The Bad Mother

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Don’t you dare pretend that you have no idea what I am talking about!

That moment (or 50) when you do or say something relating to your child that attracts sharp daggers of disapproving and judgmental looks, aimed solely in your direction.  You know, because you clearly don’t know what you are doing as a parent, and in fact you shouldn’t have procreated at all in the first place.

What a load of self righteous baloney!  I am a GREAT mom!
How do I know?  My kids (yes plural) are alive, happy and thriving – all thanks to me and my husband (and our family – it takes a village you know).

Yes, I chose to have an elective cesarean for the births of both of my children.
No, pushing a watermelon out of your lady parts, for who knows how many hours, does not make you a better mother than me.  I bear the scars of childbirth just like you.

Yes, I formula fed my kiddies from birth.
No, it was not my first choice but it is what worked for us, and all of you formula-nay-sayers can go suck it because my 2 year old is one of the healthiest little tots I know and has only been sick once, and my (almost) 3 month old is a porky little bundle of good health.  If you are able to breast feed then yay for you – 10 gold stars.  I could not with our first born – I had no milk, not one single drop – the doc said it happens sometimes and there is no reason for it.  I tried for 2 weeks and found myself on the biggest emotional roller coaster of my life before we resorted to go onto formula full time.  When you have to continuously “top up” your baby from a syringe for 2 weeks because your non-existent supply does not meet the demand, and you hear her little tummy rumble then you can sling your judgmental mud pies in my direction.  So, my husband and I discussed it, and we chose not to go through that again with our 2nd…not that I needed your approval in the first place.

Yes, I let my toddler get dirty – actually, filthy from head to toe and all the nooks and crannies in between would explain it better.  If she’s not dirty by the end of the day then it means that she has not been having a blast outdoors in the fresh air and has instead been inside glued to the tube (TV).  It’s called exploring her surroundings and it’s important to my husband and I…plus there’s this thing called a bath at the end of the day which we use to hit the reset button on the dirt 🙂 You know, so that she can start again the next day.

HOWEVER,

Yes, I sometimes let my toddler watch TV for more that 20 minutes at a time.  You know that thing called sanity?  It runs seriously low when you have little kids.  The fact that it is pretty much a gazillion times harder to start and finish anything, without starting and not finishing 10 other tasks during that time, might have something to do with the dwindling sanity. So, sometimes putting the 2 year old in front of the magical toon box – so that you can cook their dinner, your dinner, eat, bath and bottle the baby and shower the baby puke off of yourself – is okay, really, it is.  No really, it is.

Yes, I let my toddler eat the same thing for dinner for weeks at a time if that’s what she wants.  She once went almost 3 weeks having cooked lean mince with all sorts of veggies mixed in, chopped up into little pieces so that she didn’t know they were there.  That’s what she wanted, and I have decided that I would rather give her that every night of her life if necessary, knowing that she is going to bed with a healthy meal in her tummy.  Variety, shmiety (yes, I am aware that shmiety is not a word).  Every few days I try her with something new – sometimes she goes with it, sometimes she doesn’t.  It’s all a dinner-time power struggle.

I could most definitely go on with a few more paragraphs of the things that “everyone” says parents shouldn’t do, but let’s be honest, “everyone’s” advice is not always possible in reality.  Who are these “everyone” people and why do they think that they can tell me the “right” and “wrong” way to do everything.

Newsflash!
The “right” way is whatever works for me and my kids (whilst making safe and healthy-as-possible choices), because they are each their own unique little beings and what works for one child may not (probably won’t) work for another – I can attest to that with my two.

There is not one baby book on this planet that covers the do’s and don’ts of every single situation that that every parent has ever experienced in all of time.  You can spend hours/days/months trolling the internet to try and equip yourself with all of the tools necessary to ensure you are ready for what comes with having a baby and to raise your child the “right” way.  BUT, yes their is a massive BUT…and now hear me, really hear me and understand what I am about to say…

You will NEVER be 100% prepared for what comes with bringing a life into this world, to be totally responsible for them, and for them to be utterly reliant on you for their survival.  That’s a really big deal.

Something (guaranteed) will happen that you never read about and you will have very few options:

  1. Freak out
  2. Phone  mom/family member/friend
  3. Google it and come across hundreds of med pages giving you a diagnosis which is probably way off
  4. Ask social media – which may actually be helpful sometimes but just keep in mind that they are not trained professionals, they are mostly just regular moms/dads like you who can only comment on their experiences, and it may not be the same as what you are going through anyway
  5. Wing it – Yes, I said it, and I know it is definitely not profound or an all round problem solving mechanism but guess what, you are (possibly unknowingly) equipped with (mostly) everything you need to deal with this new and scary situation.  Just take a few deep breaths and trust your motherly (or fatherly) instincts, and you will know what to do.  This is usually my choice.  Feel free to ask for other opinions but just remember that it is purely research for you to make your own choice – opinions are a use it or lose it commodity.

NB NOTE:
Obviously if it is a medical/health and survival related dilemma then please seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

There is an idea that I read about a few years ago, and I often refer back to it when I am unsure about which way to turn as it is quite helpful and can be applied to pretty much any decision making process:

Allocate your 2 main choices to the sides of a coin, flip it and call heads/tails while it is in the air – before the coin lands you would have already decided which side you are hoping will ‘win’.
Ie: you have already made your decision on how to handle the situation, because you knew all along but just didn’t trust your instincts.

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Sleep is a Luxury

Okay,  so I’m not actually hallucinating…but I could be.

I am now 33 weeks preggers with our 2nd bundle and our first (little Miss Paige) is turning 2 years young in 2 weeks.  Not exactly sure where the last 2 years have gone but they seem to have whizzed past like The Flash (Marvel Comics).

This amazing miracle of a little boy (to be named James) growing in my belly is head-butting my insides so darn hard that I wake up at all hours, literally in pain.  When he does his signature right hook punch, my belly bulges at such an odd proportion that it looks like something from a sci-fi movie is about to burst from the side of my abdomen.  It is actually quite freaky.  He has been ‘sitting’ much lower than his big sister did at this stage and my hips & pelvic bones feel like they are going to shatter when I get up in the morning,  and don’t even get me started on the sudden increase of loo visits during the night – I’m pretty sure he does his own rendition of Lord of the Dance on my bladder.

I remember being a bit pooped towards the end when I was pregnant with Paige, but it is quite different this time around. I am SO TIRED all of the time!

I wake up in the morning (after a restless night of re-positioning and loo excursions) feeling what I can only describe as death warmed up, get dressed, pull myself together, slap on some make up, and a little more to cover up the bulk-buyer shopping bags under my eyes, pack a lunch then off to work.  I yawn all through the day, while doing my best to get through the daily deadlines I have given myself so that I am on track to hand-over when I go on maternity leave at the end of Feb (fear sets in at how soon that is).  Routine for hubby & I in the evenings (with weekends being a little more lax of course):

  • Start: around 17h30-18h00
  • Heat Paige’s dinner (I bulk cook this once a week and freeze in portions)
  • Paige sort-of-feeds-herself while I start our dinner and Terry feeds the dogs, and then between us we attempt to help Paige finish whatever she has flicked out of her bowl onto the table and in her hair etc
  • Terry bathes Paige while I continue with our dinner and lay out her pjs etc
  • Terry attempts to dress Paige in aforementioned pjs
    • scenario 1 – while she streaks up the passage and jumps onto her/our bed to hide between the pillows in a fit of giggles and then lies happily for Terry to nappy and dress her (20% of the time)
    • scenario 2 – while she streaks up the passage and Terry has to get her out from under the dining table, pick her up and put her on her bed while she kicks and screams and thrashes around like a fish on a hook (80% of the time)
  • We eat dinner
  • Heat bottle for Paige
  • Chill time together
    • scenario 1 – Paige sits with us quietly with a book or soft toy and slowly relaxes to the point where we can put her to bed calmly and peacefully (anything from 5-20 minutes)
    • scenario 2 – Paige leaps on and off of our laps, finds the one noisy toy that we missed during evening pack up, proceeds to bang it on the table and the couch and our heads, drops it on the floor, starts to cry because she dropped it and it is now lying one step away from her, leading to a tantrum of dramatic proportions, we ignore her and let the tantrum run its course until it boils down to a simmer, one of us scoops her up to calm her down until she eventually chills out and falls asleep (anything from 10 – 90 minutes)
  • Terry and I start watching a series that we previously recorded but then probably fall asleep, wake up long after it is over, go shower, then go to bed.
  •  Repeat the next day

I am truly so excited for the arrival of our little James, but oh my heck I am also petrified.  Paige is a busy toddler now and wow she can be hard work, and very soon we are going to have 2 to care for.  When I was preggers with Paige there was no one else to care for so I could relax and have a nap if I needed to.  And after she was born I could occasionally catch up on ‘Zzzz’s’  while she slept during the day.  How does one catch up on sleep with 2 little monkeys on different eat, sleep, poop schedules?

I know people have been doing this since forever, and I regularly remind myself that it will be fine, we can totally do this – BUT, my social life, personal grooming standards and time for myself to do hobby stuff and blogging are basically non-existent already, what is going to happen when there are 2 rugrats streaking up and down the passage after bath!

Seriously though, we made the choice to start a family, and I have absolutely no regrets whatsoever.  My amazing husband helps with everything that needs to be done around the house, and with Paige duty so I cannot even begin to complain.  These little buggers that we sacrifice so much for – I can’t imagine my life without them.

So we will just remind ourselves every now and then that “we made our bed, so now we must sleep in it”…or not, it depends on how soon baby James starts sleeping through the night.

(long, loud yawn)

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My Top 10 Dead Giveaways…

…that my life is being run by my toddler (sometimes anyway)

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  1. The word NO does not mean “stop” or “don’t do that” anymore.  It now means “sure, carry on, don’t mind me, I’m just pretending to try and stop you from chucking your toys out the window where the dogs can eat them” or “by all means, continue to hit me in the head with the TV remote – it feels great.”
  2. I can, at any given time, pull out a snack or toy or wet wipe from my handbag. Even when there is no kiddie in sight.  (You don’t realise how handy snacks and wet wipes are until you become a parent)
  3. If hair clips go missing, check the couch.  My theory is that there is an invisible magnet down there that attracts them, so if you can’t find any it means that it is time to dig between the seats and initiate project clip rescue.
  4. Your toddler always wants a bite or spoonful of what you are eating, and you can remind her ’til you are blue in the face that she doesn’t like it, but she will not give in so you might as well just give her a piece, and get the broom and dustpan so you can sweep it up after she spits it out in disgust.
  5. You find yourself walking around the office humming the theme song for Jake and the Neverland Pirates or Sofia the First (toons on Disney Junior), which is downright embarrassing when someone stops to ask you what that song is.  I usually just look confused and say “was I humming?” and then quickly walk away.
  6. When your child is asleep you enjoy the quiet time, but when she is awake, you fear for what is taking place in the menacing silence.
  7. Going to the bathroom alone is a luxury which doesn’t occur very often.
  8. Every time you see a dog you find yourself saying “hello doggy”…even when you are alone.  Passers-by must think I am a few sarmies (sandwiches) short of a picnic basket.
  9. When you are visiting a friend’s house with toddler in-tow you immediately scan the room for breakables that can be destroyed in the tornado that is your child, and you lift them to a higher surface.   There we go friends, I now offer free re-decorating whether you need it or not…sorry.
  10.  My car is no longer purely for transport.  It is a portable storage unit for a pram, extra blankets, clothes, toys and whatever else Paige leaves in it when we go on outings.

I am pretty sure I could extend this list quite considerably because I thought of more tell-tails this morning, but let’s just leave it at that shall we because I think my preggy brain is starting to kick in already and I just can’t remember them all.  You get the idea.

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Social Life…What’s That Again?

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I could not be happier.  Since Paige was born, my hubby and I have realised just how empty our lives were – and I don’t mean that we were wondering around aimlessly, I mean that we thought we knew what love was…then BAM, Paige arrived and we realised that what we knew was just a fraction of what was actually possible.  Cool hey.

That said, being a mom is tough.  Never-mind the endless little chores and responsibilities that come with having a kid, but I feel the ability to have a semi-normal social life slipping away (at an alarming rate I might add).

I acknowledge that it is most definitely (partly?) my own fault, and I am sure most moms out there can relate, whether you are a full time mom or a working mom – it is tough going either way.

I am extremely lucky that I have a hands-on, fully capable husband because we both work full time and I would be nuttier than a fruitcake if had to do it all by myself like some single parents out there (gold stars for all of you by the way).

The point is though, that I feel my social-butterfly self crawling back into its cocoon and I am finding it really hard to claw my way back out.  Partly because by the time the weekend comes I am pretty flopping (I was thinking of a stronger word) exhausted and just want to veg on the couch in my pjs, and partly because none of our immediate friends have kids.

It is actually quite difficult, and lonely at times, to be the only couple in our immediate group who have reached the ‘family’ stage of our lives.  Fair enough, it’s not their problem.

The challenge I face is the age old, well known fact that if people ask you to join them over again and you decline (for whatever reason) more than a socially acceptable amount of times, they eventually stop asking.   The thing is, that my reason for declining is a 17 month little tot who demands majority of my time, and if she is sick or hurt or fighting her sleep routine then I am sorry, but I can’t come out to play – no matter how badly I want to ditch the baby and escape the house for a few hours.

People without kids generally don’t understand this.  Not because they are insensitive or uncaring, but because that isn’t their life and while they can sympathize, they cannot empathize.  They didn’t sign up for this…yet.

When Paige was still a baby it was eezy-peezy.  Put her in the car chair and she would fall asleep on the way and most likely only wake for a bottle, then go back to sleep and we could stick her in the corner or under the table and nothing would wake up that little monkey.  Now though, she is a walking, sort-of-talking, little whirlwind who needs to be constantly watched and entertained.  She is chasing cats and climbing up stairs and being a normal, curious little terror…um, I mean toddler.

Last minute plans that were once no problem are a thing of the past – it takes time to get yourself and a toddler ready to go anywhere.  Have you ever tried changing a nappy on a tot that just wants to run around butt-naked after bath time, and who kicks and screams when you pick her up to lie her down so that you can put the new nappy and pants back on – it’s so much fun (note the sarcasm).  If you are leaving the house for more than half an hour with toddler in tow then you need to pack a bag.  A lot can happen in 30 minutes – cranky ‘cos she’s hungry/needs a nappy change/needs a nap/spit up and needs a new shirt/is teething and needs Panado…etc etc.

Oh the glamorous life of being a mom.  My grown-up thoughts are constantly being invaded by little minion concerns that require planning to factor in when naps, snacks and nappy changes need to occur during the outing.

BUT, please don’t take any of this as me complaining!  That is most definitely not the case and if given the choice over again, knowing what I know now, I would still choose a life that has Paige in it.

All I’m saying is that it is hard work raising a little being, as any parent can agree, and it is also a challenge to maintain friendships with people who are going out for drinks on the town, when all I can afford (time and money) is a coffee or lunch date in the cafe down the road.  How do I catch up with what my friends are up to you ask?…I stalk them on Facebook during my lunch half hour at work.

My current social life is borderline non-existent.

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Sorry I Was Gone So Long…

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I know, it has been a while since my last post and I apologise.

You know how it goes, life gets in the way and before you know it, a month has gone by and you think “where the flopping heck did the time go!”

We have had some family stuff going on with a sibling getting some not so great news and an uncle passing away suddenly.  I will not go into specifics – mainly because I don’t want to – but it’s been a rough month and we are working through it.

BUT, as insensitive as it sounds, life does go on, and a toddler has absolutely no flinking clue about the realities of what grown ups have to deal with sometimes (which is how it should be) so you just have to have a little cry during your 1-minute shower break and then put a smile on your face while you watch Doc Mc Stuffins on Disney Jr and sing-a-long to the “time for your check-up” song while your toddler dances like a drunk minion around you.

That’s parenting.

I’ll post soon…I promise.

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P.S.  In case you haven’t the foggiest idea who Doc Mc Stuffins is – she is a kid who fixes toys and her stethoscope magically brings the toys to life so she can give them a check up and fix them.  It is actually quite adorable and they all dance around and sing little songs.  Paige LOVES it:

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Dads and their Daughters

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Terry & Paige

This is what a first time dad looks like when he gets to hold his daughter up for the family to “oooh” and “aaah” through the glass, just minutes after she was born.  And that look on his face – well, that is what pride and love looks like, with a teeny bit (ie: a bucket load) of fear thrown in at the reality of having to take her home and care for her in just a few days.

I was going to ask Terry to write a post with me for Father’s Day, and then after thinking about it, I decided to rather speak to a few of the ‘dads’ in my life to find out about their most memorable dad moments.  However, this was far easier said than done, and I found it next to impossible to pin any of them down to answer just one question – never mind enough questions for a whole Father’s Day post.

Note to future self – don’t bother trying to rope in your male family members or friends if it has anything to do with memories or sharing emotions.  It’s like asking them to be honest about the fact that they have no idea where we are and that we actually do in fact need to pull over and ask for directions…men.

And whilst I do realise that this is one of those grossly exaggerated sterotypes that gets thrown around by us women, and that you might be different, please just accept that it is the case with a lot of men and that it applies to most of the guys in my family.

Anyhoo,  after failing dismally at my second idea for this post, I was looking at photos of my dad with Paige, and realised that the obvious choice would be to share a few memories of my relationship with my own dad…duh.

So, enter stage right, my dad – here is a little background with a trip down memory lane…


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This is me and my dad with 2 of my sisters – when we were little tots.  I’m 2nd from the left.
circa 1990

When people find out that our immediate family consists of my mom, dad and 4 daughters, they quickly assume that he was horribly out numbered when we were all growing up.  This is NOT true!  My dad ruled our house.  We pushed the limits on more than one occasion, as most kids do, but that saying that has something to do with “bringing down the hammer” (or something to that affect) definitely applied in our house.  Obviously not a real hammer  (don’t be ridiculous).

The House Rules:  I am sure this one is used by parents all over the world, as it provides them with a general ruling  of  “For as long as you live under my roof, you will obey and follow my rules”.   There is no actual list of rules that can be referred to by the child from time to time and a parent may add a rule to the ‘list’ at any time, without warning or written notice.  This covers any misbehaving of any kind that occurs within the family home that is owned by your mom or dad.  No exceptions unless prior permission has been granted, and no negotiations will be entered into if the other parent has already said no…the end.

Anyone can relate to the fact that a child can only push their parent(s) so far before there are consequences.  My Mom and Dad’s favourite:  confiscate or ban an item and/or activity.  The most popular being – TV time, TV games, riding your bike down the road after school with the neighbourhood kids, sleepovers, going to movies, having tuckshop money on a Friday etc etc etc. The list is potentially endless depending on the individual child and their likes or dislikes.

The point is, my dad did not take nonsense from anyone, so just cut it out before you get carried away.  BUT, with any great dad, there are 2 sides – the tough enforcer who does his best to work as a team with your mom to teach you right from wrong, and the mushy popsicle who secretly turns all smooshy when one of his little girls flashes him a smile.  He calls us “Doll”, and “Tooti Fruit” and we actually have stuff in common – crazy right.

I have such great memories of spending time with my dad.  Can you believe there was a time when I was a kid, when I would volunteer to wash the cars and clean out the garage because it would mean doing an activity with my dad – and that was fun.

He has always been so supportive of our choices – even the idiotic ones – because he believed that we needed to make our own decisions and learn from the consequences of those decisions, be it good or bad.  Those are life lessons.  He may have let us get into trouble a few times, but never at the risk of us getting hurt, and he was (and still is) always ready and waiting on the sidelines to jump in and defend at all costs (unless we were being totally unreasonable, then he told us to grow up and think about it).

I’m sure that most of you out there can relate to the idea that a Dad is his sons first superhero and his daughters first shining knight.  Well, I am no different.  My dad has been there for me through thick and thin and even though I may not have agreed with him all the time when I was growing up, it is so clear to me now that everything he did was to protect me and teach me how to be a good person. To respect myself and others, and have a strong value for money earned.  He brought me up to become who I was inside, and didn’t try to push me into being someone he thought I should be.  And he genuinely loves me, for who I am.

It is a real gift to know, without a doubt, that my dad loves me, and is proud of me, and it makes me proud of myself knowing that.  I have taken the life lessons that he gave me, and I have put them to good use (most of the time).  I married an amazing man who loves and honours me and treats me with respect, and I have my own daughter now, who I plan on bringing up in a very similar way to how I (and my sisters) was brought up.

I think that says a lot about the quality of his and my mom’s parenting skills.  You guys nailed it and Dad, I love you to the moon and back – Happy Father’s Day.

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Glitter & Glue

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I read a little blurb last night, from an overseas blog that I follow, and I thought it was great so I wanted to share it with you.

If moms are the glue that hold us together, then dads are the glitter that make everything fun.  When daddy comes home there are squeals of delight and tickle chases that make the house ring.  Dads know the perfect fix for everything from flat tires to monsters in the night.  Cheers to all those guys that make our lives so much brighter!

How Does She?

I’ll be doing a Father’s Day post on the weekend, written with a few of the ‘dads’ in my life,  so keep an eye out for that.

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