Last night I lay on Squidge’s bedroom floor and wondered when life had become so difficult. This may seem a silly or self-pitying thing to have done but there was something comforting about his little room and it reminded me of being very small myself, when things were much simpler and there was nothing in the world that my parents couldn’t make better.
From the fluffy rug where I curled up I could see Squidge’s cot which the Northern One had slept in when he was a baby, many years before becoming a father to a baby of his own. We’d though about buying a new cot but I liked the idea of Squidge sleeping in the same bed as a baby who had grown up to be healthy and happy; hoping that he would grow up to be these things too.
In the cot was the little blue quilt which my brother had snuggled under as a toddler, slightly faded now but still soft and comforting. I remember being very little and going into my brother’s bedroom to see if he was awake. I found him hiding underneath the quilt, waiting for me to pull it back and make him laugh with such a wonderful game.
When we first discovered that I was pregnant and began turning the smallest bedroom from an office into a nursery, I found the room itself became cold and frightening. When we emptied the room of furniture, deciding what to keep and what we no longer had space for, it looked so strange, so devoid of life even though we were attempting to prepare for a new life to come into our home.
I was not ready to be a mother, for such a terrifying step into the unknown and so for several weeks the door to the little room just across the landing remained resolutely shut. Each time I went to my own room I avoided looking at the door, finding it easier to pretend that the room didn’t exist than face the inevitable changes to the house that a new baby would bring.
Yet slowly I came to realise that out of all the things in my life that I was frightened of, I didn’t need to be afraid of a room in my own house. I decided that in order to come to terms with the fact that we were having a baby, I needed to make a start on the nursery.
When I was four months pregnant my brother came to stay for the weekend and he and the Northern One painted the nursery. The Northern One had already decided that he would like the room to be blue, regardless of whether we had a boy or a girl and I was pleased that I didn’t have to decide. I’d already had to make so many decisions and at least this was one thing where the decision had been made for me.
I am far from old (I’m not yet 30) but thinking back to those times when Squidge’s cot and duvet were last used by children as small as he is now made me feel weary and tired.
Earlier in the day our new social worker had visited to make his initial assessment of Squidge. I’d been at work during the day but the Northern One told me how the social worker had gone upstairs to look at Squidge’s bedroom.
I wondered what he’d thought of the little room that I’d tried so hard to prepare during my pregnancy, in those awful months when I wasn’t sure if I would even be able to love my baby.
I looked around the room, seeing all the things that I’d chosen for Squidge to try and make his room beautiful for him and I wondered what they said about me as a mother.
His collages I made from special cards that people had sent me for birthdays, anniversaries or just because, that now hung on the blue walls.
His white woolen blankets lovingly knitted by Grandma that I use to tuck him in every night.
His collection of cuddly toys, some of which had been specially saved from when I was little, to watch over him while he sleeps.
His mobile of brightly coloured felt birds made for him by a wonderful friend for his first Christmas.
His row of money boxes for all the copper coins and five pence pieces that he can one day use to buy little treats and treasures for himself.
His much loved teddy comforter that I bought for him during a trip to the town center when he was only a few weeks old, just because he was my baby and I wanted him to have lovely things.
Even though I was so conflicted about becoming a mother I wanted my baby to have a room that had been decorated with care. I may not have been sure that I could love or care for him but I desperately wanted to be able to, and preparing Squidge’s room was the first step on the road to becoming the mother that I truly wanted to be.
That I’m still trying to be.
I was roused from my place on the rug but the sounds of splashing from the bathroom and the Northern One shouting at me to come and help persuade Squidge to sit on his new potty. I hauled myself off the floor and went downstairs, bracing myself for the mayhem that was likely to greet me as soon as I opened the bathroom door. Although I was still a bit weepy but the sight of a naked, giggling toddler lobbing an entire bucket of toys into the bath was enough to bring a smile back to my face.
I may feel old and tired and as though life is very difficult right now but I have a happy, healthy little boy who has a new blue potty with a picture of a bus on it and who sleeps soundly in his own little bedroom that his mummy made for him.