How bad could it be? muses Mum

The worst thing about being a Mum is the amount of bossiness and judicial involvement required to try and maintain a remotely civilised household. I sometimes fantasise about kicking back with a big fat cigar in my mouth in a massive armchair (the type that massages your whole body) and saying to the children ‘Do your worst’ with a smile that would rival Hannibal’s from the A team. What would be the worse that could happen?

I’m thinking along the lines of William Golding’s The Lord of The Flies, culminating in a ritual where I am held aloft as my children chant ‘kill the pig, cut her throat’. Then London riot version 2: out in the country, would commence.

Or I might be pleasantly surprised…. how bad would they let their rooms get before thinking ‘perhaps I better tidy up’? Would they start to think twice about chucking milk on the floor and upending a plate full of crumbs once they realised they would have to clean the mess up themselves. Would baby boy finally develop a self-preservation instinct or would he accidentally kill himself without me catching him or shouting ‘no’ for the hundredth time.

I am not naturally a bossy person and I am not that keen at taking charge so that bit of motherhood I find hard but nethertheless I have to do it for the sake of society…..

I am blogging for Unicef.

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One sh1t at a time

My son pooed his pants again today. For me it was one poo too many and he got a firm slap on the bottom and was sent straight to bed with no book. I am at my wits end with this potty training malarkey, particularly as he has days and weeks when he doesn’t put a foot wrong then suddenly he has accidents all over the place. He is only 2 and a half and i have been told that this is typical for boys. It doesn’t make accidents any less palatable and stretches my motherhood patience to the max.

I think that is one of the biggest challenges as a parent, the ability to be patient in perpetuity. However, everyone has to draw a line somewhere and too often i see incidents when no line has been drawn creating an exhausting situation where the parent is at their wits end, while their child continues to misbehave. This was a common problem in the programme Mr Drew’s School for Boys, an example of what happens if bad behaviour continues unchecked.

It is constant, like correcting the course of a sail-boat on a windy day. My daughter was awful on Thursday, grumpy, sulky, whiney and not talking politely to either myself or anyone else, so i talked it over with her that night, discussed what she could have done better then the following day she was brilliant. But today, the bad behaviour returned so I had to call time -out again and then have another discussion about how she could have handled the situation better (ie not punching me when she needed my attention while i was talking to someone). I explained to her that i needed to finish my conversation before i followed Daddy’s request (he was waiting for me and my daughter felt under pressure so she threw me some mini punches).

So i have one child who needs constant reminders about toilets and another requiring training on how to behave around other people and how her actions and behaviour are perceived by others.

Motherhood is like life, you have got to take he rough with the smooth. Thankfully for every poo-ridden, grumpy moment there are 100 moments that if you could you would record to playback when they are grown-up and you are old. One of my biggest fears is that those times will pass too quick for my memory.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. Read about the charity campaign here.

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Twins – double trouble or double the fun?

A friend of mine has just discovered she is expecting identical twins. After the initial shock passed, zillions of practical questions sprung to mind. The more you think about the practicalities, the more potential tricky scenarios emerge. Such as:

– Do you dress them in matching outfits?
– How do you tell them apart?
– Do you attempt breastfeeding?
– Is your car big enough?
– Is your house big enough?
– Can you afford to go back to work given the childcare costs?
– What kind of names are best – do they both have to have similar syllables? Should they both be traditional names or more trendy?
– When they start school, should they be split or should they stay together? What year do you start this?
– Will you cope?
etc, etc ,etc the list is endless.

Like all things in parenting, you just have to bloody well get on with it. But even so, it is a very daunting prospect for my friend, particularly as she has a child already. To jump from a one child family to a three child family is quite a jump.

There is also the constant worry during pregnancy, as they are sharing the same placenta. The hospital wants to see my friend for regular scans and check-ups, which will make her working life tricky.

But, as with all children and family planning issues, there are pros and cons to every scenario. Twins share a unique bond, which is irreplaceable. Do they fight less than other siblings because of this bond and because there is a zero age gap? It really is a gift to have children full-stop but to have 2 in one hit – that’s just damned lucky – bloody hard work – but those parents are very privileged to have such a unique occurrence happen to them.

My friend is still thinking she can juggle her work once the twins arrived. I say put it on the back-burner for a long while yet. Why the rush? Of course she’ll need a break from them for her own sanity but to miss out on the early years of her twins as well as her other child is just crazy. As parents of children much older will tell you – you don’t want to rely on films and photographs to document their baby and toddler years – memories of living the moment with them are much much better.

For those who have to work fine. For those who feel they need to work – try it part-time but don’t be a weekend Mum – you are letting some of the best years of your life pass you by. The sad thing is, you won’t realise they were the best until its too late.

I am blogging every day to raise funds for Unicef. if you are able to support my fundraising please visit my Unicef page.

Thanks for reading.

What age do we give up on the tooth fairy and Santa?

My daughter said “I’m glad I’m in year 2”. “Why’s that?” I reply. “Because I get to see Father Christmas a the school fair”. I couldn’t understand her logic until she explained that once you are in the juniors you don’t get to meet him. “That’s sad” I said. My daughter reassured me that they probably will get to see him later. But it made me think. Is it because the Headmaster and teachers know that by the time the children reach Year 3 (8), cracks start to appear in their belief? Then you get an awkward discrepancy between those who are still convinced that Santa exists and those who think its all of a load of rubbish.

Like all parents, I am not looking forward to the time when my daughter concludes that Santa doesn’t exist. Not just because it signals the end of Christmas magic (its never the same once  Father Christmas goes and it doesn’t really come back again until you become a parent yourself – f0r my daughter’s sake I hope this doesn’t happen in her teens!) No, the additional worry is keeping the magic alive for my son who will be 2. We have a large ‘gap’ between sproglets because I knew I wouldn’t cope with a 2 year age gap and then, as things in life tend to happen this way, it took me aaagggges to get pregnant again. In fact we had pretty much given up all hope and were thanking our lucky stars that we at least had one child (experiencing infertility and, unfortunately for us, a miscarriage gives you a whole new appreciation for the miracle of conceiving and then surviving pregnancy and scorn for people who seem to conceive at the drop of the hat and plan the size of the family like they are counting smarties)

So, I am going to have to do my utmost to ensure my daughter helps us to sustain the Father Christmas campaign for my little boy otherwise he will be 2 and saying “When are you gonna fill up my stocking mummy?”.

As children get older it is also more difficult to keep up the charade. They get clever and start to think – damn them.

My life is manic and I went to bed the other night with that nagging feeling that there was something I was meant to do before sleep. The following morning I here “Mummy the tooth fairy hasn’t been”. Shit, that was it, bloomin tooth fairy duty. Its hard to keep up with it as they are dropping out of her mouth faster than I have 50ps (also another hassle making sure you have enough change). So I attempt to explain why the fairy hasn’t been:

1) “You didn’t leave the window open”  (daughter replies “I did”)
2) “Ahh but which one?” (“the other one is locked”)
3) “The tooth fairy must have forgotten her key (“she doesn’t have a key”)
4) “Yes she does lots of people have window locks to prevent kids jumping off 2 storey buildings to retrieve sunglasses fallen on the patio” (my Husband once caught my daughter doing precisely this hovering OUTSIDE the window her feet dangling over the drop ready to jump) (“she’s only tiny how does she carry all the keys around?”)
5)” Through fairy magic” (“how does that work?”)
6) “Well she sprinkles fairy dust and the key magically appears”  (……there is a pause…..””where does fairy dust come from?”
7) “No-one knows……anyway I’m sure she will be back tonight”  (“oooh she might have been this morning while I had breakfast I’ll go up and check”)
8) “No wait (that gives me an idea) lets give her a bit more time and then check just before school OK?” (“OK” reluctantly)
a few minutes later
9) “I’m just popping upstairs won’t be a sec” – at which point I quickly grab £1, go up to her room and chuck it on the floor under her bed (bear with me) and then go to get the tooth but where the hell is it? I go back downstairs
10) (Her school friend arrives and she whisks her to her bedroom) “Mummy she found the coin!” friend says “Oh great where was it” “under the bed” “aaaah I know what happened there is a spider above your bed isn’t there and he must have descended down on his little bit of thread and frightened the fairy away so she dropped the coin under the bed (daughter says “but why didn’t she take my tooth?”) “Because she was so scared she forgot to pick it up”
Seemingly satisfied my daughter then goes to school.

I have a massive guilt trip that I forgot (this was the second time I forgot) so when she gets home and I tuck her up for the night I suggest that we attempt to put the tooth under the pillow again. I say “Let’s put it in the little bag that Grandma made for you to keep it safe?” “But the last time I did that the fairy didn’t take the tooth so I don’t want to use that” (the last time I forgot was the first time she used grandmas special bag and ever since she hasn’t used it (hence more guilt).

So that night I wait until she is sleeping at the right angle, I go in with ANOTHER £1 (paying my way through the guilt trip), lift the pillow a little and…..where’s the bloody tooth? Oh no she has set a challenge for the fairy to test the power of fairy magic. So there I am desperately fumbling around for this titchy witchy tooth in the dark all the time trying not to disturb her and getting ready to roll under the bed at a moment’s notice just in case she wakes up. I finally find it in the carpet (phew) and add it to my collection like something out of the Predator movies.

I will do anything to not be the person responsible for breaking the make-believe…….or is it???? I wish the tooth fairy did exist because it would be one less thing off my to do list. We are going away for Christmas this year so am already thinking about how ‘Santa’ is going to cunningly disguise pressie from our house to a cottage in Snowdonia. Why hasn’t a business set-up to be Santa Claus – they’d have to be pretty trustworthy for you to let them into your house in the middle of the night but I think it would be a PLC before too long.

 At least there is The Polar Express to fall back on when doubt starts to creep in…

I am blogging every day to fundraise for Unicef. If you are able to support the campaign please visit my fundraising page.


Much ado about nothing

Much ado about nothing – moments when you get your head in such a tizzwazz over something that turns out to be either: a) not such a complete deal in the first place or b) completely wrong.

A few examples:

1) When my boyfriend turned up to our 2nd date 7 hours late. I was convinced he was standing me up. Spent every second of every  minute of every hour for the duration of the time he was late stewing and trying to ignore my mother – “he probably just got drunk last night and is sleeping it off and has forgotten the time” – NO excuse in the eyes of a 17 year old – “If he is hopelessly in love with me then he would muscle through the hangover to see me” (I was also quite delusional at that age but who isn’t). Sure enough he turns up with a sore head, a bashful look and some garage roses and my Mum has “I told you so written all over her face”.

apologies for this random picture of a pink hippo – but it makes a nice break from my ramblings

2) The recent situation I mentioned in an earlier post when my sister-in-law got her knickers in a twist on when we were meeting up – complicated by the fact that mother-in-law and other sister-in-law had told her a slightly different version of events thanks to the magic of chinese whispers – the WORST form of communication. Emails tend to cause incidents of ‘much ados’ because people read between the lines (particularly women) and can come to their own harmful conclusions over completely innocent harmless messages – they are just read the wrong way. I have concluded that the best method is face to face – then you know what mood the person is in and you don’t have to spend long stewing over a response – you just say what you think there and then and issues can be sorted out a whole lot quicker (It also means that you don’t have a paper trail if you throw a tantrum – which is always regretted later).

3) Jealousy. I’m a realist. Everyone gets jealous and it is that complete playground level selfish jealousy and you can’t stop feeling it. I find jealousy tends to happen when you hear about something second hand. I am less likely to be jealous of my friend if she tells me she is test driving a Range Rover Evoque if I hear it direct from her rather than via another friend – why is that? The same is true of all positive, but potentially jealousy inducing, news. I found myself getting grumpy and petulant when I heard via my husband that my mum-in-law wasn’t able to pick my daughter up from school because she was waiting anxiously by the phone to hear news of my sister-in-law’s new baby. It was fine because Grandad picked her up, but why did I feel a pang of jealousy towards my sister-in-law? – Its wrong. It wasn’t until I spoke to my mother-in-law directly that all my selfish feelings melted and I was just happy to hear such great news.

It seems that news from other sources, rather than direct from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, causes cases of ‘Much Ados’ where we create negative emotions and feelings towards something because we embellish the story with our own, usually negative, assumptions. I don’t think this theory is to be belittled. I bet a lot of wars could have been stopped by a good old face-to-face and tete-a-tete.

Not as entertaining as I had hoped but its food for thought anyway.

Missed yeterday’s post because returned from Zumnba and Powerhoop and still had dinner to cook by which point it was stupid o clock so another £1 in the pot to Unicef. It was a good class though – I thoroughly recommend throwing a ball while hooping – good for the brain and the midriff….and not a lot of things can hit those two birds with one stone.

I am blogging every day of my life (or trying to!) to raise money for Unicef. Please visit my fundraising page if you can support me. i am aiming for £1 a day.

Awkward siblings

It was my hubby’s birthday today and we celebrated by jumping on our motorbikes and cruising to one of our favourite pubs for dinner and drinks. It was bliss. The day was slightly marred, however, by the arrival of our nephew. Don’t get us wrong the arrival of a baby is always fabulous news. But the inconsiderate little bugger decided to share his birthday with his Uncle. My hubby doesn’t do sharing. What are the chances? 365 days of the year and he chooses the 18th September.

This situation is further exacerbated because sister-in-law is the type of Mum that falls into the category of ‘oh shit I am over 40 and haven’t had kids yet’. Her first child is only 14 months old and no sooner had she been born then it was ‘oh shit I am still over 40 and have an only child’ hence the arrival of child number two. Maternal she is not, but thankfully a nanny is on standby to sort out all the stupid routines she has got herself caught up in (afternoon milk, giving sweet alternatives because child won’t eat etc etc). They have recently moved into the most child unfriendly place imaginable (short of being in a lighthouse  – stairs and water aren’t a good combination). This house has three storeys and sash windows on the upper floors that open at your feet – it gave me nightmares just looking at it.

Anyway she is just a bit irritating, likes everyone to dance to her tune (first born syndrome) and very endearingly announced her second pregnancy on the day we were celebrating my other sister-in-laws 40th birthday (didn’t occur to her or my mother in law in fact that the news might rain on my sister in law’s parade?). Now the birthday clash. Right griping over – that feels a lot better.

Its just all a bit awkward because no-one has ever addressed the issue. To put it bluntly my hubby and his middle sister don’t feel as ‘special’ as the eldest. I think that is a hard issue to address and one that is a common problem. Awkward is a great way to describe it as it is awkward even to talk about it but therein lies the problem – everyone dodging the fact that they need to tell their parents how they feel. I did it recently with my Mum and it felt like a humongous load had been lifted off my shoulders. I hope that my kids tell me when they think something is unfair – sure they will do it in their younger years over a toy or a game but its much, much harder to do in adulthood. If everyone was straight with each other there would be nowhere near as many family feuds – do you agree?

I am writing this blog everyday to raise money for Unicef – if you are able to donate please view my fundraising page. If not thanks for reading – I try to write something entertaining or intriguing each day, no matter how dull the day has been.

My favourite part of the day

Tonight when I put my daughter to bed she asked me “What was your favourite part of the day?” This is a question often posed to children but we rarely ask ourselves this question as adults. I was stumped. I really couldn’t think. Then it made me rather negatively reflect – did I actually enjoy any of it? My daughter was getting bored by my unnecessarily prolonged thinking time until I finally stumbled upon…..”the bit when I was sitting in your Auntie’s garden in the sun chatting to your Uncle.” It was a rare moment of relaxation. My other Sister-in-Law was entertaining my baby son, my daughter was playing with my younger niece, everyone was occupied enjoying rare family time and I was soaking up September rays in a South London garden having a relaxing grown-up chit-chat with my brother-in-law. The feeling of the sun on my skin was bliss. But that part of the day must have only taken up 5 minutes of my entire day if that.

The rest of the time was spent as follows: tidying up, welcoming visitors who were buying some bikes from us via Gumtree, changing nappies, preparing lunch, travelling to South London, stopping for fuel, trying to find my sister-in law’s new place, getting lost, checking the sat-nav, checking the smartphone, stopping a man in the street who gave us better directions than the sat nav and the smartphone, finding a place to park, eating lunch, drinking tea, eating cake, playing with kids in garden, feeding kids supper, doing a tour of the new house, saying our goodbyes, getting in the car, driving home etc etc! Its just a production line of processes – and on a Sunday too. So it dawned on me that, when you are a child, (lets assume you are enjoying a happy upbringing) favourite parts of the day are very deliberate and last at least half a day if not longer. When you are an adult, favourite parts of the day happen when you least expect it but often get lost because you are to bogged down in the toing and froing and the minutiae of adult day-to-day living.

So before I go to bed each night, I am going to try and remember my favourite part of the day. That way I hope to ensure life doesn’t just pass me by.

On the tour of my Sister-in-Law’s house I was struck by the vast number of rooms that existed for 3 of them plus one on its way. As we ascended the three storey house, and the inventory of bedrooms required and storage space for everyone was ticked off, the other rooms that were surplus to requirements were given excuses for their existence, my SIL said “and this is the ironing room” and true enough this vast room complete with a roof-top view of London featured an ironing board and iron ready for action. We weren’t shown their cellar…..I wonder why….(sorry have been reading too much of those Fifty Shades books!)

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Only child syndrome missing a sibling

I’m feeling sad and I don’t know why.

I am sitting in the garden on a glorious day. Cloudless blue sky, soft gentle breeze, warm but not hot, birds and butterflies flitting about – perfect. I have just been told my baby boy has been given the all clear by the cardiac consultant – I knew he was fine but I’m glad he has finally been discharged. After my baby being poked and prodded for the last time (he was such an angel and endured it with a smile) I met up with my friend since schooldays for lunch.

But something has changed between us. Something so subtle that it can’t be discussed or explained. We find things to talk about but it no longer comes naturally any more. So keen am I to try and improve things that I am thinking what we can talk about that will switch the old best buddies magic on again. Its difficult to describe the feeling that I am hunting for. But something more than that of acquaintance making small talk. I want us to be kindred spirits again. But something has definitely gone from our friendship. I am hoping it is temporary…

I worry its just me. Throughout my life I have asked too much of my friends. Wanted them to be there when they were not. That’s the difference between friends and family. Most family members are always there in the background but I find friends come and go. Friends are also a bit like a drug after you first meet and the friendship blossoms you are then forever chasing that first giddy ‘hit’ when you initially discovered you both had so much in common.  Then life’s problems hit and you try to be there but its  never the same.

I think I ask too much of my friends. Someone once told me that children who have no siblings (like me) are always on the search for their surrogate sister or brother and that is my problem. I adored my friends when I was younger they gave me respite from my parent’s break-up and my mother’s relationships with other men. They introduced me to their world and showed me a different way of life. I didn’t have to rely on my imagination alone when I was with friends. I was always more comfortable with one or two friends then a large group because I craved the in-depth relationship. I found having too many friends was just too superficial for me I couldn’t get to really know them. It sounds a bit sad in a geeky kind of way. However I was a confident kid on the whole.

As an adult I am really not very good with my own company. I think that must come partly from being an ‘only’. I like interaction with others but not just anyone – people I know really really well. I used to have a good friendship thing going with my own mother but time has faded that now and it doesn’t help that she is in Spain most of the year. The mother/ daughter chat isn’t as good on Skype.

I don’t want to mope, I just want to reflect on what I have discovered is a side effect of being an ‘only’.

But the real test of happiness is this scenario – look around you, if your life was taken away now would you be happy with where you had got to in life? I am not talking about achievements I am talking about levels of happiness and right now I would say yes and I hope my friends and family would say the same.

If you have read this and answered no – then figure out what is bringing you down and change it NOW!

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