Life Update: Dungarees and the Sandpaper Ramp

ruth crilly family

If you’ve ever wondered how hardy kids’ clothing is, then let me tell you that it does not withstand being repeatedly sandpapered. A couple of weeks ago we went to visit Mr AMR’s cousin and she had a ramp in the garden for her little dog, who is quite old and can’t jump up and down the step to the patio. Ted obviously took an immediate shine to this ramp and spent two and a half hours sliding down it and then trotting back up.

I should have realised, really, that the ramp wasn’t suitable for sliding, because Ted was having to put a hell of a lot of effort into the downwards journey – I mean a slide is called a slide for a reason isn’t it? The whole point of a slide is that there’s very little in the way of friction so that you can enjoy the sensation of temporary near-flight. Wheeee!

But it wasn’t a slide, it was a ramp, as I’ve already detailed, and not only was it not a slide, it was a not-slide that had been covered in sandpaper to stop the little dog’s paws from slipping on the slope. Well! I worked this out just a few seconds before the seat of Ted’s dungarees wore through completely. There were only a couple of strands of fabric holding the backside of the garment together and his nappy (partially shredded) was shining through. The nappy was quite warm to the touch – smouldering, in fact, and would probably have burst into flames had I noticed any later that Ted was basically acting like a giant human matchstick.

So I can tell you that baby dungarees are quite robust when it comes to being dragged through the mud; they can survive numerous poo explosions and sick incidents and they can even cope with being tumble-dried on a totally inappropriate heat setting. But they cannot last if you sandpaper them over one hundred times in the space of half an hour. And then carry on for two more hours.

Lesson learnt!

What else have I learnt in the past month?

  • Grief can side-swipe you at the weirdest moments. My Dad died in February but I still keep expecting his name to flash up on my iPhone when it rings at odd times. There have almost been some ugly-cry incidents in public when I’ve thought of something funny I’d like to say to him or heard one of his favourite songs on the radio.
  • Grief, if you let it, can make you feel as though everything is pointless and hopeless and so you have to – for reasons of self-preservation – kick it in the guts and lock it in the cupboard and hope that it doesn’t work out how to pick the lock for a few more weeks.
  • Grief is so explicitly linked to love that it’s the scariest thing in the world to love when you know grief. Which is another reason why you have to lock the grief in the cupboard and hide the key. I say “you” – I mean me. I am in no way saying that the cupboard is the right place for your grief, but it’s the only place I can find to store mine! With the unused juicer and the weird collection of candles that I never get around to burning. I’m not saying that I keep my Dad, or my memories of him, in the cupboard – the memories and the love are all kept close, it’s just the grief that can’t be let loose. Good God, I’d be frozen in my tracks.
  • Talking of Frozen, I learnt most of the lyrics to Let It Go this month. (I learnt them after Angelica demanded it be played on repeat for an hour whilst she practised her dancing. She likes to do the power move where Elsa flicks her plait, even though she still has virtually no hair.)

Many of you have been asking for an update on the baby sleep situation. I wrote a post a few weeks ago (it’s here) talking about Ted’s sudden tendency to wake up repeatedly at night and the fact that it was driving us almost batty with exhaustion. We’re no stranger to exhaustion, here in the AMR household, but we thought we’d cracked the “sleeping through” thing back at the start of the year and had lulled ourselves into a blissful sense of false security!

I’m pleased to say that Ted is sleeping through the night again (we used the same routine as before, which is always horrendous at the time but is the only way he breaks his little crying pattern) but he’s now taking an absolute age to go to sleep in the first place! And, weirdly, Angelica (who was giving us the run around from 7-9pm every night, demanding water and songs and whispers and cuddles and then more songs and perhaps a book or two) is now asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow at 7.15.

I say weirdly, but it’s not weird at all: we dropped her afternoon two hour nap. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that it was a crucial step to take, but I have to say that we were so reluctant to get rid of it! Oh, those two hours in the afternoon, where we had both of them snoozing away and we could sneak in our own nap or get housework done or sit and stare blankly at the kitchen wall!

ruth crilly family

I may have to try tweaking Ted’s naps a bit too, really, if he doesn’t start falling asleep in the evening – make them earlier so that he has a longer afternoon. OH GOD THIS IS SO BORING! Sorry. It was supposed to be a post filled with joyful anecdotes – of which I have many! – but I’m doing that awful thing that you do to friends when you haven’t seen them for ages and you moan about mundane, mind-numbing things instead of gossiping about sex and drinking too much white wine.

I promise you white wine and sex in the next update.

Although, I had rather too much wine the other week at a birthday party and ended up getting roped into doing a live performance of Madonna’s Like A Prayer because the person who was supposed to do it had dropped out. Obviously I had to have a few drinks for dutch courage, but obviously I also forgot that “a few” is my absolute limit, these days, and so I should have swapped to mineral water after I got off the stage. But then I needed a bit more prosecco to stop my hands from shaking and before I knew it, I was galavanting about doing Dad Dancing to Aretha Franklin and talking to (at) someone called Barbara for an hour who was actually called Maureen. About boats. And I know nothing about boats.

Never again. The next day I couldn’t even straighten my head – it was as though someone had taken out my spine and replaced it with a metal rod. Mr AMR said that doing twenty star jumps would make me feel better, but I did five and almost fainted. Git.

Now look, these updates are traditionally about the children and I’ve said far too much about myself! But I feel as though they’ve both really grown up in the past month and it gives me the jitters thinking about it – couple that with the fact that so many friends have children going to school (or big school) for the first time this week and it all feels too emotional to write about. I did an Instagram post recently about how quickly children seem to grow up and asked people to write down the time that they realised their baby wasn’t their baby anymore – some of the comments were absolutely heartbreaking! (If you want to have a small cry then you can read them here – if you’d like to potentially destroy the emotions of others too then you can continue the conversation in the comments below.)

To end on a more lighthearted note: Angelica (aged three and two months) has an imaginary enemy. Not an imaginary friend, like most children, but an evil mermaid enemy who has yellow hair. Her name? Vitamin. VITAMIN! Ted (nineteen months) has no imaginary friends that I know of, but then he can’t speak yet so how would I find out? He can say “bubbles” and “woof woof” and just about say “hello” (HA-LLLO!) but his mouth is always too full of stones to form words properly. Honestly, I don’t know how he manages to a) find so many stones and b) get them into his mouth so quickly! Every time we step outside I have to tell him to “spit it out” and he’ll open his mouth and a wet stone will fall to the floor. It’s like they jump into his mouth by magic. I have to watch him like a hawk. Today I went to feed him a blackberry and he held his hand up flat, as though telling me to wait a second, removed a stone from his cheek and then popped the berry inside! I’m going to have to muzzle him.

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26 Comments

  1. September 4, 2018 / 3:16 am

    The fear of loving people because of grief thing is so real. Death is always a shocking experience, whether or not it’s expected. I find that grief is more like a tide than a season: some days it’s not there and some days it can sweep you away. I find the book “Tuesdays with Morrie” comforting during those times when it all gets to be a bit much.

    Love the kid update! They sound like such a funny pair! :) Have a great week!

    x Sofia
    http://www.thecozie.co

  2. Judith
    September 4, 2018 / 9:13 am

    Another great read!
    The description of your grief is very moving. Please don’t bury it, as it will never go away. Acknowledge it now, preferably with professional counseling.
    You do a wonderful job in all aspects of your busy life. Remember to “smell the roses”.

  3. Kathryn
    September 4, 2018 / 12:46 pm

    Vitamin sounds fabulous! X

  4. Elizabeth Walsh
    September 4, 2018 / 2:01 pm

    My son’s friend did exactly the same thing with stones when he started crawling. One day he spat a stone out and the snail it actually was uncurled itself and slithered off.

    • Claire N
      September 7, 2018 / 1:36 am

      Snails: lungworm. Ugh.

  5. Katja
    September 5, 2018 / 8:54 am

    Thank you for translating grief into words what I never managed to do. I got that cupboard, too.
    My mum died November last year. I still can not talk about it to my amazing husband, family and friends. (Strangers are fine..)
    I don’t know how to put the things I feel into words. (Such an over-used phrase but that’s actually how it is).
    You somehow managed to put down exactly how I felt/feel.
    I am grateful for my baby boy who was born shortly before my mums death. First I thought „oh my god how on earth will I manage that??!“ but he was my dad and my lifeline in that time. Just „being there“, wanting my love, to sleep, drink, he forced me to function and go on.
    Imagine how it would have been without children.
    Maybe I am getting that stuff out of the cupboard. At some point.
    Thank you,
    Katja x

  6. Ângela
    September 5, 2018 / 1:15 pm

    You´re so funny Ruth.
    Big kiss from Portugal.

  7. Jennifer
    September 5, 2018 / 4:58 pm

    I absolutely love reading your updates, you’re always so funny and heartbreaking in equal measure. I’ve been following you (that sounds wrong) since the beginning- you’re a breath of fresh air in this homogenised, instaperfect world. Don’t ever change x

    • September 5, 2018 / 5:58 pm

      Thank you, that’s so lovely to read x

      • Sophie
        September 6, 2018 / 9:47 am

        Seconded.

  8. Strawberry
    September 5, 2018 / 6:51 pm

    Yes, grief hits suddenly like a vandal throwing a brick at your head. I lost a little girl prematurely before Simon, and managed to sort of compartmentalise the loss for about a year. The pregnancy and then birth of my son kept my heart and head busy. I think deep down I was terrified of birth so my feelings on losing her so early were very complicated. Then one day a year after my son’s birth, so nearly two years after her loss, I was padding through a department store and suddenly saw a little girl’s dress hanging up on a hanger. My bags fell out of my hand and I started howling with unstoppable tears. Tsunami tears. The pain of it. But oh the necessity of it. My son will be thirty two this month and his little sister, Rachel, is very much still part of our family consciousness but now in a much happier way. Solidarity dear Ruth.

    • September 5, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      What beautiful words, thank you xx

  9. Emily Scott Banks
    September 5, 2018 / 7:49 pm

    I loved reading everything in this post, Ruth. You have such a gift with words and story.

  10. September 5, 2018 / 9:20 pm

    Seriously, how do they pick up the stones so quickly? And all the other stuff that they probably swallow before we even notice? It is a miracle! But not one of the good ones…

    Anne

  11. Claire
    September 6, 2018 / 1:12 pm

    I came to the conclusion that grief is the price you pay for loving.

    As for children suddenly doing growing up things. I was trying to encourage my seven year old so eat his spinach and then I told him about Popeye. This lead on to me putting popeye on You Tube. Once the theme tune started I got a huge flashback to watching it with my Dad as a child. I said ‘oh this really reminds me of my Dad!). My 9 year daughter put her arm around me and said ‘Are you ok mummy? I know you loved Papa very much’ at missing my Dad and at my daughters tenderness.

  12. September 6, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    Hi Ruth,

    Just wanted to say I love these updates. So loveable, so unfiltered, joyous, raw.

    Keep em coming.

  13. Rachael
    September 6, 2018 / 4:54 pm

    Please don’t shut the grief away. I did that for about 15 years after I lost my mum and it affected my life in so many ways, including the link to love that you mention. I’m having counselling now and the damage done by years of hiding from my grief is taking a long time to unpack. Please please please don’t make the same mistake I did, please get some help xxx

  14. Kirsty
    September 6, 2018 / 8:39 pm

    This post has made me laugh so much. Thank you for continuing your witty posts, Ruth. I have children of a very similar age, and it’s always so heart warming to read of other people going through the same thing.
    Keep on doing what you are doing! X

  15. Laura
    September 6, 2018 / 9:12 pm

    I just had a solid 5 minute laughing fit at the last paragraph & woke up the baby. You really have a way with words, I always enjoy your life updates! X

  16. Sharon
    September 6, 2018 / 10:59 pm

    I lost my Dad to cancer just over a year ago and like you I keep “ the grief” locked away. That’s not to say I do not think about him , I’m just able to manage my emotions better that way. But some days I find the longing for him to still be here overwhelming and it literally takes my breath away.
    Your updates are great! It seems you are loving life away from the big smoke x

  17. Sasha
    September 8, 2018 / 9:31 pm

    Hi Ruth,

    That last paragraph made me laugh so hard! I had tears rolling down my cheeks at midnight in the pitch black, exhausted, and breastfeeding my little girl. She seemed confused as to why my whole body suddenly started convulsing! I dearly hope she’s as funny as Angelica in a couple of years’ time. VITAMIN!

    I too, despite Erica still only being 7 months old, get upset every time I realise she’s growing up so fast, so it’s great to read something that makes me look forward to the next stages.

    Sasha (long-time-follower, first time commenter) x

  18. Jim Williams
    September 9, 2018 / 6:35 pm

    Thank you for continuing to write about your personal grief. I am going through it with my dad. It helps me, and I’m sure others to read of your thoughts and expressions.

  19. Maria
    September 14, 2018 / 2:30 am

    I spat out my drink at the bit about Angelica’s imaginary friend. VITAMIN. Hilarious, honestly. Not to mention adorable. Will be a a great story to torture her with as a teenager x.

  20. September 18, 2018 / 7:24 pm

    It would be my Mum´s Birthday tomorrow, I miss her at times so darn much. She left end of Dec 2011…

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