Life Update: End of the Baby Era

ruth crilly life update

A fleeting break from tradition with this life update because I’m going to be talking mostly about me. My favourite subject. (Joke: I hate talking about myself unless I’ve had too much wine. In fact, I tend to stop people in their tracks when they try to ask me what I do for a living – I usually tell them that I work with computers and they are too bored to ask more!)

I’m talking mostly about me because I feel as though I’m at a weird old juncture in my life, one that has me wondering who the hell I am and what an earth I’m going to do next. I think that shopping for Angelica’s school uniform triggered it all off, this sense of being a bit lost and wondering about what the future holds, but in fact it’s a strange feeling that’s been bubbling away beneath the surface ever since we made the big move to Somerset.

I think it stems from being the sort of person that always has to be doing something, planning the Next Big Thing, working on a project, being so busy that I live in a state of perpetual low-key chaos and stress. Having two babies quite close together (18 months apart, not planned that way!) has been the most intense time imaginable, especially with work being the most busy it has ever been, and I think I worry that when school starts in September, and Ted starts a few mornings at nursery, I won’t quite know what to do with the extra time.

ruth crilly life update

Actually that’s a lie; if I was entirely honest, my problem with September and the new starts is that I am forced to evaluate the era that is just about to come to a close. The baby era. I find myself tentatively asking myself how did I do? Could I have done better? In those rare moments of quiet, when I just sit and mull things over, I wonder whether I worked too much or should have worked more, whether I should have pulled in more help to save my sanity or turned down more jobs in order to be a completely full time Mum. I tick off the things I didn’t do: I haven’t taken them swimming once. I didn’t make gingerbread with them and get it all over the floor. I didn’t get enough photos of me with babies perched on my hip, or me asleep in a tangled nest of sheets with a newborn spreadeagled on top of my chest. I ask myself whether I was ever really present, in the moment, because I really can’t remember much at all.

I could do a huge list of the things we have done, including almost daily trips to the zoo and adventure park, walks with the dog, holidays in the car to Cornwall and Devon and London and Dorset, crazy chases around the house every afternoon (it’s a great house for running and hiding), discos, picnics, dressing up, shop games, hotel games, vet games, hospital games, early wake-ups every morning, drawn-out bedtimes every night, middle-of-the-night cuddling sessions, countless dribbles of Calpol over the bedsheets, endless tense exchanges between the adults as to where the in-ear thermometer is and who had it last…

I’ve been away from home for less than 2.5 percent of the time I’ve been a Mum, but I still fret that I could have done better and that I would do it better if I did it all over again. Maybe that’s why some people have another baby (I’m not, don’t get excited!), because there’s always the feeling that next time you will finally get it right.

ruth crilly life update

Well. That was borderline depressing wasn’t it? Sorry about that! I don’t actively regret any part of what I did during the baby stage, I’m just sad that it’s pretty much over. It’s like a klaxon has sounded to tell me my time is up.

“FNARRRRRRR! Put down the flour, mothers! You’re about to make homemade play-dough, or bake cookies for the first time, but it’s TOO BLOODY LATE! You want to take them for a walk instead of plonking them down in front of Peppa Pig so that you can print, sign and scan the mortgage documents in peace? TOO LATE! They’re old enough to just amuse themselves anyway! They don’t need you anymore and they wouldn’t go on a walk with you anyway unless you bribe them with sweets! FNARRRRRRR!”

Talking of bribery, Angelica has cottoned on to the whole you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours system remarkably well. Maybe she will grow up to be a negotiator. Or a politician. (God.) Either way, she knows the value of her cooperation, especially when Ted is kicking off about his apple not being cut in the correct manner (ie: not cut up at all, he likes them whole, but he carries the bloody thing about for an hour and the dog almost always ends up getting it off him so I usually try to make him eat it chopped up in a bowl and he hates it) and there are two things that she has firmly planted on her demands list: games on the iPhone and sweets from Daddy’s retro sweet shop box.

Mr AMR got a huge box of sweets for his birthday last month and they’re all retro chews and sherbet dips and so on from the seventies and eighties – Angelica is obsessed. It’s like another world, one where Pom Bears and organic dried apple rings don’t exist. The games on the iPhone thing has had to be curbed, for the moment, because she got really into playing on these Toca Boca apps that let you play at being a vet or a train driver or a doctor. They’re a bit like Sims but for toddlers and she gets really immersed, carrying supplies through the hospital and visiting the patients and feeding them their lunch. She started waking up early just so she could ask to play on my phone, so that has been nipped in the bud. The phone games started as a lazy thing because I could go back to sleep for half an hour and she just carried out her doctor rounds, probably doing things like administering morphine and delivering tricky babies and amputating gangrenous legs using a selection of power tools. But the games are no more. It’s too early. Both in the day and in life.

I say that officially, in case Mr AMR is reading, but unofficially I let her play at grooming the Toca Boca horses last night when I was trying to wrestle Ted into his back-to-front Gro Bag and stop him from throwing his mattress out of the cot.

Ted has become Hulk Ted Smash over the course of the last month. Not only does he thrash about in his sleep, knocking into the bars of the cot so that it sounds as though a minotaur is trying to ride through the wall of the house, he likes to dismantle his sleeping arrangements over and over again between the hours of 7 and 9pm. It used to be that he stripped himself, did a wee on the mattress and then called for help, but now he is trapped in his back-to-front sleeping bag (thanks for that tip, readers!) and can’t unzip it, so he amuses himself by taking off the sheets and folding the mattress in half (actually quite a phenomenally difficult thing to achieve) and then sticking both legs through the bottom slats. Before calling for help.

Whoo, bedtimes are still the most testing time of the day. I think (still) that it’s because you really feel as though you’re finally owed a bit of a bloody break, thanks very much, and your brain sees 7pm (or whatever time, 5pm would be idea, hohoho) as the cut-and-dry deadline for any child-related shenanigans. The other night, when Ted was still going at it with his mattress-bending at 9.15pm I ended up bellowing this is Mummy’s time now! I’m not available! 

He just stared at me blankly and said, “ham?”

Ted is saying “ham” a lot at the moment. I have no idea why, other than that he really likes ham. But the more he says it, especially in answer to completely unrelated questions, the more we all laugh and the more he thinks it’s funny. He’s chatting away like the clappers, now, and if I read a story to him he copies every single word. Which is sweet, but at the same time it makes it really hard to read – it’s like having an echo that makes no sense.

In other news, Ted did something the other day that was both highly convenient and potentially disastrous, all at the same time. I knew something was up because things had gone quiet in the living room and then, when I called him, he said “coming Mama!” and arrived in the kitchen holding his (very full) nappy between forefinger and thumb. He had done a poo, carefully taken off the nappy pants and walked to the kitchen without dropping any of the poo onto the floor. To be frank, it’s almost more than can do and I’m thirty-six years older than him. Not that I wear nappy pants, you understand.

ruth crilly life update

Oh God, I must dash! Angelica has had her taster morning at school and I’ve just realised that the time they’ve said to pick up is actually the time when they’ll be coming out of the gates! Not like in nursery when you just saunter in between x time and y time and everyone’s all chilled out and “here’s a painting with some twigs and dirty feathers glued to it, it’s a duck, yes that’s an acorn representing its one eye”. I have a drawer full of those paintings. Ah, such excruciatingly happy days, tinged with such anxiety that time keeps flying by too fast! Why is being a parent such a bloody emotional rollercoaster?

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35 Comments

  1. Sophie
    July 11, 2019 / 1:46 am

    A ‘good enough’ mother is the best. It’s been proved….lol. So let us declare ourselves wonderful. Oh the memories you bring back. That first day Simon started ‘big’ school at primary. His happy little face, his brushed hair, his new schoolbag. I thought he would be the one having the meltdown but no, it was me, crying my eyes out when I got back to the house after dropping him off. That for me was the end of our world exclusively together. He came home in love with his teacher; ‘Mith Fennel!’ and I was instantly deposed. It was the start of new great things for both of us, but I still treasure our private world up to that point. Somehow playschool didn’t trigger the seismic shift that primary school did.

    • July 11, 2019 / 8:28 am

      Ugh!!!!!!! I think I’ll probably have the meltdown BEFORE I leave the school gates!

  2. Hannah
    July 8, 2019 / 3:23 pm

    I also have a 19 month age gap between my two. It’s amazing to watch them grow up to be such good friends but equally it’s such a blur and I constantly think I’m not doing anything well enough….but we all are!!!! Doing your best is all you can do and children with over perfect mummy’s and daddy’s will surely just always be disappointed by the reality of life!!

    Re ted and sleeping bag…my daughter did this. As soon as we gave her duvet all the bed trashing stopped. Another wrench as another mile stone but it might help xx

  3. Mira
    July 6, 2019 / 3:18 pm

    I love your life updates, Ruth! Your style of writing has such a beautiful balance of humour and emotion. And I’m a sucker for those emotions ;-)
    Could I also ask where you got Angelica’s dress with the ballerinas, in the second photo?
    Thank you! xx

      • Mira
        July 7, 2019 / 2:16 pm

        Ah, thanks Ruth! Good old M&S :-) Love it! xx

  4. July 6, 2019 / 1:44 pm

    Constantly asking myself if I could have done more for my career, my kids, myself… I think that is how things are once you have kids.

  5. Hannah
    July 4, 2019 / 11:07 pm

    Currently in a hotel room with my mum and my 9 month old who has decided that the travel cot is haunted so is sleeping next to me while I obsess about how to get her back into the travel cot without her noticing… sadly laughing at this post did not help the situation as she stirred and is now sleeping with her eyes open….

  6. Marie
    July 4, 2019 / 8:06 pm

    I knew this post was coming… the end of an era. I am certain that every mum feels the same and has the same thoughts going through their mind as the first day at school approaches. It’s just such an emotional transition time. I remember that I started reading your blog when you were pregnant with Angelica, I can’t believe that over four years have flown by. I had my surprise second baby when Angelica was a 12 months old. It’s been so entertaining and reassuring reading your posts, like a little friend telling you that we all go through the highs and lows of parenthood.
    I know the school years are going to be just as good.

      • Marie
        July 5, 2019 / 8:16 am

        Forgot to say,,,your monthly updates are a permanent record of this era. That’s so special for you to have. I’m still trying to put together a book of my eldest primary school days- he left two years ago. Oh well!

  7. Karen
    July 4, 2019 / 4:50 pm

    I’m very annoyed by this post!!!
    Baby era gone?! Does that mean my 2y9m twins are not babies anymore?!? Sob!

    I know how you feel, kindergarten uniforms are being tried on (we live in HK) and books and school bags bought.
    They will go 3 hrs a day , I’m only allowing this as all their playgroup friends are also going . Otherwise I would be keeping them at home with me for 10 more years.
    I’m excited for them, but like yourself, wonder if I did enough, took enough photos, was in the moment enough.
    I remember reading that we are all the parents that they want and need. Eff gingerbread! Haha

    • July 4, 2019 / 5:20 pm

      Haha same, I’ve even read up about home schooling so that I can keep them with me all day. Then I think WTF are you on, woman?! Imagine how nice the break will be!! lol x

  8. Sharon
    July 4, 2019 / 2:22 pm

    I so enjoy reading your posts! Very few bloggers have a gift for writing…most are awful…but you are a treasure! I am at a very different stage of life (grandchildren are 14 and 11!) but you are so relatable! I am in the U.S. and I also enjoy your British way of writing.

    Best of luck as you navigate through the next phase…you’ll be great!

    • Sevda
      July 4, 2019 / 7:25 pm

      I don’t know if Ruth has an English way if writing but she is very talented.

      I think she has a few books here. One book from babies to say school. School to uni. Etc.

      Very enjoyable post.

  9. Rhian Fitzgerald
    July 4, 2019 / 12:11 pm

    This is an amazing post…made me laugh snd cry….all so true

  10. Di
    July 4, 2019 / 9:14 am

    In tears here. I’ve just been FaceTiming with my two tiny (2yo & 9mo) grandchildren who live a million miles away in the middle of Australia on a massive property. I was looking at my youngest son, all grown up being a daddy. Then reading this has made the tears flow. I do no know where the time went with my own children. One minute they are born, and you are stumbling around at night trying to breastfeed them, and the next minute my youngest son has two babies. You really just do have to stay in the present and enjoy the wild ride. The day I became an empty nester was the worst, I think.

    • July 4, 2019 / 9:32 am

      Oh, I can’t even imagine the empty nest. I’ve just welled up!! Oh we are a pair. Thank you for your comments over all of these years xx

  11. Vera
    July 4, 2019 / 7:22 am

    I love the way you express your feelings concerning motherhood, Ruth. I have two big girls (12 and 10) and a small boy, 3 in September. I always felt that 3 is a big change and as we are not having any more children it really hit me that this is the end of an era. Also: my 12-year-old belongs more and more to the world and less and less to me and this is another kind of a heartbreak. (Oh, wow, I really upset myself, crying over my coffee right now.) Have a lovely day, everyone! :)

  12. Jenny alden
    July 4, 2019 / 6:26 am

    You are a lovely writer Ruth, I look forward to these types of posts. Thank you x

  13. sarah
    July 4, 2019 / 2:36 am

    I just delivered my second- and last- baby a week ago. She’s snoozing on my chest at the moment, and I’m taking in all the wheezy squeals and squeaks. We’re happy with our girls- #1 is a month younger than your Ted. But I’m 37; this is our last baby. I desperately want time to stop. I’m not ready to say goodbye to the baby years, even as I reenter them,

  14. Kathy
    July 4, 2019 / 2:03 am

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. And all I can think of is “wait for the tween and teen years.” It all goes by so fast. We do our best but the little shits have minds and opinions of their own. And then they hate you and don’t need you. But…it all has to go exactly that way.

    • July 4, 2019 / 9:33 am

      Hahaha, Kathy this made me lol xx

  15. Betsy
    July 3, 2019 / 11:16 pm

    I’m in Nantucket,USA for the summer. As I sit on this tranquil island, I read your posts, always smiling. You really must either write a book or compile your posts in a book, seriously. So your future self has a plan. Thank you for your exceptional, funny and sarcastic updates. Keep them coming. And, your children are beautiful

  16. Ruth Hands
    July 3, 2019 / 9:14 pm

    Don’t – we’ve just given away some other baby stuff to some friends but I can’t bring myself to sort the baby clothes yet… Sending a hug x

  17. July 3, 2019 / 8:09 pm

    I really enjoyed this post, and imagine I will be feeling the same way each time my (as yet unborn) child reaches a new phase. It sounds like you did a lot more than you think with them though, so I reckon you deserve a self administered pat on the back!

    Also, having a child reply ‘ham’ to random things sounds absolutely hilarious, I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face (and would probably end up adopting it as a response myself)

  18. Ruth Hands
    July 3, 2019 / 7:47 pm

    I loved reading this, you have such a knack for expressing exactly what I’ve been feeling as a parent. I feel like I’ve lost the plot since having baby number two nine months ago. I think it’s partly because I’ve always wanted two children so I feel like I’ve been waiting for this period of my life for years and now it’s here and is just flying by and will soon be over. Also although I know I don’t want another baby really, knowing I won’t have another still makes me feel sad which is very confusing!

    • July 3, 2019 / 7:57 pm

      Ugh, packing away the baby clothes!! *cries*

      • Katy
        July 4, 2019 / 9:37 am

        I still have a small suitcase full of baby clothes, having gradually weeded it down to that amount over the years passing things on to friends. I once nearly had a full on breakdown when I thought I’d lost the case!! It’s just impossible not to think back to the baby years and wish you’d done some things differently. But the lovely thing is for most parents we are constantly learning lessons and trying to forge the best relationship with our children that we can at each particular stage, and just trying our best to be there for them. That doesn’t stop. It gets more complicated and intense and satisfying as they get older and start becoming more and more their own people. Which is the ultimate goal as a parent isn’t it. that your children can grow up to be fully themselves (as kind people obviously!). All your posts show your devotion to your children. Starting school is a tough one.. I felt bereft for weeks/months/forever. And each stage has some similar heartbreak to negotiate. My nearing secondary school age daughter wants to start walking to places on her own now (what?!). Her teacher cheered me up the other day by saying ‘my mum still tries to hold my hand when I cross the road’. Best of luck to little Angelica in September. xx

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