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.

 

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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.

Daily Mail Mother Hating.

I read an extremely rude article (obviously a daily mail special) about how fashionable it is to be a selfish mother, drink a lot of gin and confess to the moments your mothering has been a little under par. I get it, I write openly about how hard parenthood can be and I want so desperately to remove the stigma that plagues us all with having to be the best at something that is so notoriously hard for many of us but we need to do this with a degree of restraint because glamourising dysfunctional behaviour can be very damaging. The ‘instamum’ fad is something that I follow because it’s somewhat interesting but it is far from my life, I often blog about the difficulties of every day life with a baby and child and all the washing and the bloody bottles and before that the problems I had with boob feeding but it is all required to raise my little humans. I laugh at the size of my butt and the hangover I may have once a year when I dare to make that trip back into normality, BUT to me and many other mums it is not normality! I cannot afford to drink fancy gin infused with the flowers from a Beatrix Potter like garden, I cannot afford the beautiful shoes and all the fancy clothes, I cannot afford to resume my previous job and benefit from some of the freedom that may allow. I am not bitter, I have two gorgeous children and the last thing I want to do is be judgemental but what we should do is take the things we see with a pinch of salt because these mumma’s with the thousands of followers on social media may not be portraying the reality of their life (barely anyone does these days) and in allowing others to see what makes them popular as the norm of their life may lead to the imitation of this and it could become dangerous. Let’s face it all that gin they apparently consume may be a lie, and if it isn’t they may have a really good support network of people that help them out with their busy social life.
Essentially what I am trying to say in the most nonjudgmental way possible is that for the vast majority of us parents we cannot simply (and I do not believe we should either) slip children into our lives, we need to adapt and change to what they need. It is hard to retain your original identity when you have children, and I am not saying that you will never get it back or that at times it is not okay for it to make a comeback whilst you are at the bar drinking shots but that is not the reality your children need as a common occurrence. Children need to come first, that’s right I have to take a back seat with my own needs and wants to fulfil what I want for my children. I choose to populate, I need to ensure that I do it to my best abilities.
I also am suffering from postnatal depression and anxiety and whilst I do my best at as mum I can sometimes see the lifestyles of others who are more confident, outgoing and relaxed mothers and want a slice of that, I know my limitations and I cannot afford myself to slip into the bad habits of lazy parenting because it would be so detrimental for me. Remove the stigma of accepting that some days are a little shit, some weeks, some months even, do not glamorise the notion of being a mother that doesn’t care (not saying that they don’t) is okay. You get me?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4508726/Why-women-boasting-slummy-mummies.html

 

Hitting The Town In 5 Easy Steps.

There are many perils to consider; I mean is the freedom truly worth the hideous repercussions that you will face in the morning (which to be honest are often even worse than you thought) and if you believe that hangovers get worse the older you are that is nothing compared to what they have the capacity to do to parents. It is not only the fear of the next day you have to conquer but the acceptance that this is a night that you are likely to get even less sleep than normal, you will have to make peace with the impending sleep deprivation and the inclusion of the ‘adult headache’ so that is stage one. Stage two is getting dressed, it is very feasible that this will bring you to tears, because what do people actually wear when they go out these days? Not only is it safe to say that the vast majority of shops no longer accommodate for the size of my arse and the width of my hips I am far from ready to don the very fashionable crop tops they seem so eager to flog me, so whilst I breakdown in front of very limited wardrobe I will inevitably have my first drink. Stage three is actually leaving the house without the pram; never have my arms felt so redundant. Going out at night is super weird when you haven’t done it for the best part of 18 months, it is cold and dark and really the time when you should be in bed waiting for the party that is going to wake up everyone in your house at around 2am but hell you have done it now, congratulations! Stage four is probably the worse stage; you are no longer comfortable with being out, it happened so quickly but all of a sudden you are faced with the prospect of drinking and dancing and your first sip has already rendered you tipsy and you have no idea how to even move to the music that is being played. If you did not realise it before now; having a baby ages you, it is a mixture of the shit sleep, the lack of interaction you have following the birth of an all consuming monster and right now it is evident, you did not realise that it is fashionable to wear see-through clothes with sequinned bras, trousers with more holes in them than a golf course and that pubs appear to now be letting in twelve year olds. It is all very difficult but the vodka is making it easier and before you know it you are on the dance floor trying to perform the ‘big fish/little fish’ dance moves in rhythm to the beat of every song (that ultimately all sound the same) they are playing. Stage five, trying to get home, if you thought that getting out your house was hard you will be shocked about how difficult it is now to get back there, not only are you drunk and slow but you are hungry, really really hungry and the only thing better than a regular hangover is one that is flavoured with the reminisce of the previous nights kebab. If you are lucky enough to not have lost your keys you will still have a terrible time trying to get them in the keyhole before you struggle to try and undo the damage of all the noise you have already made by sneaking up the stairs. You may have mastered how to avoid ever single creak that is made on the journey up the stairs but that training has all been lost whilst inebriated but if you manage to get up them without waking the baby there is no way that your partner won’t be up and waiting, especially if like me you had reassured them it wouldn’t be a late night and actually it is now early morning.

But oh my gosh would I do it all again? Of course, I just may need another 6 months to recover from this one.

The crying it out method. 

So my baby doesn’t sleep, he gets up in the middle of the night for up to three hours and for the last ten months it’s been hard. It’s been so hard I nearly spoilt Christmas with my bad mood, I’ve turned down countless offers of help because of fear of what my baby is like in the night, I have single handedly caused chaos, torment and upset with my crippling up and down moods swings.

Now we are only on night one and this means we have a path ahead of us that is likely to be hella difficult but I wanted to write this to remind me of how I feel today. Last night George woke up at 12, I gave him a bottle and changed his bum and put him back down, he cried for 20 minutes, I then got him out again and gave him the rest of his bottle (he never finishes in one sitting) and he then went back to his bed for another 20 minutes crying and then slept until 6. I think it’s safe to say that today I feel like a goddess. 

I am not a bad mum but the sleep deprivation is a real struggle and today with a good night sleep I have been active, alert, happier and my patience has been restored. We have eaten better, the house is tidier and I even walked the dog solo, a massive fear for me as he is a large Labrador who pulls me down the road. 

I have thought about dinner and have retrieved what we need from the freezer, I have relied less on the tv as a distraction for George. I have been a better mum today. I haven’t panicked about naps because I need a rest. 

I know we have miles to go but I am basking in the glow of making positive steps for not only me but the rest of my family too. I want to remember this feeling because when I listen to him cry at night just wanting to be with me I can safely say that when he is with me in the morning he will feel the full force of everything I can give him, not the half measures I’ve been using because I’m a fucking zombie. 

It always seemed like a dad thing to say ‘let him cry it out’ but having mumma’s approached me when I asked for help to give me this advice I felt as though I could give it a try. Sorry dads but your advice is generally not well received, it could be to do with the fact I’m living off 6 hours broken fucked up sleep, coffee and sweets. 

Here is to what hopefully will be something we can continue! 

Ps the featured image is not me today, that was me a couple of weeks ago. I probably look the same to be fair because it’s only one night but I have never looked so bad in all my life. My skin is dark and patchy, my eyes look sunken and tired, I’m spotty, my weight is uncontrollable. I want to be me again, I looked better immediately after labour than I do now. George about two days old:

Mothering By Mothers (3)

I’ve spoken about work with lots of mums, some do and some don’t. Childcare cost are so high that it can mean if you are not returning to a career than you may even be worse off. 

But what fucks me off is that I have a ten month old baby, my previous job has moved further than I can go, my notice period isn’t even up and some think it’s totally acceptable to ask me questions about work and offer their opinion on how I should be working because my partner does. The logistics of working are mental hard when you have kids, I’m going to find a job but it will have to be one that pays enough to cover childcare, is conducive with the school runs and is possible on 4-6 hours sleep. My baby doesn’t sleep, and whilst I will return to work this particular moment is so fucking scary and full of pressure you might need to give me a bit of time. 

Just think, do I ask you when you are going to have babies? Do I then assume knowledge of your home/professional life and then to convince you that in fact you are ready? No. Also if I ever hear that my partner goes to work on the same amount of sleep I get and he copes so why can’t I again I’m going to stab him.  Well firstly he doesn’t, secondly he doesn’t keep the house, thirdly those words clearly came from his mouth and he chats shit. 

Working mumma:

I was delighted to get to talk to a working mum Bex that I had the pleasure of actually working with! Fresh out the shower we shared the notion of ‘mum guilt’ and just hearing it from someone else reaffirmed that this shit is real. 

Bex has two boys and between working full time she spends all her ‘mum time’ doing the practical stuff instead of the fun stuff she’d like to be doing. For many mum’s it’s all getting dressed, getting off to childcare, picking up, dinners, bath, and bed and man can that feel sucky. 

It was hard to hear that Bex eldest has noticed the differences his lifestyle has from other children who have at least one stay at home parent, and being someone previously in this boat it really rang true, it was nice however to have the reassurance that he too understood why he went to a childminder. It’s more than understandable that children want to spend time with their family and juggling their wants and the needs of family finances can be hella draining. 

Childcare was another subject we touched upon and the worry that has plagued families for years, yep you know it, the cost! With additional funding being available for older children with two working parents there has been a massive step forward to help with this but as Bex confirmed this funding will not be available to her for another 18 months. 

Another factor is that kids get ill, and as I have been told by the doctors it’s likely to be a fuck load more than an average adult which only leads to more mum guilt. As Bex noted it becomes a job in itself to negotiate the requirements of her work with the demanding regular health issues children pick up from everywhere! As her partner earns more the sensible thing is for her to stay off with whichever sick bug is ravaging her boys, the youngest of which she refers to as ‘sick note’. 

Regardless of all the guilty coming from so many directions Bex has two not only incredibly cute but also happy boys who benefit from her working. 

Basically we have working mum’s and stay at home mum’s both of which are effected by some sort of guilt. There is no changing that, it sucks, regardless of which one you are your mumming it up!

Mothering by mothers.

I had my first mumma chat with Alana mum of two and whilst we were down to be talking all things body image it soon occurred that these size issues were being affected by other very uncontrollable aspects in her mothering life.

Before the birth of her youngest Alana had gone down to a size 8 and 11 months after the pregnancy she is still much heavier than she was. It soon became apparent that lack of sleep had lead to more than just tiredness but also weight fluctuation, poor dietary habits, and sadly a very grumpy baby. Her son wakes up up-to 4 times a night and only has 2 power naps ranging between 10-15 minutes twice a day, I know what the fuck right? Sleep is not the same for everyone and I think a moment of quiet reflection and little prayer is required from the lucky ones!

At times I must admit I really felt for Alana as the sleep deprivation had taken its toll and she was very open to say that this is not just upon her. And whilst she opened up about suffering with postnatal depression I asked if she had received much support for sleep training only to be shocked in hearing that she’d been told her sleep arrangements of room sharing and co-sleeping has caused the problems in the first place. Hell no.

I felt that Alana also spent time defending her mothering as she included details of attachment mothering and being there for both her children during all of their times of need and I felt as though she was trying to tell me that she was doing all she possibly could for her baby. I think that was the bit that really hit me hard, we as mothers defend our ways when our babies are difficult, as though it’s our fault and fuck knows it’s not but when our health visitors criticise our choices what else can we do?

As parents the strains of children can leave very hard marks on relationships and as we discussed this it was confirmed that Alana and her husband had only been out together away from the children a handful of times and even if there was a possibility of more the worry of a sleepless unsettled baby that would be looking for his mum was in the forefront of her thoughts. This fear and consideration only backed up my initial confidence in Alana as an extremely caring parent that is struggling at the tiny hands of a sleep thief

I want to try and end this on a positive note being that I asked for the kind words Alana wanted to hear from those she sort to help her and that was simply ‘this doesn’t last forever’. Anyone in the same or similar situation should cling on to this notion because actually it will pass, Alana who also has a five year old daughter knows it and there is comfort in this. Well done sleepless mum, we may not be there with you but we have your back!

Here is to the no sleep mum club! Hip hip pass out!