The passing of time

Time is a funny thing when you have children. One minute you're wishing it away and counting down the hours until bedtime after a particularly tantrummy day. The next you're willing it to slow down. To hold onto those special moments for just a little bit longer; to freeze frame them and replay them over and over again.

During my maternity leave I lost all concept of time. There were no hours or days or weeks. Just feeding times. Days and nights that merged into one, long, consecutive haze of bottles, naps and 3pm baths. I'd determine what time of day it was by what was on TV, often surprised to find that it must be the weekend because Jeremy Kyle wasn't on. Our time passed gradually, sleepily and quietly as we got to know each other. There was no pressure to be anywhere or do anything. I remember we spent a lot of time in the house and we were nearly always together.

But when Jack was nine months old it was time for me to go back to work (part time) and he started spending Mondays with my mum and Tuesdays/Wednesday mornings at nursery. Although we had to adjust to being apart a bit more, it meant that we got some structure back in our lives and time had some meaning again. I remember picking him up from nursery on a Wednesday lunchtime and sometimes feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of four and a half full days stretching out ahead of us in which I'd be expected to find ways to occupy this rapidly growing, demanding baby who wasn't really a baby anymore. It felt like a lifetime and it wore me out. Sometimes I was actually quite relieved when Monday came back around. So despite working, we still seemed to have a lot of time together.

When he turned two and a half he started going to pre-school on a Friday morning because I wanted him to get to know the children he'd eventually be going to school with. It meant that I had three whole hours to myself! What would I do with all of this me time?! The possibilities were endless! And it was only one morning a week so we'd still get lots of time together.

Recently when I went to an open afternoon at the pre-school his key person mentioned that she thought he might benefit from going there an extra morning a week. So from September it's been arranged that he'll be going to pre-school on a Thursday morning too. Around the same time, his dad got settled in a new house and is eager to start having overnight access every other weekend. So that means Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I'll be at work. Thursday and Friday mornings he'll be at pre-school. And every other weekend he'll stay overnight with his dad. Very suddenly it feels as if my time with him has decreased a lot. And the time we do have has to fit around a regimented schedule which is a far cry from the early days of lazy togetherness where days passed by without us even noticing.

At one point I would have revelled in all of this 'me' time. I'd have been excited at the thought of the things I could do with it. But now it's actually going to happen I can't help but think of the things I won't be able to do with my son anymore. No more lazy Thursdays - the only day of the week where we have nowhere to be and nothing to do so we can (and quite often do) stay in our pjs til dinner time. No more morning Tesco trips together where he ALWAYS falls asleep in obscure positions in the trolley and passing shoppers ALWAYS coo, making comments like 'he must find shopping as dull as I do' and I chuckle politely like I haven't heard it a million times before. No more taking for granted that we can attend every single party or play date because he might be at school or with his dad. Things have to be worked around. He has engagements to keep. Engagements that don't include me.

And of course I know this is how it should be. This is just a natural part of him growing up. But suddenly all of those cliches I used to eye-roll at like 'they don't stay babies for long' and 'cherish every moment' have taken on a whole new meaning. A meaning that I expect I'll be confronted with at every stage of his life at which he moves further away from me - school, uni, moving out, marriage *sobs uncontrollably*

So I guess what I'm saying is that if you are in the midst of maternity leave or the terrible twos and feel like there's no end in sight, don't worry. It will come around quickly. And believe it or not you might actually find yourself pining for the sleepless nights and the tantrums and the time they were just there. With you.

Book Review: The Bones Of You by Debbie Howells

This is the first time I've done a review on the blog but as it concerns reading (one of my favourite things to do when Jack is in bed - other than stuff cake and wine into my face) I thought I'd give it a go. I love to read but often find myself too busy/too tired/too engrossed in rubbish TV to pick up books like I used to. I'm making a conscious effort to move away from That's Life magazine (which is, although wildly entertaining, not good for my soul) and actually start reading 'properly' again. If I manage it, book reviews might become a regular feature either here or over on Judging Covers where I used to contribute regularly in my pre-child life.

So this week I read The Bones Of You by Debbie Howells - a psychological crime thriller - and this is what I thought:

When eighteen year old Rosie Anderson goes missing and is later found murdered, her close knit, rural community is left reeling. Who would want to kill the perfect daughter of a perfect family like the Andersons? It's a question that Kate, a local mother with a daughter the same age as Rosie, finds herself asking over and over again. As Kate lends her support to the Andersons she is drawn into a web of secrets and lies surrounding the family's life. Can she find out the truth about what really happened to Rosie?

The story alternates from Kate's present perspective to flashbacks told by the now deceased Rosie as her life 'flashes before her eyes' in the same sort of other-worldly way as we saw in The Lovely Bones. Through Rosie's passages we learn a lot of history about the family, including her own upbringing and that of her mother Joanna - both abusive and equally painful to read about.

As far as psychological thrillers go, I found this one fairly slow paced. Events were presented gradually over the space of a year following Rosie's death. While this built tension well, I missed the spikes of unexpected drama that you usually associate with this genre. Similarly, the final reveal of the killer was, although disturbing, not surprising to me. Hints and context had been building up for some time in Rosie's sections of the book and although the motive behind the attack wasn't fully revealed until the end, I'd worked out who was guilty long before. And if I'm being honest, I missed that 'OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE IT WAS THEM' moment. 

Although I liked Kate (the archetypal 'earth mother' with her horses, gardening and solid sense of right and wrong...mostly) there were other characters that lacked depth for me. It seemed like her journalist friend Laura was written in purely as a mouthpiece to convey the developments in the murder investigation that the reader needed to know about. Likewise, what was Rachel for? Other than bumbling about, swearing a lot and being a cliche 'busy mummy' she didn't really do anything. Other characters were so vile that it actually made the book difficult to read in places. And did anyone miss a distinct lack of police presence in this so called high profile murder case?!

Still, it was undoubtedly a page turner and one I managed to finish in just a few days. The story was realistic, moving and chilling in equal measure - maybe because it makes you wonder just how much you can ever really know about anyone; the darkest secrets can be hiding within the most seemingly perfect families. It probably won't go down as one of my favourite books of all time but it's definitely worth a read.

Have you read The Bones Of You? What did you think?

Thanks to Mumsnet and Macmillan for sending me this book to review. 

See what other Mumsnet Bloggers thought here


If CBeebies Characters Branched Out...

So, Mr Bloom is joining Hollyoaks.

Am I the only one who feels a bit weird about this? Obviously I realise that Mr Bloom isn't really a gardener with a deep rooted (no pun intended) desire to educate small children about the beauty of nature. He is an actor called Ben Faulks who is clearly looking to further his career by taking a step away from talking vegetables. Which, to be fair, is probably a wise move.

But when you have become so accustomed to seeing a face on children's TV (particularly one as lovely as his) the prospect of them joining an actual adult show dealing with actual adult issues is a bit bewildering. Something in my brain can't quite accept it. He'll be all serious and there'll be no singing and imagine...just imagine if he gets embroiled in some sordid affair with a McQueen. Urgh,

It got me thinking...what if other CBeebies characters decide to branch out into grown up telly? The results could be quite terrifying interesting.

Mr Maker does 60 Minute Makeover
This could actually happen. He's got the credentials - crafty, imaginative and familiar with the premise of making something within an allocated time frame. He'd have to up his game a bit and stop creating such pointless tat though. Nobody would want to come home to find their soft furnishings replaced with 'rock monsters' and 'bugs in jars'.

PC Plum on Broadchurch
If Broadchurch returns for a third series I think PC Plum should be introduced as David Tenant's younger, camper brother who has finally left their Scottish hometown in search of some serious police work. I'm unsure as to how successful he'd be given how much he likes to piss about singing, dancing and bike riding though - maybe he would have been better in The Bill as Reg Hollis's sidekick.

Chris and Pui on This Morning
With their infectious cheer and on screen chemistry, I think Chris and Pui could give Phil and Holly a run for their money.

Katie does Masterchef
I could see Katie Ashcroft from I Can Cook as a judge on Masterchef but she'd have to get a bit tougher and stop telling everyone that their culinary creations looked 'super yummy' when they really, really don't. And just imagine her doing her boingy boingy spring onion dance...I reckon Gregg Wallace's face would look something like this.

Justin Fletcher on The Jeremy Kyle Show
Both of these men are loud, annoying and a little bit in love with themselves. But Justin Fletcher has the patience of a saint (the man spends his life getting custard pied for a living!) so I think he would deal with the reprobates in a slightly kinder fashion than JK. Maybe he could sack Graham and have Robert dealing with aftercare?

Dr Ranj does Embarrassing Bodies
Let's face it, the only difference between Get Well Soon and Embarrassing Bodies is that Dr Ranj would find himself examining the sweaty, boil ridden nether regions of actual humans rather than cute little puppets. Other than that, the frank discussions on all things poo and bogey related remain the same.

Topsy and Tim on Eastenders
Following in their mother's footsteps, it'd be nice to see the twintastic tots joining the cast of Eastenders. After the demise of Lucy Beale there's a gap for a new set of twins. Perhaps they could join as the secret love children of Phil Mitchell and be written into some sort of anti social youth storyline. It would make a change to see them wreaking havoc on the Square instead of being so flipping well behaved.

Can you think of any other potential career moves for CBeebies characters? How do you feel about Mr Bloom joining Hollyoaks and the distinct possibility of him being killed off by a flying car door (ala Maddie) in their 6-monthly cast cleanse disaster?

Wicked Wednesdays #6 - Modern Art

Where do I even begin with this? The hideous shade of brown he is using to create a splodgey monstrosity modern art is pretty offensive for a start. Then there's the fact that this was taken at 11:30am on Saturday morning and he's still wearing his pyjamas. There are shouty humans on Jeremy Kyle in the background. And just to top it off he is blowing a giant raspberry at me.

Domestic bliss.