Some days are meant to get you thinking; some days serve to pluck you from the emotional, stressful maelstrom you’ve been blindly languishing in and point you in the direction of absolute clarity.
You don’t usually expect these days to occur when you’re planning to do a car boot sale.
Last Sunday, I packed up a shed load of knick-knacks, treasures and junk to take to a local sale with my helper, Skye, aged 8 – in itself a dangerous thing. If a profit of £29.50 is to be made, it is likely to take £28.50 of that to keep her amused for the duration.
We got there two hours early, thanks to the error on the website.
‘Grrrrr…’ I thought to myself, tired from a terrible night and feeling slightly miffed I was here, on the day of rest itself, for the possibility of a few measly quid.
It all started slowly, with a trickle of die-hard booters being allowed an early entrance, resulting in a £9 profit before play officially started.
The wind picked up, however, and before long the name of the game wasn’t ‘profit’, it was ‘stop the bloody clothing rail from being swept across the field and taking some poor sod’s eye out.’ All this, while Skye, my earnest helper, fart-arsed around on the play equipment and deliberated over which Cornetto she wanted.
‘Hmmmffff…’ I thought, as red-faced and windswept, I rescued muddy clothes from the field and re-assembled the clothing rail, and as Skye swore to be new BFFs with a gypsy kid covered in biscuit.
Money trickled in steadily, and profits grew, as did my annoyance at a woman examining my baby clothes and dropping ash from a cigarette clamped into her mouth directly onto them.
‘Pffftttt…’ I thought, brushing ash off now off-white sleepsuits as the lady grumbled at my prices.
Then it all changed.
After allowing Skye to spend £1.50 on the ice cream of her choice, I decided it was ok for me to throw a staggering, absolute caution-to-the-wind £2 on the most garish, obscene, ‘Real Housewives-style’ orange handbag (so bad, it cancelled itself out and became awesome).
Things seemed a bit better. To be fair, things always seem a bit better when you’re a girl, and you’re welcoming a new handbag into your life.
Then, a young couple arrived at our table with a tiny newborn boy in the dad’s arms. We all melted, of course. They’d caught sight of a fleecy baby suit I was selling, identical to the one the little boy was already wearing. It turned out that his was the newborn version, and mine, completely unused, was the 3 to 6 month equivalent.
We chatted and I complimented. The little one was utterly spark out in his dad’s arms and he reminded me of how Nico was, as a newborn, only seven months ago.
“Is he your first?” I asked. There was an awkward pause… then mum’s eyes filled with tears.
This little one was their third, but tragically this poor couple had already lost not one, but two babies in their first few months of life.
It punched the breath right from me.
As we spoke, Xander, only two and a half weeks old, lay peacefully and contentedly in his dad’s protective hold, utterly and blissfully unaware of just how precious his every breath was to them.
I guess what I’m saying is that it floored me. It floored me what some people go through.
We chatted for ages about parenthood, babies, car-boot sales, disgruntled women dropping fag ash on Baby Gap items and lots of life’s really annoying, really tragic and really joyful things. It was going home time, so we then spent the last ten minutes rifling through as much stuff as I could find in the right sizing for Xander, including the fleecy suit for him to grow into and some other lovely things that we don’t need and he does.
They had an absolute bargain for sure, but I’d been reminded of just how lucky I’ve been with my babies, and a few measly quid can’t buy you that.
Skye and I finished packing up after that. She loves to meet new people and kept saying, ‘Mummy, weren’t they just so NICE?’
I came home a different person to the one who’d left early that morning; instead of a knackered, complaining stress-head, panicked that I might not make enough sales at the car boot sale to cover the Direct Debits leaving my account the next day…
… I just felt blessed.
Nico’s cuddles when I got home were just so amazing. They’re always special, but… you know what I mean – the kind of teary cuddles when you don’t ever really want to let go.
All babies, of course, are so incredibly special. But here’s to those particularly cherished children that unknowingly arrive after their parents have travelled on the hardest, most heart-breaking journeys imaginable.
Here’s to Xander and the joy he brings! x
Jane Prinsep is a creative communicator, writer, mum and rape-survivor. She began blogging in 2009. Splintered Reflections marked the beginning of her creative outlet, writing about parenthood, relationships, rape and homelessness. She also writes comedy, short stories, flash fiction and poetry. In 2010 she worked with Karl James of The Dialogue Project – the result was “Why Not Me?” – a serialised audio conversation about surviving rape, first played at the Latitude Festival that year. She is proud that it continues to help rape survivors to this day and tackles a difficult subject that will forever remain important to her. She lives in Suffolk with her husband and three children. She also has a successful face painting business, Raging Zoo, and a crafts business, Iris River Designs, which she runs from her home in Suffolk.