Friday, May 29, 2009

Shoe shopping stress

Walking boy

Ask me the biggest downside to being a Mum and the answer might surprise you. Strangely, it's not the sleepless nights. It's not even the self-enforced social isolation night after night. No, the answer's simple: it's John Lewis. Or, to be precise, the increased frequency of my trips to John Lewis. 

If my American readers wonder what the heck I'm on about, John Lewis is an English department store. Some might say The English Department Store. It's as popular with the British chattering classes as holidaying in Tuscany and voting New Labour used to be. Its London flagship store, on Oxford Street, oozes self-satisfaction, as encapsulated in its motto: "Never knowingly undersold". (Unless, that is, you're shopping online, as people often are these days, when its prices are wildly out of kilter with its rivals.) In fact, the only thing worse than its Oxford Street outlet is its Sloane Square branch, which insists on calling itself Peter Jones, even though everyone who lives outside Chelsea knows that its still just John Lewis, despite its Kings Road address. 

But back to my specific beef with John Lewis. It's just too useful to new parents. From its "nursery advice service" for Mums-to-be, to its stranglehold over the plain white bodysuit ("onesie") market, John Lewis is a one-stop shop for Mums and Dads. Which should be a good thing. Yet I resent it. I resent its very usefulness because it gets me every time. That is to say, it gets me thinking I have to shop there, yet every time I venture into its clutches I have a hellish experience and deeply regret it. Like my trip to buy a nursing bra. Or this week's foray to its children's shoe department. 

Stupidly, I forgot it was half term. Cue half the Mums in London attempting to buy new school shoes for their offspring. Because I hate shopping there so much, once I've schlepped all the way there, and specifically battled my way up to the fourth floor kids' department, I'm damned if I'm going to leave without buying anything. Which meant I had to endure a half-hour wait for someone to measure Louis' feet and, even worse, meant I felt obliged to purchase the only pair of shoes in his size that they deigned to stock. An ugly, clumpish, khaki number by Clarks that won't go with any of his cute summer outfits. 

What's worse is that I fell victim to the Clarks curse that says that once you become a Mummy you insist on your child wearing Clarks' shoes "because they're sensible" even if they're hideous. And to think, I could have togged Louis out in a boxfresh number from Selfridges' ridiculously overpriced, over-labelled children's shoe department. I keep thinking about taking them back, but then I'd have to go back to John Lewis. And then, because I was there, I'd have to buy a stack more stuff to try and ensure that I never have to go back. And then the whole sorry cycle would begin. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The reunion

For once, few words from me. Just some pics of Louis and Sophie. Reunited at last. Although when Soph had to choose between Louis and her new walker, well, let's just say Louis may have come in second.... (I wanted to add a video but it doesn't want to upload. Check back though because I will keep trying.)                
Soph and Louis in Soph's Grandpa's garden
With the walker...
Louis and his girls (the blond is Soph's cousin Esther)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Better than sleep

Browsing the new Mummy books B.L. (before Louis), I remember being horrified when I read that most new parents miss out on between 600 and 800 hours sleep in the first year of their baby's life. Imagine how horrified I'd have been had I'd known then that that figure was actually conservative. I reckon I'm down at least double that amount, if not more. 

Which probably explains the anomaly that the past 360 or so days seems to have aged me far more than they've aged Louis. He only looks one year older; I look.... no, I won't go there. But despite time marching swiftly on, I'm less worried about the coming 12 months than the ones just gone and it's all down to something our friend Colette said during our recent trip to Geneva. (And yes, the Geneva anecdote justifies the pics.) 

She told me that as a new second-time Mum she actually felt older than she'd felt for the past couple of years hanging out with their four-year-old, Noah. Yup, unlikely as it sounds, apparently once you get through the early parenthood stresses it's possible just to relax and enjoy being a young family. With that in mind, bring on the next 12 months. That said, I really can't imagine losing out on another 1,000-plus hours sleep.
En famille by Lac Leman
Bebe plage
Il marche aux quatre pieds - straight into the lac
Walking boy
A young Colette and Noah