A Diary of Motherhood: Week Fifteen

This Diary of Motherhood is a series of weekly letters to my first baby, my little son who I call Baby Bird. I know not everyone wants to read about the highs and lows of motherhood so you can read non-baby related posts about travelwritingfreelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.

Dear Baby Bird

So this week two things happened that I've been dreading. Firstly, a nasty cold came to stay at Bird Towers. Secondly, NaNoWriMo began.

Admittedly of all the "potential horrid things that could happen" these fall into the "only mildly upsetting" category, But as you may have gathered from previous entries in this motherhood diary, I am VERY EASILY overwhelmed at the moment.

Needless to say I dreaded these events for different reasons. I'm a useless patient who specialises in needing extra sleep and feeling sorry for herself when ill so as my head filled with pressure and the chain-sneezing began, I was not looking forward to looking after you at the same time as wanting to crawl under the bedsheets with a box of Kleenex. As for NaNoWriMo, I dreaded the beginning of this 50,000 word writing challenge because I've done it three years in a row and won each year. I couldn't see how that was going to be possible this year, and call me a perfectionist but I didn't want to break my winning streak.

Let's deal with these two events separately now.

Luckily for me (but not for him), your father was struck down with the lurgy first so I had some forewarning of what was coming as soon as the back of my throat began to itch. In preparation, I went out and stocked up on paracetomol and ibuprofen, overdosed on hot, steamy showers whenever I could and located the emergency bottle of Calpol my mum had brought over on her last visit. As my temperature rose one night, I watched you like a hawk, occasionally touching your forehead, all the while fearing the worst.  You slept coolly and calmly. The next day as I sulked around the house feeling like my limbs all had weights attached to them, you showed no sign of having the same complaints. A day later, when the floodgates of my nose had opened, you had a moany morning, your eyes red and your body-shaking sneezes coming more rapidly. I checked and sure enough you had a small temperature. I gave you a dose of Calpol - squirted from the syringe terribly by me; honestly I found it impossible to squeeze slowly so this jolt of pink liquid exploded into the back of your mouth with volcanic strength - and after an hour's nap you seemed back to your normal self. And that was it. While I worked my way through two boxes of tissues (and counting) and felt the need to go to bed less than an hour after you did each night, you shrugged that cold off like it was a fly landing on your favourite toy.

As for the other thing I dreaded. I got so close to not doing NaNoWriMo this year. With a small baby, some small work projects and a trip back to the UK all planned for the month of November, why add 50,000 words into the mix? What's the point in trying, if I know I'm going to fail?

This was the moment when I realised I had to do it. I had to at least give it a go. I mean, what kind of lesson is that to teach you? 

Writing is not about meeting word count goals; it's about writing words. You see, son, I've come a long way in the last few years in my goal of making writing fiction my main source of income, and I've still got a long, long way to go. But it only took one book for me to realise that there is only one thing that makes me (or anyone else) a writer, and that is writing. 

NaNoWriMo is an initiative that gets people writing and when I've spent the last few months writing less than I usually would - for very, very good reason, i.e. YOU - it's the perfect time to take part in something that will help me writing more.

So what does this have to do with you, aside from obviously you seeing my laptop open a bit more often when you're happily playing by yourself? Well, on the very first day of NaNoWriMo, at around 8.30am as I cuddled you close to me, preparing you for your first nap of the day, something happened. For the last month or so, you've only been able to fall asleep quickly and easily for that first nap while lying in my arms. This has suited me fine as I'm normally still half-asleep and so I like to try and nap too, or failing that I read or watch TV. But on this day, 1st November, you became increasingly restless in my arms and started crying. After five minutes of your wailing and wriggling, I needed a break so I put you down in your pram which was the nearest place to hand. Not only did you immediately quieten down but you started playing with the few toys we had hanging down above you in there. After a few minutes of this, your eyes started to close, you began to go through your strange series of pre-sleep whimpers and not five minutes later, you were fast asleep. I watched in astonishment. Then I jumped into action, searching for my laptop.

Your timing couldn't have been better. Of course it was a coincidence, but maybe, just maybe it was also your way of saying, "Come on, Mum. Get to work."

And I did. And every day this week you've done roughly the same thing when I put you in your pram. The result? 12096 words and counting.

Thank you, Baby Bird.

Your still snotty, still tired, but-brilliantly-happy-from-writing-every-single-day, crazy-in-love mother.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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