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Posts Tagged ‘illness’

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:

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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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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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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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Howdy all. It’s been an eventful few days in our house. Kai started the beginning of last week very under the weather and bad tempered, lots of very cross crying, even less sleep than usual. He cried through the whole of Father’s Day meal, sobbed at playgroup, threw tantrums in his pushchair – was generally just delightful really. I put it down to teething as usual but Friday he started running a fever which by the night had spiked at 39 degrees C (that’s 102F for all my American readers…I’m sure there are hundreds of you). Slightly worrying. And were we imagining things or could we see the beginning of some spots? Ever so slightly more worrying.

I am, by nature, an incredibly neurotic mother trying desperately not to be and although tempted to phone an ambulance at the first sign of a sniffle am definitely getting better and stronger at fending off unnecessary panic. So I tried not to. Very hard. The temperature, although high, came down with cold flannels and Neurofen and sleep, and although the poor mite was obviously feeling grotty he wasn’t THAT ill, still managing to eat his body weight in food and continue his ongoing preoccupation with crawling round at high speed like a maniac and come up with new and interesting ways to maim himself. I’d heard that Chicken Pox had been doing the rounds and wondered vaguely whether this might be it. The spots didn’t LOOK like the pox though, very small and fine and showing no signs of blistering. So we decided to give it 24 hours, keep Kai at home, and see what happened.

Well, by Saturday teatime he was COVERED. Head, chest, tummy, back, arms, legs, face, hands, feet, bottom. You name it. Hundreds and hundreds of little red spots. And he still had a temperature.

 Shit.

What was it I was supposed to do? Press a cold glass against them? You try that with a wiggly baby! And did they ‘blanch’? WHAT DOES ‘BLANCH’ MEAN??! Ok I’m not panicking. Look Kai is fine, busy trying to eat the contents of the magazine rack. But this can’t be right.

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(Can you even SEE the spots on these photos?! They are there I promise)

So I resorted to my old reliable. NHS direct. The haven of all neurotic first time parents not quite neurotic enough to phone the doctor but not quite confident enough to do nothing. For my thousands of American readers (as I’m sure there are by now after this thrilling narrative), NHS direct is our National Health Service telephone helpline where you can phone for info and have your medical problems assessed over the phone and advice offered. Normally you get a call back fairly quickly but we are, of course, in the middle of Swine Flu hysteria so I was advised it would be slightly longer.

It was two hours. A tired nurse asked the same few questions over and over again. Has he got a headache? (asked three times) Does the light seem to hurt his eyes? (asked twice) Does he seem anymore sleepy than usual? (asked three times). I dutifully repeated my answers over and over, stressing that he seemed fine. He was just hot and spotty. The answer, in the end, was that it was probably a mild virus of some sort but as she couldn’t see the rash we should pop down the road to the chemist and have the pharmacist have a look at it. They’re good with rashes apparently.

It’s after teatime by now by the way so we get Kai in his PJs and trundle off down to Asda to see the Pharmacist. Who panicked. Now we’d been quite calm up till now really (well, Ant had) but the poor Pharmacist was not. Kai was a baby. Kai had a temperature. Kai had a rash. It was time to call the doctor he says, looking very worried. “I think it’s probably ok cause the rash blanches (??) but I can’t be sure – you need to phone now”.

Shit.Shit.

So we phone the doctor’s out of hours service from the car and repeat the same spot story that we must have told twenty times already down the phone. We are told we have been put in a triage system and will be be called back by a doctor. In two hours. But the rash is getting worse and now I’m really worried.

By this time it’s 7pm and Kai is shattered. We go home and put him to bed, only to phoned an hour later by the doctor saying we need to go up to the hospital. So we wake up a very bleary eyed and confused Kai (who seemed very excited by the prospect of a late night road trip and not at all poorly whatsoever) and off we go to the hospital.

Of course Kai was fine. The doctor took one look at him, checked him all over, reassured us it WASN’T meningitis and just a virus of some sort. Bless him, he was lovely. And yet there was that slight look in his eye. You know the one… the ‘neurotic parents overreacting as usual’ look. “But I didn’t panic!” I felt like shouting, “It was the Pharmacist! I just nonchalantly phoned a helpline! I’m not quite sure what happened…”

Home to bed and panic over. Except of course, baby bear is wired from all the excitement and won’t go back to sleep. Till 10.30pm. And then wanting to get up at 5am.

Urgh.

He’s perked up loads since then. Still covered in spots but temperature’s down. Just annoyed at being kept inside (which I think is probably the responsible thing to do till his spots have cleared up) so is even more destructive than usual.

Anyone fancy coming and rescuing me? I have Orios?!

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