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It’s been a long day. It’s been a tiring day. More than anything, it’s been a slightly disquieting day.

Because now, sat here writing to you, I suddenly find myself a Baptised Christian.

Yes friends you read that right.

“But Josie!” I hear you cry! “Are you not famous for your public and extremely vocal rejection of organised religion, favouring instead a more free-thinking, spiritually diverse discourse?”. Well, yes! Yes I am, person with a very eloquent way of putting it!

Ok, an involuntary Baptised Christian.

For today I went to a Christening.

Now I don’t like Christenings. As a non-Christian there is nothing more likely to cause me spiritual and philosophical discomfort, and internal pew fidgeting  than the Christening or Baptism of a baby. But, as my friends will keep insisting on producing gorgeous offspring, and as I love these friends and respect their choices, from time time I find myself attending one.

Needless to say, we didn’t have Kai Christened, opting instead to be the first of anyone we knew to write and conduct our own naming ceremony. Caused quite a few raised eyebrows amongst the elderly relatives but once they’d got over the misconception that it would involve some kind of elaborate goat sacrifice and women with bare breasts and names like “Ephinany Moon-Jewel” (it didn’t), it actually all went down rather well.

But other people? Well they like Christenings don’t they? It’s a big rite of passage for them and their child and a cause of much celebration and excitement and joy and silver plated trinket boxes. And that’s fair enough. So several times a year I force myself to swallow back my self-righteous opinions, put on something fancy, and… *deep breath*… go to church.

Today was one of those days.

So there we are. At church. Ant is resplendent in a badly pressed shirt and I am wearing make-up (an even rarer event than me attending church) and posh trousers with only a little amount of baby leakage on. And there are my lovely friends. H looking beautiful and radiant with an adorable new-mummy glow, and her precious new baby breaking all records for unbelievable cuteness and prettiness and making me rethink the whole “I’m not ready for another baby” with just a few heartbreaking smiles.

Kai has been miserable with a cold the last day or two and was not on best form, starting to whinge and squirm within a record ten seconds of the service beginning. So I quickly made a hasty retreat to the back of the church to the children’s play corner to observe the rest of the proceedings from afar whilst playing Thomas the Tank Engine Goes Large and Liturgical (very very quietly) .

And it’s all going ok! Kai’s only had one minor meltdown when a small child dared to look at him funny and I have done my usual trick of zoning out through the particularly irksome parts. Me and Kai did some half-hearted dancing and clapping to the hymn sung to the tune of the Flintstones just to show willing (Flintstones??! Yes really. Let no one say that church is not cool) and stood up to wave and smile at the important dunking moment.

And then it happened.

Young female vicar with a rather forced air of ‘hip and happening’ mumbled something about honouring all OUR Baptisms (a rather arrogant assumption if you ask me but there you go) and began prancing around the church waving a bunch of sticks spraying holy water all over the unwitting congregation (ironically if we’d done anything similar at Kai’s naming ceremony, no doubt all the ERs would have immediately condemned it as some kind of new age witchcraft tomfoolery!). Now I renounced my childhood Baptism when I decided that Christianity was no longer for me, (yep, I’m going straight to hell, but at least I won’t be going there a hypocrite!). So as hip vicar ambled her way towards me little did she know that she was approaching something of a clean sheet. Nope. No taint of Baptism here.

It took me a minute to figure out what was happening. First I saw my husband a few pews in front take an unsuspecting hit, and before I knew it, she was upon me. And upon Kai.

I saw Ant turn quickly round with a look of shock and apprehension on his face as he realised what was about to happen. He later told me in the car that he turned fully expecting to see a scene straight out of ‘The Bodyguard’ in which I, with a slow-motion NOOOOOOOOO! threw my unprotected body in front of Kai’s poor defenseless form to take the hit in his place, the holy water hissing as it hit my heathen skin. In reality, nothing quite so exciting happened, Kai (with more foresight than I) chose that moment to duck behind some soft play apparatus…

…but I wasn’t so lucky. No that’s right, I was blessed (and no, the water didn’t make a hissing sound as it hit me).

It was quite a shock I can tell you. Inadvertant baptism was certainly NOT on my lists of things to do that day.

But do you want to know what was worse?

Ant hurried over soon after looking pale and anxious (and a little damp) which I initially assumed was in anticipation of my inevitable (and probably vocal) rage over the whole affair.

But no.

Because as she feverishly sprayed the congregation, sitting, inoculously on top of the pew was a beautiful one-of-a kind hand-made piece of stationary I had crafted at the request of my friend for their after-Chistening Party. And now, held in Ant’s trembling hand was said piece of priceless creativity. Covered in water drops with the ink running in big blobs.

Unbelievable. Who knew church was such a dangerous place?

So what do you think I should sue them for first? The forced indoctrination into their religion? Or the ruined handy-crafts?

Either way, next time I’ll be sure to remember to wear my anti-baptism waterproof suit and keep my belongings in a zip-up plastic bag. Just in case it’s another Christening of the ‘spray-per-view’ variety.

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P.S. Congratulations H & D – despite the unexpected inclement indoor weather it was a lovely occasion and you both looked such a picture of pride and contentment (and L is LOADS prettier than all the other babies). Sorry we had to leave early – absolutely nothing to do with the accidental baptism and everything to do with a very tired, grumpy baby needing an early night! Love you loads x

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I think it’s about time I introduced you to a few of the other supporting cast members in this strange surreal stage-show that seems to be my life at the moment (I think I shall name it “Talking Bread People On Ice”). You’ve met me and you’ve met Kai, and you haven’t run away yet. Let’s see after this lot…

Introducing: my family. Who have all been given super-hero secret identities for the purpose of this narrative.

THE HUSBAND (a.k.a The World’s Most Patient Man)

DSCF2916Super Hero Powers: King of the random fact and endless movie trivia. Able to put up with wife’s irrational, slightly bi-polar behaviour and giant paddys without even a flicker of annoyance. To laugh and make-fun of aforementioned irrational, bi-polar behaviour thus defusing tense situations with ease (It is very hard to stay stroppy with someone calling you a “big head pixie wife” over and over again). In similar fashion has a unique ability to come up with new and interesting ways to make the Kai-ransaurus laugh – including such popular games as “Ninja Dad”, “Sock-Ear Dad” and singing and dancing to such self-penned classics as “Just A Little Nugget Of A Poo”.

Can magically produce cups of tea and treats at much needed moments. Champion Washer-Upper and ‘tidying’ in the form of putting things in giant neat piles.

Generally just a complete super-star. I’m still wondering quite what I did to deserve him and hoping very, very hard he doesn’t figure out his misfortune and do a runner anytime soon. I am currently having to share him with the love of his life his new HTC Hero phone but I think I’m safe as long as it doesn’t develop an app that cooks his tea.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Colds, or illness of any sort. Anything breaking, especially something gadgety and electrical, is likely to bring on apocalyptic style melt-downs.

Super-Hero Accessories: Mobile Phone. Crisps.

Most Likely To Say: “Did I mention my phone can scan the night sky and tell you the constellation you’re looking at? No? Well it can” and “Do we have any snacks?”

 

THE MUM

DSCF2542Super Hero Powers: Green fingers able to grow vegetables of monumental size and deliciousness. Increasingly talented post-modern flower arranger. Spectacular ability to piss off the Christian Right at her local church with her ‘lifestyle’ choices, being both gay and a Christian and generally lovely and hard to dislike however much they try. I’m trying to encourage her to start a guerrilla flower arranging campaign and fill her church with phalic symbolism but she’s taking some persuading…

One of her greatest abilities is to have a busier social life then me and be out most of the time. Hence my longstanding and fulfilling relationship with ‘answering machine mom’ in her absence. Currently sailing the Med in an enormous boat, living it large, and being generally fabulous. The most empathic and caring woman I know. I love her and am so proud of her I could burst.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Rampaging Badgers in her vegetable patch. Anything even vaguely sentimental or emotional likely to bring on fits of ‘leaking’ from the eye area.

Super-Hero Accessories: A pair of deadly, poison tipped secateurs. A rainbow fish window sticker. 

Most Likely To Say: “I’m sorry I’m not here right now. Please leave your message after the tone”.

 

THE STEP-MUM

DSCF3308Super Hero Powers: My mother’s lovely wife. Ability to spot dust and dirt with radar-like precision and attack it in on sight – she would put the Stepford Wives to shame with her tireless enthusiasm for housework. Michelin-star standard cook (I’m thinking of moving back home just for the cooking). Enjoys arguing for fun and has an impressive ability of making out she knows a lot about something when she actually doesn’t. Vicious competitive streak – don’t expect her to bail you out of jail in Monopoly. Has a tendency to fall fast asleep mid conversation and then wake up and join back in when you’re least expecting it.

Also the most generous, thoughtful woman I have ever met.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Time. Having absolutely no concept of it what so ever. Thinking that a spare ten minutes is ample time to clean an already clean bathroom, paint a shed and have a shower. Currently battling with her arch-nemesis the evil PHD monster that eats up all of her time and attention. Oh and fluffy socks that leave bits on the carpet.

Super-Hero Accessories: A hoover. A slightly evil cat.

Most Likely To Say: “I’m working from home today” and “Do you want a coaster for that?”

 

THE DAD

5775_1196691005268_1468270467_30538510_7495257_nSuper Hero Powers: Extraordinary ability to be loud and command everyone’s attention, making everyone like him in an instant (especially old ladies).  Deserves special mention for being mostly responsible for my sense of humour (and thus this blog) having given me and my brother the very finest comedic education. Tireless campaigner for naughty children the world over – what this man doesn’t know about Governmental Children’s Legislation just isn’t worth knowing. Published author of several absolutely-not-boring-in-the-slightest but impressively influential textbooks.

Globe-trotter adventurer extraordinaire. Witty, brainy, unbelievably generous and warm hearted and deserving of several shiny certificates for bravery and coping skills. Has the ability to look EXACTLY like Captain Birdseye when he grows a beard. Has successfully fought off a mid-life crisis so far but I fear it is only a matter of time.

Open to offers (rich, successful, sane women only please – will be vetted by daughter).

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: The recession and it’s spectacular timing, arriving as it did at a time when he is trying to sell two houses. Illness – which needs immediate treatment with sympathetic noises and a comic.

Super-Hero Accessories: A bum bag. A jaunty walking hat and shorts in all weathers.

Most Likey To Say:“Compare the Meerkat… dot com” and “It’s a Kai bear after all” (to the tune of “It’s a Small World”).

 

THE BROTHER

n514046766_2037215_4614311Super Hero Powers: World’s most devoted Uncle, ability to make Kai weak with excitement at merely the mention of his name. King of the argument, serial Devil’s advocate. Scarily clever and disciplined. World domination could quite easily be his if only he put his mind to it. Currently dabbling with being a young professional graduate after playing with being an unemployed bum for a while but not finding it to his liking. Does not yet own a Blackberry but, much like dad buying a sports car, I fear it is only a matter of time. DO NOT challenge him to an argument on any philosophical or religious topic. HE WILL WIN.

His hair should get a mention all of it’s own (probably counts as a side kick) given it’s amazing ability to resist all forms of grooming and being water repellent.

My partner in random humour. Still makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world. My best friend.

Kryptonite Style Weaknesses: Stupid ignorant people (same as me) who will never fail to bait him into an argument. A complete inability to concede a point or back down in a ‘discussion’. Taking his glasses off (no he’s not Superman – just can’t see a thing). An irrational fear of mime artists.

Super-Hero Accessories: A big cup of tea. A copy of Nietzsche “The Gay Science”.

Most Likely To Say:“Do you fancy a cuppa?”, “Did I ever tell you about the time I was relaxing in a Budapest Spa…” “YOU’RE WRONG! REALITY IS ONLY A MATTER OF PERCEPTION!” and “Yeah? You fight like a cow!” (I could think of about a million more but won’t).

 

So there we go. My family ladies and gentleman. They assure me they are all delighted to meet you.

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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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Kai and I were supposed to be at ‘Krafty Kidz’ this morning (aliteration and creative spelling? You just know it was going to be all kinds of fun!) eating getting covered in paint and causing plenty of nice middle-class organised mayham. We are, however, not.

An old friend decided to pop round for a visit instead. But not a nice old friend who arrives with flowers and home-made biscuits. No. An old friend with teeth.

Yes folks, my very best friend the pain fairy has been to visit.

Kai has thankfully decided today is a two nap day (thus doubling my amount of sitting-on-ass time) so I do at least have some time to sit and put my feet up this morning and try and distract myself from the army of tiny microscopic beavers who seem to be gnawing at my joints, crapping in the resulting orifice and then lighting that crap on fire.

And because misery loves company, and because I know you’re all dying to get to know me better I thought I would sit and regale you with the story behind why there are a million tiny Yaks stampeeding all over my bones. And crapping on them. And lighting that crap on fire. See? I’m getting better with the metaphors! (And you just KNOW who that last one was for…)

I have Fibromyalgia.

Which is…well… actually they don’t actually know what it is too be honest. It’s kind of just a name for a collection of pretty horrible unexplained symptoms. Pain being the most obvious one. Delightfully agonising, unrelenting, ten billion woodpeckers all going to town on my deep muscle tissue pain (ok, I’ll stop with the metaphors now). And fatigue, lots of that. Plus the odd bit of incapacitating muscle stiffness, fog-like disruptions to my mental systems, and pins-and-needles alternating with completely numb limbs.

It’s quite a party I can tell you.

As I said we don’t really know why. The current theory is that it’s a neurological problem, with some schools of thought throwing in an auto-immune element or chemical imbalance. It’s probably a bit of a mixture of all three but the neurological explanation has always held the most water for me.

I reckon it’s a wiring problem. And the little man sitting at the control console in my brain likes to drink. And smoke dope. Plus I think he has a bit of a Kai-like tendency to find button pushing irresistible. It probably goes something like this…

Tiny Man: “Oh look there’s a lovely shiny button!”

Me: “Don’t you touch that”.

Tiny Man: “Understood. Nope. Definitely not touching. Umm…just out of interest, what does it do?”

Me: “That’s the button you’re supposed to press when I burn myself with the iron or trap my finger in the car door or push a giant watermelon sized baby out of my vagina. It’s the PAIN button tiny man and you must not push it unless you have a REALLY good reason”.

Tiny Man: “Right. Gotcha. No pressing of the button unless pain is justified. But… it’s just so shiny!”

Me:”Oi! I can see your finger on it!”

Tiny Man: “No no my finger’s just RESTING there, don’t worry. I won’t touch it honestly, I won’t…

PAIN PAIN PAIN PAIN PAIN

Me: “ARggghhH!HH!”

Tiny Man: “Ooops”

Me: “TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF GOD DAMN YOU!!!”

Tiny Man: “Umm… about that. I don’t seem to be able to. You see my mate popped over before with these DELICIOUS brownies and some beer and I may have inadvertently got some on this here brain console and now it won’t switch off. Sorry”.

Me: “ARggghhH!HH!”

Tiny Man: “Don’t worry! I’m sure it will right itself in a few hours, or days, or maybe weeks… it’s no big deal!”

Me: “BASTARD!!!”

I hate that tiny man.

Now I should point out, I’m pretty used to this by now. It’s been going on since I was very small, managing it has become second nature and I’m better now then I have EVER been (and actually have been since I became pregnant… hmm… hormonal element maybe? Partly the reason I’m so reluctant to give up breastfeeding yet! I reckon that glorious prolactin is the only thing keeping me going!). It’s not so bad these days, I’d even use the word ‘remission’. It just enjoys popping by ever so often to bite me on the ass when I’m not looking and remind me it’s still there.

It’s not always been so managable though. I spent most of my teens either on crutches or hobling round like a granny with a walking stick (did wonders for my high-school cool factor I can tell you), and most of my early twenties in a wheelchair, confined to bed or sofa for most of the day. To say it hasn’t been easy is an understatement. Not helped by the fact that a small proportion of the medical community still think it’s an entirely imaginary disease. Yep, that’s right, they think I’m a mad person who makes up the fact that I’m in pain to get attention. Isn’t that just what you want to hear when your 14 and think you might be dying because the pain is so bad? Alternatively they just thought I was just a HUGE drama queen who excessively exaggerated what are normal every-day aches and fatigue. Nice huh?

I can assure you that this is not the case. The pain is very real. I’m not an attention-seeking mad person. I am not over-reacting or a big wuss. The fact that I managed to give birth on two paracetamol and wiff of gas and air I hope proves that, as does the fact that I managed to keep smiling through the many tests and painful procedures they subjected me to as a child to prove whether or not I was making it all up.

But it is, I’ll admit, a bit of a mystery.

In any case, it doesn’t matter. I don’t really care who believes me anymore. I’ve got a handle on it and get to live a relatively normal life so I feel lucky. Other people with the same illness don’t do quite so well.

It’s been a tough journey but my goodness am I stronger for it. And that has to be a good thing.

Anyway, I hear the sounds of a little man stirring (no, not THAT little man – the nice one that will greet me with cuddles and kisses).

Catch you laters.

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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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So I think I’m quite away off being able to make any significant contribution to the fabulous “kids say the funniest things” category of mommy blogging. Which is disappointing really as they are by far my favourite posts to read.

But not to be outdone, and in order to try to prove to you that blogging about babies is JUST as funny and interesting as blogging about toddlers (completely not true by the way – I need Kai to start doing some more interesting things else I fear this blog may die a horrible stagnant death), and in case you meet Kai anytime soon, here is a handy translation guide to all things Kai-speak.

1. “og” and “gat” 

Otherwise known as “dog” and “cat”. Used to refer to anything vaguely resembling an animal. 

Usually proceeded by frantic pointing and often accompanied by a “ahhhhh” sound and a little beckoning gesture, which translates as “please come here and let me pull out great chunks of your fur stroke you”. 

2. The words are a new development but animal noises…pah well we’re an old hand at that one. We of course have “miaow” and “woof” but also “mooooooo” for cow (but think more ghost than bovine) and a new one for today “oooh oooh oooh” for monkey (although thinking about it I have always suspected Kai was more monkey than human so maybe it was just his inner-chimp revealing itself).

3. And while we’re on the subject of noises, well of course I have to include Kai’s party-piece. Following in his father’s footsteps of being able to do the most convincing formula-one car impression I have EVER heard, any mention of the word “car”, or the sight of one will immediately prompt an excited “BRRrrmmmMMMM” from Kai. In fact, so primed as he is to jump in with his impression I only needed to utter the sentance “I’m just going to write this card” the other day to start him brumming and brrring around the living room. No honey. CarD. Pay attention please.

4. “Book” and “Ball”

To be said beautifully, articulately and perfectly. When absolutely no one is around to bear witness.

5. “Da”

For Daddy. So far not even an inkling of a Mama. Ungrateful child.

6. “Bye Bye” and “Hello”

The former said mournfully as beloved “Da” disappears off to work, and to everything he no longer wants (usually right before it is thrown at me).  Accompanied by ultra-cute waving. Seriously. I defer even the most hard-hearted child-hating grump not to melt after one wave from my little fella. The latter said in the best middle class accent I could ever wish for and usually said with a question mark (“hello?”) when holding his toy phone/shoe/pig/dinner/anything in reach up to his ear.

And that’s it. So actually not very funny OR very interesting now it comes down to it.

But still enough to make me the proudest mama on the face of this earth.

You can go back to reading the funnier blogs now. Just check back here in another 12 months because given the way the baby bear already won’t shut up, I have a feeling he’s going to come out with some great one-liners.

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Apologies in advance for the rather odd, inevitably disjointed post today. I have had, approximately, 7 hours broken sleep over the last 2 days leaving me in a rather strange, slightly hysterical ohh look there’s a monkey holding my brain type mood. 

For those of you that missed my frantic, endless tweeting in attempts to stay sane over the last few days, here’s the deal. I recovered from my throat infection just in time for Kai to start crying. Something he has continued to do, on and off (though mostly on it seems), for the last 48 or so hours.

It started witha bit of a fever Tuesday morning. By evening every time he moved his mouth, or coughed or yawned he would yelp in pain. Trying to eat made him wail. He refused ALL breastfeeds AND banana. Those of you that know Kai well will know that these two things just.do.not.happen and are my two ‘time to sound the alarm my son must be dying’ indicators. ESPECIALLY the refusal to feed. Even lovely snuggly under the duvet just before bed type feeds. Something must be very, very wrong.

 At first I thought, generous mother that I am, that I had given him my throat infection but a trip to the doctors confirmed that his throat is fine and that it is, in fact, our old friends the Evil Torturous  Tooth Army, specifically the Diabolical Molar Division, in their unrelenting campaign to force their huge blunt edges through my poor child’s gums.

I cannot begin to describe the extent of his agony the last couple days. He has moaned, he has wailed, he has sobbed, he has hysterically screamed. He has NOT slept, except very lightly and for the first night only if being carried around in the dark in his sling. He has NOT eaten more than a few teeny mouthfuls and NOT fed apart from the odd very ginger little nuzzle. So consequently I am left in an almost catatonic state of exhaustion with a very sore back and boobs like frickin’ boulders.

Now I don’t know whether you, dear reader, are familiar with sleep deprivation (and no I don’t mean you with your child who wakes up a whole ONCE in the night who then moans to everyone about how they may just drop dead from exhaustion – you can go jump off a cliff) but SERIOUS sleep deprivation. I mean the kind of ‘being woken up at least every two hours and then getting up at the crack of dawn every single blessed day for over a year’ variety. Because after a while THAT kind of sleep deprivation starts doing some seriously messed up things to your mind.

Take last night for example. Kai had woken up again for probably the 8th time that night and having tried all other tactics to get him back to sleep (including my tried-trusted using breastmilk as a legal baby tranquillizer – I’m lost without that one),  I was now pacing my little route round the bedroom that I must have done 10 gazillion times before. And as happens when exisiting on such little sleep and pure adrenaline I found myself in a kind of waking dream having a conversation in my head with a loaf of bread. I don’t remember what was said. All I can remember is that it was the loaf of plain white Hovis I had brought that day and that it had arms and legs and a face and that in my mind we talked quite seriously for several minutes before I realised what I was doing.

This sort of thing happens to me quite a lot.

(I had also obviously been spending too much time on Twitter that day too because I distinctly remember later on in the night Kai waking up crying AGAIN and me absent mindedly looking for his ‘unfollow’ button so I could ignore him and go back to sleep. If only hey!)

It’s such a weird feeling. You’re awake, wide awake, with every sense on hyper-alert and yet you’re asleep at the same time, the barrier between your rational mind and your unconscious completely broken down. It’s exactly what I imagine being on some very heavy, trippy drugs must feel like. And you have to picture it too. It’s dark, completely pitch black apart from the eerie green glow of the digital clock. The only sound is either Kai moaning and crying, or if I’ve managed to settle him, the soft sound of his breathing or the little snuffling sound of him nursing, all accompanied by my lovely husband’s rolling rhythmic snore. Nothing but me and the thoughts in my head. For hours and hours and hours.

It’s no wonder I go a little nutso. 

Sometimes it’s conversations with imaginary bread people, sometimes it’s a line from a song in my head going round and round and round. Once it was thinking that the top of my head had come off and worrying my thinking might be too noisy and wake Kai up. One particularly bad night some months back I realised I had been muttering “I want to go home” over and over. I was home, obviously. Occasionally the crying, clawing, writhing thing in my arms in the dark has taken on monstrous proportions in my mind and I’ve had to switch the light on only to have a poor, confused Kai blinking up at me, reminding me there’s no monster at all but just an exhausted little boy who can’t get back to sleep.

All in all it’s not been a good year for my mental health.

Anyway I should go. The mother-in-law has returned from taking Kai for a nap and he’s looking distinctly grumpy.

Oh look he’s starting to cry again.

 And here, right on schedule, is the giant purple rabbit come to take me to a happy, silent place with white walls.

Thank god for that.

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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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I am in total shock.

After our previous experiences with Kai and this sort of thing,  I had been anticipating complete meltdown at Kai’s 12 month booster immunisations today, packing all favourite toys to try and distract him and preparing for many hours of sobbing and cuddles. I even warn the nurse on entering that he has a tendency to be ” a bit of a drama queen”.

And guess what. He didn’t even cry. Not even a whimper. Just looked slightly confused then pointed at the door as if to say “right that’s that then. Lets go”. 

Who is this strange child and what have you done with my Kai?

The strange pod child is now home and playing happily with Mr Fireman #2, attempting a daring rescue of small purple elephant from my shoe. The dose of Calpol I prepared in advance sits redundant on the side.

Maybe I should take it? I certainly have a headache from all the stressing.

 

*POSTSCRIPT*

Phew! Within seconds of publishing the above, strange pod child took a tumble and gave his head the minutest of bumps. The agonising wails have only just stopped 5 minutes later (and that’s only because he’s having a get-better comfort feed as I type.) I think it’s safe to say that it’s the real Kai after all. Thank goodness for that.

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