most of all, I want to thank you for being a true friend. You are my silver lining in what was a very dark and difficult time for me. For us both.
But look at us now, mummies to the most gorgeous little rainbow babies in the whole wide world and I wouldn’t change a thing.