I never thought I’d be the sort of mum who would get anxious about leaving her baby. But, somehow, Baby Girl has got to almost a year old and never been put to bed by anyone other than me. In fact, I’ve only ever left her for one evening out since she’s been born – a meal with friends nearby – and even then, I put her to bed before I left and was home by 11.30pm. I know, I need to get a grip (or a life), right?
Anyway, Friday saw a big, BIG milestone for us. Because not only did I leave my baby overnight but I travelled some 3 hours by train to London solo, for the biggest night in the blogging social calendar – The MAD Blog Awards.
It was a bit of a surreal experience to be honest. From the moment I stepped on the train and felt like I’d lost a limb, to the relaxing bit where I read Grazia magazine from cover to cover, to the slightly overwhelming feeling of excitement at being in central London where things move a lot faster than my adopted home of Devon, it all felt rather unreal.
Within half an hour of arriving in London, I found myself cycling through the streets on a Boris bike, in tandem with life-long blogging pals Emma and Jane. We enjoyed an hour and a half chatting non-stop over a delicious afternoon tea at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge (more on that later). Any earlier pangs of missing the baby disappeared as I was swept along in a stream of gossip and laughter, enjoying time as myself – not a mum – with two very good friends.
By 6pm I’d somehow managed to only phone home twice and text a couple of times which, by my standards, is pretty restrained. At the time I would usually be doing the daily grind of bath and bedtime, I was lathering myself in a walk-in shower, before leisurely drying my hair and doing my make-up while I gazed out of our Royal Garden Hotel suite window over stunning views of London. As I said, surreal.
The rest of the night continued in that same vein. I found myself eating my (very tasty) evening meal sitting next to none other than CBeebies legend Doctor Ranj, who turned out to be a very fun drinking partner. I don’t think I’ve laughed that much in AGES.
While I didn’t win the award for Best Pregnancy Blog (congratulations to Becky at The Mummy Adventure!) I did get to hang out with some very lovely friends (hi Alison!) and finally get to meet many others face to face. These are people who I’ve been chatting to online – and sometimes on the phone – for the past five years, so I felt like I knew them all so well already.
I danced until my feet ached, laughed until my sides hurt and drank until I had to do a late night trip to McDonalds for an emergency Big Mac with my partner in bellini crime, Donna. It felt SO good to let my hair down and not be on mum duty for the night – a whole night!
Of course all good times have to come to an end, and mine did rather abruptly at around 7am the following morning. The irony of having an opportunity for a lie-in but being woken by horrifyingly sore bowling ball breastfeeding boobs is not lost on me. I ended up missing the famous hotel breakfast in favour of catching an early train home because I was in so much pain. No amount of breast pump action or Googling of “how to relieve engorged breasts” could help, so I had to throw in the towel early and admit defeat.
Still, it was nice while it lasted.
And as much as I loved every second of my solo mum jaunt to London, there’s something rather comforting about returning home to this pair of jokers…
Saturday night saw me back in my preferred state of dress: pyjamas and a dressing gown. With boobs that finally felt normal again (hurray for rather limp, normal-sized breasts!) and a very comfy sofa, the previous 24 hours felt a bit like a dream.
While I’m here, I’d like to thank Sally and the team for putting on a brilliant evening, Jenny for being very good-natured about the fact I previously thought she was from Yorkshire (I know, I know) and Adele for her wonderful sore boob advice the following morning.
Blogging and bloggers – I love you. Thank you for making this knackered mum feel like something more than a milk producing, snot-wiping, crazy work-from-home juggling woman. Even if it was just for 24 hours.