I am not sentimental. My husband complains about it a lot. "Don't go near her, Sam," Giles will warn my son as he toddles towards me, eyes shining, with his chubby arms outstretched. "Your mother doesn't like clinginess. Don't ask for a hug or anything, she hates that. That's not the way to her heart. "
"Oh fuck off, you dickhead," I will snap. But he is basically right. How I have ended up with the world's neediest husband and, in turn, the world's neediest toddler, must some sort of dastardly revenge wreaked upon me by some unknown force.
At least there's Kitty. Thank God for Kitty! She couldn't give a flying shit whether I'm alive or dead.
Anyway, I'm not sentimental. And I've never been more sure about anything as I've been about not having any more kids. I want to want to have more children, just like I want to want to enjoy clubbing, ski-ing and "girlie dinners". But I don't.
Yet even I feel a bit fuzzy about the passing of Sam's babyhood and there are real signs afoot that it's over.
His potty-training is imminent. So the little box-room off the living room downstairs, which has for nearly 5 years been a baby-change room, is from this week going to house a new fridge freezer. Our little integrated fridge in the main kitchen is ludicrously small and I am fed up of having to fit everything in it like a game of Tetris. It's just not a suitable fridge for a family of four (plus au pair).
We no longer need to give over that precious space in our narrow London townhouse to a luxurious lying-down changing area: these days Sam's nappy is changed in ten seconds while he is standing up. I would no more lie him down to change his nappy than I would lie him down to put his clothes on. So it's time for the changing room to find a new purpose.
The changing unit in Sam's bedroom, Kitty's old nursery, is also obsolete. It's a nice piece of furniture from John Lewis, with a little changing-area, space on the side for your bits and bobs and then a cupboard and shelves underneath for muslins, nappies, blankets and so on. My babies lay on it first thing in the morning and last thing at night, until they were probably about a year old. Both babies absolutely loved opening and slamming closed the little door and drawer and pulling out all the neatly folded sheets and blankets and throwing them around the nursery.
I was so pleased with that changing unit when I bought it. It was just right. I have many times been gratified at how natty a storage area it is and marvelled at its smooth surface as I wiped away the memories of some awful illness or shit explosion or analgesic mis-application.
I don't know why I feel any pangs of loss. It's going to a lovely new home. And I also have mixed feelings about that nursery.
Both my children have slept well in there - Kitty better than Sam - and it's a nice room with pretty wallpaper and a lovely en-suite bathroom.
But I have also spent many sleepless, anxious nights in there with feverish or crying infants. The carpet is spattered with old vomit stains. I keep, permanently, a pair of rubber gloves and a bucket in the bathroom. There are rows of bottles of Calpol and Nurofen and a clattery collection of plastic syringes that speak of your real purpose as the mother of very small children: damage limitation.
So the changing unit went. I agreed to the sale of it before I had time to think, to regret and say no. It was collected while I was out. I had wanted in the days leading up to this to change my mind, to ring up and say "No, not yet, I'm not ready." But I didn't.
Because I know I won't miss it next week. I miss it now. I feel like I have given away a family pet. I dragged over the chest of drawers from behind the nursery door to cover the glaring gap - as glaring as a missing front tooth - under the purpose-built shelf that holds the nappies and wipes. And I will forget about it. I'm sure I will. By next week. I will have forgotten about it that soon.
I often forget about avocados as being the perfect diet food. I am STILL on a diet, a whole entire week after starting it. Lunch is always tricky. I am tired, hungry and ratty by lunchtime and at my most vulnerable to eating, say, a huge white egg-and-cress bap from Spence Bakery on Fortess Road. But today I dutifully bought a tub of crayfish tails and an avocado and had that instead.
I really wanted to get prawns but I have it in my mind that crayfish are some sort of ecological menace and you are doing the world a favour by eating them. But in fact, they're not especially nice and next time I will just get the cold water prawns.
Avocado and crayfish tails
1 ripe avocado
handful or so of crayfish tails. one of those tubs, you know what I mean
salt and pepper
a lot of lemon juice - probably the juice of about half a lemon
you could also add a scraping of garlic and some hot paprika if you were feeling racy
1 Put the crayfish tails in a bowl and dollop over 2 tablespoons of mayo, a squirt of tomato ketchup, a pinch of salt, a few turns of the pepper grinder, a long splash of lemon juice.
2 Taste this. What do you think? More ketchup? Salt? Lemon juice? Keep adding and mixing until it tastes pretty great.
3 Slice the avocado and eat alongside your ecologically sound shellfish mixture.
Say, "Bye bye, Baby Sam":