Attachment parenting in a disconnected world

Posts tagged ‘motherhood’

Words of Love

I am working on a project for AltD2’s birthday which is coming up at the start of September.  I suppose this kind of follows on from the creativity post, although you’ll have to wait and see what it actually is.  What I want to share today has more to do with the content.

When I was younger, there was a cheesy and (usually depressing) segment on Radio 1 called “Our Tune”.  Simon Bates would read out listeners’ letters in a Serious Voice.  Soothing music would play in the background.  Invariably the couple had split up, the dog had died or some other tragedy had befallen the writer.  The feature would culminate with a sentimental, meaningful song. [Hey, wow, I just googled and discovered it is still on!]

You have probably figured out by now that I am hinting that I have a special song, an “Our Tune” I suppose (but without Simon Bates and a long-lost goldfish), for each of the Alt Daughters.  Not sure I have one for AltFather, unless you count the first dance at our wedding, which, incidentally, was Dido’s “Thank You“, and not the Eminem Stan version, you may be pleased to hear! 

So I thought I would share these songs, and how they came to be.

When AltD1 was born, we spent a few nights in the hospital, getting to know each other, working out what was what, struggling a bit with feeding, and starting our life together.  She was being fed expressed milk alternating with formula from a bottle.

‘They’ said to me:
“Someone else should give her the bottle, not you, so she doesn’t get confused.” 
My role seemed to be to hitch myself up like Daisy the cow to a turbo powered pump, and when I wasn’t doing that, I was holding a very loud small pink thing while AltFather prepared the next bottle.  In between, I would have a go at feeding her myself, although it wasn’t working very well.  She got frustrated and I got sore.  She yelled every time I picked her up.  Once, when she was sleeping, I lay on my bed and looked at her in her plastic tank on wheels next to me, and thought:
“I’m not really allowed to touch you, am I?”

It was then that a few lines from a song popped into my head:

“All I do is miss you, and the way we used to be… all I do is keep the beat and bad company… all I do is kiss you, through the bars of a rhyme…”

I was only “allowed” to touch my baby with something in between us, I felt.  The bars of a rhyme?  The plastic bottle, the swaddled flailing arms… handing her over when she got too worked up… it made me sob.  No prizes for the first to guess that this song (which betrays my soft rock roots!) is “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits.
There are two other lines in that song that I couldn’t get out of my head:

“I love you like the stars above and I’ll love you till I die” (oh my goodness, isn’t that just the truth?), and
“you exploded into my heart”  I just felt that every time I looked at her, my heart got bigger and bigger!

We came home from hospital eventually, and we got the hang of the feeding and the holding and bonding.  I put Dire Straits on the CD player and played it loud (not too loud I promise) as I rocked and bounced my lovely baby.  Sometimes I played it when I was just so happy to look at her and know she was mine, sometimes I played it when the hormones were raging and tears streamed down my face as I sniffed my way through the words.  It really became a song for me and her.

One day, AltFather came home from work to find us rocking out to the guitar solo (ok, me rocking out, AltD1 staring at me from her bouncy chair).  When he stopped laughing at my air guitar he hammered the air drums alongside me, crazy fools that we are, entertaining our perplexed three month old.  He told me that on the day we were married, as he walked to the church, that song was drifting down to the street from an upstairs window in one of the houses he passed… definitely a song for our new little family.

Nearly three years later, AltD2 arrived.  I had been worried before she was born that I wouldn’t be able to love her as much as I adored AltD1.  It couldn’t be possible, surely?  Then she stormed into my life and I was bowled over.  But not immediately.  It probably took me until she was 8 weeks old or so to make that unbreakable connection.  During that time there was a song I kept hearing on the radio.  All through my pregnancy it had been rising in the music charts and getting a lot of airtime. 

It’s a Bob Dylan song, but now made famous (and sounding so much nicer in my opinion!) by Adele.  “To Make you Feel My Love”.

The lyrics are presumably meant for a lover, but they are so pertinent and poignant for a new mother, even second time around.
“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
No there is nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love”  
Once again – isn’t that just the truth?  My hormone-laden self certainly thought so.  I’ve played it to AltD2, whispered the words to her in the deep dark night, and really, honestly, meant every word of it.
I would love to hear if you have special songs for your babies, or any special family members… please do leave me a comment and share the story.  You’ll have to wait until September to see the finished (I hope!) birthday project, but I hope it’s going to turn out really special.

All we need is

It being Valentine’s week, I have been thinking a bit about L O V E.

Next week, it will be four years since I discovered I was pregnant with my first child.  I can hardly believe that so much time has passed, and what a journey it has been for all of us over those years.  Someone very wise and close to me once told me: “all that a baby needs is a Mummy to love it”. 

When you think of all the paraphernalia that seems to go along with babies and small children in general, it might seem that’s not entirely true.  But when it comes down to it, the love I have for my children is like nothing I have ever experienced before, and could well be all that I need.

It was while I was labouring with my first child that I was suddenly hit by the enormity of what was happening.  A bit late, you might say! That fear, where I had previously wondered if I would be okay with the delivery, now extended to the baby and an all consuming hope that she would be safe.  It was, I suppose, my first taste of parental responsibility, and all part of the experience of becoming a mother.  Instead of wanting to hear the music I had carefully selected for my mix-CD, I was content to listen just to the sound of the baby’s heartbeat emanating from the monitor.  That sound told me that she would soon be here, and that she was doing fine.  It was all I needed.

I found a new appreciation for my own mother while I was giving birth, and in fact in the months and years that have since followed, that has grown with my daughter (and still more with my second daughter – how on Earth did my mum manage with 3, or Alt.Father’s mum with 5!?).  I have been watching “Call The Midwife” on BBC1 recently, and although I haven’t yet read the books, I was struck by something one of the characters, a new mother, said:

“I didn’t realise how much my mum loved me until I had her [the baby].  It is the kind of love that only goes one way:  forward” 

The writer of that line hit the nail on the head.  Every single one of us was once somebody else’s baby.  I look at my 3.3 year old daughter sleeping, and all the stresses of the day, all the frustrations of dealing with a intelligent, determined little girl who is just finding her way in the world come together and the love that I feel can’t even begin to be described.  I find it somewhat unbelievable but extraordinarily special that my own mother once looked at me in the same way. 

Now I don’t want this post to be overly sentimental, so I’ll freely admit that while I love my children dearly, there are certainly times when I don’t particularly like them very much!  It also seems that the 3.3 year old sometimes doesn’t like me very much either!  Yesterday, on being put in the supermarket trolley seat, she declared:

“I don’t want you to live with me any more, Mummy, I’m going to go and live somewhere ELSE!”.  

Ah the world is so unjust when you’re 3!  We soon made it up, though, I’m pleased to report.  “I love you sooooooo much!” she told me later the same day.

A fantastic book that I wish I had read sooner is “What Mothers Do: Especially When It Looks Like Nothing” by Naomi Stadlen.  I found myself alternately laughing and crying, saying to myself, “this is exactly me!”.  It’s one I can strongly recommend.  That thing we’re doing, when it looks like nothing, is loving our children.

For my part, I would just like to say thanks to my own mum, you were right – all that a baby needs is a Mummy to love it. 

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