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with a little help from our friends

February 17, 2013

My support network hasn’t been about (she – my incredible mother – has been away on holiday) … it’s been hard work looking after the newly mobile and still teething Hope and juggling work, I know that millions of women have done it and do accomplish it every day and I’m sure that most of them manage to remain made up, hold down a job (albeit not normally self employed working from home), look perfectly coiffed, cook amazing meals and have immaculate homes as well … I don’t seem to have got the knack of any of the latter but so far I seem to be doing ok looking after my girl (other than my nervousness about cutting her nails everything else has been a joy).

The crawling has put a new perspective on things but so far we’re managing ok and she is still cautious about her new skill; she’ll head off on a small adventure and after a few feet will turn round look at me and head back to my feet where she’ll reflect and then look up and head off again looking very proud of herself.

If I need to dash to the loo or open the front door then I have put up the travel cot and also a play pen and filled both with exciting looking activities and so far so good she seems excited to explore her new play dens, and after a meal she is happy strapped into her high chair supervising me sweeping the floor, cleaning the table, washing the dishes and so on.

We’ve been out and about visiting friends and it really made me realise quite how valuable friendship is when you have a fairly new small person, and the importance of trust.

I have taken Hope out with me most of the time I’ve been out and she’s happy in restaurants and people (so far) have been happy to have her there, she’s come to meetings and lectures and generally is my side kick most places, however, on Saturday night I had tickets to go and see the wonderful author William Darymple talking about his latest book the Return of the King … I’d read The City of Djins on my way to India the first time I went there and was entranced with the place before the plane even touched down. Anyway, as Hope is now more mobile and also more inclined to join in when she hears voices (not crying or being grumpy just wanting to chat), it didn’t seem appropriate to take her along although the good people at wonderful Toppings Book Shop had said it would be ok as long as we stayed quiet! I called a friend to ask if she’d like to come, she rang back and said no but asked who was looking after Hope, I said I hadn’t got that far yet and she said she’d far prefer to look after Hope than to go to the talk … she and her husband are pondering fertility treatment and she said she felt she needed baby time and ‘a little Hope’ … so that’s what happened. I went to the talk feeling as if I’d got apart missing but really enjoyed it and didn’t have to worry about anyone’s night being interrupted by a small person, and most importantly I knew Hope (and her babysitters) were having a lovely time. When I picked her up she beamed and then wanted to start playing with her new friends all over again it really was very special to see … they’d sat and had supper with her and she’d eaten all her pasta pesto and a tangerine and sung Row Row Row the boat with them as well.

Then yesterday I had to go to a 3 hour committee meeting and again felt that either I had to miss it or find someone to look after Hope … one of her Godmother’s took care of her with her two daughters who had a wonderful time giving Hope a bath and introducing her to their dogs … Hope is delighted now to shout ‘doggy’ and ‘ooooffffff ooooffff’ whenever she sees a picture of a dog … We had lunch with another friend and her daughters played games with Hope and then introduced her to their cat Lilly … Hope was almost as pleased with the cat and shouted Lilly (which she now seems to think means cat).

I love seeing her with my friends and seeing the joy it gives them being around Hope.

I have also had the best possible Saturday with Hope … we had a lovely lie in, she played with Mr Ted and Mr Monkey and read her book about reindeer and had little snacks, blew some raspberries on my tummy and got the giggles it was wonderful just lolling about together and the sun streaming through the window. Then we had a bath together and had huge fun playing with 4 ducks and a fish and Hope splashed and shrieked with glee and then just lay and beamed while I got her ready to go out. We spent the afternoon in the park with two of our friends (mine and hers); the two chattering Mummys pushed the large old pram and the two little girls sat up in it and shared a chocolate finger biscuit … the resultant mess was quite amazing but they had so much fun and it’s already washed clean. In the evening Hope and I had an early supper of moussaka, sweetcorn and raspberries before an early night to read stories of bunnies that love each other to the moon and back and a penguin with a very furry baby. The simplicity, the joy and the fun of the day was just wonderful … no chic shopping malls for me, and no dining out, and to be honest I haven’t read one of my own huge stack of books for months, but we had so much fun and I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier.

Today a French friend came up and we ate together, Hope fell in love with her French accent and I watched happily as they shared a yoghurt and a piece of home made brioche … another friend under Hope’s thrall and another realisation for me of quite how much friends matter.

Hope took a little while to settle tonight, she just wanted to sit on the floor by my feet and then crawl a little way a way and pick up something bring it back and then sit on my lap and chatter … I think she was trying to teach me some French, and she was telling me about how much fun she’d had with all our friends. Just before she fell asleep she looked at me and said, ‘Row Row’ bless her. However tired I get this is exactly where I want to be and as I said before (and will I’m sure say again!) I’ve never been happier.

Friends after their afternoon in the park

Two friends after their afternoon on the swings

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