I must look so polished these days, from the outside. I’m pretty practiced at parenting now.
I haven’t forgotten you.
Those early days. Packing a tiny, still be-lip-stitched baby girl into a pram, back in the days when navigating the front step seemed such a hurdle, never mind the minefield of an unexpectedly rocky start to motherhood. The baby who wailed hungrily and failed to grow and the mum who wailed woefully and failed to get the hang of this parenting malarky.
New baby in the secondhand pram, loaded up and taken out. Old women offering unwanted advice, gasping at the unmended lip, pulling blankets down on kicking limbs with tuts that discounted the possibility that you had carefully applied suncream, women who sneered from their perfect world that included breastfeeding while you struggled on with milk expressed and gently tipped into that little unworking mouth.
You walked up the road and over the bridge and wound around the streets and squares of the town. You lulled that little wailing baby with steps and fresh air and an ever changing shimmy of views to look at. She ceased to cry and gradually, so did you. Not so very long after climbing that arduous path to motherhood, you somehow became good enough to do it all again. And so you did. The pram became a double buggy – one that barely fitted through the green front door – and their nap times were your thinking time, fresh air, therapy, communication.
Two little girls and their not so very grown up mummy. Such a long time ago; what started as an insurmountable task melted gently into days with first steps, first smiles, cheeky giggles and feisty little girls that taught you more about mothering than you thought there was to know.
Can you imagine parenthood without the internet? 17 years ago when my first daughter was born I had nothing more than one single friend with a baby to rely on for advice. No role models, no toddler groups I felt comfortable in. I woefully under estimated what parenting would do to my life and I found myself hunting desperately a set of rules to live by. I had no idea what to buy or what was needed. My cupboard held the 3 bottles of baby oil I bought while pregnant for about 6 years, till I finally worked out I would never actually use it.
Early motherhood was a whole new planet, something without a map or manual and I was wholly unprepared. No internet, no chat rooms, no easy peer group of like minded girls grappling with this sudden birth into womanhood. There were magazines, often ones outside my budget and they mostly displayed smiling plastic women and perfect babies, so very far outside what I was or even what I wanted to be.
What I do remember though, is those walks and how they lifted my spirits. Every day I pushed Fran – and then Fran and Maddy – up to town and my journey always ended with a trip to Boots. Even when I had no idea what I was doing, I trusted the brand I had known through childhood to put what my baby needed in front of me. If Boots had the nappies, those were the ones I bought, it was Boots that stocked the particular NUK flat teat that turned out to be the only bottle teat my little cleft baby could tolerate. I looked to Boots for guidance on all the bottle feeding paraphernalia I needed once the doctors and midwives confirmed breastfeeding would never happen. We bought our babygros there and had their first photos taken with the pop up photographer upstairs. If I go there now, I’m still instantly transported to the days when my day mostly pivoted on 45 minutes sat feeding a baby in the handy Mother & Baby Room, the sound of the lift pinging a welcome and the day Fran pressed the emergency button. Boots felt like home, a link to my Nottingham past and the pride that city has in it and a link to a name that meant knowledge and trustworthiness to me.
I planned and plotted my baby buying to take advantage of offers – I even worked out my buying to anticipate when something would next be on offer (I had far less to do back then!) I hoarded my Boots points carefully and bought most of Fran’s toys with them. Even though I never did buy the one toy I ached to get for her, I still remember looking longingly at it and wishing I could justify the £14 it was. Boots was like a constant; reliable, quality, trustworthy and still within my budget.
The #BootsBaby125Years film, a perfect tear jerker, if nostalgia hasn’t already got you there 🙂
Boots is 125 years old this year. I find myself slightly alarmed to think I’ve been alive for 1/3 of that. But it’s made me smile and think back fondly to write this, which is as good a reason to agree to promote their latest offer for them.Visit Boots Baby to view the range and partake of their buy 3 and get the cheapest free on Boots brand baby offers. You can think of that much younger and less wrinkly Merry while you do it 😉 (Valid from 4th March until 23:59pm Tuesday 31st March, selected items only). You can also order by 6pm and collect from your chosen store at 12pm the following day.
This post is in association with Boots.