I declare our first sleepover a resounding success! That’s unusually perky for this blog, isn’t it? But surprisingly there are no misadventures to report on this occasion. Well, maybe I’ll rustle up a couple as I’m probably just blanking them out. But overall I would say it was fine.
Clam texted at about 4pm on Sunday. Atticus had previously proclaimed his desire to come and stay at Ziggler’s house when the baby was on his way, and the moment was nigh. I felt a bit like an expectant father in a carry-on film as I rushed about blowing air-beds up, wondering whether we should pick Atticus up or get his dad to drop him off, deciding on the former and forgetting to put my shoes on before I left, and mildly panicking about whether we should pick him up before or after we collected Ziggler from her mermaid party (I shall take a moment here to announce her costume winning first prize thanks to my mother and her inability to do anything by halves – thanks ma – and I think the hosts may even have invented the prize simply for her costume).
In the end we collected Atticus first and left Clam seeming remarkably serene bar the odd grimacing pause in the middle of her sentence. Atticus seemed fine too, and entertained me with a description of his favourite Cbeebies programmes (seemingly most of them, but who am I to comment? I was able converse with him quite comprehensively on this topic) as we waited for Ziggler to appear.
At home, the evening passed in a jolly mixture of telly, lego, deciding who was going to have a bath, going to look at Atticus’s bed, reading stories with my mum, bouncing on Atticus’s bed, Ziggler and I wondering if boys needed to wipe their willies after a wee (no, apparently), having another quick look at Atticus’s bed, everyone remarking upon how girls have minnies and boys have willies, me feeling obliged to inform everyone you could also call them their posh names of vulva and penis, and then a few more stories before bed.
Trulove loves Atticus. It might be because he secretly yearns for a boy, and it’s definitely because Atticus is an enormous geek in the making who, I’m told, heckles the astronomers at the planetarium for simplifying the material in their special preschooler performances. Ziggler loves Atticus because she’s known him all her life, and I love Atticus because he’s a bit like a boy in a book. Pickle loves Atticus because they have a similar restless energy and my mum loves Atticus’s amazing imagination. Safe to say, we all enjoyed Atticus’s visit. Even bedtime passed unremarkably, if you don’t count Pickle refusing sleep and preferring to bounce in her cot, pointing and shouting ‘Atticuuuuus!’ while everyone else tried to. When I looked at them before I went to bed they were all gently sleep-breathing to the same rhythm.
In the morning, Atticus was a big brother. This was a fact he did not want to acknowledge when told or discuss when prompted. We watched a bit more telly, had some chocolate for second breakfast, and dossed about in our pyjamas when he would normally be at nursery, and then Clam sent the message summoning Atticus home.
It’s easy to moan about being a stay at home mother because so much of it feels like drudgery and repetition and, frankly, hard physical labour. But when Atticus got home I caught for a minute the essence of what this thing I’m doing is all about. Ziggler and I pretended to fiddle about with the car and Atticus’s luggage for a bit while he went inside and met the new baby, but I saw Clam envelop him in her arms as he came through the door, her face bright and open and relieved. I saw Atticus change into himself again, the self he couldn’t be at our house, and his face too was bright with relief. I saw Atticus’s dad Scallop show him the baby and there was no doubt about how excited Atticus was to meet his new brother or how eager he was for a cuddle. I saw relief in Scallop’s face as he cuddled his new son Aethelred the Tiny and showed me the whorl of hair on his temple that’s just like his mother’s. I saw -or rather felt – the love shining in the room and on the faces of the people in it, and I knew that I had the same goofy smile on my face that I saw Ziggler wearing as she met the tiniest baby she had ever seen. Yeah yeah it’s hormones. But it’s palpable. It’s where it begins. I felt privileged to witness the moment when the circle of their family expanded and the love in it expanded to fit it.
Ziggler and Atticus are old enough to remember as adults the things that happen to them now. It’s a huge responsibility. It’s hugely exciting. I’m glad to be here for it though I can’t know which bits they’ll keep and which they’ll forget. It’s tempting to say that it’ll be the bits most costly in money and effort they’ll forget, but I’m trying to be less cynical. And if Atticus remembers his brother being born because he watched telly, and had chocolate for second breakfast, and dossed around in his pyjamas when he would normally be at nursery, well, I’m happy with that present from me to him, with love.