Last week, The Boy and I set off on Tuesday lunchtime heading to my parents house, a 100 mile journey down the motorway, leaving
behind and returning to my South East London outskirts roots! My parents moved home when my mum was pregnant with me, into the house that was home throughout my childhood and that remains their home now. When I was a young teenager they had the loft extension built and my room was jokingly known as ‘the flat’ as it was large and fairly self-sufficient with my own shower, sink, kettle, fridge, television and stereo plus a number of various games consoles over the years left there by boyfriends! The room now is currently unusable – it was never insulated correctly and as a result during winter it becomes an ice box, despite double glazed windows, without a radiator in the room and nobody using it and putting an electric heater on frequently, the sink pipes burst and ruined the cupboard and surrounding flooring one winter and the year after that the shower pipe did the same thing, though the shower wasn’t completely removed the cubicle is filthy and the water has now been turned off up there. Boxes of my old junk and my brothers old junk are stacked around randomly; old furniture painted in the colours of our childhood bedrooms sits lopsided and empty; a doorless wardrobe holds my husbands wedding outfit (in a protective zip up clothes bag) as well as a lilac bridesmaids dress of mine from years ago. East Anglia
The rest of the house, with the exception of the smallest bedroom at the back of the house, has been redecorated since I lived there. This means that while the house itself seems somewhat familiar and safe, the décor seems wrong because its not how I remember it from my childhood, and so it puts a weird spin on my perspective and I can’t seem to decide if I feel relaxed and secure in this house – as a result, I rarely sleep well when I stay, despite sleeping there soundly for my entire childhood and until I finally moved out, aged 23. To add to my discomfort, I am away from The Hubby, which I find difficult; I am away with The Boy and without The Hubby, which means The Boy is entirely my responsibility, which is stressful, though when I’m with my mum she will help out loads by taking The Boy and doing stuff with him!
The first few nights, The Boy slept in a cot and I in the single bed in my brother’s room. Before our arrival my mum had changed it around and after dinner my dad and I built the cot. I adore sleeping in the same room as The Boy – having the smell of him so close, listening to his soft snoring and mumbling throughout the night, plus knowing when he did wake up that I would be immediately aware and if it was an unsociable time then I’d be quickly able to try and calm him down so he didn’t disturb my parents. However, sleeping in the room with The Boy also meant I couldn’t sit and read in bed as I usually would, it meant I had to be fairly quiet when getting ready for bed myself as while he’s a good sleeper in general, if he hears things he often wakes up purely because he’s nosy and he wants to know what’s happening. Added to that, I was sleeping in a single bed and I didn’t have The Hubby to cuddle up with. It was odd, and combined with the different night sounds my parents house has as opposed to the night sounds in my own home, I found I didn’t sleep awfully well at all.
We set off from home around noon and arrived at their house just before two; The Boy had quietly played for the first hour, and been lulled to sleep for the second hour by me changing the radio station to Classic FM as soon as the reception for Heart East Anglia was lost and we were cruising down the motorway (I am probably one of the only people left in the world with a radio/tape stereo in my car and no tapes I wanted to play) We arrived and were greeted with cuddles and kisses, a strong mug of tea for me and a nappy change and some milk for The Boy.
That first day, we didn’t do much; We originally had plans for two old friends of mine to come over (it would have been their first meeting of The Boy, I haven’t seen either of them for about three or four years) Unfortunately that didn’t happen as they’re a couple and one of them had a migraine so neither came over, so we spent the day with my parents and playing in the snow in their back garden. The following day, I had plans to go and visit other friends, the husband of whom leaves for work at midday, so the idea being that we’d get there in the morning to spend some time with him as well before spending the afternoon with his wife and their son, who is two months older than The Boy. It started snowing first thing in the morning and was coming down quite heavily, and added to that The Boy slept in until almost , which is unheard of. I never like to wake him up because he’s so grotty and moody if you wake him before he’s ready, and I gathered that after a long journey and late night the previous day then he could probably do with the extra sleep. Anyway it meant we didn’t end up getting to my friends house until after lunch, by which point we’d missed seeing her husband, though we had a lovely afternoon together. As we’d not got there until later than planned, we didn’t leave til later than planned, which meant that the possibility of a quick visit to another friend before we headed back to my parents for dinner was out of the window as we hadn’t enough time.
The day after, my auntie came round quite early in the morning – she’s recently retired but still up and about quite early in the day and by nine thirty she was being dropped off in town by her fiancé (she’d spent the night at his house) and then walked from there to my parents house. I was upstairs in the shower when she first arrived and The Boy was still in his pyjamas; It doesn’t matter, really, but it just made it feel like she’d turned up unexpectedly and she hadn’t, but I hadn’t known to expect her so early! After a couple of hours, dad gave her a lift home and I went with them so we could stop off at a shop near her to pick up a few items of shopping. We got home and mum had given The Boy some lunch and he’d gone down for a nap; they’d spent an hour in the garden playing in the snow while we’d been out, and The Boy seemed tired. My friend messaged me to say he’d be over shortly, and my cousin messaged to say he’d be there that evening after work. My friend arrived and was there for a couple of hours, during which my parents neighbour (and good friend of theirs) came over to say hello, hoping to see The Boy and probably feeling quite disappointed when he was in bed again (last time we visited he was asleep when she popped over as well). After she left, it was time to wake up The Boy, and then we played while mum did dinner, as she dished up my friend left and about ten minutes after we’d finished eating my cousin arrived. He didn’t leave til quite late, and then it was time for a quick bath before putting The Boy to bed.
The next day my sister in law came round, with her son (almost eight months old) To begin with, he was asleep in his carseat and The Boy was fascinated with the Sophie Giraffe attached onto the harness using Toy Ties, but as time went on he became increasingly grumpy. We put him in the high chair for some lunch, and of course at that point The Nephew woke up.
Still hungry, grumpy and tired, The Boy was now confined to his high chair while The Nephew was removed from the confines of his carseat and allowed to roll around on the floor. He touched The Boys toys, which The Boy seemed unhappy about, until my sister in law produced some of The Nephew’s own toys, then The Boy wanted to play with those despite the fact they were baby things. After lunch, which The Boy didn’t eat much of, The Nephew sat in the high chair for his lunch, and The Boy helped himself to The Nephew’s toys. He was fascinated by the fact that The Nephew has a blue V-Tech Alfie Bear (The Boy has a traditional brown one) and he was pressing the buttons on both to confirm they did the same thing. After The Nephew finished lunch there was some time for playing together, but The Boy kept passing The Nephew things to play with and The Nephew thought a much better game was to throw the things on the floor again, so The Boy would pick it up and pass it to him again. After a while of this The Boy was becoming tired and not concentrating on his walking so well, which meant much stumbling about and tripping – I got quite worried he was going to fall on The Nephew, and he was rubbing his eyes, so my mum took him upstairs to put him down for a nap.
A couple of hours later, my sister in law and nephew set off for home, and mum went to wake The Boy who was still snoring. After dinner we had a Skype conversation with The Hubby before The Boy had his bath and went to bed. The next morning I woke with a horrible sore throat, banging headache and a cough. I popped pills, slurped syrups and mum mostly looked after The Boy for me while I shivered and felt sorry for myself in my pyjamas for most of the day. Our plans to visit more friends went out of the window given my sickly state, and the fact that apart from not wanting to drive and sneeze my way down the road on black ice and snow, there is the fact that my friends have a young baby and I didn’t want to spread the germs. So we had a lazy day, before our final night there.
My cough got worse the moment I lay my head down to go to sleep – it kept me awake until 3am, when I searched the kitchen for the fourth time and finally found some cough syrup. I took some, with a couple of cold and flu tablets, and shivered my way to sleep. At my own coughing woke me up again, so I took more pills and cough syrup and returned to bed with a glass of orange juice. That morning, the rest of the family were off to church, so mum was racing about getting ready while my brother plodded his way through sorting himself out and my dad sat in the kitchen until the last minute wearing his pyjamas and dressing gown, flicking idly through the paper and gazing about like he hadn’t a care in the world. When they finally rushed out of the door, ten minutes later than they should have done, I breathed a sigh of relief. For the first time since our arrival, it was just me and The Boy, and today was the day that we were packing to head home again.
I said earlier that my parents house has been completely redecorated since I lived there – well the combination of that as well as me sleeping in the front room means that I don’t really unpack when I stay there, so fortunately for me our bags were pretty much done – I’d been putting laundry in a black bag anyway and kept the remainder of the clothes in the bag folded up, so once we were washed and dressed I packed up most of our things, ready to load into the car once the rest of the family got home.
They got back, and I loaded up the car and sorted out the bed things from the front room while mum took care of The Boy. My dad fell asleep in the armchair and my brother disappeared upstairs. Mum cooked dinner for my brother, The Boy and I to eat before we each returned home – my brother was going back to his flat for Uni that evening. The Boy and I sat and ate our dinner while my dad snored in the armchair and my brother was upstairs. Afterwards my mum took The Boy upstairs to change his nappy and my brother finally came down to take the things back upstairs, then he disappeared into his room again without his dinner. Finally we were ready to go so I went downstairs and picked up the final bits and loaded them into the car, then got The Boy ready, put my own coat on and looked at my mum.
Suddenly my dad was awake and wanting to say goodbye and my brother had reappeared from nowhere – typical blokes, they’d got out of helping me sort out the front room and pack the car, got out of helping mum look after The Boy and cook dinner, but now it was all done they were there! We said goodbye and I strapped The Boy into his carseat and we were off.
Home lay two hours away, and Classic FM quickly soothed away my grumpiness as I thought of how nice it would be to get home. I missed The Hubby – I always do when we’re apart – and I know The Boy had as well. I hadn’t missed shouting at The Hairy Hounds Of Hell, but I’d missed their warmth snuggling up to me on the sofa in the evenings as I watched TV, and missed their familiar tap-tap of claws on laminate flooring. I simply missed home – my own little house, decorated the way that The Hubby and I decided, filled with our things, the place I could truly relax in. The Boy slept for most of the journey home, and as I turned into the driveway and saw our house I felt very happy.
As lovely as it is, to return to the old stomping ground and catch up with all the people there, I really do appreciate the saying Home, Sweet Home now I have my own home. You can never really relax in someone else’s house like you can in your own; Even the night time quietness is somehow unfamiliar and you don’t sleep as well. I’ve never been one to question staying over somewhere if it’s more practical – I make a huge effort to ensure anyone who stays at our house feels welcome and that the room is cosy and they have anything they may need, I’ve crashed on various sofas, floors, armchairs and beds during my life and it never once worried me, but suddenly I’ve become a real home body (Maybe it’s Motherhood? Now I have to protect my young as well as myself I have to be more alert to my surroundings?) That first night home, I enjoyed a lovely long hot shower and washed my hair (my parents bathroom seems determined to stay ice-box cold so you freeze in the shower over the bath – the water pressure is completely unenthusiastic and it’s a struggle to wash my long hair) I then went to bed and fell asleep within about five seconds of my head hitting the pillow! I slept right round the clock because The Hubby was a darling and got up first thing with The Boy and left me in bed, so I didn’t wake up til nearly midday. I felt so much better for it.
I do love going back to my parents and seeing them, but I love coming home and remembering why I moved out in the first place! I love making plans to see people, I just wish sometimes the plans would actually happen like they were meant to but we always have a nice time regardless. I love visiting for a few days because anything longer is a headache for many reasons, but in a few days I don’t settle and I don’t get to see everyone, which is a shame.
The next visit planned is for April, and for a very good reason – my younger brother will be getting married. We’re planning to drive down once The Hubby finishes work the night before, arriving fairly late evening so that we can put The Boy straight to bed (hopefully) as he (should) have had a bit of sleep in the car on the way so (fingers crossed) he won’t wake up properly if I can get him in the hotel and put into bed without too much fuss. Then the wedding will be the following day, and we’ll stay that night in the hotel and travel home the day after. It will be the longest time we’ve ever left the dogs – we’re still not entirely sure who we’re going to get to dog-sit! Whatever happens, it will seem like we rushed there and back again, we’ll have a brilliant time but we’ll be exhausted by the time we get home and we’re looking forward to it immensely but on the drive home we’ll be glad to be homeward bound.
Home is where the heart is, after all.