Why Is *She* Here?

In June this year I did something I always said I wouldn't do.
Something I always said I wasn't interested in, because I genuinely wasn't.

I went to Britmums Live. The two day blogging conference held in London.
Despite my breakdown on the 2nd day (which for some reason feels really fresh in my mind at the moment) I had an amazing time.
I learnt a few things about blogging, I learnt a few things about myself, and I met some amazing people.  
I enjoyed my time so much that I bought tickets for next years conference almost immediately.
And then within a month or so I found myself buying a ticket to Cybher,  another conference held in London.   
I guess I caught this conference attending bug and that, along with the promise of meeting up with friends I had made at Britmums as well as meeting others who didn't attend Britmums or who I didn't get round to meeting, resulted in me going ahead and booking.

Except now it all feels so daunting.

I know as a blogger that I am welcome at these conferences, and that I do belong there. I know I will learn, and that is the main reason for going.
But there's a niggling feeling, in my mind, in my heart, telling me I don't belong there. Me, Lauren, not me the blogger.
The blogger deserves to be there. But not the person. Not Lauren.

I remember clearly, on the second day of Britmums walking to the main conference room at Britmums. Alone. I didn't know what to do so I planned to charge my seriously low phone battery.
I planned to calm down and pull myself together and not let "the crazy" set in, then arrange to meet others at the tea break and go and watch the keynotes with them.

Except I couldn't.
I felt alone, not worthy of being there, and like I had to get out NOW. Which is all well and good if you feel like you have somewhere to go.
I felt like I was in the middle of The Labyrinth (except without David Bowie in tight trousers) desperately trying to find my way out but ending up in the same place every time.
I remember being sat in the toilet cubicle (with the toilet seat down) sobbing into my hands, urging myself not to make a sound; silent sobbing is tough by the way.
I hoped no one would knock on the door. I hoped someone would. 
What would I say? Would I say anything?
I wanted to cry for help. I wanted to tweet or message someone and ask if they could hold my hand.
But it's not that easy, and no one would have deserved to a have to do that.

I felt this overwhelming feeling of suffocation. Not me being suffocated, but me being suffocating towards others. I felt I had to walk away. To give people space to breathe. Without having me making silly comments or generally being annoying, and clingy and more annoying.
I all of a sudden didn't feel like the blogger I was there to be. I was me and if I didn't like that, then no one else would either.

I have this overwhelming paranoid me that likes to tell me that actually, people don't like me, they pity me, I'm open about not having many friends so maybe people are befriending me out of pity.
Or as a joke.
Or out of boredom.

The blogger in me has a sensible clear plan. 
Conference = go, learn, leave, do.

The real me see’s this massive thing . No plan. I see more toilet cubicles. More tears. More of this not belonging feeling. More crazy.
More being stuck in London, lost on the street, in the rain, not knowing where to go, with a flat mobile phone battery.

People seeing the real me. The annoying, really annoying me.

I feel cocky and a case of "who does she think she is" about going. 
I still feel massively behind with my blog compared to those around me, who are all shooting ahead with success, whilst I am trailing behind.
Although on a highly positive note I can’t help but to feel really happy at the success of some of my favourite blogs, especially when I’ve read from the beginning and feel as though I know the person behind the blog, and feel they really deserve the success they have.
I guess I just feel lost sometimes at not knowing how to get that far.
And I feel like the little girl running behind the cool kids at school wanting to be just like them.
I don’t want people to feel like they have to hold my hand and drag me along.

I can imagine standing at the events next year, people reading my name badge still with this blank look of “who?!” “is she a new blogger?” thoughts going through their head.
Or of course, “wow, she is annoying!”.

I guess there are things I feel I can't write. I might look like an attention seeker, or like I'm fishing for certain things to be said, so I kind of feel a bit gagged. And I'm now left wondering where this post is/was/is supposed to go.

Maybe I’m just feeling super paranoid?
Maybe the fear of heading to these big events is just hitting me earlier than I expected?


In Bruges, In Love.

As we departed Center Parcs on the Friday and headed towards the Eurotunnel in France we decided to go via Bruges. My sister in law's husband mentioned wanting to go there and the film, which I'd heard of, but I didn't really know much about the place.

Driving through I fell in love already. We passed some amazing shops, and a beautiful flea market which I'd planned on going to because I spotted a vase with my name on it but following the crowd meant we didn't go near the market, which I was disappointed about.

I want to go back there for a proper visit. We were really limited with time so didn't get to have a proper look around, but from what we did see, it was amazing.
I definitely want to revisit sometime to get a better look, and to explore the shops some more.

We ate at a really lovely restaurant and took advantage of a meal package they had.
For 30Euros we had Escargot, Mussels and then for me it was a small bowl of Dame Blanche (which was my dessert choice every day whilst at Centre Parcs).
I also ordered a medium glass of a speciality Blonde beer. Little did I know a medium glass is quite large! It was well worth it though, and my husband was extremely jealous that I was able to sit in Belgium drinking Belgian beer whilst he was stuck drinking coke.

I really hope we can visit again. It felt like a very special place.



No Longer A Baby, Now.

Four years, two months and twenty three days old, to be exact. That's how old my baby now is.
No longer a baby, although in my heart he always will be.
Now though, he is a little boy, ready to take on his new adventure, new challenges and new discoveries, as he enters the big world of education.

As much as emotionally it's breaking me, I am managing to keep strong, for him, and because it's the best thing to do. Why breakdown over something that's going to happen eventually.
We were given a choice, send him now, full time, or part time, or keep him home or at preschool until he has to go when he turns 5.
We made the choice to send him. Knowing it will be better for him to start now.
No holding him back, but not sending him into something he isn't ready for or can't handle.

Inside I don't want him to spend time with any other woman than me. I am jealous.
I want to teach him everything.
I want to be the one doing the simple things he may struggle with like opening his packet of crisps, or peeling an orange, or getting the lid off his water bottle to refill it.
I want to be there to see his little face light up as he learns something new and exciting.
I want to be the first one to see his works of art, the first one to read his stories, the first one to tell him he has done really well.
I want to be the one to comfort him if he hurts himself, to wipe away the dirt from his knees and the tears from his face.

But I can't. And instead I get to hear about the new things he has learnt. The way he has remember them, and adapted them to his own way of learning and remembering.
I get to look forward to seeing the finished creations. His excited little face as he proudly shows me his artwork and his stories.
As he proudly tells me that his teacher told him how well he had done.
I may not be there to wipe away the dirt, and wipe away the tears, but a belated kiss on any cut or graze is better than none at all.

I get to wave him off every morning, with a big smile on my face,watching him run towards his friends ready for todays new adventures.
I get to stand outside the school gates, waiting with butterflies for my boy Excited to hear what he has been learning, the new friends he has made, what he has played, and which stories his teachers read to him that day.
I get to watch him running towards me, with arms open as I pick him up and give him massive cuddle.
I get to watch his baby brothers excited face as he waits patiently for his best friend. Shouting his name. Excited to wrap his arms around his brother, to give him a squeeze and probably falling to the floor in a heap as they usually do.
On the outside I will be smiling.
On the inside I will be crying.
My heart filled with excitement, love, pride and a pinch of sadness.

How did my baby get so big? How is he ready for his?
My four year, two month, and twenty three days old boy.
No longer a baby.
Now a school boy.


A Mattress On Your Floor

We came back from holiday, arriving home at 4:30am, 10 hours later than we had planned.
Daddy was tired, he did so well driving, and he had work later that Saturday, so I offered to sleep in your room so he could get some sleep.
6 nights later and I am still here. Still sleeping here. Right with you. 

I watch you sleep, I tell you how much I love you, I kiss you, I tuck you in although you soon shuffle out and kick the covers off.
 I leave the landing light on, your door slightly open, enough so you can see the floor, just as you request.
I listen to you sleeping, I wait for you to hear me too. To open your eyes, see me, smile, then close your eyes, content that I am close.

I wonder what you are dreaming about. I know what the answer would be if I asked you. 
Dinosaurs and trains.
But I wonder what you really are dreaming of.
Life is so hectic at the moment for you. Big things are happening. Are they in your dreams? 

Your mouth slightly open, your head tilted back, one of your knees raised, your hand resting softly on the edge of the bed. You look so peaceful.
You look so beautiful.
You move. From your back to your side. Your mouth now closed. Your hand now dangling over the bed. At almost 28 I still worry that a foot or hand dangling over the bed will get bitten by a crocodile. Will you ever have that fear? A monster instead of  crocodile maybe?

I wonder if you will wake up tonight. Needing me as you always say. Wanting a cuddle. A tickle back. A drink. A wee. Just wanting me. There. Next to you.  

It's silly really. Mummies leave their children every day, going back to work leaving smaller children, taking their children to school, we're not the only ones going through this.
But it feels like we are.
I feel like I have put this protective bubble around us. I don't want anyone in. I don't want to hear anything else. I just want it to be me and you. 
I don't want to get caught up in competitiveness that always surrounds occasions such as this.
Who is the saddest at their child leaving? Whose child got on the best, or the worst?
I don't care. I don't care about anyone else but us right now. 
It may sound selfish, but you are my priority, and I need to be focused on you. And on me. On us. On us coping, getting things right. Making you happy, secure. Happy. 

I'm watching you. Wanting you to wake up. Wanting you to need me.
I want you to need a cuddle. Or need one of your wonderful half asleep/half awake talks.

I'm listening to you. Breathing, the occasional moan or groan, a slight snore and a heavy sigh.
Talking in your sleep. Breathing.

I want to go to sleep. Wake up in a different time. When you don't go to school yet. So we have more time. 
We've had 4 years together. We are so lucky. 
I have loved every minute. And I'm not ready to give it up. Not ready to give you up.
I can't let go of you.
It's only school. I went, I did fine. Children go everyday.
But it's different when it's your own child. It might not really be about letting go. But those hours you are gone, you won't be mine. I want to be there.
Throughout it all.

I want you to wake up. 
I feel sick. 
I want to talk to you.
You understand me. You know when I need you. When something is wrong, you just know.
You are a part of me. You know me inside and out. 
I don't want to not have you there when I may need you. 

You may be 4 but you are my best friend. I can talk to you about anything. Anything.
You understand. You just get me. 

A mattress on your floor. 
Watching you sleep. 
Stealing those last moments of just you and me.
Our bubble.
Stronger than ever.
Soon to be popped.
Although you can't see me, I'll always be there.
I'll always be thinking of you. 

A mattress on your floor.
The place I want to sleep. For now.
Just watching you. Excited for the moment you wake up in the morning, stumbling over to me, talking to me in your cuter than cute way.
Snuggling into me. Squeezey cuddles. Just us. 

A mattress on your floor. My bed. The only place I want to sleep.
Near you.
I love you.



Moules Marinière with Cream, Garlic and Parsley {Recipe}

When we went on holiday to Holland last week we shared a villa with my sister in law and her family.
One day they came back with a packet of mussels they had bought from the supermarket within the marketdome.
My sister in law cooked them up for everyone and they were DELICIOUS! I didn't expect to like them so much.
I jokingly said to Harry "do you want one?" thinking he would say no as he rejected one earlier which my husband had offered him.
But no, he opened his mouth, ate the mussel and asked for more! We couldn't believe how many he went on to eat!

My sister in law followed a recipe by Rick Stein which she found on the BBC Food website.
The only ammendmant, as far as I am aware, is that she served the mussels out of the shells (and maybe cooked them out of their shells).
Served with fresh crusty bread (which ended up going and we used poppy seed rolls which worked equally as well) and a Pimms punch it was one of the best dinners we had that week.


1.75kg/4lb mussels
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
15g/½oz butter
a bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaves
100ml/3½fl oz dry white wine or cider
120ml/4fl oz double cream
handful of parsley leaves, coarsley chopped
crusty bread, to serve

Preparation method

  1. Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water. Discard any open ones that won't close when lightly squeezed.
  2. Pull out the tough, fibrous beards protruding from between the tightly closed shells and then knock off any barnacles with a large knife. Give the mussels another quick rinse to remove any little pieces of shell.
  3. Soften the garlic and shallots in the butter with the bouquet garni, in a large pan big enough to take all the mussels - it should only be half full.
  4. Add the mussels and wine or cider, turn up the heat, then cover and steam them open in their own juices for 3-4 minutes. Give the pan a good shake every now and then.
  5. Remove the bouquet garni, add the cream and chopped parsley and remove from the heat.
  6. Spoon into four large warmed bowls and serve with lots of crusty bread.

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