Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Absolutely Scrabulous - A review of baby cinema

We went on a mother and daughter outing to see Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie this week.

We hadn't been to Baby Cinema since she was about four months old, when she had mainly suckled and slept throughout the main event. Now, at almost nine months, she was not going to be so docile.

Dress code was everything, darlings, so I selected a pink tartan frock my mother had bought from a charity shop with a frilly underskirt, but couldn't persuade her to keep on the tiara I had left over from an old fancy dress costume.

I wore a striped nursing t-shirt dress covered in snot. I was definitely the Saffy out of the two of us.

I packed her most distracting but least noisy toys, and a lunch box containing a large tub of sweet potato cubes, cream cheese finger sandwiches, breadsticks, rice cakes and a banana.

Before the trailers had begun she had eaten all of the sweet potato and most of the sandwiches.

Fortunately, I managed to nab a seat on the front row. Not just the only place to be seen sweetie, but in the world of Baby Cinema, the best spot for maximum play space.

The lights are not all the way down at Baby Cinema, so you can see what they get up to, and the sound is lowered to a level safe for their ears. There is a host who sits in on the screening and can request for the lights and volume to be turned up or down if there is a problem.

I forgot to bring the blanket in, but the floor is immaculately hoovered, and as everyone around had brought theirs, there wasn't even room for them all anyway.

I plonked her down among the crawlers and managed to watch a good 15 minutes of the film uninterrupted as she played with her toys and exchanged some head pats with a very jolly and agile little boy who had crawled all the way along from the other end of the row.

As well as being very amiable, he was also extremely generous, and kept offering her the rice cakes his mother gave him. The boy next to us kept throwing his on the floor too, so she ate at least four rice cakes that didn't belong to her, as well as all her packed lunch.

Sadie Frost's fleeting appearance in the film did make me think for a second that I should probably be a little bit more careful about her eating things off the floor in public... But I was pretty confident she was only hoovering up crumbs of puffed rice and not Class As, Patsy style.

When she'd tired of toys and there was no more food to stuff into her mouth, I resorted to giving her her lunchtime breastfeed early, which meant I was able to watch much more of the film in peace and appreciate many of the visual 'in jokes' Ab Fab is, well, fabulous for.

And then when she'd had enough of that I decided to take an Eddy Monsoon-style relaxed attitude to screen-time and let her sit on my lap and watch the film.

All those bright colours and patterns meant she seemed to enjoy it as much as I did.

It's hard to give a full critique of Jennifer Saunders' effort on the script as I spent 40 per cent of the, conveniently short, 91 minutes being distracted by a small child.

But overall, I enjoyed the film.

It was better than the last series of Ab Fab, which had started to lose it a bit I thought, and certainly had enough of the witty social observation, pithy one-liners and brilliantly-placed cameos to make me laugh out loud.

I'm not sure I would recommend baby cinema if your child is past six months though, you just can't concentrate enough on the film. Unless they are absolutely fabulously behaved.

Barbican Parent and Baby Screenings are on Mondays at 11.30am and cost £6 for a parent and child under 12 months.

What A Way To Make A Livin'

A feeling of anxiousness has been creeping up on me over the last few weeks.

My daughter is approaching her nine month milestone and while for some this could also be the time when they begin to worry about going back to work, for me it has brought a different worry. 

Fear Of Not Going Back To Work.

I accepted redundancy four months into my maternity leave. The previous four months had felt dominated with long emails and phone calls to a solicitor as I struggled to cling on to my job. And though there are laws in place to protect women who choose to become mothers and want to keep working, I was put in a position where it was impossible for me to return to my former employment.

When it was finally all over I felt shaken. But then I resolved to put it all to one side and focus on my daughter and our time together, now the cloud was no longer hanging over my maternity leave.

Only now the time has come when I would have begun negotiating how I would return to work, and instead I must begin looking for a new job from scratch.

I really want to go back to work.

I loved - sorry LOVE, present tense - being a journalist. It was the career I had dreamt of since I was a little girl. Well, maybe not quite how I pictured it would be, but I set my sights on my goal and I achieved it.

I love my daughter. And I really do enjoy spending my day handing her sticky bits of banana to stuff in her face, building towers for her to knock over, pushing her on the swings, letting her splash bath water all over me and watching her sleep.


And this has been really hard to admit, because I do not want, or mean, to say that, "I don't want to be just a mother."

There is no such thing as "JUST" a mother. 

It is an incredibly hard, demanding, important and fulltime job. I don't care what people say.  (And I have met Katie Hopkins, and was surprised to find that I actually quite liked her. She is secretly a very friendly, caring and considerate woman. But that doesn't mean I agree with much that she says, especially when it comes to Stay At Home Parenting.)

But I DO want to be a working mother.

I want it all. I want to kiss my daughter goodbye in the morning and trundle off to work with all the other folk, work 9 to 5, three days a week, and then spend the rest of the time being a parent.

And I know it doesn't work like that.

First of all I've got to actually find a job, or some freelance work, that will let me do those hours and still pay me enough to afford the nursery fees.

And it is scary. Especially in this post-EU Referendum economy where doom and gloom is forecast in every direction.

It's not like it was easy for mothers to work before. I have lost count of the number of people I have met who have been told that it will be cheaper for them not to work, than pay for child care.

And as I scour the job ads for those two magic words, "part time", my feeling of anxiousness grows ever stronger.

I am not giving up.

But I am starting to consider that I might be PURELY a mother for a little while longer than I anticipated.
The Pramshed
Pink Pear Bear