Birthday Girls

The whole family is gathered outside a cafe for tea and cake. MsUrbanDaddy is fishing a teabag from her foampack cup. Grandma V busies herself marshalling errant bits of gift-wrap into a plastic bag. The high sun is in full conspiracy with our bistro table to near blind me with reflected light. Maybe that’s why it takes me so long to light the candles on our shop-bought Victoria sponge.

Our eldest reminds us that the cake has not even been cut, still less served; a state of affairs she clearly regards as criminal. I agree, but cake cutting duties have been given to our 2 year-old birthday girl and she just is not following our script, preferring instead to sit and quietly chew her plastic spoon.

Suddenly, MsUrbanDaddy stands up and starts hopping from foot to foot. Her hands flash between open palm and clenched fist, her breathing is deep and measured. Her eyes could start a blaze in the middle-distance over my shoulder. I say nothing.

Her tension subsides and she sits down. The children are completely oblivious to mummy’s strange behaviour. MsUrbanDaddy decides the time has come to get the party started.

“Shall I help you cut the cake, lovely?”

Birthday girl is suddenly ahead of us, cutting a tiny, mushed-up strip of sponge and giving it to her sister. Ha! You go, girl, I think to myself. This will likely be the last birthday cake she’ll have for herself. MsUrbanDaddy confirms my suspicions as I take Grandma V and the girls home. “Don’t be long. This is happening”.

Barely two hours later, daughter number 3 arrives, express. The midwife doesn’t even have time to put her gloves on, catching her instead with a towel. At four weeks pre-term, she’s caught more than our midwife on the hop. We need to pick up a few things – a bigger car, for starters. But the logistics can wait. I’m looking at my second birthday girl of the day and she’s beautiful.

Get Busy

The eldest comes skipping out of pre-school, waving some pieces of paper at me. It’s a school portrait in which she’s braced, ram-rod straight, smiling a vaguely terrified smile, the way you might smile if your photographer were a 6-foot bunny rabbit with the voice of Timmy Mallett. The youngest takes advantage of my distraction and pulls the pic out my hand, into the buggy. She wants to look at it, which means chew it, obviously.

In the 25 minutes it takes us to make the 5 minute walk from school, we have a discussion about funerals , a low blood-sugar tantrum and countless gentle prompts on road safety that pass in, through and out the other side. One day the youngest, who routinely ignores everything I say, will learn how to ride a scooter properly. Then things will be interesting.

Actually, things are going to be interesting a lot sooner than that. Thins are re-emerging from the loft: a carrier seat; a Phil and Ted’s cocoon. And lots of very small clothes. We are about to get very busy in our house. I’ll enjoy these relaxed school runs while I can.

 

Baby Makes Four: Finding Our Range with One Extra

Feed. Wind. Settle.

Feed. Wind. Nappy. Another nappy. Settle.

10 o’clock. Midnight. The small hours. All of them, I think.

MsUrbanDaddy and I are well and truly back on the carousel. Our new boss (another girl!) is 12 days old and leading us both a merry dance, if not until dawn, at least through the earliest of the morning. So far, so familiar.

And, of course, completely different. It’s another learning curve; maybe not as steep as the first time (feed-wind-settle is routine) but still tricky. Just over a week ago, we were flexible; a family which, when it suited, became a couple with a child. That change of emphasis meant one of us could eat or hold a conversation with another adult, which in turn raised the prospect of a pint in a pub garden with friends.

Now, the tag-team parenting of the last two years is altered and there’s no time outside the ropes; we simply swap between one-on-one jousting sessions as the new family equation demands. Feed. Dress. Swap. Wind. Settle. Swap.

We may have a new boss but she’s just happy to keep us awake at night. The old boss, however, can walk, talk, move our stuff and pull objects off kitchen counters. She’s always been good at doing the exact opposite of what she is bid; since the new baby came home, she has raised her game! Most of this is to reclaim some of the attention we naturally give to the baby. I suppose she’s just figuring out how our new family works, too.

It’s hard at the moment, but it is absolutely flippin’ awesome, too. I have two children. Two daughters! I can’t quite believe my luck. I do not have to think about them particularly hard for tears to well. I’m just reminding myself that parenting is not a tightrope – it’s a range.

So that’s the four of us right now; awake, amazed and trying to find our range.

MsUrbanDaddy, the Gas-and-air Superhero

Childbirth, flippin’ hell!

The newest member of the UrbanDaddy family took a bow just before 2 o’clock this morning. Mum and baby are doing just fine.

It’s been quite a night. And quite a day, also.

Some half-baked thoughts:

*In the delivery room, I felt like the living embodiment of uselessness, yet MsUrbanDaddy says she couldn’t have done it without me.

* Either gas and air is the purest, most effective dopamine known to medical science, or MsUrbanDaddy is actually a superhero.

When the baby was born I actually laughed out loud. How is this feat even possible? It’s verging on preposterous!

Mothers of the world, I salute you.