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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

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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Ahhhh the good old days… Fair enough Kai would feed around the clock (despite telling enquiring relatives that he fed four-hourly to get them off my back- hahaha that was a good one!), and at the time felt incredibly draining, but looking back it was pure bliss. I’d get to sit on the sofa all day, watching dvd’s and catching up with all the tv series I had missed (think I got through two season’s of Desperate Housewives and House in the first couple of months!). Ant even set me up a little ‘nursing station’ with snacks and drinks, the remote control and a pile of books and would ‘wait’ on me, stuck as I was with a greedy baby attached to my boob. Kai may have been hungry ALL THE TIME but it was so easy. All I had to do was whip one out and voila – happy baby. Any time, any place. And I never had to worry about how much he was feeding (although of course I did being the neurotic first time mum that I was), or whether or not he was getting the right nutrients. Cause, you see, breastfeeding is magic like that. Give a baby unrestricted access to the the breast and they will feed exactly the amount they need to, with your body somehow adjusting the amount supplied and the nutritional content of the milk according to what your baby needs for optimum growth at that time. And my little guzzler on the 85th percentile was a pretty good endorsement for that.

But then of course the little monkey GREW UP didn’t he – suddenly I had to start thinking about weaning and food and life became a hell of a lot more complicated.

The first big decision was WHEN to wean Kai. In the end we decided to wait till Kai was 6 months to start whilst systematically fending off all our baby-rice wielding associates who assumed that by waiting we were starving him somehow – one look at him should have been enough to tell you that he was doing just fine on milk thank you very much. We didn’t really get all these supposed ‘signs’ that people talk about and as he’d always fed like a fiend and NEVER slept worth a damn anyway. When he upped his feeding in the odd week I just assumed it was a growth spurt and would pass, and it usually did (although his 3-4 month spurts did run together in one long crazy marathon feed).

By the time Kai got to six months old he was quite adept at picking up things offered to him and putting them in his mouth and rather suspicious/hostile of doing anything he couldn’t have control of (especially anything bottle or spoon shaped) so we decided to give a baby-led approach a try, throwing out the spoons and the pureed mush and giving him bits of proper food to chew on from the start.

Kai at 7 months old - enjoying his weaning adventures

Kai at 7 months old - enjoying his weaning adventures

This turned out to be the best decision we’d ever made. Kai loved it. And although it took him a while to start eating anything in any great quantity, by about 8-9 months old he was shovelling it down like you wouldn’t believe. And by ‘it’ I mean pretty much anything offered to him. Hard, soft, chewy, crunchy, slippery, teeny tiny pieces and great big chunks – Kai would have a crack at them all. A lot of practice meant chewing and swallowing skills came on fast – as did the ability to chase and ‘capture’ various sizes and shapes of food around his tray. It was just fab. Watching Kai eat a sandwich or delicately picking up every pea on his highchair are still two of my all time favourite sights. And on those days he didn’t eat much I could still rely on good old breast milk to top him up.

So why do I hate weaning I hear you ask? Well Kai is approaching the big 1 now, and starting to breast feed less and less (well, during the day at least – we won’t go into the nights yet!). And I am becoming more and more aware of the need for food to give him all the nutrients he needs. And it feels like an AWESOME responsibility.

All of sudden I’m having to think about things like ‘a balanced diet’, calculating daily salt intake and monitoring sugar. Toast and sticks of fruit and cooked veg just don’t cut it any more – I need to make actual MEALS! When the timing works out he’ll just eat a bit of whatever we’re having as a family but the rest of the time I have to make stuff specially for him and me (my old diet of a packet of biscuits for lunch doesn’t seem quite so appropriate any more).

And of course, being the perfectionist that I am, it has to be good stuff. I’ve never been much of a cook but suddenly I’m making pitta pockets and pasta bake like a pro (or trying to anyway). It’s EXHAUSTING! Trying to come up with new things, get a good balance between different foods and food groups etc.  I HATE IT!!

Bring back the days when boob was enough! I tell you what… next time around I am going to appreciate it all SO much more.

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

Anyway- back to reality.

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

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

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

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

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

TTFN!

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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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