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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:

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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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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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Here it is.

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

 

GOOD – “I see you baby…”

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

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

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

 

BAD – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

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

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

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

I am exhausted.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Grrrr….. snap out of it stupid.

 

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

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Welcome to mine and Kai’s morning ritual! It goes something like this…

At a stupidly early hour (5.50am this morning) I become aware of little fingers poking me repeatedly in the eye, exploring the inside of my nose and ears and prising my mouth apart to try and forcibly insert a soggy dummy. Kai is awake. We co-sleep so when he wakes up it’s pretty much game over as far as sleep is concerned – the mummy/daddy climbing frame/play aparatus is too much of a temptation and when Kai’s awake he’s AWAKE. I’ve always loved the myth of the ‘good’ baby who gurgles and plays quietly in their crib till a reasonable hour. ‘Ha’ is all I can say to that one.

A cuddle, some Kai singing and round of ‘lets see how much of daddy’s chest hair I can pull out in one go’ later, I take pity on my sleepy husband and wrestle Kai into a dry nappy. I will then announce that we are going ‘downstairs’ which will be greeted by squeals of excitment and leg pumping and frantic pointing at the door. Bless him, he does love to point as you will discover. We wave goodbye to daddy and the digital clock (don’t ask me why, he just loves it) then it’s off downstairs to play for an hour while I sit bleary eyed at the computer, periodically untangling Kai from whatever mess he’s made, and breaking for frequent cuddles and kisses. This morning Kai has decided that despite nursing all night there is room for just a little more so is curled up on my lap simultaneously nursing and watching Tweenies on tv. I’ve become rather adept at one handed typing.

We’ve had added excitement lately as Kai has become very good at pulling himself up to standing holding on to the furniture. This has opened up a whole new world of discovery for the little man and consequently means nothing is safe from his destructive grasp. He’s still getting his confidence and balance so I need to keep one eye open to get ready to catch in case he overreaches himself, and to remove whatever object he has discovered and decided to try and eat.

Speaking of eating, it’s time for breakfast. Be back in a min…

 Right, Kai is just finishing off his mini-weetabix and blueberrys (and doing stirling work this morning I have to say – the boy can’t half put it away when he wants to) and the cat is in her usual position under his highchair to catch the droppage. Occasionally she will get lucky and Kai will decide it’s more fun to feed her his breakfast rather than eat it himself – this involves carefully dropping it onto her head. De-weetabixing a cat is not an easy task I can tell you.

Anyway, next on the agenda is getting washed and dressed – well Kai anyway, me if I’m lucky but that will probably have to wait till nap time. My hair is doing a good Ace Ventura impression this morning much to my husband’s amusement, so that’s going to take a bit of attention. After a restless night and an early start, Kai is looking little weary already so it won’t be long before he’s ready for his early nap. That’s the cue for me to jump into action. Kettle on, nappies in the washing machine, floor cleaned (well, sometimes – I’m not going to pretend to be mother of the year here…by ‘cleaned’ I may mean a quick run over with a baby wipe…).

The last of the weetabix are now getting thrown at me so I better go. See you later – thanks for joining us! x

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Well I’ve decided to keep a blog. I’m not sure who will be interested in my ramblings but there you go! Mostly it’s a reason to make myself sit down and reflect on my day so will probably by hurriedly written during nap times and in between nappy changes, playgroups and de-sticking the couch of whatever Kai has had for lunch that day. I hope you enjoy getting to know us a little bit. I fear that I’m not particularly interesting but Kai is fab so should help make up for my shortcomings in that department!

So let me introduce us. My name is Josie and I am 27 from the UK and am a stay-at-home mum to the incredible, rambunctious, endlessly entertaining Kai Benjamin who at the time of writing has just turned 10 months old. I am also a wife to my lovely husband Ant and friend and coffee/cake-eating companion to most people with a pushchair in my home town, where I’ve lived all my life. On other days you will also find me as artist (with a confidence deficit), philosopher (with a tendency to get befuddled), and spiritual explorer (with a penchant for pagan thinking) and soon-to-be student studying for my BSc in Earth Sciences.

In all honesty I’ve found motherhood to be rather hard work and not at all what I expected – the daily challenges, anxieties and physical energy involved have all come as quite shock and something I don’t think anyone could really have prepared me for (the projectile pooing was a shocker I can tell you that for starters…) I’d always thought I’d be rather good at being a mum – turns out I had far more to learn than I realised.

At the same time though, it’s been the most exhilarating, joyous, heart-stopping, mind-blowing  adventure of my life. Because, you see, it turns out that the hard work has a pay-off… a life with my beautiful, miraculous, precious boy. My love for him is the biggest shock of all. Because I do. Completely, utterly, hoplessly do. I always knew you loved your children but nothing could have prepared me for this. Moving mountains is nothing. I’d chew my own arm off for this boy.

So I guess that’s what my blog is about (not arm chewing don’t worry). Life with my Kai, my little bear and all our many adventures along the way.

I hope you enjoy it x

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