5 Ways I Am A Good Mother

There are many things that as a parent I suck at, I am very open about these things and I often laugh about my shortcomings because quite frankly some of them put me in situations where you either laugh or cry. I use this blog to moan about the many hurdles of parenting and all the things it throws at you. I do not (often) shout about my successes. These are my top five things I feel that I do well as mother and implore you to do your own, they won’t all be the same but let’s face it children are so challenging that it’s likely that what you are good at this week won’t mean shit next week.

  1. Everyone always has clean underwear.
    I mean pants and knickers, they are not always so lucky with socks because we have a dog that likes to swallow just one of each pair. I am pretty good at keeping on top of the washing, which is a minor miracle being that one child cannot bare to wear PJ’s for more than one night and the other likes to get so messy at breakfast time that it is not an option. When you couple this with the washing line being in semi-retirement during this season it makes it even more amazing.
  2. People are fed. Relatively well.
    I do probably more than 90% of the cooking in this house, and always have even when working. I do breakfast, lunch and dinner and all the snacks in between. I like to cook and that means we eat (mostly) homemade, whilst I don’t judge those who do not eat as well, I am very proud that I do this.
  3. I am honest.
    I lie about shit like fairies and unicorns because once you blow this shit out of the water you cannot get it back but I am honest about everything else. We have started talking about drugs for example, recommended by drug expert David Nutt and as per his advice there has to be complete transparency so we have extended this to everything.
  4. I lose my shit but not about the stuff I should.
    This sounds backwards but hear me out, I get super stressed sometimes about things like my partner not emptying a pot noodle of the left over water before putting it in the bin in a precarious fashion as not to spill out (wait till he gets home). I do NOT lose it when my daughter covers her new pj’s in acrylic paint when she is supposed to be sleeping, I don’t do this because I want her to always be able to come to me when she has made a mistake.
  5. We do it alone.
    Whilst we do get the occasional nanny-sitter for an evening it is a rarity, we’ve got this, we juggle everything without getting a couple of hours here and there to clean the house or to do anything. When we have my mum over we do it all and put the sprouts to bed before we leave and we are always back by 12 to be ready for any wake up’s. Since having George I have had one night away from him where I was back at 6.30 am to boob feed. I have had a maximum of 3 days away from George, two weddings and a trip to Thorpe Park, we would love more time and more help but I’m super proud that we having killed each other.
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How Do You Like Your Eggs in The Morning?

I’d like mine alone.

Anyone that knows me will undoubtedly vouch for me when I say that I like to eat, it is probably my favorite hobby. Food is not merely fuel, let’s not do it a disservice, food is flavored bites of happiness and since having George he is attempting to systematically destroy all the things I love and his most recent battle is now with food. Like every other mother out there I can confirm I love my children deeply but by gosh they must bloody hate me, they strip me of my sleep, my patience, my joy in silence, because let’s be honest when silence occurs when you have children it is at the very least unsettling, at the most a mad dash to find out what the little gits are up to.

The new war that has been declared currently forces me to make numerous meals in hope that one of them will be edible to their ever changing pallets, what they would eat yesterday simply does not make it even into a possible option for today. Trying to convince a toddler to eat is a dubious task and you are likely to be bitten by their horrible sharp brand new little teeth and then they only spit it out and chuck it at you. During this game of duck the flying carrot the food that you actually wanted to eat is going fucking cold and everyone around you seems to have forgotten how to use their indoor voices. I love to hear that my food is nice, that those around me are thankful, happy and enjoying it but please don’t say 15 times waiting for me to respond because if my attention is removed from the tiny toddler of terror he is likely to throw himself from his high chair into the pile of food that he has cast aside and probably start eating it.

Imagine the scene, a mother that so much wants to eat a meal that she has not had to make is treated to lunch in a well known and busy pub, it is full of people enjoying their Friday lunchtime specials and as her food arrives a shit storm of epic proportions erupts from the mouth of her blonde haired blue eyes saint looking child. She can’t hack it, she is looking around at everyone else who just being in earshot of this angry little git is being inflicted with instant heartburn, the mothers face is going red with embarrassment and anger and before she even has a chance to take a mouthful of her salad and unreasonably request daddy to share his burger, chips and onion rings she has surrendered. This was me.

Plus the clean up is disgusting, sometimes I think he has eaten only to find that he has hidden all his food down his top, it has worked its way into his nappy and I have to clean Macaroni Cheese of his balls. Hurrah for motherhood and all its disgusting and soul destroying moments.

The (ever expanding) CV of a Mother

As I embark upon the soul-shattering mission to return to work after a baby I am reminded of the difficulties of doing so on an Island where the vast majority of vacancies probably receive 100’s of applications. With merely a handful of GCSE’s to my name and an ample amount of work experience and life experience it has hard to snag more than a ‘thank you for your application, unfortunately….’ let alone even an acknowledgement of my interest and effort or even an interview. Let’s face it gaining employment is hard especially when there is not as much appreciation for the endless tasks that motherhood throws at you that happen to demonstrate your ability to pretty much cope with anything.

Breastfeeding; whilst something that I am no longer doing and certainly do not wish to do ever as means of securing a job this particular hurdle that I conquered for a whooping 6 months shows a huge amount of dedication. Breastfeeding a child is a difficult job, it requires determination, perseverance and a lot of independent working because actually no one can take that night shift for you. It requires a great deal of sobriety, care, comfort and love to do this 5 million times a day. It takes confidence to do this in public, it means being creative with a wardrobe that is lacking after you are likely to have expanded making most of your clothes redundant.

Attention to detail: a mother literally has to have eyes everywhere, you cannot barely blink without a toddler trying to do some death defying stunt. Nothing can be left, no tea or coffee, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. There is little spontaneity when you have a climber, the sudden urge to pee can often leave you vulnerable to finding your child dancing on the table.

Organisation: if I have to do anything I have to be quick and precise, I need to have a plan. I need to arrange nap time so that I can clean away everyone else’s stuff because they lack that ‘attention to detail’. I must ensure that nap is at the right time and lasts for the right amount of time as not to have a very unhappy toddler even more prone to damaging himself because he has become ‘dangerously tired’.

Multitasking: I have the ability to cook three different meals and serve them all at the same time without burning anything to make sure that everyone eats. I can then eat mine whilst feeding the toddler and catching the food that he has refused to try before it touches the floor.

Management: I can command a room, sometimes with just a stern yet gentle look, I can get an eight year old to tidy her bedroom (to a somewhat questionable/acceptable state), I can get that homework done using my abilities as a negotiator.

Time keeping: I have a tidy home, I plan my washing around the ever changing British weather and we all have clean pants. I can make sure that the milk man’s delivery comes at just the time the last smidgen of milk is used. I make sure this house is clean despite the toddler, the eight year old who likes to make sure that there is at least three cuddly cat toys of hers in each room, a partner who refuses to throw even his own contact lens wrappers in the bin himself, a rather large brown hound and a fat (forever shedding) ginger cat lives here. I sweep the floors about three times a day.

Strength: I functioned for nearly a whole year on about 4 hours worth of broken sleep a night whilst juggling everything else, how you may ask me? Literally couldn’t tell you for a million quid. It happened, I, and everyone else is still alive. Miracle.

Working with people: I have been able to sustain the very lives that have made mine harder, through love, care, comfort and nourishment. I am the one that feeds imagination, gives hope to the daughter that is bullied, encourages dreams and vanquishes nightmares and monsters. I play, I laugh, I jump and dance even when I don’t want to get my children to be happy. I am committed and loyal.

A mother is more than just someone that is able to stay at home and look after an infant, that infant is continually changing and as a mother you have to adapt to survive. There is a list as long as my arm of all the things that I would bring to a work a place that would be happy to give me the opportunity.

 

My Angry Toddler

I have an angry toddler, I am about 3 weeks deep into the shit storm that is (wrong coined – as age seems irrelevant) the ‘terrible two’s’. This is happening to my 16 month old, slightly premature for me to start throwing around this phrase because let’s face it he is very young but what I have learnt in my many years of mothering is that this stage happens frequently and with fury of a thousand suns, to somewhat quote Shakespeare. It’s a myth that it happens at two and that is the only year you’ll struggle through their behaviour, to make matters worse I have an 8 year old daughter who has decided to become a stroppy teenager a whooping 5 years before I was ready to even start considering the notion. Let’s face it if you dare to move when they are comfortable, even think about leaving the park before they’re ready, or do anything that involves not having them attached to you then you’re probably in for a tantrum. There is also a distinct possibility that they have just woken up (for the 25th morning in a row) and a fucking terrible mood determined to fuck shit up? I am certain that given the adequate skill set George would be able to articulate his utter disgust with life into these possible sentences:

1. “Why are you sitting down mum?”

2. “Not the hoover again.”

3. “Over the last 16 months I feel we have built up enough trust to remove the baby proofing.

4. Why are you trying to hide these vegetables in my food, I thought better of you.”

5. “Just once can you let me ride the dog.”

6. “Why can’t you just accept that my dangerous climbing is to prepare myself for my future career as a stuntman.”

7. “Please for the love of God give me your coffee.”

8. “I don’t see why we can’t just flood the bathroom and have done with it.”

9. “Seriously another bum change, can’t a man just live in his filth and be done with it.”

10. “I love you so much that I just want you to carry me around in your arms all day without sitting down.”

Now because these requests are both unsaid and completely unreasonable both myself and George think it’s only fair that he follows me around screaming at me.

 

Happiness and Parenting.

Happiness is just one of the many emotions that we have within our very complex spectrum and the importance of gaining, preserving and knowing when we can expect the next dollop of happiness keeps us running towards this fleeting feeling.

As adults we should really be wiser to the allures of happiness and the unquenchable thirst that we have for it but with every passing fashion that comes and goes we are continually fooled into thinking that the next thing will make us happy and keep us happy.

In reference to how we like our happiness, it needs to quick to obtain and lasting in its effects but essentially that is not always its route and biologically there are those who are just more likely to be happier than you. So we all understand consumerism and that the we are all programmed to want, whether that’s something relatively easy to obtain like the new t-shirt that you have seen in your favorite shop or things that are likely to take longer and require a lot of commitment such as the owning of a home and we all have this feeling that whatever that it is we are striving will make us happy. This is something that we cannot in a capitalist, consumer driven society we cannot avoid.

But let’s get to parenting and consider that impact that our parenting techniques have upon the adults that our children grow into (obviously without piling all the blame upon us). When someone asks what I want for the future of my children (like many other parents) my answer is a simple and (believed to be) humble ‘I would like them to be happy’ because I strive to have happy children. I am always trying to keep them happy, I settled them as babies when they cried, I placate them with distractions when they are grumpy, I recharge them with helping them nap when they are tired, and the list could go on! Take for an example when your toddler wants a toy that someone else has you try two things, first you may try to give them a different toy and attempt to keep them happy with that toy until the occupied one becomes available (normally they have forgotten about their want) or you try to convince the other child to share the toy and encourage them to play together. Now whilst I do not have an alternative suggestion we complete this task until there is no longer a need to do so. We follow around our children trying to given them instant gratification every time they experience something that is an emotion like unhappiness. How does this translate into our adult years? How does the initial upbringing of children and the foundations we have set for them affect them in later life when we are not their to try and convince the person who got the promotion above your son or daughter to share it, because that is only fair.

I do not know how we would go about changing this instinctive feeling we have towards our rights to be happy because we don’t want to accept the inevitability that we will indeed spend much of our lives experience all other emotions more frequently than that of happiness. It doesn’t mean that when we are not happy we are unhappy, there are a whole host of other feelings and not all are negative but it really is happiness that we are all chasing, and fuck it is exhausting. So one person to another how can we help our children accept the reality that what we want for them can be tiresome, hard, fleeting and ultimately something they cannot harness for as long as they will want it?

F*@! Me it’s hot.

Heat wave

As I have already discussed rather heavily with anyone who will listen to me babies/toddlers ruin everything (at times) and whilst they are adorable (also at times) they are a force to be reckoned with.
This heat has been an ongoing battle that has made bed times harder and those lovely cuddles a damn sight stickier and whilst I would have normally taken this opportunity to shave my legs and embrace the chub rub I’ve been avoiding the outside through fear of melting and sun stroke.
We have furthermore discovered that George is (just as his father) allergic to the summer and fighting a losing battle with hay fever so when I think of heat wave I’m automatically drawn to the fear of puffy eyes, melting, uncomfortable sleep for the adults and children alike, wrestling with the factor 50 and a giant brown hound unable to deal with these temperatures. In short this year is not the year for us to enjoy the sun and realising this is like having someone crush your spirits. I can only liken the act of covering a toddler in sun tan lotion with wrestling a crocodile just with less teeth and a less deadly bite.
I love the sun and I know I sound like a moany old cowbag I have a clingy son who requires a lot of carrying and cuddling which could not have come at a worse time.
Have you ever tried to keep a hat on a one year old, granted it’s getting easier but blimey it a nightmare. Have you ever had to convince a eight year old that if they don’t keep apply the lotion they will burn? “But mummy I haven’t ever burnt before” yes well that’s because your mother is sun lotion tyrant that remembers pinning you down to keep you protected. Have you ever have to give up your picnic food because regardless of how many times you have told your child that sandy hand will equate to sandy food they won’t listen until its happened to them? They have, and will continue to, ruin summer for many years to come.
Summer used to be for beer gardens and late night BBQ’s now it’s for ice cream fights and baths ever night.

In fairness the sunshine has also brought with it use of beaches, paddling pools, splash parks and garden fun and whilst I’m not having to stop my son from emptying the pool and eating the sand it has been rather pleasant.

Reason 5,678 for mum guiltĀ 

I miss my daughter, it feels like a terrible thing to say but as I have made it to the first birthday of my son I find myself realising just how much that has encroached on our time. I would not reverse the clock, I adore my George but there is much that has changed and the things I find myself with a lack of are time, patience and attentiveness and these things are so important to any child. I get the guilt. Another dimension of mum guilt, one that I didn’t have the hindsight to predict. 

My daughter is happy, like the most happy and delightful child I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and I am so lucky that she is mine but I feel like I am missing a lot of this to tend to her brother. I am lucky because she loves the (not so new) newcomer more than words can possibly describe and this love is likely to be the ultimate remedy for anything she may be lacking following his arrival. That’s what family brings, it supplies you with what you need even before you know you need it. 

I think that maybe I need Millie right now more than she needs me, I miss her more than she misses me and this, I think, is because she has adapted so gracefully into being a family of one child to that of two and it really should be celebrated. Unfortunately I need my Millie fix, I need our previously I disturbed chats about unicorns, I need time to do crafts with her instead of being too scared of George choking on the beads, coating himself in glitter and eating the glue, and more than anything right now I want her to sleep in my bed and spend the night kicking me. 

I think the main reason that this hurts the way it does is because of the age gap, it had been a massive 7 years between having to put any other persons needs above my daughter. I got all of her and she got all of me. 

The guilt is stupid because she is still my ray of light and the fact that I have been blessed with another ray is extraordinar and the love the new brings is new, it doesn’t half what you have it doubles. 

Please tell me I’m not crazy and this is completely normal.