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Archive for the ‘Just a thought… or ten’ 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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I wasn’t particularly popular at school (it’s ok ex-school mate readers, you can nod in agreement).

I was also clever, but not THAT clever. Average clever. (More nods).

But I wanted to be both. Desperately.

I existed on the periphery of the more elitist social groups. Kind of cool by association but obviously not cool, especially when trying to be cool (emphatic nods – ok you can stop now, I get the point). Occasionally one of the more charismatic members would notice I was there and grant me the privilege of their company for a while. Probably mostly out of pity.

I’m finding blogging a bit like this.

There are the popular blogs. They are shiny and polished. Their followers are dedicated, leaving scores of adoring comments. And there are the clever blogs. With their witty and flawless sentence construction; their outstanding use of metaphor and impressive vocabulary. They entertain us with the flare of (insert clever metaphor #1 here). Some are, quite annoyingly, both popular AND clever.

My blog is neither.

But I find myself wishing it was.

Once again I find myself back in the high school mind-set, that awkward teenager with braces on my teeth and milk-bottle bottom lenses in my glasses. Wondering just what it is that makes these shining beacons of blogginess naturally so much better than me? What makes people flock to them like (insert clever metaphor #2 here)?

But then I remember I’m not in high school anymore. I grew up (well, kind of). The braces are gone. The specs are gone. Ok I’m still awkward and gangly but that’s endearing, or so my husband tells me.

So I’ve decided. I’m not going to try to be popular or clever. Because if the same rules apply as when I was a teenager that will only inevitably mean I end up saying something weird and inappropriate and laughing too loud and everyone will look at me funny.

And I’m going to try not to care.

TOO much.

So I hope you like un-popular and un-clever. Because that’s all you’re going find here. But hopefully I’ll be endearingly awkward and socially inept and you’ll love me in that ‘I’d miss you if you weren’t here to bask in my light’ kinda way.  And if you want to invite me to your party, or share some of your chips over lunch and tell me a secret you haven’t told anyone else? Well that would be good too…

…and by the way I think your shoes are the coolest thing I have ever seen and that boy you like has TOTALLY been looking at you all through Maths.

———–

NOTES:

Possible clever metaphors

#1    a) a thousand glittering iphones.
b) a jewel beetle’s bum.
c) David Cameron

#2    a) a fat kid to cake.
b) Kai to dangerous electrical equipment.
c) Boy racers in pimped-out Renault Clios to a McDonald’s drive-through

Oh I give up.

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It’s probably about time I tackled a theme that underpins a lot of what I talk about on this blog, but that so far I’ve managed to avoid talking about too much.

Yep, you’ve guessed it. It’s the big fat horrible Sleep Monster.

Those of you that know me well will have had to listen to me drivel on about most of what follows for the last 12 months so can be politely excused to go and do something more interesting. Those of you that don’t know me quite so well but have often wondered why it is I look like an ageing zombie with a slight hysterical edge to my voice when you bump into me in the street, you’re about to find out. And those of you that don’t know me at all? Well then I guess this is all going to be a treasure trove of new delights and excitement.

You see, Kai is a bit of a problem sleeper. And when I say a bit, I mean a rather extraordinary large bit. Continent sized. Small orbiting moon sized.

Now before we continue I don’t want you to hold it against him. He is probably the loveliest (albeit slightly odd and hyperactive) child, you could ever have the pleasure of meeting. He does lots and lots of things very, very well.

It’s just that sleeping isn’t one of them.

It has been from day one, which is my one small comfort that I haven’t done something horribly wrong to make him this way. It started out with colic – 12 weeks of screaming punctuated only by marathon breastfeeds, with any little sleep achieved solely through repetitive motion and/or holding and copius amounts of Infacol suspension. Once the crying stopped, the sleep battles continued for long months during which I desperately tried to find a way that Kai would fall asleep without a great deal of assistance and failing miserably. At it’s worst, Kai would wake every three quarters of an hour (the length of one sleep cycle) all through the night. On average it was every one to two hours, at best maybe three or four (and I can still count on two hands the number of times he’s slept longer than a four hour stretch). Each time he woke he would need a great deal of help getting back to sleep, no matter how hard I tried to encourage him otherwise, and even with help, would find it almost impossibly difficult.

Just for the record (and because if you mention the fact that your child is a poor sleeper, people feel compelled, no, OBLIGATED to bombard you with advice and I’m sure you’re eagerly waiting for you opportunity suggest one or more of the following), here’s what we’ve tried that hasn’t made a blind bit of difference:

  • Not feeding Kai to sleep
  • Feeding Kai to sleep (well, works to GET him to sleep, just not to keep him asleep)
  • Putting Kai down awake and encouraging him to fall asleep on his own. Featuring the torturous ‘pick-up-put down’ technique. I’m not kidding I stuck at this one religiously for months and all it did was give me a bad back and made me ill to the point of collapse.
  • Putting Kai down only once he was in a deep sleep (thanks Dr Sears for that one)
  • Music (featuring every bad pun of a baby album known to man – Baroque a-by Baby was my fave)
  • A hammock cot (seemed to be working for a month till Kai steadfastedly refused to go in it again)
  • Leaving an item of my clothing with him
  • Dream feeding (that’s when the baby’s asleep right? It doesn’t count if he just wakes up wanting milk)
  • Introducing a comforter (just becomes another thing to play with or throw in the middle of the night)
  • Sleeping in his own room (no improvement in sleep, in fact it got WORSE! and quadruple the work for me)
  • Black-out curtains
  • A variety of assorted sleep wear and coverings
  • Changing his nappy half way through the night
  • Not changing his nappy and instead padding him out like the Michelin Man
  • Starting solids (they told me this was the key when he was 4 months old. Guess what…it wasn’t. The boy eats like a horse and it STILL hasn’t made a difference)
  • Giving him more milk during the day (seriously? Have you seen how often this boy feeds?)
  • Cutting down breastfeeds in the night
  • Working on his day time naps
  • Wearing himself out more during the day. Learning to crawl made no difference. Long sessions in the pool made no difference. In fact you’ve probably never met a more active baby than Kai. He just doesn’t do still.

And before you say it….

  • a bedtime routine. I could win awards for my bedtime routine. It is flawless. It includes a long wind-down time and all the right sleep cues. It just doesn’t work.

Two things I haven’t done:

  • Forced him to night-wean.
  • Left him to cry.

Yes I know, you’re now all sitting back with an air of smugness thinking “well, what does she expect!”. Don’t judge me for it. Maybe it worked for you and your child. But it’s not for me. Because Kai doesn’t just moan for a bit. He sobs. And he sobs. To the point of hysteria. For hours and hours. Till he chokes and is sick.

I can’t do it. Not to him and not to me. And the night feeds? Well I think he’s the best person to decide what amount of milk he does and doesn’t need. And I’m convinced that the night feeds are what have allowed me to carry on producing milk for so long and grow such an incredibly healthy chunky boy. So we’ll leave those two things alone thank you very much.

Moving on…

So why does he have so much trouble staying asleep? It’s a mystery to be honest. On any one night half a dozen or more things seem to be the culprit (and wanting to feed is by far in the minority here for reasons why he wakes up). Separation anxiety is a biggy, teething another (this boy teethes like you wouldn’t believe). He gets tummy ache. He gets nightmares. He sleep crawls and climbs about his cot. He gets distracted by the tiny line of light from between the curtains or from the digital clock and decides that must mean it’s time to get up. He thinks 3am is a very good time to be wide awake and practice singing and jumping about on mummy and daddy. And sometimes, yes, he seems to get genuinely hungry and need to down gallons of milk before being able to go back to sleep. But not by any means every time he wakes up.

In short, he’s just hopeless.

In short, it’s been a complete and utter nightmare.

A turning point came when I gave in. When I threw all the sleep books out the window, bought a co-sleeper crib that allowed me to deal with Kai without getting out of bed, and stopped trying to fix it. Because by the looks of things I was going to burn out loooong before Kai got the hang of things. I HAD burned out, in fact. I’d lost weight, I was exhausted, I was making myself ill.

Enough was enough.

We’re now a few months down the line of the ‘No Try Sleep Solution’ (haha that was a sleep training  joke – you won’t get it unless your name is Elizabeth Pantley) and do you know what? Giving up was the best thing we could of done.

Because at the end of this long dark tunnel there is emerging a tiny little glimmering light of hope. Since I’ve given in and just gone with it, there have been some improvements, small ones but significant ones none the less. Kai’s waking up less. He’s feeding less. He’s even falling asleep on his own and re-settling himself when he stirs (well… sometimes). Twice this week I’ve managed to have an entirely uninterupted evening.

Yep. He’s actually getting better.

Ok we’re rather a long way off him sleeping through the night but we are definitely moving towards maybe only 2 or 3 wake-ups a night, at least on a good night anway.

And that my friends, is MORE than good enough for me right now.

Thanks for listening. And if you see me in the street looking slightly frayed? Well now you’ll know why.

And buy me cake.

Foot Note:

Did I mention that I was an appalling sleeper as a child? that I didn’t sleep through the night till I was three? That my poor mother resorted to drugging me so she could get some shut-eye?

Yep. Karmic payback is a bitch. At least it proves that the Universe has sense of humour I suppose.

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I have to say that I am REALLY enjoying this blogging thing. I’m eagerly anticipating the moments when I can steal a little time away to write. It’s becoming a kind of refuge this blog. A way of de-stressing and unwinding, of laughing at myself and helping me not to take things too seriously. And I realised today that I have been keeping it faithfully for over two months.

I guess that doesn’t seem like much to some, but to me this is quite an achievement.

You see I’ve always been someone that took interest in a great number of things, picking and choosing between them all depending on my mood, but I have never been very good at maintaining focus on just one thing. I leap from one subject or hobby to another like some kind of giant human thought-association research project. The slightest thing can set me off. One book could set me off an frantic journey of discover taking in Arthurian Legend, onto tree lore, spiralling my way through Ecology and Environmental Campaigning, onto Green living and knitting, finishing up with remembering to separate my paper and my plastics.

It’s quite exhausting.

As such I find myself perpetually juggling a dozen or more different projects, all half pursued and half finished, left on one side as something new and more exciting steals my attention and my enthusiasm.  Over the years I’ve picked up no end of different skills and bits and pieces of knowledge.

In the interest of getting to know me better, here’s a few:

I draw, paint (and once won a competition), make cards (when I’m too broke to buy them), am a reasonable calligrapher, (producing stationary for two weddings), can knit jumpers with pirate motifs, embroider and undo knots that most people would find impossible, produced two (unfinished) patchwork quilts. I’ve had a go at amateur film making, featuring myself as both a hooker and a bearded doctor, and had a stab at photography. I’ve sang in public (not something I plan to repeat). I became quite adept at yoga, learning to contort myself into any number of positions, turned my bathroom into a laboratory whilst making my own beauty products and home remedies and cured my mum’s menopausal mood swings (well… almost). I’ve played three different musical instruments. I’ve read about philosophy and religion, argued extensively about both, making my mind up then changing it all again. I’ve ran for my local council and got a lot more votes than I was expecting. I’ve written letters and been on tv waving a placard. I’ve traced my family tree back to 1750. I’ve read ten billion books on every subject known to man.

And that’s before I’ve even mentioned my jobs. Let me see… I’ve sold shoes and waitressed (badly), I’ve organised filing cabinets and typed invoices at a double glazing firm. I’ve taken disabled children swimming and been a teaching assistant. I’ve taken care of elderly patients, wiping bums and changing giant nappies. I’ve bathed several old and wrinkly men. I’ve ran a school library and literacy projects and children’s book clubs. I’ve even sat with someone as they died.

Quite a list isn’t it?

But don’t get me wrong, this is not supposed to be a brag. Because although I am a bit of a jack of all trades, I am a master at none. At best I could be called ‘competent’ in most of the things I undertake but I’ve never been really good at anything. Maybe because I’ve never stuck with one thing long enough.

On first consideration, motherhood seems to be much the same. As always, I’d get points for enthusiasm but no-one is ever going to consider me an expert in the subject.

And yet now I come to think of it, it actually IS different this time.

This time I’m being FORCED to stick with something. As a stay-at-home mum I can’t give up changing nappies, or getting up at 6am every morning, or making toast highly delicious and varied and nutritious food stuffs. Well, I guess I could. But Kai wouldn’t be very impressed, and he has a great ability of pointing out my shortcomings in a very loud not-to-be-ignored kind of way.

This is one job I can’t quit.

And do you know what? I think it’s doing me the world of good. I think I have learnt more about patience and discipline in the last 12 months than in the whole previous 26 years combined and throughout all my other weird and wonderful occupations. I’m actually COMMITTED to something. And even stranger, I’m not bored or losing interest. I’m actually enjoying it. And looking forward to doing it a whole lot more.

Most surprisingly of all it’s making me want to change. It’s making me want to be more disciplined in other areas of my life. There’s the blog of course for starters. I’m trying to keep the house tidier and am making more of an effort with the cooking (and even better, so far I haven’t killed ANYONE! Result!).  Determined to know a bit more than ‘a bit’ about something I’ve enrolled on a part-time self-study degree course that I start in a month. The cynic in me tells me I’ll probably change my mind after a year and do something else, that the blog posts will dry up in another month and the house revert back to it’s old slovenliness, but actually I don’t think that’s true.

Because do you know what? I think I’ve changed.

I think I’m almost… *gulp*… becoming a grown up.

Now where’s that book on Quantum Physics I started?

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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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Ok, so it’s a normal morning in our house. Kai and I are playing, making all the farm animals kiss each other and the little construction people (yes I know, condoning bestiality to a one year old, good god my immorality knows no bounds – there may even been some bull on bull kissing action going on). We then get bored of all the kissing and decide to do some jigsaws instead when suddenly I have a LIFE CHANGING REVELATION!!! Yes. For once the capital letters and multiple exclamation marks are justified… (as is the dramatic pause… have you noticed I tend to do them a lot too?)

You see I’ve always been under the impression that I was a bit of a free spirit. My house is cluttered in a kind of hippy disregard for authority (and Pledge) kind of way, my clothes rarely match. I quite often go the entire morning not knowing what I’m going to have for lunch until just before when I will impulsively throw something together and go A-HA! Pizza toast! My friends would probably describe me as creative and pretty random, and I have always been rather proud of that.

But no. My revelation this morning proves that all this is but a facade, an illusion, and that beneath it’s dippy, slightly unkempt exterior lies a deeper, darker side to myself. One I am not so proud of.

I like order. And rules. And boundaries. And safe, predictable things.

I know. Isn’t is awful??

Yes, I know there were clues. The pregnancy file and labour sign were probably two biggies. As is the fact that I frequently spend my evenings doing mathematics FOR FUN as a way of preparing for my degree in the autumn, and that I mark my own answers with large self-satisfying ticks while saying things like “algebra really is brilliant you know”.

And yet this morning still came as something to a surprise to me when my ability to embrace all things chaotic and random was tested and found severely wanting. Not only was a perturbed, I was positively DISTURBED.

By what? Well, by the following:

DSCF3352

By all extents and purposes a harmless, fun jigsaw. But no. Look closer people.

First it lulls you in to a false sense of security. “Oooh shapes and colours” you say. “I understand. One of each shape and one of each colour. Just as it should be. Look Kai lets put the orange circle in the orange circle hole” (good pagan child that he is, the circle is his favourite).

Spurred on by the reassuring logic your brain keeps going. Shapes and colours, yep, and oh look! Animals and counting! Perfect!

Two cats, three zebra, four dogs, four rabbits….wait…that’s not right… we have two fours? And hold on a second, where’s one? Ok I’m feeling a little shaken but I’ll keep going.

And then five. Which cored me to my very marrow. Five…what the hell is this?? Five AMOEBA?

What kind of devil jigsaw is this????

Deep breaths Josie. It’s just a bit of a disordered jigsaw. And that’s ok. We like disorder!

NO WE DON’T!! WE HATE IT! I need to my child’s toys to be predictable and apply the rule of logic! Else where will it all end? Alphabet books that miss out the M and Q?? Madness!!

I’M SCARED KAI!! All my so righteously held convictions are crumbling around me!!

………..

Needless to say I’m ok now. Kai held my hand through my angst, we finished the jigsaw and put it away.

But I fear a part of me has been changed forever. The curtain to my soul has been tweeked aside and for a second I have seen the darkness within.

Perhaps this is only the beginning of a deeper corruption. Today crying over jigsaws, what about tomorrow? Ironing my jeans? Voting Conservative??

*sob*

WHO THE HELL AM I??

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Sat here with a headache and a sore throat trying not to think about the possibility that we might make it a hat-trick and personal family record and have all three of us ill within a fortnight. Bleugh. 

So instead of facing the inevitable and going to bed here is my account of one of the best and worst aspects of being a new mum. The world of OTHER MUMS.

You see, it turns out that when you become a mother, along with stretchmarks and the jelly-belly and the end of wearing clothes that have NOT been smeared with food/sick/snot, you get exclusive membership into a new and powerful club. The Mommy Elite.

Upon having a baby I found myself thrust into this shadowy world, unprepared and inexperienced. The world of play-dates and coffee dates and baby groups and salsa and tupperware parties and all the rest suddenly filled my life and my schedule. After previously being rather flat and uneventful, my social life suddenly took on astronomical proportions. I started to have to plan my days weeks in advance in order to schedule in all of my new friends and activities. 

 It was wonderful. But also one of the most overwhelming, stress inducing experinces of my life.

Because there isn’t just one club. Oh no. There are factions. Types of mothers who tend to hang around together forming powerful and impenetrable cliques. To which did I belong?? All of a sudden I’m back at school and wondering whether I’m a geek or trendy (geek) and worrying that my clothes are crap and dress sense a bit questionable and whether anyone actually likes me at all.

So, after that rather lengthy intro, here they are. Over the next few days I will bring you the truth of the Mommy Elite. The Mom Files.

 

Competitive Mom

I’ll start with this one cause this is be far the most pervasive type I’ve come across. Of course, we all display this tendency from time to time, being as we are so incredibly proud of our gorgeous offspring. And rightly so. Sometimes the desire to tell the world precisely what our (obviously gifted) child has done that morning overwhelms us and before you can say ‘facebook’ we have joyously boasted of the fact that Junior just said ‘cat’.

But the Competitive Mom  takes this to a whole new level. Facebook is a good environment in which to spot a Competitive Mom. You can even lay a trap for them to lure them out out into the open. Tell your friends that your baby took their first steps today and the Competitive Moms will be quick to reply and tell you that THEIR child took their first steps two weeks ago. Tell them your baby waved goodbye to their dad this morning, Competitive Mom will be promptly respond with “Aww how cute! Tarquin waves AND says ‘bye bye’ now!”

When meeting for coffee, every sentence you utter regarding your child will be instantly bettered by the eager competitive mum. EVERYTHING becomes source for competitiveness. Who crawled first, who’s crawling style was obviously more efficient, who eats better, who sleeps better (always an easy win when talking to us). Every achievement a victory to be lorded over your opponent, and an OBVIOUS indicator that you are both a better mother and that your child will grow up to be a nuclear physicistwhile Mr Bum Shuffler will have to face an inevitable future of shelf stacking at Tesco’s

One friend once gleefully reported a conversation she had with a Competitive Mom (CM). CM noticed that little Freddie (names changed for anonimity) had two bottom teeth. “Has Daisy got any teeth yet?” my friend asked innocently. “No” CM replied shrilly “But she’s VERY advanced in other ways!!!!”

Yes that’s right. Because teeth are obviously an indicator of intelligence. You stupid woman.

Of course it’s all very well meaning. They don’t MEAN to be stupid, these mummys. Their usually just insecure and desperate to prove their doing a good job. It’s a reflex, I don’t think they even realise they’re doing it.

But excuses aside, it’s still annoying. So quit it please. And leave the rest of us with our wonderfully average babies to let them get on with things when they bloody well choose.

 

Next time: The Earth Mother

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