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Archive for the ‘And breathe. Ranting feels gooood’ Category

First of all, a HUGE thank you to Potty Mummy for naming me the British Mummy Bloggers’ Blogger of the Week – what an honour! Welcome to new folks joining the sleep deprivation party here at SIFTW (acronyms mean I’ve totally made it!) This does of course now put me under immense pressure now to come up with something vaguely entertaining for you all. Which no doubt means, according to the ‘rules’ that I will end up being dull and weird. Oh well. Popularity was nice while it lasted!

There seems to be a bit of a theme running through my blogging at the moment. First we had a post about my average accomplishments, then it was my average blog, and today, well, today I want to talk about average babies.

You see, now Kai has hit the big 1 the inevitable baby race seems to have taken on new and infuriatingly pervasive proportions. Of course, it’s always been something. Can he smile yet? Can he roll? Sit up? Stand on one leg while singing ‘I’m a little tea-pot’? (ok, not the last one. At least… not yet)

Right now it’s walking and talking. It’s all anyone seems to care about.

And as Kai is doing neither (apart from the odd random word and strange animal impersonation) nor, in fact, showing the slightest interest in doing so, I find myself once again the recipient of a multitude of wonderfully reassuring and self-affirming comments such as “Well, I’m sure he’ll get it EVENTUALLY *sympathetic look*”, and (my current favourite of the week) “It’s ok, some babies just have more ‘physical’ intelligence than others” (what does that even MEAN??! If you’re reading, person who said that – FOR SHAME!!)

I’ve talked about the infuriating affliction that is competitive mum syndrome before on here.  It’s something I try very, very hard to avoid. Mostly because I think it’s a huge big pile of bull crap.

But I’m going to admit it. A teeny tiny part of me cries as I watch Kai’s peers confidently run around reciting the alphabet backwards while Kai himself sits in a corner randomly pointing and laughing at inanimate objects and trying to bark like a dog. I am forced to face the fact that, despite my best efforts at parenting, my child hasn’t been gifted with supernaturally advanced powers of development.

Yes Josie, it’s bad news I’m afraid. Your child is *gulp*… average.

Why does it bother us so much? Cause I know it’s not just me, I bet you, mummy readers, have all had such moments of fleeting disappointment and vague feelings of failure which seem to rise, unbidden into our minds, every time your child’s friend does yet another extraordinary thing.

Saying that, I think this is mostly a first-born thing. Parents with two or three, or even (as in the case of some friends) , five or SIX probably don’t give a damn at what age their child decides to do something, or what anyone else thinks about it, too busy as they are trying to end the day with as many children alive as when they started. So parents of multiples – you have permission to take a smug position of superiority here – no doubt you learned these lessons long ago.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes…

Common sense tells us that obviously the rate of our child’s development has nothing whatsoever to do with our relative merits or failures as parents, or is, in fact, any indication of their future intelligence or success but far more likely down to random genetics, personality and well, chance. Despite what the competitive mums seem to infer, the fact that my baby is not walking and talking at the grand old age of thirteen months old, does NOT mean he is destined to become that man that walks around our town with a robe made of a sacking, sandals, and a straw hat shouting at the pigeons.

So why do we take it all so personally? Why DOES it bother us, if only a little?

I think the reason it seems to strike a nerve is due, in part, to a journey that began back in our teenage years. When we were forced to come to terms with the fact that no, we probably weren’t going to be a model, and that we weren’t going to ‘grow into’ our noses and magically wake-up looking like Angelina Jolie. Or that we were going to randomly bump into Robbie Williams in Starbucks one day and, looking mysterious and alluring (as, of course, we would), and being given his skinny cappuccino with extra foam in a hilarious coffee shop- misundertanding, cause him to fall head over heels in love with us because we ‘got him’ and didn’t care about the fame  thing.

I’ve STILL not quite got over that one.

And guess what. Our children probably aren’t going to be space men either, or prime minister, or nobel peace prize winners, or pirate ninjas, or a horse, or any of the of the things we ourselves dreamed of becoming as children. Unconciously we long for them to live extraordinary lives, the lives we did not lead, the lives we had to let go of.

Ok I’ll admit this is all sounding rather depressing in a kind of let me take your dreams and stamp all over them kind of way.

But the sooner we realise this as parents the better. The sooner we can let go of our need for our children to be so damn extraordinary, the sooner we are freed to see just how incredible they already are. Maybe if we can just stop worrying about the big stuff, the stupid milestones and the whole ‘my baby should’s, we’ll be less likley to miss all those teeny tiny subtle moments of everyday extraordinariness that our children show us just be being alive. Those moments that show us that sometimes it’s the ordinary and unremarkable that can be the most beautiful and precious of all.

Like eating mash potato with their hands. Or how watching a dog running round the garden can be the single most hilarious experience of their little life. Or they way their head seems to fit so perfectly nestled into your shoulder.

Not clever. Not exceptional. But just magic.

So let go Competititve Mums. Please. Because I can’t take this crap anymore.

Stop asking me if Kai’s walking yet and let us get back to rubbing mashed potato in our hair. Cause it’s ten million times more fun.

 

Nom Nom

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1. To live somewhere with room for a piano. Sometimes I miss playing so much it hurts.

2. To have a rain-free week so I can make a dent on the enormous mountain of laundry currently creating it’s own weather system in our bathroom (in fact – maybe that’s where all the rain is coming from…). Bear Grylls PR people tell me he plans to try and survive a night on my washing pile in his next series – possibly his most challenging environment yet. Nothing to eat but the odd forgotten packet of polos and the accumulated fluff of ten billion pairs of socks, abseiling down on a rope fashioned from pubic hair.

3. For someone to clean my oven. And my fridge. And de-frost my freezer. Oh and my outhouse needs cleaning. Ok my whole house. Weekly.

4. To own a wardrobe of clothes that in some way, even slightly reflect my personality. In contrast to my shelves of second hand clothes that don’t fit and make me look like someone else’s middle aged mother (not mine – she’s way trendy).  It would involve lots of things with vintage prints, flared jeans, and stars and stripes (actually just the entire contents of the Joe Browns catalogue will do).

5. To wake up tomorrow morning to find that all of Kai’s teeth have miraculously appeared over night.

6. To have a teleportation machine in the spare room and the other in my brother’s new apartment in Coventry so we can beam ourselves back and forth for picnics, philosophical chats and Monkey Island marathons.

7. To be a much, much better writer than I actually am. And a much, much better artist. And have my own personal muse on hand for inspiration at all times. Oh and throw in a minuscule amount of self-confidence. That would be nice.

8. For there to be an extra three hours in the day during which Kai will stay asleep and I will have limitless energy. Oooh the things I would do…

9. For my back garden to back onto a forest. Or open fields. Or a private beach. Not picky really. Just not a dirty alley filled with dustbins and dog poo.

10. World peace. To invent a renewable clean energy source. An end to poverty and reverse climate change. Bags of cash. A new house. Kai to start sleeping through 12 hours a night. All prejudiced right-wing religious fundamentalist bigots to drop dead.You know… the obvious stuff.

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First of all I have to ask. Which one of you has cursed my house? Because, as is fast becoming an almost weekly occurance in our family, we have been struck down by the illness fairy once again. And by ‘we’ I mean ‘me’. A throat infection, a low-grade fever and the weak-and-wobblies have meant Kai has once again had to be subjected to the bare minimum of parenting and opened the doors to my usual guilt-ridden worries that I am not doing ENOUGH.

Why is it a few days of feeling under the weather causes me to doubt every single one of my parenting choices, life choices and pretty much every other aspect of my self in one fell swoop? All I have been able to do this last couple of days is curl up in a ball on the sofa and moan faintly while Kai looked on bemused and tried to feed me various bits of half-eaten rice cake that he had squirrelled away in his toy box.

The killing blow (and ultimate salvation) came in the form of The Mom Blog. Not mine but other moms’. You see I’m fairly new to the world of blogging and although I didn’t think for a second my contributions to the bloggosphere were in any way different or special, I hadn’t quite realised just what a teeny tiny insignificant speck I was in the vast universe of the Mommy Bloggers until I started looking. There’s frickin millions of them. Which isn’t in itself a bad thing, until I started reading and found that the vast majority of the ones I came across were very obviously the work of neat, ordered self-congratulatory, self-important, taking-everything-far-too-seriously SUPERMOMS.

And reading them I was suddenly left feeling very small, very immature, very incompetent and completely unqualified to be a mother (or a blogger).

Because I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form a supermom. Not even close.

For starters I do not bake. I am in fact a dreadful cook. I have never made home-made soup or pasta sauce. My son often eats frozen fishfingers and ravioli from a can. My crowning culinary achievement lately was to mash pre-bought roast potatoes with a fork and grill them with sprinkled spring onion and cheese (was yum though). My cupboards contain tinned mince and dry spaghetti.  I don’t know what a ‘caper’ is. I don’t frequent deli’s, or buy organic unless it’s on sale (because I’m broke). I often eat chocolate for breakfast. Or biscuits.

I do not own a shining stainless-steel bedecked kitchen in which I wear an apron or from which waft the delightful smells of cookie dough or roast dinners. My kitchen is in fact this:

DSCF3376

Two square metres of cramped appliances and this morning’s washing up all of which smells of catfood and damp and may or may not have previously undiscovered forms of life making a cosy home behind the fridge.

I do not pray with my child, or at my child, or about my child (preferring to talk to said child himself, and my husband, and other REAL people when I have a problem). I do not attend a bible study group, or go to church, unless you count the very excellent church-run playgroup I attend but even then I have a tendency to mysteriously disappear when they start with the inevitable baby Jesus songs.

I do not have a ‘good’ child. He does not sleep on demand or without assistance. He is, I fear, a very long way from ‘sleeping through the night’. He is often lively, noisy, demanding and extremely separation-sensitive. If you are male and not in his immediate family you WILL make him scream just by looking at him. He probably watches too much tv. When tired, frustrated or over excited he bites and scratches. He is not particularly fond of vegetables.

My (mostly second hand) clothes don’t fit well and are not particular fashionable. I don’t have a personal style or have a skincare regime. I prefer to buy groceries than pay for expensive hair styles so my hair leaves rather a lot to be desired. If you were being kind you would call it ‘tousselled’.  I don’t own a single pair of heels (given my tendency to fall down even when wearing flats) but do own several pairs of well-loved trainers. I have yet to figure out how to make it through the day without getting covered in food, sick, poo or wee. I could count on one hand the number of times I have worn make-up in the last year.

I am not the social epi-centre of a trendy group of friends. I tend to be the one sitting in the corner looking tired, dishevelled, and coming across a little weird. I either talk too much or not at all. I laugh too loud, have a tendency to mix my words up and the awful habit of not finishing my sentences. In the last twelve months I have had two evenings out without the baby. Neither of which involved drinking cocktails or dancing. Both of which involved knitting and drinking tea at my best friend’s house 100 metres away.

I am not a measured oasis of calm. I do not bend in the wind. I have a tendency to be selfish and resentful. I frequently neglect my husband in favour of a little extra stolen ‘me’ time. I often fall apart, have meltdowns, cry, scream and then hurriedly put myself back together again before anyone notices.

I swear too much.

So no. Definitely not a supermom.

So bombarded as I was with tales of bible camp, and bake sales, and endless photos of shining, clean, perfect babies (who I’m positive slept like angels, the little sh*ts) and their shining, clean, perfect moms, I was left feeling pretty much like crap.

And there I probably would have stayed. Feeling like crap. Except thankfully I didn’t. Because I kept looking and I kept reading. And hidden in amongst the endless drivel I found my salvation.

Other not-supermoms. Yep. Thank the sweet Lord.

Other moms that swear and struggle and take the piss out of themselves and their lives and laugh at everything (that kind of slightly hysterical laughter that sounds a little like sobbing). Who have equally grubby, wild children and equally grubby, unkempt houses. Who choose blogging over housework and say that if you’re child is playing happily it’s perfectly acceptable to steal a little extra writing time.

I love these moms. Suddenly, being given free reign to eavesdrop on their lives and their mistakes and their mini-meltdowns, I felt sane again. It was ok to not be perfect. In fact, it was pretty cool. For all their shortcomings these moms were obviously intelligent, accomplished, successful, witty, and despite all their self-deprecation, completely and utterly awesome mommies.

I was happy to be in their camp. Well, happy to in the anonymous periphery of their camp. If I can ever manage to be even half as good a writer, comedian, social commentator or creative free-spirit as most of these women I will consider myself to have done very well indeed.

Screw you supermoms.

So here it is, for your enjoyment: my honour blogroll of the moment. Thank you ladies for restoring my sanity and giving me some much needed reassurance this week. For telling me it’s ok to find motherhood impossibly hard and ok not to take it all too seriously.

Not Drowning, Mothering

Naptime Writing

Bad Mommy Moments

I love you. Please keep writing.

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Add…

  • 1 sick husband.

Ok, a genuinely sick and suffering husband with 24 hour migraine and all night vomit-a-thon, poor love, but also A MAN with all the associated brave sighs and whimpers and inability to do a thing for himself. Thus systematically removing what little help I get during an average day and depriving me of the small amount of free time/space to do important tasks like take a shower, make a sandwich, and have an uninterupted wee without a child trying to bite my knees.

 

  • 360 nights of very broken sleep

Which coincidently corresponds with the number of nights since baby bear made his grand appearance. He didn’t sleep the first night, or the 359 that followed. Being woken between approximately every hour, to an hour and a half for almost a year would probably be considered to be some form of torture by the International Court of Human Rights were it not delivered by a innocent, hyper-active, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP small child. He is getting better. Just V-E-R-Y slowly. Apparently I didn’t sleep well as a child either so quite possibly this is all just the universe extracting a horrible revenge on behalf of my parents. How I am still alive some days is a complete mystery to me. I think chocolate can be held mostly responsible.

 

  • 2 unbelievably early starts

5.45am this morning. 4.30am yesterday. Apparently Kai operates in a different time zone to the rest of us and thinks these are very good times to get up. Mummy disagrees.

 

  • 1 horribly untidy house

In desperate need of cleaning, decluttering  and/or quite possibly razing to the ground and starting over. And absolutely no time/energy/inclination to do it.

 

  • Absolutely no nice clothes

That fit or make you feel even remotely attractive.

 

  • Agitate for 90 minutes while you try and get your maniac son to lie still long enough to go to sleep.

 

  • Cook in a pressure cooker of an old house in the middle of a UK heatwave at 30 degrees C.

 

  • Repeat until sanity is a long-distant memory and the men in white coats arrive.

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Here it is.

A comprehensive list of all the things making me laugh hysterically and feel full to the brim of magical rainbow-filled joy, AND all the things making me sob till I feel consumed by the evil quagmire of despair. Both can come within minutes of each other so, as you can imagine, our house is a rather unstable place to be right now. Poor Ant. And he thought it was bad when I was pregnant…

 

GOOD – “I see you baby…”

Now whenever music plays, a little look of glee crosses the baby bear’s face, he scuttles over and stands up against the nearest standing apparatus, assumes the position of legs spread wide a feet planted firm, and proceeds to shake his baby ass.

Yes, that’s right. Kai has discovered dancing. Love it.

Variations of the ass-shake include the bob (bobbing up and down while sitting), the wiggle, and a kind of gentle sway, often accompanied by arm flapping and clapping. Oh and singing! That’s right, he’ll kind of hum along now too! Ant swears Kai once hummed the ‘In the Night Garden’ tune along with the music but I don’t believe him…

 

BAD – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Like most first-time parents, I eagerly anticipated Kai learning to crawl, worrying that he wasn’t doing it soon enough, or in the ‘right way’ (he favoured rambo style ‘floor swimming’ at first, achieving motion on his tummy through the frantic propulsion of arms and feet). He seemed so frustrated not being able to get about, requiring constant entertaining. “Everything will be different when he can crawl!”, I would exclaim, dreaming of a quiet, contented baby who would happily play and amuse himself for hours on end.

Oh Boy. Well I was right on one score at least: everything IS different. Except now Kai has got the hang of crawling that is all he wants to do. All the time. Every waking moment. At high speed. And of course with the crawling comes the pulling himself up, cruising and climbing. Nothing is safe and I can’t take my eyes of him for a second. Toys? Playing? Pah! Why play when you can shred (and eat) every piece of paper product in the house, attempt to pull over everything that may squash and kill you (pushchair/highchair/dining chairs/ huge pieces of furniture), and systematically dismantle and destroy every object within reach (which is pretty much everything unless on a very high shelf).

And, of course, our tiny house is not good enough for the Kai-ranasaurus Wrecks. No. He wants to be ‘outside’ (frantic door pointing). And pushchairs and carseats? Well there no good because they require Kai to be stationary for more then five minutes. Initiatate melt-down sequence, high pitched screaming and back arching. He only stays in his highchair because there is food there to bribe and distract him.

I am exhausted.

Needless to say I am now NOT in ANY hurry for Kai to learn to walk. And rather worryingly he looks like he’s not far off. God help us all.

 

GOOD– ” And I…..ee….I…Will Always Love Youuuu”

Kai has always been a very tactile baby, wanting lots of holding and touch-time but up till now it’s always been a bit more of a ‘wrestle’ than a ‘cuddle’. But now he’s really getting the hang of cuddling. Now, when tired or just wanting a bit of reassurance, he’ll put his little arms around your neck, nuzzle his head into your neck and rest it on your shoulder, and go very, very still. For about 30 seconds.

I love it. Makes my heart go ‘whoofph’ everytime. Long may it continue.

 

BAD – “I’m Talking ‘Bout The MOM In The Mirror”

Not a Kai thing but a me thing for once. I seem to have developed a very annoying raging insecurity and self-doubt problem. I am convinced everyone hates me, that I am useless and worthless and a dreadful mother, that I should be doing SOMETHING more with my life and am wasting away my potential, that I HAVE no potential and am no good at anything, that Ant is unhappy with me, that I am ugly and haggard and look like a teenage boy. The list goes on.

I know none of these things are true really (except maybe the last one). And yet this is how I find myself thinking most of the time. It monumentally pisses me off.

I also find myself more and more dissatisfied and wanting more and more. I want desperately to move to a nicer area with more than a few stunted trees nearby. I want a clean tidy house and the time and energy to maintain in. I want a dishwasher and a tumble drier and a kitchen with more than half a square meter of work surfaces and two cupboards. I want to travel and show Kai the world. I want more money. I want another baby (although know it’s completely not practical at the moment – don’t worry Ant!)

I hate this. I hate not being satisfied and not able to just ‘be’ and enjoy where I am. Because I am SO lucky and I have so much.

Grrrr….. snap out of it stupid.

 

There is more but Kai’s woken up so looks like that’s it for now. Smell you later xx

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Morning all. Well it’s been an eventful few days in our house after a strange turn of events led me to start writing on a blog chronicling the ins and outs of a rather complicated online game based around the tv show LOST (which is btw THE GREATEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!). Doesn’t sound very exciting to most of you I know – until I tell you that in the last three days the blog has had 8,500 hits and been mentioned on dozens of Lost fansites, news websites, and blogs! At one point the game (known as #lostarg on Twitter) got in the top ten most talked about topics and has had a HUGE following. It all got completely out of hand with lots of people getting very carried away setting up false trails and generally playing the players – but that’s another LONG story. Reporting on it all has been enormous fun and a very welcome distraction from the drudgery of everyday life – I never could have imagined I would get so many readers. For my part in it all I have been irritating all my Twitter friends by posting endless references to obscure codes and Egyptian Mythology through my twitter alter-ego ‘Porridgebrain’. I’m sure I’ve confused the life out of everyone so apologies there.

Anyway- back to reality.

In other news Kai has developed two interesting new habits. One is to repeatedly smack both me and his dad round the face when he gets excited. The other is pound all food offered to him on his highchair flat with his palm before eating it (well, before eating what’s survived the attack and not ended up splattered on the floor/walls/my face). Neither is going down particularly well with me I have to say.

Poor mite has been super grumpy this week with the return of the dreaded ‘T’ word, the word that strikes terror into the hearts of all mothers – Teething. Such a innocuous word and one that, before I became a parent, I dismissed without a thought. Little did I know how much it would take over my life and my sleep. So ok all you non-parenty types out there here’s the truth about teething. Babies are born without teeth (well most of them, except those weird babies you read about born with a full set – urgggh!) and then over the next approximately 2 years have to grow 20 of the damn things. They move around while the poor child sleeps, causing untold agony and misery, they cut through and then pop back in again, teasing you with their games. You waste your money on untold numbers of  teething products; gels, granules, drops, teething rings, all promising to bring relief but doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And then finally they appear, one by one or in pairs, ready to be tested out on your fingers, face, nipple, in fact what ever your child can get their new surprisingly sharp gnashers into.

It’s official. Teething sucks. Or maybe ‘bites’ would be better.

Kai currently has 8 teeth (yes that means 12 more to go! *sob!*), four on the top and four on the bottom, so these ones coming through now are his molars which are bigger and therefore more painful. I can see one of the buggers at last but I’ve learnt not to trust that as a sign it might be over – they have a cruel agenda of their own these bloody teeth and I doubt poor Kai is free of trouble just yet.

Anyway I’m off to make a cuppa. The delightful child got me up at 4am this morning and has only just gone down for a nap so I better make the most of the peace.

TTFN!

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