16 Nov 2016

Being honest about motherhood

When I first had Becky and I was on maternity leave, I joined pretty much every mother & baby group going: breastfeeding group, baby massage, baby swimming, baby sign language, baby sensory, the local mother & baby meet up and more.

If I'm honest, they were as much for my as for Becky’s benefit, so huge was my desire for support from other Mums (and an adult conversation!), as I felt isolated and out of my depth quite a lot.
When I had Alex, I didn't join any. Actually, that’s not true, I went to one; it was run by my local midwife and was for all mums in the community who had had a baby in the last few months, and it was just useful in jogging my memory about baby care etc.  But that was it, I didn’t do any of the other groups.

The reason? Because after my experience first time round, I realised that as much as these groups are meant to support and help, they are also full of competitive and hyper critical Mums, and that more often than not, they didn’t offer support, but lots of judgment on the apparent rights and wrongs of motherhood, making me feel even more insecure than I already was.

*Maybe I need to insert a little disclaimer here – I’m not saying all groups are like that, and if you’ve had a positive experience, then that’s brilliant. That’s how it should be. But for me, a lot of these groups didn’t work. Maybe it was me, maybe I just didn’t fit in.*

That said, I did make some amazing friends, both times, but these were with women who, like me, didn’t shy away from sometimes just saying out loud that motherhood was hard. Is hard. That sometimes, as much as you love your kids, you really hate aspects of having them. That not everything is always rosy, and that sometimes you struggle.

I said it on here before, I found motherhood particularly hard first time round. I had just left a job behind - for a while at least - that I loved and that I knew I was good at, and swapped for a life swamped in nappies, a 24 / 7 crying baby with colic that would not sleep, breastfeed or put on weight, and I felt clueless, useless and scared. Very, very scared. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a model mum (does that even exist?), so much so that I could only fail. This was supposed to be the most magical time of my life, and I spent most of the time in tears! Then there was the added element of post-natal depression (which was only diagnosed retrospectively during my pregnancy with Alex), and things were really tough, to say the least.

It took a good few months until I came out the other side of it, until things started to settle down and Becky grew into a more manageable routine and I into my Mummy role.

I think far too few mums admit that motherhood isn’t always perfect. That the amazing gift that are your kids also comes with some rough moments. That, whilst you love your little cherubs beyond anything in the world, you don’t always enjoy everything, and there are times when you just want to run away from it all.

And in those moments, all you want is someone who admits that they, too, find it hard. That they, too, are at the end of their tether sometimes. And that sometimes they would also rather watch Made in Chelsea hidden under a duvet than read The Tiger Who Came to Tea for the umpteenth time. Sometimes you need solidarity from other mothers rather than judgment on whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, co-sleeping or control crying, attachment parenting or Gina Ford-ing, baby-led weaning or puree feeding, and so forth. Sometimes you just need a fellow Mum to say that they had a crap, tough day, too, where they sucked at motherhood and motherhood sucked for them. And that that’s ok.

Last week Adele made headlines with the admission that at some point she was questioning whether she had made the right decision having a kid, that she found it so hard, and admitted that she had suffered from PND. This was so refreshing, and it's exactly something we need more of; more mothers – celebrities and role models at that - need to speak up that whilst we love our kids and would die for them, there are also moments when we feel overwhelmed.

Thankfully I have a great network of Mummy friends who I can do exactly that with. Who I can chat about the shitty side of motherhood and those days when we just feed our kids junk just for some peace and quiet and when they spend far too much time on the iPad and so on.

There is so much pressure on mothers – mostly from other mothers. And most of it is unnecessary. I'm sure there are mothers who have it all, win at everything and are the image of maternal perfection. But for the rest of us, we have ups and downs. And that does not make us bad mothers. Just honest ones who are trying really hard and sometimes just need a break.

5 Nov 2016

My October 2016

I can’t believe we are already into November and racing towards Christmas! It feels like it was only yesterday that we were exactly at this point this time last year, but alas, it is indeed 12 months later! October continued to be a busy month for us, with work, school, house renovations and lots of other things keeping us on our toes and leaving us quite exhausted actually. Good job October offered a week off from it all during half term, and even though it wasn’t exactly relaxing, it was nice to get out of the everyday rut. But anyway, not to pre-empt this month’s list, here are my October events (clockwise from left):

1.       The month started not so brilliantly; suddenly and without any obvious cause, Alex went from confident toddler to terrified little boy. From one day to another he started to be petrified of everything – noises, me not being in his sight, something he’d see on TV … anything and everything. And it immediately affected his sleep. He went from normally going down quite well and falling asleep instantly to shaking uncontrollably as soon as we would go into the bedroom and crying hysterically. He would not be left on his own, and one of us has to lie with him (for up to an 1 ½ hour every night!) until he falls asleep in our bed, and then carefully transfer him into his cot. Apparently, it’s a normal developmental stage, but it feels like he’s regressed somehow, and it’s been a pretty rough few weeks, to be honest. I suffer from insomnia anyway, but coupled with a toddler who just won’t go to sleep or wakes up in the middle of the night for several hours on end, I’ve been beyond exhausted and have found it hard to function at times. Kids, ey? Let’s hope it’ll settle this month.

2.       We flew to Germany for half term, and it was the first time that Alex had his own seat on the plane and did not have to be on my lap all this time. I fly on my own with the kids several times a year and am quite versed at it by now, and Alex and Becky are also becoming quite the seasoned little travellers. Alex loved the aeroplane, he wouldn’t stop shouting “aeroplane” throughout the whole flight (much to the delight of the people around us, I’m sure), and all in all he was a little angel. So much easier to spread out and each of us having our own seat, I must say!

3.       The kids loved their week in Germany, especially with my Mum, who is totally besotted with them and tirelessly entertains them. I guess she’s making the most of having us over, as even though our visits are frequent, it’s not the same as if we lived in the same country and could just visit on a whim. Makes me a bit melancholic to think how precious this time is, and how I must capture these memories while I can.

4.       We used the autumn weekends for little family trips away, and as always, no day out goes without me trying – and failing – to take a family selfie!

5.       Becky’s school sent a letter outlining the different homework activities the kids could do during the month. One of those activities was to replicate our house from recycling boxes – and truth be told, as it was optional, I opted out of doing this, as I hate crafts and John was also busy with home and garden improvements and Becky didn’t seem bothered about this particular task. Honestly, who has the time to rummage through the rubbish to replicate their house? And what’s the educational value in that? Well, that’s what I thought anyway. Until the night before the project was due, and a couple of parents posted their creations on our Facebook Group. Aaaarrgh! I knew this would happen, and even though I really wanted to stand firm on this and not do the pesky house, in the end my mummy guilt got the better of me, not wanting Becky to be “the only one” who didn’t make a house, and a frenzied rummage in the attic for suitable boxes and a last-minute crafts session ensued. I think we did quite well, considering! This term’s optional project is to make a bleeding snow globe. And I’ve sure learned my lesson – best get that craft kit ordered in good time – because it might as well be compulsory!

6.       Halloween came and went, and Becky dressed as a spooky zombie princess. She looked really cute, and we went trick or treating around our village with our friends, which was lots of fun!

7.        Aaand finally *drumroll please*: Becky lost her first tooth. Well, technically she lost her first tooth on the 2nd of November, but it started to wobble on the 31st of October so I will include it in this month’s update, as it certainly feels momentous and like a major milestone that I need to shout about. Becky was sooo excited and the tooth fairy came, of course, and left a nice, shiny coin. If she continues like that, she’ll make quite a bit of money out of that fairy! 

2 Nov 2016

Becky's first tooth fell out

Today my little girl reached another milestone - her first tooth fell out. So I thought it only appropriate to document the day on the blog, seeing as it's meant to be primarily a diary of our family and our big life events.

Becky is so excited about the tooth fairy coming tonight! She just went to bed and she's still totally animated, asking me continuous questions about when and how the tooth fairy is going to come and what kind of coin she will leave for her.

It's hard not to be excited, too, even though it's another step towards my little girl growing up! But I'm celebrating this day and how special this moment is.
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