Fraudster

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I felt like such a fraud at our music class this morning.  The feeling nagged at me, even though the boys were lovely and less clingy than usual.  We all enjoyed it but I still felt like a fraud.  I felt like I wasn’t the nice mummy that people perhaps thought I was.

I shouted “You idiot” at my eldest this morning when he dropped a heavy box on my foot and hurt me. It wasn’t deliberate on his part but it was reckless.  But shouting “Idiot” isn’t up there in my “strategies”.  And he cried 😦  I felt like I could and should have stopped myself, but for some reason I didn’t.
So I felt like a fraud for the entire class.  I reasoned that it is an experience that he will have in life – someone verbally lashing out when they’re hurt or upset.  I told myself that it was better that it was with me, someone who he trusted, someone who would ‘fess up and tell him it is not acceptable and that I was sorry.  He will know not to regularly take rubbish in the future.  Won’t he?  I added into that that children need to see how people say sorry.  He said sorry too for hurting my foot; his little brother (who was just a spectator) even managed to find something to say sorry for.
Finally (in a further attempt to make myself feel a little bit better) I decided that it is good that I don’t try to practice perfection.  Whilst it’s not a deliberate lifestyle choice, children probably need to see that people aren’t perfect.  Don’t they?  That being human means slipping up sometimes.  Being perfect isn’t realistic after all and it can’t be healthy to try.  After the physical and emotional safety of your children, the most important thing is surely that you’re good at trying and ready to hold your hands up and say “I’m so sorry, I love you” after making a mistake.  Isn’t it?
I think I worry that they will be as soft as my husband (whose girlfriends used to nick his lunch money at school!).  I want them to be kind and caring but with a strong sense of self-worth.  Maybe I think too much….
Anyway, I still felt like a fraud.  And I felt really bad.  Maybe because I would have kept my cool if he had dropped the box on my foot at the music class.
I felt like a fraud until later this afternoon when we made a mess of the kitchen together and made a couple of chocolate quinoa cakes to ‘practice’ for his birthday hedgehog cake.  Then I felt like a good mum again.  I felt a bit smug actually.  I think the fraudster mummy is probably a lot less annoying.
I still feel bad though and said sorry again at bedtime.  Tomorrow’s another day and I won’t let myself be defined by a slip up.  I’ll turn them on their head and get better from them (sorry, smug mum – and the wine – are taking over).  I am a good mum, I just make mistakes.
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Wanted. Comma Expert.

I CAN’T DO COMMAS.

I read it.  I insert commas when I pause.  I publish.  I read it again.  I pause at the commas.  It sounds wrong.  I move said commas.  I read it again.  I update.  I check it again.  It sounds wrong.  The commas are in the wrong place.  Again.  I can’t do commas.

Do I need to be musical?  Am I missing something upstairs?  Is it because I’m Mathsey?  Can it be learned?  Can I get better?

Do I need to just use. Really. Short. Sentences.

Is it linked to a childhood memory of being told off for not using commas? (By the same teacher who told me off when I innocently told her that I was going to write about monkeys instead of swings when I had been struggling to find “swings” in the dictionary.  Don’t worry, I’m over it.)

Thanks for listening.  And thanks for any help! ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

 

Be Kind to Yourself

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I can still remember the first time I got it back.

I was looking for a house to pick up an eBay purchase from – a baby paraphernalia bargain.  I couldn’t find the property and kept driving round the same loop.  A bit frustrated I said “I am so rubbish with directions, it is ridiculous.”  Up pipes a little voice in the back “Don’t worry Mummy, sometimes I can’t do everything first time.  Sometimes you just have to try again.” Tears filled my eyes, he was only three and a half.
I can still remember the first time I consciously tried it.
We had pretty much just pulled up outside playgroup.  Me, my two year old and six month old.  Without my baby bjorn it would have been impossible.  My number one rule for the first four years, with two children 18 months apart has been at least one must be restrained when out and about.  I had forgotten the baby bjorn; I had to go home and get it.  I had recently read about the importance of being kind to yourself, as mirroring is one of the many (I reckon biggest?) ways that little people learn.  So on the drive home I said to myself out loud, on a bit of a loop, “Don’t worry Mummy, everyone forgets things sometimes, it’s no big deal, you can pop back and get it.”
There have been many more times in between.  I have many opportunities to practice being kind to myself – broken jars, forgotten wallets, lost keys, the list goes on…..and on…….
So he has got the be kind to me bit, he has copied it and is (sometimes) kind to me.  It just needs to be ingrained so that he is automatically kind to himself as he learns and faces the inevitable challenges life brings.
And being kind to myself works for me too.  Although I need some strategies as constantly rooting around in my bag / looking for my keys etc is a bit draining!

Motherhood Challenge*

Firstly, it is not a dare.  A dare involves a degree of self-inflicted embarrassment  (e.g.) dressing as Aunt Polly Tumble** for a day or speaking only in CBeebies theme tune lyrics for an entire playdate without ever explaining yourself.  Or completing a whole transaction in a shop in the style of a Mister Maker “minute make”.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a dare.  Or at least not a very good one.

Secondly, it is not a challenge. Motherhood poses a lot of challenges but posting a picture of your beautiful children is not one of them.  Day to day life with little children certainly provides challenge enough sometimes; but posting a picture of your beautiful children is not up there.

Women who have to battle with depression have a challenge.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a challenge. Women who do a lot or all of the parenting alone have a challenge.  Women who can’t or who have trouble joining the “motherhood” club have a challenge.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a challenge.

I guess the latter is why I personally take issue with the whole “motherhood” dare/challenge thing.  A picture of beautiful children with the words “Motherhood Challenge” would have left me so upset and annoyed five years ago.  It would have felt like the poster didn’t appreciate what they’d got.  I would have been so frustrated that they didn’t realise (or care?) how much it hurt to not be part of the “motherhood” club. I felt so left behind as the pictures of parties were slowly replaced with baby after baby picture.

I have been very lucky as I have two children, but it took nearly four years, miscarriages, an ectopic and ivf to get there and the whole dare and challenge thing quite frankly grates.  I can still remember the pain and feel sad for the people feeling it now.  I know there will be people facing infertility who may be happy to see these pictures with the words “Motherhood Challenge”, that are able to share in others’ barefaced joy when they’re hurting.  I genuinely admire these people and have come across a few.  I hold my hands up high and proud – I wasn’t one of them.  I would have hidden the lot of you from my newsfeed with tears in my eyes.

Essentially I am working on the logic that if you think, experience or do something, there are probably a fair few others in the same boat, even if it is one of the least talked about things. (Unless you are seriously considering the “minute make” dare, in which case you are just weird.)  With one in eight couples affected by infertility there must be a fair few people out there feeling how I did and feeling it right now.

So a facebook without baby pictures?  Is that the vision?  A ridiculous idea and not what I’m suggesting; life moves on and Facebook is about sharing and celebrating amongst other things.  But a bit of sensitivity would be lovely, a bit of thinking before you “speak”.  For me trying IVF was my moving on, deciding that we were having a family one way or another and accepting we just didn’t know which way yet was moving on.  But it was a tough challenge and this would have rubbed so much salt in the wounds.  Posting a picture of your beautiful children is not a challenge.

If you do post a “Motherhood Challenge” photo lets be honest with ourselves and others.  Let’s call a spade a spade – it is a baby brag and an insensitive one at that.  It is not a (decent) dare and it is not a challenge.  And please remember infertility really hurts so think about the others in the room.  Motherhood is a challenge many are desperate for and scared they’ll never have.

 

 

*I wrote this as its been flaring up in my newsfeed lately.  Since writing I have googled to see when it all started, seems there was a bit of an uproar back in February!  What can I say?  I was never the cool kid on the latest trend.  This rant is however all from my own hip/heart.

**I lack as much imagination as I do coolness and couldn’t think past CBeebies for dares.  If you are not in the UK or don’t rely on the CBeebies babysitting service I apologise.

Cuddles

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This is a post celebrating the power of the cuddle in terms of improving behaviour. It is so hard to find the time to cuddle up with a book / TV show and your little one(s) (until they’re bored) but so worth it for me this weekend. I would advocate trying this when behaviour seems to be going downhill. Here is how it worked for me…

Saturday offered a pretty poor start to the weekend with moods and behaviour in our house. We wanted to take the boys out in the buggy to a big play area for a picnic; we were loading their little bikes up on it so they could cycle along a nice off-road path when we got nearer. They were really up for this trip out but could we move them along and do the sorting that needs doing first – sandwiches, Friday night’s dishes, basic hygiene, etc….(nope we couldn’t).

The whinging noise was awful and probably something that could only be achieved by two under 4. (Please don’t correct me on this. I need to believe we are nearly out of the high octane whinging.) What made it more upsetting was that they weren’t being kind to each other; T in particular was picking on M. Anyway we got out a lot later than planned but we did at least have a lovely day. But why the painful start?

T has seemed a bit meaner towards M lately; winding him up verbally as well as pushing him and pinching him when he gets the opportunity. He is loving with him too but seems to feel the need to upset him more often than normal. I don’t know if its anxiety about starting school (wherever we go people seem to be asking and talking about it) and/or a bit of jealously – M is 18 months younger but will start school two years later.   I think being the eldest brings with it a few pressures and he had to give up being the baby so much younger than M (T still calls him his ‘baby brother’ but he is now 2.5).

Anyway, I moved him away, I asked him how he would feel, I threatened to cancel his birthday party (I know, not a great thing to say – you know when you just hear the words come out??). T is super sensitive and would have no doubt felt strongly that I was annoyed and frustrated with him. Whenever he is told off he asks if I still love him, obviously I always reassure him and explain its what he is doing that is the problem but at three I’m not sure he understands the distinction.

Sunday morning came and started to go the same way. Luckily something made me think of something that I have previously read, about how children very rarely get to end cuddles or chats as its the parents that normally go off to do jobs, etc*. The suggestion being that they might not get the reassurance and feeling of safety that they’re after. Without thinking much more I picked T up and told him I thought that he needed some cuddles and I plonked us both down on the sofa.  T is a very cuddly boy and was happy with this, obviously it wouldn’t work if he wasn’t, although love bombing is a technique worth exploring and appears in the first book listed below. I bet with some children just being there and sharing the television programme or book is enough. So we sat and watched television together for about an hour and a half then he got up to play. He seemed so refreshed, happy and content. And so much kinder to M.

Sometimes it feels like you haven’t got the time. And sometimes you simply haven’t. We did actually get out the house about two hours earlier on Sunday as it turned out; the boys were happy and we could sort ourselves out for the day without sorting out the commotion every two minutes. I guess I will never know the reason – sore throat, growth spurt, needing more sleep, anxiety about school – but it seems the cuddles helped all round.

*Divas and Dictators by Charlie Taylor; Siblings no Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Feeling lucid.

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You know how you’re meant to take in the world and share wonder with your kids? I tried that last Tuesday when I saw a large silver car with three doors on each side drive by. Feeling all parenty I turned my boys’ (who love their toy car collection) buggy to the road, bent down to be on their eye level (I was doing it all right. I was unstoppable.) and said “Look, that is a bit like your party cars”.   They agreed and we watched with interest as the car pulled up onto a funeral company’s drive. A funeral company’s drive. ‘Party car.’ The cringe was physical. I scuttled off hoping nobody heard/saw me.

My day to day social affliction continued into the Wednesday when I went to the doctors’ and alerted reception to their lift being broken. I felt vindicated when the helpful lady rolled her eyes at them only having been out to fix it the day before. Vindicated until it became apparent it was “not moving” because I was pressing the number of the floor that we were already on.

But it is okay as today I have been feeling lucid. I have to admit my feeling lucid has made me uneasy in equal measure. After all I felt all lucid and at one with parenting last Tuesday. I felt all useful and lucid while reporting the ‘broken’ lift.

Turns out I was right to feel uneasy; tonight we had a knock on our door just after tea from a neighbour carrying a balloon in a box. How nice? “Happy Birthday Grandad!” I will spare you the details of what I thought was (at least in part) an unrelated trail of paypal, postage and online order confusion. Suffice to say the company had tried to deliver the balloon I ordered for my father-in-law’s birthday (they’d even tried to pick it back up) and I had got the address right. Mostly. If you ever wondered, postcodes matter. I used our postcode so it went down the road. To rub salt in my wounds my two year old completely melted down as there was only one balloon and one box.

So can I ever trust my brain while the kids are small? Can I even blame this on having small kids? I have previous but I am sure it was never so thick, so fast and so bad. It feels related to the sleep deprivation and the busy brain that goes with juggling children, work and life in general. But maybe I’m kidding myself….