As I type this, Ebony is asleep in her cot. It’s almost impossible for me to find the time to write these days. It seems that I am constantly busy these days. Even if I’m in the house, I’m looking after an adventurous mobile baby so I don’t have a minute to myself.
I can hardly remember what it was like to have a tiny, still baby. Perhaps I have blocked it out, because it was so wonderful and deep down I know that I will never again feel such tranquility. Changing nappies used to be so simple. It was actually just changing a nappy. These days it feels more like a task worthy of a crystal maze zone. My nine month old won’t sit still long enough for a nappy change; instead we do it on the move. I’ve given up wrestling her onto the changing mat. Instead I just crawl round the room after her trying desperately to get the new nappy secured before she pisses all over the carpet.
Every so often I realise that Ebony has grown older yet again. Today was no exception.
I’ve been going to the pub every Thursday with a friend and her baby for the last five months. We pretend our babies are BFFs, but in reality they are probably more like arch enemies. They kick each other, pull ears, steal socks and punch soft spots. When we first started going to the pub, the babies couldn’t even sit up. They would sit happily in our arms as we talked. JUst a couple of toys between them and they would be happy for hours. Pub Thursdays became a ritual. When you’ve had another week of sleepless nights, a particularly clingy baby, and you accidentally caught sight of your saggy tummy in the bathroom mirror, it’s nice to know you have a friend who’s going through the exact same thing. Thursdays became the day I could tell all my woes and make inappropriate jokes about listing the baby on eBay and finally feel better. Once you’ve got a friend you can make adoption jokes to, you’ve got a friend for life. These aren’t the kind of comments you can casually drop at Baby Sensory, no, this shit takes time.
And so, for a few months, Pub Thursday became a sanctuary for burned out mothers, a place we could unburden. The babies learned to sit up, and so we sat them together surrounded by toys. As the babies grew, so did the number of toys. As the babies started to eat solids, they had lunch with us. We left salad carpet coverings across most of the local pubs. Strangers would come over to compliment us on the outstanding behaviour of our babies. How quiet, how content, how sweet.
But, sadly, now the babies how grown too big. It’s no longer a question of new toys. No, the babies have learned to crawl. And stand. And cruise. They no longer want to sit on our knees. They no longer want to sit together, as arch enemies, fighting on the pub sofa. They want to be on the floor. They want to slide off our knees, onto the beer-soaked carpet beneath. They long to crawl across the room, under the tables, to search for new experiences. They want to see everything, touch everything, bite everything. They long to be exploring.
Nobody came over today to comment on the behaviour of our babies. But if they had they would probably have mentioned how strong we all looked, wrestling with our babies, trying to stop them reaching the so badly desired freedom of the floor. They would perhaps have commented on how frustrated each and every one of our babies looked to be unwillingly trapped in this adult world.
But nobody needed to tell us this, because we knew. And so today will be the last Pub Thursday. That short but ever so enjoyably era is over.
Next week we will be replacing our much-loved tradition with the newly launched soft play Thursday.
And, just so you know, I hate soft play centres.