Saying our goodbyes

Sometimes when you say bye, the Little Mister waves. Sometimes he doesn’t. He’s getting lots of opportunities to do it this week. We have started saying goodbye to our friends and the Little Mister’s friends and playmates.

He has only known them for a year. They’re just getting to take notice of each other. Although only to take toys off each other. It’s still not quite playing together. Through Milin I’ve met some other wonderful mummies and become closer to people I already knew. He’s just starting to get to know Wellington, the city he was born in, and we are saying goodbye.

It is less than a week until we go. We said goodbye to some very good friends on Saturday. Over a drink and some snacks, while the babies played with cars and trucks at our feet, we looked back, looked forward, and I tried not to cry. It’s hit me this week. I’m leaving a life I love, I’ve already left a job I loved, and we are parting ways with too many people.

It’s too late, Tony said, to change your mind. There were boxes all around us and I still had packing tape in the hand I didn’t use to wipe away the tears.

Of course, you can’t have everything, and this has been my choice. It’s ok, I think, to be sad for what we’ll leave – while at the same time being excited for all that will be new.

On Saturday, the wind howled around us as we walked to our leaving party. It made me feel better about going. But on Sunday, Wellington turned on it’s sunniest most beautiful charm. Under a bright blue sky, the Little Mister squealed when I put his toes in the icy water of the South Coast. He might grow up like his father and rarely swim in the sea, but I hope not.

We took him to the aquarium where he got his fingers in the water and played with the seaweed after pointing at the big fish and octopus. We said goodbye to our antenatal group – our first baby club – our group who got to know each other so well because we were all sleep deprived at some point and getting desperate for tips, advice, anything that might work. Tomorrow, more goodbyes. More friends the Little Mister and I have in common.

We will wipe away tears though for this windy city, and very soon, as long as the snow clears and we can land, we will say hello.

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The Kiwi grinch that stole Christmas

The excitement, the anticipation, the festivities and feasting – I’ve always loved Christmas. The Little Mister is going to love it too, because we will make a fuss, and I won’t be able to stop myself. But that might be in the years to come, years, that is, in the Northern hemisphere.

Because this year, on baby’s first Christmas, I’m struggling and I’m going to have to keep my excitement in check. Christmas will consist of just our little family being together on the day. The Little Mister, his mama, and his dada. For me, Christmas at home was always a big family get together, so it’s hard to think that this little boy won’t have that. But then, to make the blow easier, it’s also true that he won’t remember a second of it anyway.

And do we spoil him? Well of course I will. But, with a removal company coming two weeks later to ship our boxes to London – do we really need to buy more toys just to send them half way across the world? (Where he will of course be ridiculously spoilt on arrival.) The Little Mister’s favourite toys right now are cardboard boxes. Is it mean to wrap a couple up for him? I know he won’t remember, but there will be photos. Fast forward ten years time to Milin looking at photos of his first Christmas. He’s alone with his parents, there’s no tree, but he’s opening big presents, beautifully wrapped, and perfectly box-shaped. “Mama,” he will say, “what was in those presents you gave me for my first Christmas?” What will I do? Lie? Or tell the truth – “We didn’t get you presents darling because we were leaving town soon, so those were just empty boxes. But you really did have fun with them, promise.”

The not-getting-a-tree-thing is something I’m still undecided about. Part of it is because my Little Mister is so adventurous these days that it would need to be somewhere up high and well out of reach. The lights would NEVER be on while he was awake, courtesy of these southern hemisphere long daylight hours at this time of year, and there might not be many presents under it. So do we get one? Just for the three of us?

I have brief pangs of worry that Godzone has turned me into a Christmas grinch, with its lack of all things festive. There are no roasting chestnuts, few lights, fewer window displays, and no Christmas markets. Instead, there are barbecues, camping trips (not for us), and a distinct lack of Christmas-themed festivities.

My reasons for loving Christmas are of course not religious, but they have a lot to do with history. As a little person, it was always a time when the whole family got together. Everyone was on holiday. It was an excuse to spoil each other, to be extra good to each other, a time to be grateful for each other and forget about our worries. So what if I’ve bought into the commercialism of it? I have no apologies for using a few public holidays each year to be happy and try and make others feel the same.

But this first Christmas for Milin will be different. It will be a little quieter, a little less extravagant, and perhaps a little less festive. We will still sing to him, spoil him, make sure no work is done, laugh with him all day, and of course dress him up in his Christmas best. But it will be a very southern hemisphere Christmas.

(I got my first chance to dress him up yesterday, by the way. He missed the Santa parade as it unhelpfully clashed with nap time, but we made it, briefly, to the Christmas party at Waitangi Park. The music was a bit too loud for him, and the tree wasn’t lit up, but he liked crawling on the grass.)

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Getting ready for the Christmas party with Aunty Julia

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Christmas parties in the sunshine, not particularly Christmassy.

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Our first family Christmas is a-coming

Tony’s First (NZ) Fathers’ Day

AS FAR as first fathers’ days go, I think Tony had a pretty good one. Not only did the Little Mister surprise him with a great gift (tickets for our first family holiday abroad), but he also put on his cutest, best behaviour.

We went for breakfast at the Southern Cross, which, quite frankly, would have been hell for anyone without children today. All over the place, frazzled dads were running around the bar while their brunch went cold. They were chasing after grumpy, bored kids who wanted to be outside, not watching mum and dad eat out because of some excuse known as fathers’ day.

Because the Little Mister still doesn’t run or crawl anywhere, the experience was somewhat easier for us. Once we found the right seating arrangements (he was too little for the highchair and tried to slide out), we were set. Nothing like bucket-seated sofas to keep a very small child in one place.

He loved it. He got to watch the other kids running around, and sit next to his favourite person (Dada). He watched some slot cars and won Mama a $10 voucher to spend on her next visit – which of course there will be because nowhere else is as baby friendly.

Admittedly, there were some hairy moments. Like when he tried to slide out of the high chair. And when a crawling, walking little boy without any toys of his own tried to steal Milin’s. But largely, breakfast out was a success. The Little Mister ate some apple, pear and banana puree from a pouch (it’s the only thing he eats), he drank a full bottle, he kept his clothes clean, charmed the waitress, and generally made us very happy.

While we sat there we thought back to being in that same bar a few years ago with friends who had kids. It was hell. How our lives have changed. This same afternoon, we went to a very lovely first birthday party. The Little Mister loved it. He watched the birthday girl crawling around and he wanted to join in. But he’s not there yet.

We reached meltdown when we got home. He was even too exhausted to enjoy his bath – that never happens. But after a quicker dip than usual, and more cuddles and milk, he went to sleep quickly and soundly, tired out by his  first (NZ) fathers’ day.

Tony, usually, hates any kind of celebratory day that gives large multi-nationals an excuse to convince us to part with our money on gifts and cards. Today though, he admitted that his first fathers’ day felt rather special. I think the Little Mister thought so too.

(Just at the outer edge of the Little Mister’s left eyebrow is his first bump. Toppling over while trying to crawl makes a pretty nasty thud on matai flooring.)

 

Raspberries

Milin’s blowing raspberries, and it’s adorable.
He spent part of the evening watching his auntie Julia blow them, and found it hilarious that he could blow them right back to her. Tonight, half asleep and half way through a feed, he even sat up in my lap to send a drowsy, dribbled half-raspberry my way. I’m taking it as a sign of affection.

It’s been quite a day for the Little Mister. We spent the afternoon at a party, where he got to hang out with some big kids (by big I mean one of them was nearly five). I was pretty proud, he tried to hold hands with a three year old. Very gorgeous. I was even more proud when he had two sleeps strapped into his car seat in the spare room while the grown ups got on with some mid-winter and Matariki festivities.

It’s the first time I’ve been to a real party which started at 1pm so everyone could bring the kids. What a bloody brilliant idea. To our wonderful friends, who put on such a great afternoon: thank you. And to the Little Mister, who charmed with his smile and made our day so easy by being good, thank you, thank you, thank you.

What a relief to know that we can leave the house, as a family, and head to a party, and do normal things like meet new people and talk to them about things other than brands of nappies or the best merino onesies. Of course, I’m still going to discuss nappies and onesies plenty – but sometimes it’s good not to. It’s also brilliant to go to a party and be home in time for our evening routine. Which tonight, between the bath, the massage in front of the fire, and a couple of bedtime stories, included some pretty impressive raspberries.