…making friends is hard!

• Student council tips •

At a Mum and Baby pamper morning for Mother’s Day (hint, hint husband…Mother’s day THIS Sunday) today, while the kids enjoyed their floor picnic, my friend and I got to setting the world to rights. We ended up reflecting upon how we met and how nervous we felt at making the first move.

She referred to it (I’m sure she won’t mind me stealing her words) as ‘putting my big girl pants on’. She summed it up perfectly! You’ve got to be brave to make friends. You’ve got to put yourself ‘out there’ to make a connection. I know, as a teacher, I’ve been guilty in the past of telling kids who are struggling to make friends to ‘just join in’, ‘just say hi’ without actually considering about difficult that is!

It’s not just about being shy. I’m not shy at all but I still found making new friends post-baby ridiculously awkward and it took me way out of my comfort zone. I feel like it’s more to do with wanting to be accepted. About not being dismissed. At a truly raw moment in your life, you are just a girl, standing in front of a boy…asking him to love her…

Oh shit, sorry…wrong film 😉

What was I saying?

At a truly raw moment you are literally asking someone to judge you…do they think I’m worth getting to know? When you are already feeling vulnerable with your post-baby hang ups, hormones dragging you all over the place and judgements coming at you from all angles, you are exposing yourself even further!

The other side of this whole new world coin is that with every new friend you make, there will be those who don’t make it past Judge’s Houses. Maybe they didn’t turn out to be who you thought (can be devastating) or you just didn’t have as much in common (can just get awkward). This part of making friends requires just as much bravery to deal with, often more.

I’m lucky. Everyone I’ve met since having my little boy have been beautiful people. Maybe I don’t see them a lot for one reason or another, but every one has given me something, taught me something, shown me something in myself and supported me and my son. Hopefully, I’ve done the same for them!

So yes, making friends is hard…

but so worth it ❤

…toddlers push you to your limits, then they pick a favourite over you! 

So…clearly my toddler has chosen a favourite parent and, news flash, it isn’t me! 

Everything I try to do for him, 9 times out of 10, is a battle. The Husband tries and no problems. I’m having a bad day with him, the Husband comes home and the Little Man acts like he’s been sweetness and light all day! 

Is it that he’s chosen a favourite? Am I doing something wrong? He is just a better parent than me? Do other parents have this same thing going on? 

Maybe he’s just calmer than me? I must admit, between sleep deprivation, separation anxiety (more mine than his with me going back to work) and feeling inferior, my patience is running low and my frustration levels are stratospheric! I’m being mentally and emotional pushed to my limits. I hate being pushed! 

I just can’t seem to get it right for him at the minute. I’m probably over reacting due to aforementioned craze-inducing situation but I feel like I’m not needed. Almost like I’m in the way. 

So…rather than deal with it like a grown up and talk it over and let my Husband tell me ‘of course we need you’ and ‘why don’t you go take a bath and relax, here’s a delicious glass of wine’, I’m sulking in the bathroom! 

Very mature! 

Actually, the glass of wine does sound good…

Maybe I’ll go sulk in the kitchen! 

…sometimes the old cliches are true!

Happy Easter!

Feeling absolutely sick now after inhaling chocolate and wine but finished the day off by going full couch potato; watching films back to back and ignoring the dishes!

The basic moral of Tonight’s choices were your usual, well-worn cliches: ‘believe in yourself’, ‘know who you are’, ‘it’s about the journey, not the destination’. Unusually though, both films got me in a reflective mood about life, the universe and my full on Hollywood meltdown this week!

I’m just going to say it and damn how cheesy it sounds: parenting is a journey (feel like I’m on the X-Factor…I’ll be saying it’s a roller caster of emotions next)! Looking back, I was insanely naive! How could I have been anything else, realistically? The path to where we are now has taken twists and turns beyond anything I could’ve anticipated. It is the ultimate journey with no destination. It never ends, never let’s up. It’s as unrelenting in its trials and challenges, as it is in its surprises and unashamedly beautiful, overpowering moments. 

Yet this week I’d forgotten the fundamental thing…where I am today as a parent it not the end. I have been pushing myself to be this amazing finished product of a ‘mum’. Boxed, shiny and ready for the shelves. In trying to fit this image I had, I’d strayed so far from my true self that I was damaging my self image as a parent and, worse, my relationship with my child & my husband. I was not believing in myself to trust my instincts, be led by my intuition and listen. I had become so preoccupied with what ‘they’ (bloody ‘they’…rearing their ugly know-it-heads again) say my toddler should be doing to be Nursery ready, how ‘they’ say my aversion to strict routine is damaging my child, what ‘they’ say my greedy boy should and shouldn’t be eating, that I’d lost the essence of what made me ‘me’ as a mum!  

I am fully aware that this is not the 1st, and for sure won’t be the last time, that I forget to hold onto these tried and tested mantras but for now at least, sod it! So what if my Little Man steals sips of my tea. Who cares if he likes a bottle to fall asleep while cuddling on the sofa at night? What’s the worst that will happen if he doesn’t get the prescribed 14 hours sleep every time! 

Being a parent is a journey and it is a roller caster of emotions (oh shit, I just said it)! Every cliche ever written is absolutely, 100% true at some point! So yes, I will be late for everything and I can’t guarantee I will arrive clean. Yes, sometimes I will talk like I’m the only person to ever have children. My house will perpetually look like I’ve had my own personal cyclone pass by and I will appear to enjoy living like that, when in truth I have just given in to the inevitable! 

But…

I will believe in myself. I will know who I am. I will honour the journey and I will not be rushing to my destination for, when I get there, my house will be clean, I will arrive on time and I will not wax lyrical about the latest piece of crap art, because my child will be grown and no longer want to snuggle to sleep or play for endless hours.

And that’s ok. That’s right.

I will have done the best I can for him and that’s anyone can ask (even of myself). 

  

…being a mum can be lonely

Today is not a good day. 

I woke up feeling so productive, I even cleaned my fridge before 8am! (All we have now is cheese, milk and mystery sauce!) 

Everything was going to plan!

Finally it was my turn to eat. The Boy was fed, the Husband’s lunch was made. I sat down and a familiar voice piped up ‘can you iron my clothes?’ No problem, I’ll eat after. Next a familiar sound…time for a nappy change! He has to wait, I’m doing something. That doesn’t go down well so now I’m being bitten and smacked (by the Boy, not the Husband)! How dare I not attend to his every need right away?! Sorted him out, now he’s crying because he’s tired (again, the Boy not the Husband). Make the bottle, snuggle him down…let the fight commence.

We do not like naps! So, I alone, struggle trying to hold him, to wind him, rock him, put him down (nope that definitely doesn’t work)! I alone suffer through the smacks, the bites, the tears. Now, I alone, am trapped under a sleeping boy because he’s allergic to his cot (and the least some he’s andtsleep, right)! Still haven’t eaten by the way and, worst of all to an English person, still no brew! 

I alone listen to the whirling criticism in my mind…it’s your fault he’s like this, he should have a routine, why don’t you just let him cry while you eat, don’t give into him, the Husband’s only trying to help, don’t be a queen bitch.

I alone am feeling another day slipping sway into a swamp of dirty nappies, making food (not for me, might I add), cleaning, fighting nap times, food shopping, cooking again. 

I alone am wishing myself back to the early days when everything seemed so easy.

I can’t even go out because the Boy is still an infectious ball of spots and even when they are gone, I won’t dare go out until he is the perfect vision of health for fear I will be judged by Mummy Mafia!

I need perspective! Crying on the stairs never solved anyone’s problems! Chocolate does though! And wine…wine is good but 9am may be a little too early! 

Now he’s awake again. The little shit is smiling at me like nothing every happened! 

Although, when I think about it…am I ever alone anymore?! Wherever I go, I have a teeny tiny shadow. They are right…going to the bathroom by myself is considered a luxurious victory! 

Maybe that’s the problem…the more demanding the Boy is becoming, the less I’m looking after myself. Weirdly, the less time I have to myself, the more alone I feel. 

Sitting here feeling sorry for myself isn’t going to do any good. Silver linings, at least now he’s awake I can put the kettle on! Fair enough, he will try steal my brew but I might get a bit! 

…it’s time to get serious about relaxing!

Last night I hosted the 1st MammaKnows…virtual coffee group! I was super nervous that it would bomb but, as usual, you lovely MammaKnows…followers stepped up and shared some fantastic tips, resources and advice ❤ 
Our topic was relaxing . I’ve blogged before about ‘getting off the grid’ and taking some time completely out of the madhouse that is being a mum but, realistically, how often can you actually do this? What do you do when time for this is super rare? 

The discussion was great. Not just because people shared their fantastic tips but because it also went deeper. It became a conversation around being mindful about your choices; really honouring yourself and giving yourself permission to nourish that basic need in us all.

“I’ve observed that different people need very different things to help them relax…I think it’s important to realise that, especially as a mother, you need to be quite deliberate and methodical about seeking out what’s right for you.” -Sarah Hon           (Teacher @ Beach Haven Community Yoga) 

The idea of ‘deliberately and methodically finding my own way of relaxing on a practical, day-to-day level struck a cord with me. So often I find myself a slave to Netflix or cleaning the house during those daytime naps! The Little Man wakes up and I feel no more ready for the next adventure than before! 
I never really thought before about actively seeking out the right things to help me relax. Unconsciously, writing this blog has become one of those ways and yoga, definitely yoga, but could I list 5 other ways?! 

It also got me thinking about my husband and my perspective on his relaxation time. When I expect him to spend his weekends helping me and allowing me ‘time off’, am I selfishly denying him that vital ‘downtime’?! To me, watching hours of YouTube videos seems like a pointless waste of family time but actually, he needs that switch off just as much as I do! 

I guess, in the end, that’s all about balance. Balance between us both, allowing each other space to recharge. For me, I’m absolutely going to practice this idea of, in essence, planning my relaxation time. Not letting fatigue suck me back to the same routine and acknowledging that to relax is as basic a need as food and water…not something to feel guilty about doing! 


…that 1st year flies by!

birthday-cake-candlesI am now the proud owner of a one year old!

In homage to the night of his extremely hurried entrance into the world, he’s had me awake since 12am. In fairness, the poor guy has tonsillitis and who am I to argue if he wants mummy snuggles 🙂

Sleep is absolutely not an option, as he rams his finger up my nose, yanks my hair and flails in all directions all whilst being finally (albeit noisily) asleep! Whilst he snores away like an old man, I’ve been thinking about all the things I have learnt over this last amazing year.

  1. Having a child hurts! Not just the labour (massive design fail there!) but his damn teeth! No-one ever sits and daydreams about the time your precious bundle will take a chunk out of your boobs/arms/neck/wildly painful and never before considered armpit arch, but oh boy do they!! And the finger nails! Those tiny fingers I once lovingly stroked are now home to tiny razor blades!
  2.  All things pass. The zombie feeling, the night feeds, the leaky boobs, the sleepless nights, the terror of dropping/breaking/forgetting baby will all end.   BUT… so will the long, cosy, sleepy snuggles, the secret bond when only you can feed him, the beautiful bubble of the those early days and weeks will all end too. I’ve learnt to lavish in each precious moment and realised how strong I can be in the not so precious ones!
  3. It takes time to become a family. Yes we loved our new addition with all our heart but bonding takes time. You go through excruciating pain, with your partner helpless and are then passed a tiny, gunky human who is totally dependent on you! We had to learn to be patient, reassuring and let each find our own ways of doing things.
  4. Being a mum can be boring! Under the baby sick, today’s lunch and other suspicious stains, I’m still me! I know  now it’s OK to admit that once things become more ‘normal’, daily life can feel a bit monotonous! I used to feel guilty for wanting to take off the ‘mum hat’ for a little while but now I know I’m a better mum because I do.
  5. I learnt to do my your own thing! Sod the books, sods the advice from the ‘they’! This took a LOT of time to realise with my long suffering, amazingly supportive husband waiting patiently until I realized I was being an idiot!
  6. My house will never look the same again! We are slowly drowning in plastic crap and I haven’t seen the floor since last Tuesday (because, let’s face it, those ideals of only buying educational, wooden toys is long gone)
  7. Tantrums start early! I thought I had more time! The evil stare of my child whilst he has a melt down because I won’t let him eat the shit he found in the trolley is hilarious but, at the same time, terrifying!

So, as I blitz through more of Netflix’s generous offerings, I think about the next year and what might be steaming our way.

Hopefully a lot more of the same!

It’s been the best year yet ❤

…Dr Seuss gives great advice!

Today I woke up to a message I knew was coming but nevertheless both terrified me and excited me at the same time.

It’s time for Mamma to go back to work!

It’s a question I’m sure every parent gets…’when are you going back to work?’ Had you asked me (even when I was pregnant) what my work plans were when I became a mum, I would’ve said, ‘no change for me…I love my job, get me back on that career path!’. Don’t get me wrong, I still absolutely love my job. Being a teacher is part of who I am. Nothing better than a top notch laminator and brand new stationary! However, becoming a mum changed me far beyond my expectations.

By the time I had got to the end of my morning message I had felt excitement, purpose, relief, fear, sadness, nostalgia and guilt! How does one person deal with all those emotions in 5 minutes!  You feel guilty because you want to go back to work, you feel guilty because you don’t. You feel relief and you can practically hear your bank account cheer at the prospect of a second income! The excitement and new sense of purpose hits, then you feel abject terror; what if you can’t do it anymore!

Worst for me is the nostalgia.

I watched my Little Man happily munching away on his toast and felt grief for the baby he no longer was and amazement at the boy he has become. A sense of mourning that the bubble of maternity leave has popped. That those precious early days, when our newly made family would shut out the world and completely dissolve into ourselves, were over.

When all is considered though, it’s the right time. He is so ready for nursery; to be off exploring the world and making new friends. I’m lucky to have had so much time with him! Honestly, it’s the right choice for me too. One day, my children will be grown up and gone but I will still want to excel in my career as well as as a parent.

When the day comes and I get dressed knowing that, for the first time in a long time, I won’t finish the day covered in squashed banana and other suspicious stains, (well, hopefully, I do teach 5 year olds) we will both be fine but still…today I’m going to give him a few extra cuddles and shut the world out just a bit longer ❤

In the words of the great Dr Seuss:

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…’they’ have a lot of answer for!

Doing the obligatory scroll through  Facebook after a lovely night off Mummy/Daddy duties and I find the most infuriating parenting blog article! The patronising phrases and its blame game tone are still ringing in my ears. I wonder if the authors of these blogs are aware how much of a detrimental  affect ‘they’ have on our self esteem as parents?! 

Who the hell are these ‘they’ anyway? ‘They’ fill our media steams, email inboxes, playgroup conversations, arguments with our partners and discussions with our friends? These mysterious people who we are encouraged to rely on, turn to and seek out in times of need and who, 9 times out of 10, either have no more qualifications than ourselves or have an agenda of their own to push!

Articles fill my social media spouting the latest parenting theory, each contradicting the last and adding to an already confusing world of raising a baby without a bloody manual. Useful taglines, helpfully explaining why it’s my fault my baby is waking up in the night or crying or generally a bit out of sorts are exactly what I need to read (not)! Blogs subliminally advertising their exorbitantly priced sleeping and feeding pattern packages by telling me there is something wrong with my baby who doesn’t sleep for exactly 2.5 hours in the day because, apparently, every baby is exactly the same. 

Even before we become parents, we are threatend by the ‘they’! ‘They’ with their horror stories of labour, ‘they’ with the tales of how their marriage was never the same again, ‘they’ who not so silently judge you for not having a laminated, colour coded birth plan, complete with a timed soundtrack and mood matching candles!  

Where are the ‘they’ telling us we’ve got this!  That our choices are our own, our mistakes our own to learn from and that yes, not only is every baby different, every parent is different! 

Be the ‘they’ that makes someone smile. That makes a new mum feel great about her choices; that makes a new dad feel confident to step in. Be the ‘they’ that helps expectant parents race towards their labour with excitement and confidence, not crippling fear and doubt. 

Fuck the ‘they’! 

…it’s good to talk

So…yesterday was the worst day in my entire parenting career so far! 

In between pleading with my child, crying on the sofa and singing ‘ jingle bells’ like a christmas elf possessed, I became convinced I was the worst mum in the whole world. Clearly I had broken my child and I wasn’t much of a fan of this new defective model! 

By the time the husband came home, the carnage was over and the damn child was looking at us like butter wouldn’t f@#king melt (little s*!t). He had no trouble; bath time was a dream, snuggles and kisses all round. My mind was made up.

                                                           It was just me. 

In my dark place yesterday, the last thing I wanted to do was admit to anyone that I was defeated, that I needed help. I couldn’t even bring myself to call my husband. Clearly I can quite happily dole out pearls of wisdom but don’t exactly listen to my own ramblings! 

What an idiot! At swmiming today, conversation turned to how the babies were getting on. Surprise surprise, yesterday was not a great day for other Mummas too! The more we shared our war stories, the lighter I felt. I slid out from under the suffocating smog and got some much needed perspective on the whole thing. 

Once again, I should’ve thought what the wise woman would do. The wise woman would NOT have tried to bribe an 8 month old (the good old Santa threat didn’t really work this time) but would rather have sent out a distress call for wine and earplugs!

Ah well, I’m sure there will be a next time, I’ll give it a go then! 

…this too shall pass

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‘it will go by in a flash’, ‘blink and you’ll miss it’, ‘treasure each moment’.

People love to tell you these things from the minute you announce your impending arrival! While I certainly haven’t ‘treasured’ every moment (I challenge anyone to ‘treasure’ the moment the umbilical cord comes off), I’ve tried to remember…

this too shall pass…

This helped get me through the agony of labour, through the sleepless nights, through the feeling of helplessness. More than ‘getting me through’ though, it helped me maintain perspective. It’s helped me to be grateful for the good and not stress over the not so good. The not so good won’t last forever. Although it feels crappy at the time, it will come to an end.

Equally though, the good times will pass too. It is easy to rush headlong into the next thing and wish for the time when…Today my baby has climbed the stairs, fallen off the bed, crawled into my sewing box and tried to climb out of his cot!  My god, how I wish I’d appreciated those weeks when my tiny baby stayed where I left him!

It is cliched but true…he won’t hold my hand forever, he won’t snuggle into me at night, he won’t need me when he’s sad, I won’t be the 1st person he calls. This is right, this is how it should be but that doesn’t make it any easier to come to terms with.

But, if I keep perspective and remember that this too shall pass, hopefully I won’t let the good times pass me by .