30 November 2007

More age appropriate expectations revised!

Another shouting code breach to report. I was trying to teach Jenna to play snap, unwisely and adultly insisting that she play the "proper" way in spite of everything I know about how children learn (and fail!). Stupid, stupid, stupid. I got more and more stressed out until I just put the cards away, making her feel like I was punishing her and she was too young to be capable of the seemingly simple task. The problem is, she isn't ready to take turns like that, to be rigidly set to one kind of game. She wanted to pretend that she could already play the game, she wanted to be capable and right and not corrected and hassled.

All this, with hind-sight. Anyhow, after the usual apology and giving her the damn cards to use how she WANTS to use them (why did it even matter in the first place?) I have a new plan. I am going to notice sooner when she is getting stressed and when we are approaching showdown. That is the plan, in its entirety. That's all it really takes, to turn a conflict into a chance to be the parent I want to be - just to NOTICE.

We went to the gym again today, so that the girls could both swim with my mum and for Jenna's dance class. As I went to take her into the children's area for her group to meet up, I took Morgan out of the sling and let her sit on the floor to watch Jenna go in. A little boy said to me, "That baby can't come in here, she goes in the creche." I said, "She's coming with me, we're going to go and play together in the cafe." He said, "She can't - she has to go in the creche." I said, "She hasn't EVER been in a creche. She has me to watch her." He turned to the group leader as I left, and I heard, "Why doesn't the baby go in the creche? Is it poorly?"

From here in my usual chair I can see Mary and Joseph kissing on my mantlepiece. I wonder if Jenna put them like that; no, I know Jenna put them like that. Family life is full of these tiny events. Meaningless little moments that weave our hours and days into a rich tapestry of colour and light.

29 November 2007

A moment of total wholeness

Thank goodness for that - all better. Still a bit twingey but I made it to befriending and walked into town afterwards and I'm not suffering this afternoon. The girls won't be back for another hour or two so now I'm going to take a nap in the hopes that no more back pain is coming my way in revenge for going out today!

I was thinking on my way home again, as I do every week, just how lucky I am. When you've been around someone with so many problems you start to realise that they're actually so normal. They didn't do anything to deserve how hard things are for them, they don't have some defect that makes them think that way necessarily. My client is a normal person who reacted to extraordinary problems with great courage and still had an understandable breakdown.

I go through all the people I know well enough to make the call - what would happen if it was them? Where is the support? Would I have reacted the same way? I can't imagine that I would have coped much better, any better. We are all somewhere walking a line and we could all be tipped over into what the rest of the world calls insanity and turns away from. Mental health is not a simple issue, not remotely cut and dried. Nobody is on the safe side of the line, untouchable by this, it's part of all of us.

More than this, how many small pleasures do we not count because they are the blessings that everyone has? Everyone like us at least. How many people could not do for themselves, or for any pressing need, the thing I did today? I walked, freely and feeling the youth and strength in my body, seeing the mundane brickwork and hearing people talking.

I saw markets, touched the fruits and smelled all sorts of things I wouldn't normally be pleased to. I saw a carpark. It was there and I was free to pass it, free to see what was there are look into the face of other free people. Did they know how very liberated they are? The feel of my jeans against my ankles, my coat against my shoulders. How very perfect, how very beautiful, to be alive and aware of the so many things that I can't usually see for them being everywhere.

28 November 2007

Argh my back is still out...

I still haven't been anywhere and am very sore. I can't believe how much it aches and I feel like I'm prooving everyone right - I'm never going to hear the end of it from the family and assorted others who keep telling me she's too big to carry now. I only started carrying Jenna at this age!


Emma came and saved me yesterday, spent all day pottering with the children and bringing Morgan to me to feed etc. I'm so worried about coping today, and I don't want to call in to befriending tomorrow either. How am I going to manage it? :(

26 November 2007

Hard lessons about stretchy wraps!

Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow. :( I am now the advert for all the reasons why you should use a woven wrap for an older baby. Morgan is 1yo in a couple of weeks and obviously seriously outgrew it.

Yup, I went around town for three hours yesterday with Morgan in the stretchy AND carrying a heavy change bag and heavier library books. I'm not blaming the stretchy really, it was fine on my birthday for walking in but with bags as well... It was so tempting, the lovely cool water colours and I have missed it since she grew so big.

However now I am stuck here with a hot water bottle, can't take the children to soft play, barely made it down the stairs this morning (and Morgan can't climb down on her own yet!). *sigh* Ouch. I don't know how I'm going to take care of them, I may have to call Martin and beg him to come home.

25 November 2007

Buy nothing new for a year challenge

I've had my 23rd birthday (I'm sure the age itself is shocking some people lol - it feels old enough to me though!). We've had Buy Nothing day (on which we bought food). Not a lot else, not a lot of anything I guess.

My birthday was nice, quiet and calm and a bit odd really. Last year I was hugely pregnant, the year before I was miscarrying, the year before that I had a newborn... It feels like I don't have birthdays any more. Maybe one year I'll do something just for me, but I kind of like it this way without too much attention being drawn to it or anyone making a fuss of me. The children are so much a part of everything for me, even a meal out without them seems like something I'm not ready for. I wonder when I'll stop wanting them so close?

We are actually still trying to not buy new unless it's ethical, and our food shopping is getting more local and organic every time. We tend to get the reaction that it's too expensive to live like that, not buying non-organic food. But we eat less meat, we make things last, we bulk out meals with other ingredients (one small pack of mince makes two meals, one small organic chicken is three meals!). We make a lot from scratch and the closest we get to a ready meal these days is beans on toast.

We caved and got some organic vests for Morgan when it became obvious that we wouldn't be able to find enough second hand ones to clothe her - Jenna didn't even wear vests at this age as she was walking so much and Morgan just won't. Crawling really pulls those little clothes up. And we're getting a couple of wooden toys for the girls, but we're hardly spending anything.

18 November 2007

Social responses, death, and a visit

My in-laws cat has died, another sadness for Jenna and another hard lesson in loss. She seems very interested this time in what other people think of it, and how we are reacting. Martin hadn't really come to terms with it, hadn't taken in what I was saying (he grew up with this cat) and when we went to visit them it was still not really registering.

At the top of the steps down to their house Jenna said, "Everyone dies here." We said that no, of course everyone hasn't died. She argued that one of the guinea pigs had died last month, Larry-boy is dead... At this point Martin started to cry and we had to collect ourselves and give him big hugs before we could make it into the house. Jenna was surprised, Daddy doesn't often cry.

Later in the day she kind of poked him and looking up with that winning smile said, "Daddy - Larry-boy is dead." And then she waited, watching him as if she wanted to see him cry again. I laughed, trying not to of course. She really seemed to be figuring out why sometimes something is really sad and sometimes the same event is OK to think about. Why had Daddy cried like that when he already knew? Why didn't he cry now? She's learning a lot from all this - not the fragility-of-life stuff we thought. But a lot of social rules, and something about context too.

17 November 2007

Changing as a person

I can't tell you how much we laugh sometimes, at the glorious things they come out with. I was cross with Jenna (again) this morning, and she quietly said (not looking at me), "Mummy pleeease don't break my *other* baby gate!" I laughed and stopped throwing my toys out of the metaphorical pram.

I have to say, Morgan arriving has done a lot for my ability to organise but only because, deep down, I'm suffering from terminal confusion. I can never remember times and dates, they all have to be written down somewhere in bold. I can't even tell the day of the week if we don't go to a regular activity. I spend much more time wandering around the house saying, "what am I looking for?!" It's terrible. Yesterday I dropped Jenna off at her dance class with the words, "Don't worry if I turn up to pick her up early, it won't be because anything is wrong, it'll just be that I'm confused." As I closed the door behind me I was accosted by another mother who said, with evident relief, "It gets worse with every child, doesn't it? I can't remember what it felt like to know what I was doing!" What can I add to that summation? I can't remember the profound thing I wanted to say anyway...

I have been being organised with last minute Christmas makes though. The fact that I think it's last minute already tells you a lot about how I'm getting past the mushy brain with planning ahead. I've made some little dolls, felt animals, dyed some play silks myself (a bargain from http://www.rainbowsilks.co.uk/ transformed with some dylon), all sorts of things. I've been working more on the season table too and made some last little autumnal gnomes. We're feeling crafty. Something has to reconnect us after the shouting!

16 November 2007

Anger and how to deal with it?

Something is not going so well as it should be - I feel like I'm perpetually losing my temper and I'm too frustrated to try to figure out the root of my problem. I keep saying I don't know what's wrong with me. It's tempting to think I'm just not cut out for this, I'm no good, I'm an awful parent. I felt so together until Morgan got mobile - well, mostly. Now I'm just mad at them both all of the time, always picking at things that don't matter and flying off the handle when they do normal kid stuff.

I managed to break the safety gate at the top of the stairs today. Jenna had been winding me up over really minor stuff and I can see now that she wasn't doing it on purpose. The urge to hit her was just so strong. I'm really ashamed of myself, I had a proper toddler tantrum and threw the washing I was carrying on the floor and kicked the baby gate. It fell off its hinges and then Morgan and Jenna were crying and I was screaming at them (if only I could take that back and go hit a pillow in private). What can you do when you lose it so badly? Well I had to ask myself what I'd want Jenna to do if she'd just done that... I said sorry and explained why I'd handled it wrongly and what I should have done. I asked her to forgive me, and hugged them both. I tried to fix the gate and then said that Daddy would help me do it later.

We only just got out of the house this morning without someone being smacked. I never thought I could come that close. Thinking about it now I can see that really I only wanted to hit her BECAUSE I knew it was wrong. In my anger I just wanted to lash out, do something terrible. Is this what my own experience of being disciplined has taught me? Has my adult life done nothing to take away the desire to act bad because I feel out of control and doing something naughty gives me the control back? What a failure.

13 November 2007

Disobedience in a good way

I asked Jenna to stop Morgan from following me as I had a lot of washing to carry and needed to take it upstairs to sort. I thought I'd given really clear instructions, but perhaps too many? "Put the bubbles back now please. I need you to help keep Morgan safe while I go upstairs, so just let her sit with her toys and try to distract her from playing behind the door. You must respect her space!"

When I came down there was no baby behind the door, no crying, no mess... I was shocked - I fully expected to be utterly ignored. Then I saw why they were quietly giggling together. The bubble mix was still out and Jenna was blowing bubbles for Morgan to pop! How could I be cross with her? This is what I like to call, "following the spirit of the instruction but not the substance"!

11 November 2007

Nothing at all to say

We planted trees today with Emma and Chris. A lovely cold wintery day, out in the garden and enjoying each others company. These are the days when nothing to write and nothing to say take nothing from the memories. Bliss.

10 November 2007

Jenna prooves that she needs her inhalor

Yesterday Jenna traumatised me by having an asthma attack on the bus. We were in a hurry and I packed the inhalor (with us all the time now as the season to be poorly is upon us) but walked too fast to get to the stop. She was a bit puffed but OK when we got on, but then she had to sit a few seats away from me as it was packed and I could hear her coughing her guts up. She started to wheeze but there were people standing between us now and stupid as it sounds I didn't want to ask them to move, I just called to her to breathe slowly and stay calm...

I don't know how we got through it, it was like a bad dream. When we pushed our way out of there she was still calm and just asked for her "breather". And it was over, and I have never been so scared for her or felt so helpless. Ten minutes later she coughed until she threw up, and we went straight home figuring that it wasn't worth being out in the bitter cold any more even for the sake of getting to swimming.

Morgan is still playing the on and off nursing game. I'm a bit worried she might be weaning or that something might be up with my milk supply. I can't figure it out; she wants to feed but as soon as I put her on she messes about and comes off again. Maybe I'm just being paranoid - this is after all the first time I've just gone with the flow completely. We're sleeping four in a bed too, down to the cough and cold thing, which isn't helping her night feeds! It's a bit squashed and I'm glad for the extra space from the cot. I've been thinking about going to mattresses on the floor but it seems like hassle taking the bed down.

I am definately calmer with Jenna right now, my no shouting plan is mostly based on trying to stop being a child and arguing back at her! I also need to let her own her own feelings a bit more and stop telling her not to feel a certain way. I don't want my no whining rule to turn into, "I don't care if you're unhappy" because I do care... My mantra today has been, "tell me with words" followed by, "I hear you"! I wish Martin would hold me to this though, because he really enables the yelling sometimes. And he seems to come home so very tired.

8 November 2007

It's not about the MMR

I just feel I need to comment on this whole Chicken Pox vaccine news coverage today. Don’t take this as my willingness to get off the fence (lol) but rather as heartfelt upset at how the non-vaccinating parent is viewed by the rest of the world. Please, my dear and much loved pro-vaccination friends, read this carefully.

It is not about the MMR.

I don’t want to explain to every person who thinks they have an interest in my child’s health that I am not particularly credulous and don’t buy into any cultish fearfulness (on either side of the fence). I personally don’t think it’s likely that vaccines cause autism, though I accept that I may be proven wrong some day. MMR is not “it”. It *isn’t* the only cause of mistrust, and it isn’t the only doubt that is ever raised about the efficacy and sense of the vaccine program.

Thank goodness I am not called on to explain myself in all but the friendliest environment – I would gather from the news programs today that anywhere else I would be seen as both superstitious and careless. As upset as I feel about the misrepresentation of anyone who does not has not or might not accept the CP vaccine, I *was* very interested to hear a representative of the medical profession utter the phrase “there is no risk from vaccines”. And then seconds later say that “it isn’t always effective, no vaccine is, and there are of course sometimes side effects”…

After two days of being confined, we are feeling much better now and are back to operating on shockingly good terms. :) I have had two whole days without shouting and YES today DOES count even though the children were out all morning. :P I am feeling, in the words of a friend of mine with children similar ages, all earth-mothery. I may even make bread.

6 November 2007


We are all really really sick and are confined to the house. It is 1pm and Jenna got up about half an hour ago. Before this she had ventured downstairs only to take herself back to bed with a sick bowl and a cup of hot juice. She is hot and miserable and so is Morgan. Oh, and my knee still flippin hurts.

5 November 2007

Crash Bang Wallop, family all fall down

A couple of nights ago Martin had the most lovely flash of inspiration. He decided that since we’re in a built up area and there were too many fireworks to sleep, we should go for a walk and look at them all. It was so nice, a real family evening.

Morgan has two more clever baby brag/updates. Last night she slept nine hours on only two feeds (whoop!) and also she is “reading” a book we have from the library. She makes chatting noises at some pages and (in line with the story) does the CUTEST little fake baby laugh at others.

Unfortunately all the good is balanced out with some bad. Here is my story about what happens when you fall when babywearing… We were walking through town. When I say “walking” I guess I was the only one actually doing so. Jenna was protesting because she wanted to run off up the escalators and I was preventing her. I am ashamed to say I ended up more or less dragging her kicking and screaming. After a while she started walking properly but asked for a ride on one of those infernal car things. I said we had neither time nor money for one and she threw herself on the floor dramatically. Since we were still walking hand in hand this was a little inconvenient and several things happened at once.

Jenna hit the floor, I tripped, fell, threw the bags away from me and put my arm under to protect Morgan’s head. Jenna got kicked in the head more or less and Morgan hit the floor back first at a rather reduced speed due to one of my palms and the opposite knee absorbing the impact. I sat up.

Jenna was howling. Morgan woke up from being a little squished and protested but not much. I checked her head briefly but was fairly sure she hadn’t hit anything and had only suffered brief pressure around her midriff from my body. However I couldn’t move a great deal and my leg felt quite numb. We were also surrounded by people expecting to find the baby crushed to death or suffering a head injury and giving me a lot of advice about what to do in those cases.

Anyhows we sorted out with all the spectators that the children were fine (and Jenna rather better behaved in total shock at what had just followed her mardy) and that Morgan had not so much as a mark and was in fact trying to go back to sleep (“don’t let her sleep for an hour or so, in case she has concussion”). *sigh*

We were helped to the first aid station (I felt really stupid sitting in a wheelchair) and we discovered that what I had in fact done was not as serious as it could have been. Let’s just say that three ice packs later my knee was still purple and swollen like a turnip and I am now literally black and blue all over.

We promised to go right home on the bus, which we did. The first aid staff were telling me all their horror stories about injuries to children in pushchairs, which made me feel much better, but I really didn’t feel like doing the rest of the jobs we had to do anyway. Plus my knee *really* hurt. I must have been really shaken though – I sat for a good twenty minutes trying to make sense of an advert on the bus.

I was confused by a sign promising, “Action to Die Hard 4.0”, and feeling increasingly frustrated by the obvious missing words. Then of course I removed my mental parenthesis around the film title and realised the pun for/four. I am entertaining the very real possibility that a Stickler like me insisting that the name of the film is a proper noun simply did not occur to the promotions team. I feel alone in a world in which other people do not have to walk around all day puzzling “the tart is WHAT?” when the sign for Strawberry Tart’s appears in a local bakery…

As for Jenna’s take on my awful day, tonight she prayed earnestly, “Lord Jesus please make mummy’s knee get better soon so that she will stop being cross with me!” She told Martin that my leg was “all purpley” because I’d tripped over her when she was “being cross on the floor”. She also told him, “don’t worry thought it will be alright, because I’ve prayed for it now.”

2 November 2007

Short hair on my big baby and tears on the little one

Yuck this morning was not fun. As I left Morgan playing on the park with Chris while I went to befriending, I heard her cry. What to do? Let down the person who desperately needs my help? Ignore the needs of my tiny for the first time in her short life?

I fretted all the way down the road before turning back to go get her. When I got within sight I could see her playing and hear that all was well. Phew. I hope that dilemma doesn’t come up again. :(

I have cut Jenna’s hair also and am in mourning for her baby curls. The new hair is fab but not the same, and far shorter than I envisioned. The daily traumas of raising tots!

Last update for today, Morgan signed “stop” to Jenna this morning as she advanced to grab something. It was the first time she has purposefully signed something to Jenna, and Jenna respected it too. I couldn’t believe my eyes…

1 November 2007

Time passing by and good stuff to come

How on earth can there be only two months left to the year? It’s not far from Morgan’s birthday, she’s almost 11 months and it’s NOT OK! She’s still my baby – though I remember at the same age/stage with Jenna feeling that she was really very grown up and more a toddler than a baby.
I’m feeling well and happy and connected. Jenna is doing great – or more likely my attitude means the little developmental issues aren’t bothering me! I read something nice today – “Children aren’t naughty, they’re just young.”

I got a little annoyed with something I got the other day at Soft Play (no dramatic clap of thunder for that I guess lol). I was asked, no doubt in all good faith, “So, you’re still enjoying breastfeeding then?” Um… Not really no – but I’m not doing it for fun! I didn’t know what to say. I think I muttered something about her enjoying it and that being enough reason. I don’t hate breastfeeding, and sometimes there are the lovely squishy emotions but normally? I do it because it isn’t an optional extra to me it’s the bare minimum I can do since I have the capability.