Star (verb): Of a film, play or other show: to have someone as a principal performer
I’ve never been one of those people who’s said “being a mum is all I’ve ever wanted”. I’ve never even been one to describe myself as someone who loves children. Except, I do think that I love children. It’s just never really been a defining feature, rather a given.
Children are so innocent and wonderful and helpless. They have no choice about the world in which they’re born into, which is why I have supported children’s charities since I started earning (World Vision, Make A Wish Foundation, NSPCC and Plan International are the charities I donate to on a monthly basis).
Because I like words so much, one of my favourite things about children, is all of the funny things they say. I just know that if I’m ever fortunate enough to get to that stage, I will log all of the humorous encounters. (Maybe one day I’ll have a new blog, with self-indulgent anecdotal stories – like this one – but with living children, that’s a nice abnormal thought).
This morning I got thinking about what Summer would have been like. Most of the time when I’ve been pregnant, I’ve liked to think of the babies as having all of James’ best attributes and none of my more trying ones. But when Summer was born, she looked undisputedly grumpy about it. James and I have chuckled about this: that fed-up look was very me. Today it’s made me daydream about her and whether she would have been more like me, than any of us would have liked – haha! It reminds me of when Summer died and a male colleague text to say “I have no doubt she would have been just as feisty and stubborn as her mum” – I absolutely loved that. It still makes me smile.
When you lose a baby, you lose absolutely everything. Not just their first smiles and steps, but their stories: their first words, the experiences and all the happy-heart moments alongside them. So today (I’m having a good day, I need to bottle this feeling!) I want to write some short stories about the little people in my life, and the funny things they say, that make me smile.
Pants-Man : My 3 year old nephew F hates to wear clothes (or so his parents make it seem!) so we often get videos and photos of him just wearing his pants: bright yellow, bright red – classic mini-superhero. In my head (and sometimes out loud), I call him Pants-man! We get a video and I think “there he is! Pants-man!” He obviously doesn’t know that his pants or his nakedness (haha) are his calling card, but when we last went to see him, he had just got back from nursery and the first thing he said to me was “hi, I’m wearing too many clothes!” – Pants-man strikes again!
The Wannabe Make Up Artist: Our goddaughter E, is proper well northern. So to get the full effect, you have to imagine this story with a broad Lancashire accent. We had four little girls born in the same year (two nieces and two good friend’s daughters) and E is the youngest. I’ve always found her one to be one of the chattiest though. Last year we were staying with our friends and all getting ready to go out to a party. E loves make-up and not one to miss out on the fun, came climbing up the stairs hollering “how are you getting on up there, Aunty Anj? Need a hand?”. She was two and a half years old.
Dropping Your T’s: I can’t write a blog about children without mentioning my eldest niece M. I just don’t know which tale to tell, she is so well behaved, but has the perfect measure of sass to match! In fact, I’ve probably met my own match in her, as she’ll happily correct my occasionally sloppy accent! Classic example: I once dropped the t in ‘water’ and (then 6 year old) M was all over it: “It’s pronounced, waTer”. Other adults might get annoyed about it, but I always just give her a little bravo or touché. I love it when the student becomes the teacher.
The Chatterbox: When there’s not a pandemic on, we like to go away with our friends. One year, our friends were driving to meet us with their children, in Devon. When they arrived, they looked shattered, explaining that their son J had not stopped talking for the entire 3 hour drive. When they informed him it was bedtime and asked why he was not sleeping, he simply said “I need to stay up, James and Anjulie are going to want to speak to me!” He had just turned 4 and he was not wrong.
The Nail Technician: My favourite video of our niece R, is one where she’s painting my mum’s nails. She’s one of our quieter nieces and nephews, so it was lovely to hear her chatting away in this video. She was probably about 3 years old and at the end, when she’s finished painting, she’s dead proud of herself, declaring “I did it all by myself! I’m going to tell my mum, I didn’t get any on my clothes!”. It’s a shame you can’t watch the video, it is just so darn cute. She hates me recreating / mimicking this video though; she’s so young to have already perfected her glare! Kids today.
The Already-Adult: Our chattiest niece is definitely A. She is a huge bundle of joy and was due to share her birthday with Summer. When I was pregnant, she guessed that I was having a girl, but she always guesses girls, perhaps because she’s surrounded by them! During the evening we told her our pregnancy news, we overheard her talking to R and she was gossiping about me being pregnant! “So, have you heard…?”. She was 3, going on 30 that one!
JamieAnj: When the kids are little, it’s so lovely how quickly they figure out that James and I come as a pair. Years ago, we were all getting ready for a wedding and our nephew H was having a bit of a strop and decided he wanted “Jamie” to dress him. So his mum called James over, and he said, “no, I want Jamie!” and pointed at me. He always called us JamieAnj in one word, as if we were one combined person. I always loved that. It reminds me of another time, when it was James’ birthday. A friend sent us a video of his children singing happy birthday to James and at the end of the video, G (probably only about 2) – not wanting to leave me out – said “I think it’s Anjulie’s birthday as well!” – we have always loved that video. It’s fab that it pops up every year on our Timehop App too. G’s a little older now, and earlier this year I remember her clambering all over me and me saying to Summer “bump, that’s G!”
Summer didn’t get to hang out with any of these little stars, but I like to think of her being somewhere with some of the other babies. It reminds me of a beautiful baby loss post I once saw on social media and adored:
You know how new parents look into the window and look at their children at the maternity centre? What if our babies are gathering around looking down at us, showing us off for being so strong and saying: “My mum’s awesome! Which one’s yours?”
It also makes me think of this quote: “Strong women: May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them” (source unknown).
Sometimes when I think about Summer with those other kids though, I feel for them! I like to think of her as scrappy, mischievous because she’s clever, and so a bit of a ring-leader. She’d have James’ power of persuasion and reasoning, and my gregarious love for a crowd. What a combination! Lord help the other babies around Summer Devi R!
I know it hurts that we never got to find out so many things about the babies who have died, but I’ve found some joy in imagining it. I am always happy to hear these tales. These stories will make me smile – just as much as the stories of living children do – so please always feel free to talk to me about your children. When you think about your baby, who do you picture? For they are gone, but not forgotten.
P.S. I read this sentence in a work email earlier and it made me smile: Today also sees a big change in the weather here as the Indian Summer has come to an abrupt end. The Indian Summer?! Why’s he talking about my girl? 😉 We know I read too much into things, but I like that the change in season is mirroring my change in baby loss mood. Today was a good day. Long may they continue.
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