When Sue posted “sleep” as her challenge word on A Word in Your Ear, I was already primed to think of babies sleeping – or in Tom’s case, not sleeping – since I posted about this a couple of weeks ago.
This is the only photo I have of my mother with my son when he was really small, probably only a couple of weeks old. Photos of him then are deceptive. He’s always asleep, but the reality of our lives then was that he slept only fitfully, for an hour or so at a time, and cried a lot the rest of the time.
Probably the first conversation I had with my mum after I’d come home from hospital with my howling infant was about how he never seemed to sleep. She reminded me I’d been the same, and that my dad, off work with broken ribs, had walked me in my pram around Kirkcaldy for hours on end. I probably would have done the same, except that we lived in a flat in an old manor house in the middle of rural Northamptonshire, and I couldn’t even get the pram over the cattle stops to the end of the driveway, let alone out beyond that on to roads with no footpaths.
When Tom was about five months old, we moved from our glamorous flat in Gayhurst House to a much more practical Edwardian semi in Olney. It lacked the history, character, architectural merit, Great Hall, gargoyles, tennis courts, Victorian Knot Garden and famous fishing pond of Gayhurst – not to mention the ghosts. But at least we all got some sleep.