Friday, 27 November 2015

The Week I Lost My Laughs

I started this blog because Oliver has always been a challenge. From day one he just didn't act the way other parents told me their children acted. He fed constantly and had a temper from birth. As he grew in to a toddler and then a preschooler I came to accept the fact that sometimes I just can't work him out. Sometimes he's an absolute pleasure, sometimes he's a pain in the ass. He's hard to understand, he doesn't listen and nothing is ever straight forward. I embraced him for who he was. I found the humour in it all. I began to realise that I wasn't doing anything wrong, it was just his personality and as quick as a challenging phase came, it would soon be gone and he'd be presenting me with challenges in other areas. No matter what, I have always been able to laugh. 
I began blogging to share that experience and to speak to other mums who could relate to the temper tantrums, the cheeky comebacks and the strange behaviours. I wanted to normalise the feeling of utter desperation that comes with having kids and send the message that we're all experiencing it in some way or another regardless as to how a person paints their life in public. 
But this week I lost my ability to laugh. I was tired.
Behaviours that were undesirable but had a streak of humour in them had lost their charm and I was struggling to cope. 
There has not been one day this week that we have managed to walk home from school without Oliver crying, screaming, trying to run in to a road or being aggressive. 
He has been testing the boundaries to the absolute limit.
But in doing so he has been pushing me over the edge. 
On the way home from school today whilst in a lift with his friend he decided to get on all fours and "be a dog."
Although bizarre, this is the type of thing he does. I'm used to it. It's the type of behaviour that I would usually roll my eyes at with the rest of the people in the lift and then discuss it on my Facebook blog page and laugh about it with other parents who would respond by telling me the strange things their kids had said and done that day. 
But today I just didn't see the funny side. It was clouded by the sense of dread that was taking over me for when we got out the lift and had to part ways with his friend and continue our journey home.
My nerves were on edge, terrified of what he was going to do next. Was he going to behave or misbehave in the next 5 minutes? Was I going to be faced with screaming and tantrums all the way home for the 5th time this week?
He could sense it. He could smell my terror. 
How was I supposed to have any authority when my child could sense that I was afraid of him.
Because I was.
I knew the behaviours would eventually pass and I needed to be patient, but the way I cope is humour. And I couldn't cope because I had lost my laughs and I needed them back. 
I couldn't deal with the constant fretting and analysing "what's causing this behaviour? What could i have done different today? Why is he acting like this? Has something happened that I've missed? Is something happening that he can't communicate to me?"
My brain was tired from googling possible explanations for his sudden horrific outbursts, and methods to break the cycle. Time out, sticker charts, calm approach, firmer discipline, ignoring him, positive and negative reinforcement. Nothing was working.
And then I realised. It was me. 
I'm tired. I'm exhausted. I work full time, have stresses at work, have stresses at home. I'm intolerant. I'm snappy. I'm everything that Oliver had been for the past two weeks. He was reflecting my own behaviour. It wasn't him pushing me over the edge, it was me pushing HIM! 
I needed to pull back the reigns and take control of myself. 
This realisation hit me this evening. Whilst trying to settle Oliver in to bed I was clock watching. I'd done a night shift the previous night and was back in work again at 8pm. Desperate to avoid pleas of "don't go to work mummy" I wanted Oliver asleep before I set off. I lay down to help settle him and he started singing Hakuna Matata. My teeth started to itch. I was getting irritated. 
"Stop singing Oliver!"
BAM! That's when it hit me. I had just told my four year old to stop singing. I was making my problem his problem. I can't expect my sons behaviour to be consistent when mine isn't. I can't expect him to listen to me when he is acting out if I'm telling him off for things that shouldn't actually be a problem. 
I'm a good mum, but I'm also an employee, a partner, a friend, and everything else in between. Sometimes you just can't be good at everything. Sometimes something has to give. Is it possible that the something that has got to give has been my mothering skills? Have I lacked in that whilst trying to be the best at everything else? 
Although I love using humour within my blog in order to be relatable to other parents, it's also important that I'm honest. Because everything isn't funny all the time. Sometimes things are anything but funny. And if I want other parents to feel reassured that they are not alone and that there are others out there who feel in similar ways to them it's important that the message isn't always one of humour, but also one of despair, desperation and brutal honesty. Because sometimes that's what parenting does to you. That's what life does to you. 
I couldn't get my laughs back until I admitted to myself and to others that it's ok to feel absolutely shitty. It's ok to feel like you can't get through another day like today. And it's also ok to accept that sometimes life just gets in the way of "perfect parenting."
When you realise this you can start to build things back up and start again. You can stop analysing every behaviour and accept that you've had a bad couple of weeks. If your emotions & behaviour have impacted on your child that doesn't mean that you haven't tried your best, even if your best hasn't been quite up to par. 
You can accept that whilst you know your kid can be a complete asshole, you can be one too sometimes. We're not all perfect. 
Because that's parenting. It's laughter, fun, awkward & embarrassing moments. But it's also sometimes sadness, despair, exasperation and moments where you feel like you can't cope for one more second. It's never ever straight forward. 
And that's ok. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Royal Fail

I was so excited on Saturday. My vintage shabby chic shoe racks were due for delivery and I couldn't wait to get those bad boys up in our brand new house. 
Around lunchtime I peered out my window and saw the Royal Mail delivery van pull up. 
Yay!! They were here! 
The delivery guy walked up the path and I darted to the next room to get my front door keys. Instead of a knock however, I heard something come through the letterbox.
I ran back with my keys to see that the delivery man had posted a 'missed delivery' slip without even knocking to see if I was in. 
I unlocked the door and shouted (donning a onesie and my dressing gown) 
"Wait! wait! I'm here! WAIIIT!"
He turned, looked at me, got in his van and drove off.
I rang the number left on the 'missed delivery' slip and lodged a complaint with a very rude woman who spoke over me throughout the whole conversation.
"Do yer wannit redelivered?"
"YES! Of course I do! NOW! He's literally just driven off my street! Send him back!"
"Errr drivers don't carry mobiles wiv 'em"
Who in this country today does not carry a mobile?
For F***s sake!!
"When can you redeliver it?"

Tuesday came. No parcel. At 5pm I rang again.
"Where the eff is my effing parcel?"
(I didn't really say that but you get the drift of my annoyance)
"It will be with you before 6pm."

6pm came. No parcel. I waited until the following day and then rang again, explaining the whole charade to the next unfortunate person who happened to answer the phone to me. 
"You're not going to like what I'm about to say but it's coming up on the screen that they have lost the item"
LOST IT! It's 2 shoe racks!! How can they possibly be lost! It specifically said on the 'missed delivery' slip that the items were "TOO BIG TO DELIVER!"
How can items TOO BIG TO DELIVER be lost?
They aren't lost are they. No, it's obvious. The delivery guy saw my vintage shabby chic shoe racks and thought "oooh my wife would like these. They'd make a great Xmas present! I know, I'll post a 'missed delivery' slip through the recipients door so it looks like I attempted to deliver them and then I'll just steal them. Because I'm a dick.
That's what happened isn't it?

Apparently they are going to request a full search of the office which can't possibly be done until the weekend. 
That's great. If the thieving postman hasn't already taken my shoe racks home, he now has plenty of time to do it before he gets caught red handed.
I can just imagine his shoes stacked up on MY rack as I type, whilst my footwear remains homeless, miserable and piled on top of one another. 

So thanks a lot postman twat. 

There's just been a knock at the door.
It's my shoe racks
*insert embarrassed face*

Friday, 13 November 2015

In Defence Of Parents With Children Who Believe

I've stewed on this blog post for two days. I feel like I have things to say in retaliation to a recent blog post titled "Why I'll never tell my children there's a Father Christmas," but at the same time I don't want to come across as little miss judgey pants, because I try and live by the Mommitment.
When I first read the post I jumped on the defensive, but I couldn't understand why? Here was a woman who was saying that when she has children in the future she won't be telling them that there is a Santa. That's fine. Why was I bothered? I'm never usually affected by other people's parenting choices. 
At first I thought it was just that she'd broken my Christmas spirit a little. But there's more to it. I realised that here was a woman who was not yet a parent, justifying her future actions, but in doing so was actually placing judgment on present parents. She was already involved in mum wars before she even was a mum.
Now I can take the mum wars, I'm used to it. But mix the mum wars with Christmas and I'm one pissed off mummy. 
I have to retaliate in defence of all the 'believers' out there.
So here goes! 

"We all know that spoiling a child senseless does nothing but help shape them into an ungrateful, entitled adult, yet so many parents have a complete disregard for the consequences. I've heard of countless kids ripping open a whole room full of presents, without even a pause or a thank you. It's disgraceful."

I fail to see what the belief in Santa has to do with this comment. You can't put all parents who choose to go along with the 'Santa Story' in to a Christmas wrapped box and stick a label on it entitled "parents to spoilt, bratty kids."
Having children who believe in Santa doesn't automatically mean that they are going to be greeted with a room full of presents. We are all in different financial situations. Some parents choose to have one or two gifts from Santa, some choose to have them all from him. Some children will have a room full of presents, and some will have 3 or 4, sometimes less. 
Some parents who do "spoil" their kids at Christmas perhaps do so for a reason; reasons that only a parent will understand. That's not a dismissal of anyone's opinions or values who currently don't have kids, it's just a fact that until you have experienced the classic guilt that comes part and parcel of parenting for a number of different reasons, you will not understand the urge and temptation to sometimes spoil your children. As wrong as it may seem to you it's just something that we can fall in to, despite the knowledge of possible consequences. But that's our choice. 
I also wouldn't use the term 'disgraceful' to describe a child ripping open presents without a pause on Christmas Day. I'd be more inclined to say the behaviour is due to joy and excitement, and just being a child! But maybe that's just me. Maybe I'm disgraceful too?

"In a time when so many are living in poverty, how can you raise a child to just expect a whole hoard of anonymous gifts from some mysterious man in the sky? I love giving presents, but I want my children to know where those things came from, and that they are lucky to have them, as some people have nothing."

What is actually being said here? Its unacceptable for you to allow your children to believe Santa brought them presents when you have actually bought them? Because you love giving presents? So is this about you wanting to feel the benefit of someone receiving presents from you, or is it about kids in poverty. I'm confused. If you want to teach your kids about children who are less fortunate  how is the belief in Santa relevant? Kids living in poverty believe in Santa too you know. We're not all upper class snobs with bratty kids and money growing on trees. 
You can teach your kids about those who are less fortunate throughout the entirety of the year, not just Christmas. Teaching kindness, selflessness, lack of judgment and empathy are lessons you can teach as a parent every day. They are not values that can only be highlighted at Christmas. 

"I asked my mother if she was Santa. Rather than carry on the charade, she told me the truth - that it's just a nice story parents tell children to get them to behave."

Wrong. This is not the truth. We don't ALL tell our kids about Santa in order to get them to behave. Believe it or not we are not so incapable of being parents that we have to rely on mythical beings to keep our kids in check. There's this thing called "parenting" where you lay boundaries and instil discipline. How do you think we get on for the other 11 months of the year? Some of us tell our kids about Santa because we want our kids to be kids, have an imagination, believe in magic and fairy tales whilst they are still innocent enough to do so. Because we enjoy seeing the excitement in our children's faces at the whole idea of Santa, his elves and reindeer. In a world that is full of cruelty, wars and all the other sick and twisted stuff, perhaps we just enjoy the fact that for now, our children believe that the world is a more magical place than it actually is. 
Aside from this, the tale of Santa is not just a 'nice story.'
Santa is based on St Nicholas who was a real person. The story of St Nicholas is one of kindness and selflessness, some of the values you want to teach your children about Christmas whilst simultaneously disregarding the fact that this person ever existed. Because after all, he's just a made up man in the sky who stops your kids from misbehaving. 

"Not only are you essentially lying to your little ones, you're showing them you (or Father Christmas) doesn't keep their word either. So when you tell me I'm going to be a 'terrible' parent, please just keep that in mind"

I believe there is a vast difference between lying and allowing your child to believe in something that brings them joy. I'm sure most kids get to an age where they realise that the whole thing is bullshit, but I'm yet to meet an adult who has been scarred by the realisation that Father Christmas isn't real and feel that they have been lied to and betrayed by their parents. Like it or not, there are probably going to be a million other ways that we will let our kids down at some point that will be completely out of our control, Santa or no Santa. 
I'm really sorry that before even becoming a parent you have been made to feel that others would have such a negative view of you, but here's the deal. Most of us don't care what you want to tell your kids. They're your kids. But this is what we do care about. We care that in your defence of being a "terrible parent" you have ultimately stereotyped and judged a large percentage of mums and dads. If you are going to write an article defending yourself, you cannot expect your justifications to be respected or taken seriously when you attack others whilst doing so. 
You will not be a terrible parent for not telling your kids that Santa exists. But we are not terrible either for telling them that he does. 

Life with Baby Kicks

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I Hope You're Going To Smack Him For That

Yesterday a complete stranger instructed me to smack my child. He hadn't actually done anything wrong but that's beside the point. When did this become acceptable?
The statement came as such a shock that I actually stood there and tried to justify why I wasn't going to smack him. To a complete stranger. 
Is this what we have to do now? Defend ourselves in the street when our parenting style is frowned upon by others?
When I stated that I didn't believe in smacking as a form of punishment (that was me justifying my actions, or should I say lack of them, right there) the man asked me why. 
"Because I don't believe in teaching children that physical aggression is ok"
I was then accused of being a tree hugging, vegan hippy, whose son would grow up to be a delinquent.
At that moment I was wondering if actually now would be the time to show Oliver that sometimes physical aggression is ok and punch the man standing in front of me square in the face. 
I resisted. 
Instead I explained that I hadn't hugged any trees recently and quite enjoy a nice bacon and egg sandwich, but thanks for the stereotyping and judgment. 
"My father used to hit me when I did something wrong and it did me good!"
I beg to differ my friend. You see, you are now stood before a complete stranger encouraging them to hit a four year old, berating and quite frankly verbally abusing their mother and in all honesty it appears to me that all those beatings have turned you in to nothing but a pain in the arse. 

I was going to blog an open letter to this piece of shit but everything I felt needed to be said I did say before ordering him to get away from us immediately. 
But for the rest of the day I was left feeling angry. Angry to the point that I've felt the need to write about it. 
So I'm going to turn that anger on its head right now and say thank you to the awful little pea brain instead. Thank you for showing me that no matter what people say to me, they can never change my morals and values when it comes to the way I raise my child. Thank you for reiterating the exact reason why I DON'T smack my child. So he will grow up to respect other human beings and hopefully not randomly approach people in the street and make rude remarks. Thank you for allowing me to illustrate to my son that your behaviour yesterday was unacceptable and for enabling me to show him that people like you can be dealt with by a smart mouth and a willingness to stand by your own opinions. 
I don't care if people want to smack their kids. If that works for them, that's great. I don't want to smack mine. And I especially don't want to be instructed in the street to do so by a complete stranger. We all have different morals and values. This was just an undiluted version of typical judgment that mums have to go through every day.
In the past I've been judged for co-sleeping, breastfeeding, working full time, not having a clean enough house, having a child who won't eat veg, having a child who knows what zombies are, letting my child speak to strangers, and allowing my child to chase pigeons in the street. I can take it. I can take it all. I know I'm a great mum. I'm not up to some people's standards, but I don't care. I don't strive to meet anyone's standards except my sons, and my own. I know that hitting is just a total deal breaker for us. 
So seriously people!
Because this tree hugging, hippy vegan with a delinquent son has had quite enough!