Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Well wasn't that a big old adventure.

I had planned the day with military precision. Pregnancy yoga (free! with a free creche place for T! thank you SureStart) followed by a snack and then a nap in the car whilst I winged our way to Harry's third birthday party in Lancaster.

We started well. I boinged on the birthing ball and enjoyed the luxuriant almost-asleep of Yoga Nidra. T played in the garden at the Children's Centre and scoffed a hot cross bun before dropping off to sleep in the car seat. I turned up Popmaster, and headed for the M6.

Then we slowed down. Then we slowed down some more. Then we stopped.

Years of winter commuting from North Manchester to first Sheffield and now Leeds means I am well equipped for an unscheduled motorway stop caused by snow, ice or the many faceted foibles of the M62. My car contains blankets, spare coats, a shovel, plenty of de-icer and flourescent jackets in case we need to get out on the hard shoulder. It is March though, a particularly mild March, and it soon became apparent that none of these things would be necessary. In fact, a fan would have been more useful.

Within 10 minutes, a direct spot of sun on his face, T woke up. By now it was lunchtime and he'd slept for only half an hour, both guaranteed grump-makers. He squirmed in his car seat, taking in the stationary cars around us, and began to scream.

A flurry of texts passed to a friend and her daughter, stuck 20 cars behind us, also headed to the party. I thanked my lucky stars I didn't have the 'pre-schooler who needs a wee' issue, but wished my son was old enough to understand that Mummy couldn't make us move again just because he wanted to.

I turned off the engine, opened the window and took a deep breath.

'You put your left arm in ...'

T has developed hitherto unknown deep love for the Hokey Cokey. When he wakes in the morning, I hear him singing it to himself via the baby monitor. Well, he yells out a body part, does the 'woah' bit loudly (I imagine him throwing his arms into the air, and lie still, praying all this exertion might have the effect of sending him back to sleep) and then sings the rest 'do do do do do do'. So it's 'head. woah. do do do do. eye. woah. do do do do'.

The chap in the flat bed truck next to us wound up his window and reached over to turn up the radio.

I finished 'you put your whole self in' and paused. T started to cry again.

I began again with a new raft of body parts, you put your nose in, you put your left ear in, you put your fingers in, you put your tummy in (reach over and tickle). I trailed off. T was now covering his ears and shaking his head. Singing just wasn't cutting it. 'Are you hungry?' Well it was lunch time. Frantic nod. I reached into my bag and felt around, then felt around some more. Errrrrr, small problem. In an attempt to stem my morning sickness, on the first part of the journey as T slept I had scoffed my emergency rations, the spare hot cross bus and a banana. I began to feel sick again. Not because I was hungry, but because he was. T was crying properly now. Two lanes away, the father in a family car got out, walked around to the boot and pulled out a cooler the size of my fridge. Sandwiches shared between his brood, he got back in. I was really panicking now. What if we were here all night? I had 1/3 of a sports bottle of water between us. I had visions of having to call the Police to ask them to bring emergency provisions for a disorganised, selfish mother who was starving her own son. In the flat bed truck, the driver tipped a can of drink vertically into his mouth, trying to drain the last precious drops. Not just me then.

I found some emergency raisins, and said a prayer of thanks to the mysterious force who ensures that all mother's have a ready supply. T scoffed them. I offered him the water bottle and he was entertained for 10 minutes pulling off and pushing on the lid. We'd now been stationary for around 90 minutes and, still half an hour from Lancaster, had missed the party.

Then, as quickly as we'd stopped, we were moving again. Past the scene of the accidents that had caused the pause in our journey (another prayer of thanks, this time that we were stuck behind, rather than in, the crash site) and on two miles to Forton Services. We parked and I did the sort of frantic dash only found in women who need a wee and regret not having done more pelvic floor exercises.

There was a small crush inside M&S. I chose us a sandwich each, some juice, grapes and T grabbed a packet of hot cross buns (curse toddler accessible shelves). Such was my guilt at having trapped him in his carseat for more than two hours I didn't even complain when, after a few cursory bites of egg mayo, he ate three whole ones at 'barely touched the sides' speed.

On the way home I resolved to pack a new emergency bag for the car. Fewer blankets, more drinks and snacks.

If by the next morning the mechanics of a toddler routine might have caused me to forget my plans, the sweet, raisiny hot cross bun nappies did not.


b said...

There is nothing worse than unplanned traffic jams and a shortage of food, my hubby used to moan at the state of my car when the kids were little but at least I was prepared for all eventualities, food and drink are majorally important as all my kids get hunger rages if not fed and watered continually.

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McW said...

That was some traffic jam! Good to know the antedote to a hot cross toddler is a hot cross bun. Yum!
Loving your description even though it must have been a long long 90 minutes for you!