MAD

So here I am. Being rocked rhythmically from side to side as I take deep breaths of the warm stale air (does someone have an egg sandwich? Why do people always have egg sandwiches? *looks aggressively down carriage for the offending person*). An hour away from home and an hour away from London, exactly half way to somewhere I never expected to be.

I changed my mind about going to the MADs more times than I subsequently changed my choice of outfit. It has been a three stage process thus far:

Stage one: No. I can’t go. No no no.
Stage two: Yes. I must go. I don’t want to be a slave to my own anxieties. I will hurriedly book train tickets so that I can’t change my mind.
Stage three: Realisation. I am actually going. Shit.

Stages one and two alternated for months and then all of a sudden it was Thursday and I hit stage three with a big fat panic attack in the middle of town.

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When I walked into the hotel, tendrils of matted wet hair dripping around my shoulders and my bag slowly cutting a deep groove into my shoulder, I was met with the sight of a giant red stag. I took an ‘artsy’ photo knowing that I would need something to document that I really was in the same place as everyone else that night, even if I was stone cold sober and therefore not sat astride it, rodeo style, once the party was in full swing.

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There was something quite surreal about being in a hotel, being away from home and somewhere that was tidy and neat and posed no threat of death by toys strewn across its floors. I sank into a hot bath in an attempt to wash away my tension and the longing for toddler company that I found tugging at my heart strings.

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More surreal still was that as I reclined surrounded by sandalwood bubbles and blank granite tiles all I could hear was the cackle of Mammasaurus echoing down the corridor, bouncing off the walls and creeping through the gap under the door to join me.

Weird.

Getting ready was probably the most relaxing moment of the whole weekend. No daughter with a dislike of loud noises barking to ‘put it back mama’ while aggressively pointing at the hairdryer as I dried my hair – I kept on drying for at least five minutes longer than it needed, just because I could and it was a novelty -my dress, from the lovely people at Marks and Spencer was awesome. It fitted perfectly, didn’t cling anywhere and best of all, I could put it straight on from my bag and there wasn’t a crease in sight. And I am not a good packer.

Just as awesome as a dress that doesn’t crease was DorkyMum who invited me up to her room to meet her so that I didn’t have to face new faces alone. It’s a pity that it took me five minutes of frantically jabbing at a button in the lift to realise that I had to use my keycard first. Ahem.

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What followed was a flurry of meeting lovely bloggers, wishing that I had been a bit more forward thinking with my online identity as I rattled off ‘ClarafromIwantmymummy’ eleventymillion times (short and snappy is the way forward), hugs and ohmygoodness that’s Myleene!

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Before I’d even sat down I had met Grenglish, Not My Year Off, Mummy Daddy And Me Makes Three and tonnes of others, been a little sick in my mouth at Mammasaurus and her sweaty phone, encouraged Actually Mummy to harass Myleene Klass and decided that I 100% knew that I wasn’t going to win but I was 100% glad I was there.

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And I didn’t win. But I did feel so proud to see my name up there with all the other finalists. I chatted to Merry from A Patch of Puddles and Me The Man And The Baby (as well as keeping her chicken warm when she dashed off to feed said baby and giving her my napkin to mop her tears at winning). I did give all of my squid to Merry, I did stick to water all night, I did cry at Mr Multiple Mummy‘s wonderful speech. And again during a few others.

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I did try to sneak one of Mammasaurus awards when she wasn’t looking (she did win two, I mean…). I did stay up later than I have in years, have cheeks that ached from real laughter and hands that tingled from applauding.

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I did meet so many people who I tweet/stalk/read often and genuinely found them to be even nicer in real life – Fiona from Coombe Mill, BizzyMum and Helen from KiddyCharts to name a few.

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I didn’t meet so many people who I tweet/stalk/read often and so I still couldn’t spot The Boy And Me in a crowd, didn’t tell MammyWoo that I would sell a kidney for her shoes, didn’t tell DomesticGoddesque how glam she looked or get to chat to infinity other amazing bloggers who I just wanted to stand near in a starstruck fashion grinning manically and hoping some of their amazing rubbed off on me.

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I didn’t freak out, I didn’t make an idiot of myself or fall over in my heels or run away and hide.

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I didn’t manage to get around the room quickly enough to speak to people that I wanted to see again, despite trying several times there was always a distraction or someone else I wanted to meet or sweets in my path.

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I didn’t hitch up my dress and ride the stag with the aplomb that he deserved. I didn’t get a second to thank Sally for her evil overlordness and (frankly) superpowers for organising something so epic and making it look seamless.

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I did miss my baby. I did have an amazing time.

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And then all of a sudden I was back home, tired and aching, with my baby attached to my leg while I grilled fish fingers and made a brew and felt like the whole thing was just a dream.

And the man with the egg sandwich did totally catch the train home with me.