The presents are wrapped, the cards have been posted, the cupboards are full of festive goodies and Rufus is thoroughly sick of shopping.
We're having Christmas at home - our little family of three. We'll sing carols (tunelessly) round the tree, eat a lot, walk a bit and make it a Christmas to remember - even if the little bean will have forgotten it all by boxing day. For us it's a dream come true
So to all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - we hope you get all you wish for in 2011.
Last Saturday - the 18th December 2010 - Rufus Anthony Jones was six months old exactly. I can't believe that in just six months we have gone from this
It's amazing - he's a proper little boy now. He eats grown up meals - he loves a good stew. My kitchen floor loves it less, but doesn't get much of a choice about the amount it's "fed" every day. I'm thinking of starting a company that rents out Labradors to families with weaning babies. The cats don't do bits of chimbled pasta or beef that has been sucked dry - most unhelpful.
A friend asked me the other day if I miss my previous life? And I don't really think I do. Occasionally I'd love to sleep for eight hours without interruption and the other day I was walking through town and it seemed that everyone else on the street was a couple, meandering round the shops holding hands. I do miss that, just Me and Mr Jones time. Sometimes I miss it so much that I want to cry just a little bit.
But I wouldn't give him back, not for the world. I love watching him change. I never thought I'd be fascinated by the way that someone else holds a carrot. I certainly would never have walked around Waitrose singing, blowing raspberries and whooping just to make someone else smile. I'll do anything to elicit that laugh. The second his little delicious giggle escapes his mouth I do what ever it is that has brought it forth over and over again, even if it's throwing him in the air until my arms ache, or making popping noises until my lips are chaffed. It's like an addiction - I really can't get enough.
Sometimes I worry that my brain will turn to mush. That all I'll be good for is singing endless renditions of Old Macdonald or the Wheels on the Bus. Sometimes I miss the thrill of working to a deadline or running a shoot (and I certainly miss the freebies!). But most of the time I just love being a mummy. It's hard work, it's 24/7, but it is the single most satisfying thing I have ever done in my life.
When people ask what I do I don't miss saying "I'm a journalist", I love saying "I'm Rufus' mum". I wasn't sure how I'd feel about that, but I'm just so proud of him. If someone else pushes his buggy and people stop and coo I feel like grabbing the handle and saying "yes he's gorgeous isn't he, he's mine". Selfish I know - but he really is the most amazing thing I've ever achieved. I look at him every day and think - "wow I made him" and it stuns me everytime.
I've met the six months mark with a mixture of happiness and sorrow. I feel like the countdown is on. That every day now brings us closer to the day that I'll have to go back to work. The day that I'll have to hand him over and trust someone else to look after him (only for three days a week!) and it fills me with fear. It's not so much Rufus that I'm worried about, I'm sure after the initial wrench he'll be fine. He'll make new friends and learn new things and hopefully at the end of the day he'll be excited to see me. I don't think he'll miss out at all. But I know I will - I don't want to will him to grow up too fast, but at the same time I don't want to miss his first step or his first word. I want to be there for everything because it's such a privilege to watch him grow up.
And of course - if I'm truly honest - the control freak in me just doesn't want to let go. If I'm at work someone might feed him a jam sandwich made with plastic bread and marg (argh the horror) or let him sit in front of Cbeebies (or Top Gear!!!) for hours on end. At some point I'm going to have to let go - I'm just not sure I can do it right now. So I shall continue to dream of a gentle mooch around town with Mr Jones and a night in a soft fluffy hotel bed where I'll sleep for 12 hours in a gin induced stupor without worrying that something has happened to my little man overnight. I'm sure I'll get there one day - won't I?
Ps - I took Rufus to see the health visitor last Friday. He weighed in at 15lb 14oz - three weeks ago he was 14lb 9oz - it seems a bit of homecooking was all he needed to pile on a few pounds. The health visitor - remember she wasn't concerned, no not concerned at all - looked visibly relieved. In fact she was so happy she almost gave me a hug.
It's nearly Christmas, weaning has begun - between shopping, wrapping, cooking and feeding I have no time - so here is a brief synopsis of the past four weeks - in pictures - with few words - how unlike me. (Have you ever noticed that I use a lot of these - it seems I don't like commas!)
Rufus went to Southwold - a place of many happy childhood, teenage and grown up memories for me, and for him too in years to come I hope. He had fun, had many cuddles with Granny, Pops and Aunty Rach. We both came home with a cold - but we survived.
He started solids. Baby led weaning is messy. Purees make him gag unless they are very runny. He'd rather just eat sticks of roasted sweet potato and carrot, tuck into homemade stew (he even ate a bit of beef) and isn't adverse to pasta bake (apart from today when he threw a paddy and swept a good deal of it onto the kitchen floor - it seems today he only wants to eat pureed pear. I don't blame him - some days I just want to eat pureed pear). He seems to be producing little chunky rolls of fat on his wrists and thighs so I'm hoping when I get him weighed this week he might be heading in the right direction on the chart thingys.
Rufus went to visit the Williams' - he bought a hairband from Princess Lucy's shop. We all bought hairbands in fact - and had to wear them - even Mr Jones.
He's learnt how to roll over and he never sits still. He's seen his first snow and the other day I swear he made a noise that sounded like "Rufus" - but it was probably just a fluke! He has swum under water on his own, which is impressive and terrifying in equal measure, but don't tell him I scared, I'm very good at perma smiles to hide horror - I do them when he's choking on quarters of apricot and when he pours water all over himself and the floor and when he rubs pasta bake into his ears. And when he poos on my hand - but that is another story....
At university I was sometimes known as Monica. People used to ruffle the rug in my room just to wind me up - and in the second year my cleaning rota was constantly scorned and the bathroom left in a disgusting state until I gave in a cleaned it even if it wasn't my week. While 10 years with Mr Jones has forced me to relax on the OCD cleaning you may well recall that in the latter stages of my pregnancy I spent about 22 hours a day attached to the hoover or mop.
These days I'm lucky if I manage to get the hoover out once a week. I have vacuum withdrawal symptoms. I feel like I need some kind of support group. "My name is Rebecca Jones and I'm a former clean freak who now lives in a slovenly pit". I just don't have time for cleaning - Rufus thinks it's a waste of his day. I tidy, frequently, and the washing machine is constantly on - but my house is no where near as clean as I'd like it to be.
Mr Jones has a different level of acceptable cleanliness. He once exploded a hole punch over his bedroom floor at the beginning of term and by Easter the paper confetti was still adorning the carpet. The living room floor in his shared house was home to a scalextric track, which wove it's way around plates of furry mould encrusted food remants and empty pizza boxes. The bathroom was so disgusting that I used to go home to pee.
I am happy to report that over the last 10 years his standards have been raised to a whole new level - but his tolerance of filth still hovers somewhere way below mine.
That is why, when Mr Jones suggested that while Rufus and I were away on holiday he might give the house a good going over, that I knew things had gotten bad, really bad. So it's not just me that can see the marks on the kitchen cabinets, or the dust on the book shelves? Are other people aware of the cat hair on the stairs and the footprints on the windowsill? Is someone else irritated by the baby handprints on every mirror in the house and are the watermarks on the shower screen glaring at anyone who use our bathroom?
My dad recently found a old book on good housekeeping and childcare. Among the many choice passages, this manual for all exceptional wives and mothers, suggested that the house should be an arena of calm cleanliness when your beloved husband walks through the door after a long day at work. After a day cleaning the house and taking care of the children I should neaten myself up, apply a bit of lipstick and plaster a smile on my face to greet him in the hallway. The children should be clean and angelic, playing quietly, or better still, already tucked up in bed..... it goes on - and on and on.
So what does Mr Jones see when he walks through the door? A picture of 1950s domesticity with a nipped in waist, perfectly coiffed hair and a neatly swaddled baby - does he heck. I'm usually on the floor, my bottom hanging out of pair of mud spattered jeans, my hair wild from a trek across some field or other. The living room is generally scattered with toys, the dinner is usually half prepared, there are bits on the floor, cobwebs on the ceiling and the baby is most certainly not bathed and ready for bed (that's Mr Jones' job).
I would love to be the perfect housewife - but somehow I just can't seem to manage it. I feel guilty if I leave Rufus to play on the floor while I hoover - and his naptimes are too precious to disturb with a roaring vacuum. I've tried to make like Mary Poppins and turn cleaning into a game, but a five month old doesn't really get it. So I sit in the evenings, worn out after a day of play, and listen to the dust bunnies scuttling under the sofa and watch the cobwebs idly weave themselves across each room. Inside I cry just a tiny bit for my lovely tidy pre baby house.
I love the days I get to run the hoover round and file away the paper work. But on the ones in between I remind myself of a little poem sent to me by a good friend:
When my children look back on today, I hope they see a mother who had time to play,
There will be years for cleaning and cooking, But children grow up when you're not looking.
So, settle down cobwebs, and dust go to sleep, I'm cuddling my baby, and babies don't keep.
Mrs Jones is a far from yummy mummy with a penchant for M&S fudge bars and a mojito on a Friday night. She became Mrs Jones in 2009 and a mummy in 2010. In 2011 she is attempting to remember her own name and not put washing powder in the dishwasher....