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 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! ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
I can still remember the first time I got it back.
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.
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
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….