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1000 Days of Hope

October 5, 2014

This week we reached a major milestone … well it felt like that to me. Not that I’ve been counting days or anything, I saw someone on Twitter the other week boasting about how many days old they were (20,000 as I recall) and it got me wondering what my score was (over 18,000) … and then I checked her days.

When a baby is first born everything is measured in hours, then days, and then there is a wistful period when you start counting in weeks and gradually months and then at 2 it all seems to change to years.

So, it was good to think in days again … she numbered some 947 days when I typed her birthday into the online app. I carried on with my work and then noticed the app had opened a new window on the computer, the message said, something along the lines of ‘Your next milestone is 1000 days’ and it gave me the date. That’s how I knew this week, she was 1000 days old , we celebrated on the day with a cupcake with a flower on the top and a strawberry in the middle. She threw most of hers on the floor and demanded an orange.

When she was born so many people told me to remember every moment, that it would flash by … I tried and it did … I didn’t realise at the time what incredible advice that was, I couldn’t imagine forgetting any detail of this wondrous new being’s development. Without this blog and gazillions of pictures I would have done, I was very wrong. When she was four months old she met a friend of mine, a famous friend of mine, who told me in a very sage and wise, “I’m never wrong” kind of way, that it may be good now but that it would get better and better. I thought I’d found him out, found the thing he was wrong about, how could my love for my daughter grow, how could I marvel any more in her achievements, what could possibly be better?

Obviously he was right, he always is, and I was wrong, as I frequently am … our walk today, at the end of the week she reached 1000 days, one thousand remarkable growing, learning days, our walk today showed me just how wrong I was.

We went to music class, she listened, she sang, she danced, she marched, she clapped and she concentrated. She has rhythm, my girl, natural rhythm and a great ear for music. We left the class happy, she ate a plum while she sat in the back of the car and inbetween slurpy bites, she sang the songs we’d learnt. “Shhh Mummy, just only Hope, not Mummy, just Hope sing it”, she’d shush me if I tried to join in at the wrong time.

We had to sit in traffic for ages so I took a shortcut to Grantchester Meadows and decided to take her for a walk, no ball, no scooter, just a shared chocolate biscuit and the remains of the plum and the long wet grassy meadows.

I try to make time to really be with Hope every day, not just in terms of feeding her, nursing her, going to playgroup with her, playing with her, but actually spending time at her pace, Hope-led time, it doesn’t always happen, ‘real life’ and day to day work and chores get in the way, going at Hope speed makes everything take much longer, can mean spending ages looking at a flower or watching a duck, examining ants or looking at the moon, which is all very well but when you know you have a million and one things to do urgently it can be frustrating at times.

As we set off on the walk today, I decided that it would be at her pace, we wouldn’t rush, where we went and what we did would be up to her… the half hour, mile long walk took nearly two hours, two glorious absorbing happy hours.

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counting the pebbles and looking for slugs

It was very overcast and misty, we set off, she in her raincoat, hood up ready for the coming rain, and her new red shoes (she refused to wear her pink spotty wellies).

“Look Mummy, COWS”, “LOOOOOOK Mummy, cow has poo on tail”, “OHHHHH other cow has poo too”, we stood and watched the cows, she ate our biscuit, we discussed why cows don’t wear knickers, why they didn’t wipe their bottoms, and we listened to the tearing sound as they pulled up the grass and chewed.

It started to drizzle slightly in a misty sort of way, I asked if she wanted to go back, “No, Hope see river”… we set off down the hill and came upon a hedgehog, a sickly looking little hedgehog … a man was watching it, he wrapped it in a cloth and put it in his bike basket to take it home and then to the hedgehog hospital (yes there is one, in a village called Shepreth). Hope was fascinated, “Why it sick?”, “hedgehog need Mummy, hedgehog want milky” “hedgehog hospital? hedgehog sick?” and so on until we reached the riverbank.

It wasn’t the water, or the ducks that caught her eye, she stood quietly and looked, I asked her what she was watching, “Hope see tree, tree lovely”. There was a huge old gnarled tree which had been, at some point or other, struck by lightening and over the years turned into a wonderful whizzened shape, it was quite beautiful and the light was catching it. “Why is it funny Hope?”, “tree look like magic” … it did, she was right.

She climbed the gate, and it swung open with her standing leaning over the top, hood up like some guardian gnome, she climbed down, went through and climbed back up again and looked at me, “Mummy do it?”, “Come on Mummy, just one time, Mummy do it like Hopey”. So I did, and the poor gate nearly fell off its hinges. “Well done Mummy, Mummy did it!” she exclaimed and then came running over hand outstretched, “Hope help you? Mummy down?”.

We wandered on and then she held my hand again, she swung my arm and said, “Dance Mummy dance” and started to sing, “Jiggity jig and away we go” and we galloped together along the path singing and every now and again dancing in a circle. We were mid spin when she spotted a dog, “Ohhhh Mummy dog running”, she watched it go by, “dog gone, come on Mummy”, and we carried on.

The drizzle turned to rain and she asked to be carried for a bit, I picked her up, she kissed me, ” ‘ank you Mummy, ‘ank you”, and then spotted a moorhen in the reeds, “Stop, down”, she stood for a while watching it and then waved goodbye and ran to the next gate.

We saw a lady who was wearing red shoes, sneaker, Converse type shoes very like hers… Hope stopped in her tracks and pointed, “look Mummy lady’s shoes RED”, she then had to go and peer more closely at them, but clutched onto me when the lady suggested they put their feet together to compare shoe sizes.

On we went, we looked at the dewy wet sparkly droplets on the grass, a robin on a bramble and some very dark brown leaves that apparently looked like slugs. It was raining fairly heavily by then, she was dry in her big raincoat, I was pretty soggy, so I suggested we run back to the car, “no Mummy, this way”, she pointed to a path up the field alongside the bramble hedge where we’d seen the robin and then shouted out, “LOOK Mummy, strawberries, Hope pick some”. They were blackberries, and she did, managing to avoid the thorns, her hand and her mouth were stained with blackberry juice. The ones higher up I lifted her to reach, she spotted some above my reach, “Hope up there Mummy”, I put her on my shoulders and we did a kind of wobbily circus act and she reached in and grabbed a handful, I flinched expecting she’d get prickled … no she just came down triumphant, dripping blackberry juice on me as she descended and managing to smear mud all up my sleeve from her muddy red shoe.

We walked along eating berries, and examining stinging nettles and humming the tune to Sleeping Bunnies, or rather she hummed the tune, I tried and she looked up and said, “No Mummy not ‘um, just only Hope”, which put me in my place. Just before the end of the bramble hedge we stopped again to peer at a pigeon feather. I bent forward and gave her a hug, the rain was dripping off the front of her hood and she was trying to catch it with her tongue. I gave her a kiss on the cheek and went to stand up, she reached up to me, “Mummy, Mummy, Hopey thinking bout”, “ohhh what are you thinking about?”, “Mummy, I think about sometimes”, “Sometimes what monkey are you enjoying your walk?”, “Mummy sometimes … sometimes Hopey thinking… Hopey think this best walk in world EVER, Hopey happy”. She was right, and I was happy too, if a little wet.

Up a muddy lane, pausing to examine the hazelnuts and conkers, and to fill all available pockets with the treasure she was picking up. Then up the path by the road, “red car, silver car, happy man, look, a cross man”, and then onto a little alleyway kind of path. She let go my hand and ran ahead, “hedgehog Mummy, ‘nother hedgehog”, it was a pine cone … she found 3 small ones and stashed them away in her pocket and then a huge squeal came, “the Mummy hedgehog, Hopey find the Mummy one” … a much bigger pine cone which I think had to carry.

On up the alleyway, through the cattle grid, carefully balancing and holding hands, to the top of the meadow and the cows. Pretty much the same conversation about poo, and then a final jiggety jig gallop and over another cattle grid and into the car park where there was a huge puddle to jump in. Poor red shoes were red no more, trousers soaked but the absolute delight on her face made it all worth while. Then, she spotted something shiny in the grass beside the puddle, “Money Mummy, LOOK, Hopey find MONEY”, a 20p piece, she triumphantly picked it up and showed me, I bent down to look, “oh wow Hopey how exciting, put it in your pocket”, “Mine money Mummy, Hopey put it in pinker pank when we home”. (She gets given any random 20p’s I find in my change for the piggy bank she painted herself, quite a ceremony, I hold the pinker pank, it makes snuffly noises, she puts the 20p in, it (I) make oinking noises, she kisses it on the snout and I put it back on the shelf, then once every couple of months we go to the bank and it goes into her account.) By now she had mud dripping down her blackberry stained arm and was more excited than I’d ever imagined she could be. Then she beamed and announced, “Hopey NEED hot chocolate!”.

She climbed into the car and sat beaming while I strapped her in, “Mummy getting wet? Raining?”, “Yes I am bunny, yes I am”, “Oh… chip chop Mummy”.

… we went and shared a ham sandwich and a hot chocolate at the Italian deli and played snap and pouring water from one cup to another before heading home where she marched up the stairs, grabbed her Minnie Mouse and told me it was time for Mummy and Minnie to have a snooze, but that Minnie and Hopey wanted some milky first, and that Minnie had to wait as Hopey was “more hungry Mummy, Hopey milky first”.

An ordinary day … an extraordinary day.

Yet again she renewed my delight in the world, in simplicity and in fun, and allowed me the privilege of seeing the world through her eyes and sharing her discovery … and how can anything beat that?

I have a worldly party going expat friend, we talk sometimes, he tells me his tales of wild nights and action filled days, then he asks what we’ve been doing. His world feels a million light years away from ours, once I’d have craved it, and yearned for the late nights and lavish locations … now when he ask what we’ve been doing, I smile inwardly, and I don’t know what to say… going for a walk, picking blackberries, collecting pine cones and chatting to a woman with red shoes… not  his kind of day, it doesn’t sound up to much really, but for me and for Hope it was magical, exciting and part of an enormous and ongoing adventure.

Two pieces were written for her christening; her Godfather wrote and performed a song specially for her, A Song for Hope, which has the wonderful line, “A little Hope’ll go a long way”, and her UnGodmother crafted a poem which her son read, the last line in that is, “Hope is dancing, Esperanza!” They couldn’t have been any more perfect.

Happy 1000 days remarkable little girl … I can’t wait for the next 1000, and I’m praying that the days pass at half the speed of the first thousand, though I suspect they will go twice as fast.

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day one … the very beginning

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and now, after the 1000 days walk, the best walk in the world ever

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Phyl Barrett permalink
    October 5, 2014 9:03 am

    How wonderful.

  2. October 20, 2014 11:33 pm

    Happy 1000 days Hope! And to her lovely mother too. 1000 days of being a mum is quite something 🙂

    • October 20, 2014 11:52 pm

      thank you Marija … 1000 days really felt like a big deal to me : )

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