Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A New Years Promise To My Child

At 12am on Thursday night there will be people all over the world seeing the New Year in and making promises to themselves to give something up, change something or achieve something.
But this year I won't be making a New Years resolution for myself. Instead I'll be making a promise. 
To you. My son. 
I'm going to promise to try. 

I'm going to try to be more patient. You're four. You're learning. And you need patience. 
I'm going to try not to bother about what others think. Who cares what they think? It only matters what we think. You and me.
I'm going to try to take more time. More time to play. More time to soak up your infectious laugh. More time to just be with you.
I'm going to try not to make my problems your problems. You're my child. Let me solve all your problems and leave mine at the door. To be picked up again when you're sleeping.
I'm going to try to listen. Listen to your every word. Because you have so much to say, and I want to hear everything. I don't want to miss anything. 
I'm going to try not to compare you with others. Why would I? You're unique. You're special. Nobody can be compared with you. Not to me. 
I'm going to try not to worry. I don't need to worry about you. You've proved this to me time and time again.
I'm going to try to cherish every memory. Because every day you grow, you change, and you need me less. Every single minute is more precious to me than you could ever imagine.
I'm going to try never to put you down. You are perfect with all your imperfections. And I love you unconditionally.
I'm going to try to laugh more. Because you are the funniest person I know. And I'm at my happiest when I'm laughing with you.

I can't promise that I will do all these things without fault. Some days I will succeed. Some days I will fall flat on my face and will rely on your smile, and your smile only to pick me back up. 

But I will never fail to try. 
And that is my promise to you.
My precious little boy.

Here's to another year of wonderful memories.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Big Box Of Christmas Shame

There's nothing like a parent bashing Facebook post to get you in the mood for Christmas!! 
I think we all know the story behind this picture. It's rippled round social media, national press and morning television for weeks. 
The woman who posted this picture has received a bombardment of abuse and criticism for the amount of presents she has bought her children for Christmas this year and has been forced to justify the amount she has purchased and explain how she has afforded this. 
My thoughts?
Who gives a flying festive f***?
I don't care how many presents her children are going to receive!
I don't care about how much she has spent!
I don't care how she has afforded this or at what time of the year she began buying them.
Here's what I do care about.
I care about people's constant need to pry in to others lives and judge people for things they shouldn't care about either!
It's Christmas people! Can we give the parent shaming a rest for one bloody minute! 
It appears we can't.
But here's the thing. There seems to be an idea that a harmless picture on social media showing your children's presents under the tree is now insulting. It's not. What is insulting is people's need to openly shame an innocent picture that an excited parent has decided to share with others.
On Christmas Eve your social media newsfeed will be filled with present pictures. My profile included. 
I don't share these pictures to show off, to compete with other parents, or to highlight how materialistic I am. I share them because I'm excited! My child is four! He believes in Santa and the magic of Christmas is very real to him. His excitement is my excitement. I share because I'm making a scrapbook of memories for the future when that magic will inevitably fade and Christmas will no longer involve leaving snacks for Santa and 5am wake up calls on Christmas morning. 
I share because this is my life and I'm proud. I'm not proud of the amount of presents I've bought for my son. I'm proud of my little family and the memories we are making together.
Of course there are families whose children won't have much. My sharing of present pictures isn't to hurt them or make them feel inferior. It is simply a picture of my Christmas. And a snapshot of my emotions and feelings. 
Christmas isn't about what is under the tree, but who is around it. But please, don't shame parents for what they choose to spend on their children at Christmas when to be quite frank it is none of your business.
Some save all year, some start buying in January, some work bloody hard to earn money to buy these gifts, and some are in an extremely fortunate situation. But why are we justifying this?
Buy your kids what you want. They are your kids!
Share whatever pictures you want! They are your pictures! Your memories. Your experiences. 
I will be starting a #he'sbeen thread on my blogs Facebook page on Christmas Eve, where I'll be asking readers to feel free to join in with sharing their present pictures.
This isn't to show off or to compete. It's simply a message that we should be able to post pictures of our kids presents without feeling we are being judged for being materialistic or competitive.
We are simply excited parents who want to share this. 
I love seeing my news feed filled with Christmas Eve pictures and excited families and children. I love sharing in your joy and excitement. And I will never ever judge. 
Your Christmas is what you want it to be. Don't let anybody take that away from you. 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Screwed. A Christmas Carol (concert)

The school Christmas carol concert. Because two nativity showings aren't quite enough to give you a nervous brea...put you in the Christmas spirit. 
One thing you should know about the school carol concert (in fact most school assemblies) is that you will never get on the front row. In fact, you'll be lucky to get a seat. There's no other explanation for this apart from the fact that some parents must camp outside the doors overnight like a hoard of Daniel O'Donnell fans waiting to violently push their way to the front. 
If you're anything like me you'll stand on the side lines red faced and out of breath from running to school in order to make it on time; with two squashed poinsettia plants under your arms for the teachers, because of course you forgot until the last minute that buying Christmas presents for teachers is now the thing to do.  
The cardio from running will transcend in to muscle building exercises as you are forced to wave at your child every 0.2 seconds, who is craning their neck to look at you from the front of the hall, expecting you to respond EVERY TIME.
You lean against the wall of the school hall grateful for 5 minutes to relax and regain your breath and then a teacher waves a box under your nose. Raffle tickets. Of course. Rummaging through your purse you begrudgingly hand over your last bit of spare change and buy a ticket for that huge hamper at the front of the hall. You don't have to worry about carrying that bad boy home at least. You'll never win. That shiz belongs to the Daniel O'Donnell fans.
The carols commence and you're extra pleased to find out that you've ideally placed yourself right next to tone deaf Pavarotti who proceeds to ruin every Christmas song you've ever enjoyed and scar you for all Christmas' to come.
You can either seal your lips tightly shut to avoid anyone thinking that this catastrophe is coming from your mouth, or you can revert back to being 14 and take a sly glance at a parent stood next to you in an attempt to make them laugh.
You choose the latter.
Then you're given the eye by the headmistress. 
You wish you'd packed some alcohol. It's extremely selfish for the school not to provide mulled wine on occasions such as this.
Is it over yet?
No, you've only been here 5 minutes. This must be how time ticks by in hell. With Satan warbling 'oh come all ye faithful' in your ear.
Has nobody brought any alcohol? Nobody at all?
The kids have the right idea. They keep disappearing every 2 seconds to use the toilet. Can adults do that? Do we have to ask the teacher to be excused? 
After what seems like an eternity the concert ends. Eventually.
Right! Time for a mulled wine! You gather your things, looking at your watch. Definitely time for a winter warmer before you have to come back for the school pick up! You just have to get rid of these bloody Christmas plants first. You start waving manically to your child, glancing around for an appropriate time to launch them at him. 
What's that? Parents can take the children home early? 
It's half 2! For Christ's sakes! 
You throw the mashed poinsettias at your four year old with instructions to pass them to his teachers before he collects his coat & bag. He carries them over by their leaves. 

* And of course every time I wrote "you" throughout this post I meant "me."

Merry Christmas!!! 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up

Next term my 4 year old will be looking at the subject "what I want to be when I grow up" in his reception class at school.
It's something that my son has never spoken to me about. He pretends he's a spaceman, a dinosaur hunter, a doctor; but he's never actually stated that they are actual jobs he would like to do when he grows up. He's no stranger to the idea of working. He knows his Daddy is a 'teacher' and he knows that Mummy works with 'people who have poorly minds,' but he's never expressed any ideas of what he would like to do. 
This doesn't bother me. He's 4. Life to him is endless playing. He doesn't have to concern himself with the fact that one day he will grow up and pursue a career. If only we could be children forever!
I remember being his age. I also remember being asked the same question at school when I was 7. I wanted to be a 'novelist' and did a cute little speech about it in front of the class. At 10 I wanted to be a journalist. This progressed to 'weather girl' when I was 11. At 15 I wanted to be a singer (the next Spice Girl to be precise), and at 16 I went to performing arts college to pursue that dream. The dream ended abruptly at 18 when I went to work as a blue coat and realised that I really wasn't cut out for a plastered on smile and 3 inches of make up. 
I worked with adults with learning disabilities at aged 19 and decided I wanted to own my own company that supported adults with disabilities in the community. At 21 I changed my mind and wanted to be a psychologist. I went to university, got a degree, and now at the age of 31 I am a Mummy, mental health worker, breastfeeding peer support worker and a blogger. If you ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I could honestly say to you that I don't know. Although I like my life I can't tell you that the career I've chosen will be the career I will want for the rest of my life. I know what my passions and interests are, but there are a multitude of things I would like to do and I still often find myself in conflict of what I want to do next. I'm still not settled. Maybe I never will be.

As the subject has never come up with my son I decided to ask him. 
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"You like Buzz Lightyear, would you like to be a Spaceman?"
"What about dinosaurs? It would be really cool to find out about dinosaurs and stuff as a job wouldn't it?"
"Would you like to do that when you grow up?"
"You could be a Nurse like Nana? Or a Fireman like Grandad? Or do the same kind of thing that Mummy or Daddy does?"
"So what do you want to be then?"
"I don't know"

And that is probably one of the most sensible answers that any reception kid will come out with. Because after 31 years I have only just realised that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. THIRTY ONE YEARS!! And my child is already there. He's aware that he doesn't know what he wants to be. He knows that fine. 
I'm kind of envious. Envious that my son has it all sussed. Whilst I live in constant turmoil about what I want to do or achieve, my kid is just happy to plod along with life and not worry about it.
I want to be like that. 
And that's why I won't ask him again. He'll discover his own passions and interests and eventually they will lead him on his own path. 
Or maybe he won't? 
But for the minute he is still a baby. He has adventures, friendships and broken hearts ahead of him. I'm going to savour every single minute that I can and I'll be proud of him no matter what. And we'll worry about all the other stuff when it happens! 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Things Every Expectant Mother Should Know

Day 3 postpartum. EVERY woman should know about day 3 postpartum! You'll hopefully be recovering from labour well and settling in to a new life with your precious little bundle and BAM! You're inconsolably crying at an episode of Masterchef. "Because he made such wonderful food and he looks so tense and..I don't know ok! I don't know why I'm fucking crying at Masterchef!"
Baby blues. That's why. That bastard day 3 postpartum.

The baby blues are not helped much by the invention that is the baby bath. They're such cute little things! A lickle miniature bath for your waterbaby to splash about in and get squeaky clean after endless poonami's and spew ups through the day. But what you don't know about baby baths is they were invented to destroy your soul. You'll fill it up with lots of bubbles from your special baby bedtime bath range (to help them sleep, OH PLEASE GOD LET THEM SLEEP!) and then you'll realise you can't move the damn thing. You'll manage to do your best heavy weight lifting impression and hobble through to the next room with it only to find that you've lost half its contents (which are now spilled through the entire house) in the desperate struggle. You'll then hear your husband, who has been conveniently missing throughout the manual labour, slip and fall with cries of 'that BASTARD baby bath!!' For the fifth time that week. 

You will soon become fluent in another language. The language of your child. You'll be expected to analyse the face of the adult that your child is gobbledegooking away to, recognise a moment of desperate confusion and awkwardness, and quickly jump in to interpret exactly what has just been said.
You may sometimes have to lie about what your child has just burbled about
"Avvvvva wooooed (I've pooed)
"What did she say?"
"Oh...she said I love you"
That type of thing. 
But like it or not, your job will be Mum - Interpreter.

You'll be so busy interpreting and spending every second with your little cherub that they'll fill every crevice of your life. Knowing this you'll be desperately careful not to come across as 'that mum' who speaks of nothing but her kids all day every day. But the temptation to tell every one in the entire world that your baby just rolled over ALL BY HIMSELF will be far too strong and the internal battle of being 'that mum' and bragging about your mini genius will cause this information to blurt out at the most irrelevant times, to practical strangers. Like the postman. 

People will unfriend you on Facebook. pictures.

You'd give up your left lung for a moments peace. Seriously, you can't remember the last time you went for a wee without two round eyes peering at you and poking your face. But the minute someone offers to take them off your hands you'll become all defensive and obsessive 
"WHAT!? Of course I don't need a break! They're my CHILD! I've got this covered Thankyou very much!"
If you do let someone take them for a while you will instantly miss them as soon as the door clicks shut. 

Netflix won't be for Dexter, American Horror Story or OITNB anymore. No. It will be Paw Patrol, SpongeBob and fricking Caillou.

You will gain disgusting habits. You'll scrape your child's leftovers straight in to your mouth, even ramming that chip you found on the floor in to your mush. Anything to avoid actually walking to the bin. A task that is too tiresome to bare.
Your child's snotty nose will be wiped clean with the sleeve of your cardigan, and you'll smell their bum approximately every half hour just to check for a whiff of crap. 

You'll find trumps cute.

You will despise yourself for pre baby days when you took for granted the time you actually had to shower. Because now showers are impossible. A hot cup of tea/coffee will also be something you'll wish you'd savoured. What used to be a café latte will now have turned in to luke warm instant coffee microwaved thrice.

It will take longer to prepare to leave your house than the length of the whole trip you are planning to leave for. There will be several attempts to leave but you'll be forced to retreat back in to the house for a multitude of reasons. But mainly faeces. 

You will find that your husband/partner that you once loved beyond belief is now at times the most utterly annoying, decrepit little thing you ever laid eyes on. Where as you used to smile goggly eyed at his backside when he turned his back to leave the room, you will now aggressively flip him the bird 50 times in a row whilst mouthing "fuuuccckkk offff."
But you're in this together, even though he does disappear at bath time and nappy changes, which is why you do these things behind his back. 

You may become a hypochondriac rushing to the doctors for the smallest thing. 'She's got a rash!! Yes we need to be seen immediately!'
Only to be told that no, it's not meningitis, it's dry skin. No, one ear isn't bigger than the other, and yes, it's perfectly normal for your child to have that type of bowel movement'
All your google searches will now start with "why is my baby....?" and you'll have a semi nervous breakdown each time you have to clip your baby's nails. 

But in all this you will not realise how each stage gets more difficult in different ways.  You will be too busy being knee deep in crap, telling them 'no! We don't eat the potpourri,' and praying for them to sleep but immediately prodding them when they sleep longer than usual.
But most of all, you will be too busy laughing more than you've ever laughed in your life, loving more than you've ever loved, and being prouder than you could ever imagine.
Because every moment of despair, desperation, tears and tantrums is completely and undeniably worth it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

What's In A Name

So I'm sat all cosied up on the couch, after finishing a bagel with ham and cream cheese (pretending to be posh) and wondering whether I should sneak a small cap of baileys in to a hot chocolate before I set off for the blustery school run 
at 3pm. Come on its Christmas!!
The lights are twinkling on my Christmas tree and I'm in a bloody good mood, despite the fact that I fucked up this morning and found out I was supposed to have handed in a nativity costume for my four year old at school yesterday, and had failed to do so!
With the costume ordered and a good episode of Dexter on TV I'm soaking up the peace and tranquility. I pick up my phone to peruse through my Facebook news feed and BAM! 
Good mood disintegrated within seconds.
Like many mums I follow a few 'mum groups' on Facebook within my area. Mainly for information on local activities and sometimes to ask about school related stuff.
On one particular mum group I saw a post about kids names. It was referred to by the original poster and other commenters on the thread as 'lighthearted banter' but honestly, it wasn't.
The thread was discussing ridiculous names that they had heard fellow parents had called their children and how awful they were. Clearly without a thought that there may actually be parents in the group who had named their child one of the names that they were vomiting out all over the thread, they continued to mock and parent bash with each comment. 
One member of the group who actually had a pair of testicles (although not in the literal sense) actually asked why they cared what other parents named their kids? And in short told them they were being mean.
At this point the original poster told this lady (my hero) to get a grip.
Now I could have posted myself and say what I needed to say, but what is the point speaking to 10-15 individuals and getting in to an argument when I had a hot chocolate and baileys calling my name. 
No. Instead I decided to blog my thoughts in an attempt to reach not only them select few women, but a number of other women who think that this behaviour is acceptable. 
I would like to say to you women that YOU need to get a grip. Go out and live your life. Why concern yourselves with the lives of others. Now unless a parent who has happened to call her kid "table and chair" or whatever else, has come and tattooed that name on your forehead, or written it on your front door in blood then I don't see the problem. How are they affecting your life in any way?
You can call me the 'fun police' or whatever other ridiculous term you deem necessary but the idea of this being light hearted banter is ludicrous. 
Banter usually involves the person you're taking the piss out off and in return they respond with a derogatory comment about you, in a jovial none insulting manner. This is not banter. It's bullying. It's a group of women with some spare time on their hands who think "oooh! I'll post on a mum page for all the world to see how repulsive I think this name is, and how stupid the parents were to use it! Because I'm a douchebag"
I'm no saint. There have been a few names I've heard where I've thought "hmmm, bit ropey" but there's a vast difference between a quick spur of the moment thought and verbalising it for the world and his wife to see with the possibility of hurting someone's feelings.
Now some of you reading this will disagree with me. Well it would make a very boring world if we all had the same point of view.  Of course there's the old retaliation of "well it's irresponsible of the parents to name them so ridiculously."
Is it? 
What you actually mean is, it's irresponsible of the parents to name their children something different to the norm because there are horrible people in the world who will judge them and ridicule them. Like you. 
Isn't it more irresponsible to openly mock people on social media and defend your right to do this by placing the blame on the people you are mocking? 
Oh! She named her kid 'tripod' so she had it coming!
They called their kid something unusual so what do they expect!
What they probably expect is that grown adults will be mature and kind enough to perhaps think "wouldn't call my own kid that but they're not my kid, so I'm just going to carry on with my life now."
They probably expect you to teach your children NOT to pick on kids who are different, whether that's through their name, ethnicity, religion or disability. 
To all the parents out there who have called their kids weird and wonderful names. You are marvellous. You have chosen a name that YOU like. You have expected goodness from the world. It is not your responsibility to ensure your child doesn't get bullied because of their name. It is everyone's responsibility to ensure they don't raise a child who will bully. High five to you for saying "fuck you!" to society and doing whatever the hell you please. 
Now, I'm off to light a Yankee candle and drink my hot chocolate in peace before the madness of the school run begins. Because seriously, I have more shit to deal with and think about then what someone has named their kid. Like tea for example. We're having stir fry.