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Monday, 20 December 2010

And so after the walk upstairs...

And so, after the walk upstairs. I know my childen are asleep, I know my guests have gone home, I know that I am drunk and the resolve of "if the children were here" blah, blah, blah!

My eldest daughter was 3, THREEEEEEEEE! Today. HOOORAY!

I can't believe it, it goes on for so long that one needs to acknowledge the three year oldism of their child, their one and only, the first born!! I've not been here before, but here I am and we're done.

I have drunk, spoken, played, opened, unwrapped, loved, mopped, chatted, been, done, secured and so many other things, that I think I can sleep easy. And yet here I am, writing as if life depended upon it. Kiera Knightley (however you spell it) should be here with her tiny back and her little dress, talking about  what makes a scene. I should be in bed dreaming about something that will never be. But here I am. Here I am because I love this, I love writing this because I hope that someone, somewhere might love it too, and so I do!

How selfless am I?

I shall walk upstairs, and I shall get to my bedroom, and something I shall find. But, of all the things that I know for sure. I'll still be a mother of two. I'll still have a THREE year old, can't believe it, an eighteen month old, and a will to live and HAVE FUN!

Then... then I'll do something else, in the hope that my THREE year old and, on the 26th, my 18 month old, will remember that I am their mother and human, and that all that we can give is what we strive for and better than what we know, that which we recognise!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Losing the nappies, not the will to live.

At the beginning of this year I took a trip to see my youngest daughter's Godmother in India. Things in England were a little rocky and testy so after nearly 3 years without a break I decided to abandon ship and head out to Bangalore without either of my children. I was in the sky for my 30th birthday and was numb with freedom (and booze I suspect) and delighted to be relishing 2 whole weeks of no Mummy responsibility. My friend has a son, but that's HER son and her sister, who was also coming out for a holiday, was bringing her daughter, so there were children around to fill the gaps should I (and it turned out I did) need them.

Long story short, the sister was potty training her daughter. When she told me, I was anxious and amazed and sort of panicked all at the same time. I had been contemplating potty training before I left. Potties were in situ' in all the major recreation areas,  the lavatories that the children used were equipped with seats that make the cavernous hole of a grown up lavatory into a more welcoming and less scary place for a toddler to put their little behind. However, we had reached a stumbling block, Jessica didn't want to use to potty unless she was fully clothed. Put her on the loo and I am sure the neighbours were wondering what sort of torture we were inflicting on our eldest, so we thought we'd let it run a little.

I'd embraced potty training, just thought children took to it like a duck to water, who wouldn't want to get rid of nappies and get on to a potty that made a noise like a duck, or a pink throne that played a ditty whenever there was any excretory action? Who wants to sit in their wee and their poo? Well, as it turns out, children like it, or at very least, they don't really mind it. At least mine certainly don't. It's the thing that they know, no one likes change.

So, my friend's sister was tackling this almighty task with a calm assertiveness that made it look easy. Accidents were happening, they were bound to, but it was cleaned up and dealt with before I even registered that an accident had occurred. Successes were marked with praise and clapping and cheering and trips to the toy shop to chose a special "I weed/pooed in the loo today" toy. It was eye opening, and by the end of the holiday, I returned to my eldest daughter with a renewed potty training vim and vigour.

Wees came a lot easier. We had "wee wee sweets', once that was established and the link was made between wees in the loo and sweets Jessica would sit for a day on the loo until a wee came and the demand a sweet and then head back to the potty or loo to wait for the next occurrence. Poos on the other hand, they were a nightmare. They were so nightmarish that I thought I was going to kill myself before we'd got the hang of it. Sweets didn't work, empathy and sweet talking didn't work, and although I am very ashamed, knowing what I know now, to admit it, stern rapprochement didn't work either. Jessica would still disappear behind the sofa, wall, door, into another room, outside in the garden and then come back and say "there's a poo Mummy!" as if someone else had put it there. Then one day, I said to her, "did you do that?" and she said "no, Daddy did!" moments like that are surely why we have children?

It was at her 2 year check up with the health visitor that I learnt that, one day, it will happen. There is nothing you can do. Whatever happens though you mustn't get cross, it's not their fault, they need to recognise the feeling, understand what is happening and make the decision, trust me, it will just happen one day. I didn't believe it, I wanted to, but just thought she was giving me the "this one looks like a nutter, we'll tell her something to save her from total break down" chat. But, sure enough, one day, she took herself off upstairs, announced to her father that she needed "a poo on the loo",  he duly obliged and since then we have not looked back.

She still wears her night pants, we've tried taking them away, but the washing machine keeps threatening to leave home, so we're back in them (she is, we're not, our parents dealt with our need for night pants). I have to remind myself that it's not a race, it doesn't matter if she's still in night pants at 18, if that is what makes her happy and comfortable then who am I to judge? More to the point who is anyone to judge? It'll happen, one just has to believe it. If you're at this stage, enjoy it, it's all good tittle tattle for the Christmas/birthday/new boyfriend dinner table and that's what keeps us sane.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Children, keeping it "real"!

And so I wander round, I look good, the hair on my head is a bush, not just reminiscent of the bush that people say you might just have crawled through. Mascara round by my knees and lipstick mostly round my lips, but just a little noticeable bit smeared up my cheek towards my left ear. The jeans I am sporting haven't been out of the cupboard since '99, but they were in fashion then, things can't have changed that much? One of the bottoms of the heels of my shoe has fallen off, so instead of going clip, clop, I go clip, stomp. I don't care, later on I am going to have to lose my jacket because it gets stuck in the door of the club and they're closing up so they won't release the door to free me from my awkward state... just discard the jacket, that's a sensible 4am decision. Yes, I am a mother of 2, my children have gone away for the weekend and I have decided to lose my responsibilities that I have been saddled with and hit the town/bottle!

Most people would have taken this opportunity to go Christmas shopping, catch up with chores or get on with stuff that you have been putting off, mainly because children don't allow, but also because "children don't allow it" is a very understandable code for, "part of me really can't be bothered, I choose life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!"

As I sit here and write this, I am both amused and ashamed. More ashamed than amused, but the picture of me ricocheting off the walls of some hellish establishment, whilst trying to keep up with the ghost of pre baby me, does make me chuckle. The fact is, I have no children, they have gone with their Daddy and a friend to the friend's house for the weekend, and that means that I can get straight back into the drunken saddle. It'll be fun, it'll be like old times, when sobriety was a luxury and coherent sentences were the stuff of dreams.

This wouldn't have been nearly as bad had I had the children to get up to. Had I known that I had to go home and there was a possibility that a little person might come in to our room to get me, or an even smaller person had cried from her cot because she needed attention. This is what I tell myself, but those that know me probably know better! The fact is, my children "keep me real", they save me from myself. They stop me from being that 27 minus year old who just lurched from place to place with nothing but income and time at my disposal and a host of like minded people to join in the revelry with me.

It's not cool to be the mother of two in the corner with booze stains on your clothes, dancing round your hand bag to music that you haven't even heard of because it's not featured all that often on Radio 4 or Magic!

Let's be realistic, I love a drink, I love a party, I love making merry hell, but is it good to get the bingeingly silly drunk of Saturday night when you have children? Those days that I covet will never be back, thank god. What a wreck, I was a car crash of a human being and my children, my lovely, lovely children and their father have saved me from The Priory or weekly/daily AA meetings.

This is the season to be jolly, I love it. There are Christmas parties a plenty, and then there's New Year or "free ticket to try and get as drunk as is humanly possible with friends on a night that really no one cares about, but the pressure to have a great time is such that you do it anyway" night. So, as I value my life and my children, this year, you can make mine a Schloer (red or white, not fussy) and keep my one glass of something chilled, but I want a hangover free Christmas day and 1st of Jan. Next year is our year, I can feel it and I want to enjoy my children and family and all the gifts that have been bestowed upon me. I'll drink to that, Sambuca anyone?!!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Dog Poo and Pram Wheels.

It is true, that once you are a parent you spend a large majority of your time surrounded by and discussing the soft stuff, it's like a rite of passage. Before you have babies you keep the topic of bowel movements to a minimum, unless you're a friend of mine/someone who discusses every body's bowel movements liberally. When you have children though, as I mentioned in my last blog, you obsess about that which you find in the nappy, bath, floor, behind the sofa or wherever it is your child has chosen to deposit their fecal offering. This is only magnified when you throw a dog into the mix, because then, you have to pick up their poo as well, or at least one should pick up the filthy stuff, but this is where my gripe comes in.

Hello lovely silf like lady with your English Bull mastiff, isn't this a lovely trot by the river Thames? Yes, yes, my dog is lovely and shiny and coloured like the red autumn leaves! But! your dog has just shat, not once, but twice, a poo that would make a dinosaur wince. UH OH, you're not going to pick it up, no you're not, you're walking by with your swagger and your hair flapping in the breeze. YOUR DOG HAS JUST DONE TWO DINOSAUR POOS AT ALL OF OUR FEET AND YOU'RE NOT GOING TO PICK IT UP?! That's the voice in my head, that's the voice in my head until, I have more responsibly put down the mobile and truly guaged that wich is unfolding before my very eyes.
"excuse me!" I shout, over the wind and above the waves of the Thames "Your dog has just pooed (wish I'd said defecated, wish I'd said defecated) on the path and you've not picked it up, would you like a bag?" I know she doesn't want a bag, the last thing she wants is a bag. A hole, yes, she'd like a hole, or a teleport, bag, no. "Bag? They're allowed to poo here, you don't need a bag here?!" she whimpered.

She knew she did, that wasn't even convincing to the dog, it ran off with mine, (probably to sh1t a little closer to the water!) "If your dog poos like a dinosaur or like a Chihuahua, right where there are people walking down to row and mothers with prams, then yes, you need to pick it up! Just means that people don't get it on their shoes or on their pram wheels!?" I proffered a bag and she stooped like a ballerina might, and picked the dinosaur turd up.

I have a dog. My dog poos. If I see it, I know I am not perfect and it might choose to do something out of sight and away from the public gaze. But, if I or anyone catch it, I'll bag it up (poo not dog). If you have children, and you have a pram, you know you've come home with dog sh1t on your pram wheels. The devastation is endless, carpets, feet, children's fingers, mouths, beds, whatever is available, the poo from the pram will transfer to any of those and you'll smell it. You'll pray that it's not on the pram wheels, or on your feet. You'll sniff everything within a five mile radius, but eventually you have to give in, it's on the pram wheels and if you're lucky your child hasn't used them to pull itself up on/ as a cutter for it's play dough/ something to soothe it's teething teeth on. It's endless, and it happens, and it's BLINDING!

How do we get round this problem? What can we do? I just wish there was a way that meant that people with dogs, however unattractive and smelly it is, picked up their dog's poo. Streets would be prettier and a lot less hazardous. If there is anythin ganyone can add or do, the feel free, it'd be nice to live in a non poo hazard environment... n'est pas?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Competitive Parenting...

This is a subject that I hold very dear to my heart, it's something that seems totally natural and yet singularly one of the most obnoxious and irritating things about parenting. Take for example the lady I "met" in NCT baby massage class that I went to with a friend with her NCT group. She came in with her baby, we were all in the same "this is my first baby" boat, and she announced that her baby hadn't pooed for a week. Mrs, I competitively parent professionally, to my left, announced that "little (whatever her mammoth baby was called) poos every day, sometimes multiple times!" awkward laughs and acknowledgements in favour of babies pooing regularly were made as well as Mrs, I want to be perceived, competitively, as the best mother on the planet, chiming in "yes, it's ridiculous the amount of nappies we get through!" I looked over at the mother with the pooless child and saw her sorry down turned face and my blood boiled, so I took this as my opportunity, looked at Mrs competitively parenting professional, knowing the answer to this question already and said "yes, but do you breast feed?" The answer to that was no and so I looked at Mrs pooless and said "don't you worry about it, my daughter didn't poo for 14 days and we took her to Dr's and everything and eventually a mid wife told us that this is normal, breast fed babies poo less as there is less rubbish in the milk and so less waste in the nappy!" this seemed to put a little smile back on her face and competitive parenting moved onto a different topic that neither I nor pooless baby mother cared to get involved with. In this instance, surely we should help, stand together and alleviate the stress of another first time struggling mother? Who cares if your child isn't truly reading Ulysses in the womb, we're all different, what matters is we get there in the end! Really, one couldn't care less if you breast fed or bottle fed your baby. It's totally about what works for you. Solidarity is what's needed, a worried mother is not the arena for you to boast about your child's accomplishments.

This week, I took the girls to Gambado's in Chelsea, and as luck would have it, the BBC were filming Show Me Show Me. Unfortunately the extremely irritating Chris and Pui weren't there, but the toys were, and they were being captured on film.

Take a camera out of your pocket, and the majority of people will be coy and shy or just point blank refuse to have their picture taken. Take a video camera out and put it in a play centre amongst parents with their children and you'll see things you've never imagined were possible. Trying to look nonchalant whilst dragging your child kicking and screaming up a ladder, to go down a slide that they clearly don't want to go down, just so they can be in shot, becomes normal. Thrusting your child head long into the distance, again, so that they can be in shot, usually would be filed under " DANGEROUS" in the parenting manual, but becomes acceptable, if at the end of it, there is a remote possibility that your child will be shown for five seconds on television. Although it wasn't this bad, you know that had it been busy, these "competitive parents" would have elbowed you and your children out of the way if it meant that they could get there child's halo on camera. I have to admit, that at certain points I felt proud that my child might be captured and displayed on Show me Show me, but decapitation of others simply wasn't a natural option for me.

I wouldn't class myself as a competitive parent, although some people might, who knows? I take the approach that if you don't rhapsodise about your children to people, then when they come to see them, the worst simply becomes explainable as "children,tsk!".

My youngest is going through a "stage" at the moment. The stage where total massacre and desecration are the norm. She still hasn't realised that she is a bear, let alone has the strength of one. I often find myself walking around various play groups or play centres or anywhere where there's a populous of more than one, apologising to the smug, tutting competitives whose child mine has just clobbered, scratched, pushed, strangled or wrestled to the ground. Some people are quite happy and realise that this (hopefully) is just a phase, but the there are those whose little Ezmerelda or Tarquin "just never went through that phase, it must be hard being you with your Attila like child?" They never say that, but they don't need to, they have that competitive parent look that says it all.

So, there has to be a happy medium, a medium where you come across as gracious and worldly wise in the realm of Parentdom

All we can hope is that whatever we do, we do to the best of our ability in a positive way, so that our children will be well received wherever they go. Not for us as parents, but for them as individuals, so that they can have as wide and varied a life as possible. No one wants their child to be the brat that every parent hates, but do those parents, competitive or not, know that their offspring is considered in that light?

Monday, 6 December 2010

People who say that children haven't changed their lives!?

I think I need help, there are people who would wager that they know I need help, but they aren't around, so it's my word against their silence... I win!

The point is, people who say that children haven't changed their lives... I hear that fairly often, I just want to know what, exactly, their lives were like before children then? Did they used to push a buggy full of nothing around with them constantly? Did they wake themselves up regularly in the night with a noise that nature has moulded so as to pierce your very soul with its hellishness? Did they go round to other peoples houses and change their children's nappies four or five times a day? Did they get feeds ready or proffer a bosom at something at regular intervals of the day? Perhaps they left the house with everything they thought they needed and just went in and out several times for things that they had forgotten to pack for their imaginary children? Maybe they threw milk down their own clothes in places that looked like a baby had been sick on them without their knowing it? Could they have not gone anywhere without massive upheaval and time wastingly ridiculous panics about stuff? I don't know, I just wonder how a child can't change your life?

I don't know, maybe there is some hybrid of child that I don't know about. A nappy changing, sleep through the night until your ready to wake up parents, self feeding, self dressing, self packing, pram pushing etc etc baby that these people have! If there is, and you know about it, please let everyone else into the loop so that they don't have to go through the hell that is the first bit of babydom.

Make no mistake, I love my children, just need to qualify that. I hate my screaming, whinging, fighting girls but I love my children. But I will say this, had I known what was going to come, lets say I was standing in a queue when I was 27 and someone played me the video of my babies and what was ACTUALLY going to happen, and then said "keen?" I would have said, in the manner of The Life of Brian sketch when he's being showed where to get his cross for "crucifixion?" "no, freedom actually!".

I would be interested to hear if every mother is like that or if they relish every minute of servitude they pay their children? Do you not want to be free to do what you like when you like and for how long you like? To be able to leave the house every time without worry about what everyone needs, might need or should have? A night when you don't have to worry about being woken up or how early you'll get up in the morning? Income that is totally yours to do with what you will? Schools schmools, make mine a massive Long Island Ice Tea and one of those Louis Vuitton how's your fathers with a Chanel chaser? I know what I'd like if I hadn't have had my two perfect lovely babies.

So, next time you think that you are alone in your negative thoughts, remember that I have worse ones and not everyone is perfect, but we get there, kind of 'coz we have to and kind of 'coz we want to. It goes by so quickly, blink and you'd miss it, then hopefully once you have turned them into the best beings that you are humanly able to make them, they leave home, then my friends, then is the time of holidays to the Maldives and long nights that turn into uninterrupted am's, ooh, that and the fact that one needs to win the lottery!

Friday, 3 December 2010

The baby weight!

If your figure, after birth, hasn't bounced back as Victoria Beckham's or Katy Holmes' or many of the other celebrities did, then join the club, the "fat fighting" club. It's no secret that after a baby you are likely to gain weight, you eat, in some circumstances, you get on the scales to be told that you should do so "one at a time"! This is normal, this is having a baby. To be able to be at one with your "Boost Bar", "Star Bar", "Findus Crispy Pancake" or your 32oz steak and chips. It's no longer "what I want", it's "what we want and what we NEED"! Applaud yourself as you eat, regard this as time that you can do what you will, and REMEMBER, that whatever you put on, you can lose, just takes will power (which I managed to eat in my first pregnancy) and self control.

How boring are these diets? When oh, oh when, oh when will there be a diet that let's you eat what you like, when you like and however much you like of it, whilst losing weight? That's the sort of weighting game I like to play. Alas, as such a thing does not exist, it is true, the only way to do it is to eat less and exercise more, and that is so depressing it's not even worth getting your head round until you've had another biscuit/slice of cake and thought about the pros and cons of being thinner and those of being "rounder".

I put on about 5 stone with my first baby and really didn't look radiant, I looked like there was another human inside me trying to get out. My stomach literally entered the room before I did and bending over was simply something that I had imagined myself doing in some other life. I told myself that I was pregnant, although, to be fair, it was very obvious, and that's how it was. However, after having had the first baby, I could still on wear my pregnancy clothes and clothes that I had once warn looked like clothes that I should be putting my child in. UH OH, I was no longer pregnant, I was fat.

I tussled with weight a little bit, lost half a stone here and there, then ate and drank that all back on in an afternoon. I cried about it, I laughed about it, I got cross about it and then lost the half stone again and then got pregnant with the second child and just made sure that I wasn't 5 stone over weight, just a mere 3. But it was fun, and had I not had such appalling heart burn I would probably have put all 5 stone back on. Then the day came, I saw a photo of my giant head leering over a pint and my massive horse thighs bulging out of the pregnancy jeans and arms that looked like squashed Ginsters slices, I was hideous, I knew it and not a moment could pass without that image flashing into my mind, so I ate yet more until January when I had signed up for Lighter Life. A diet not for the feint hearted, but I just wanted to lose it quickly and was prepared for the expense. After 4 weeks when that got too much I moved to Slimming World and lost another stone. Then I went to a nutritionist to sort various ailments out and she reset my body with a 5 day juice fast, where I lost another 7lbs. I still have 7lbs to go but I no longer look like I have swallowed 3 other people and pregnancy clothes are now for pregnant women, not just pregnant women and me.

Long and short, you can do it, determination and will power are the key, but Christmas is nearly here, so as the mug in the kitchen cupboard says "eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may diet!"