27 June 2008

Lael's rose has flowered

Last night I must have sprained or pulled something getting out of the taxi, because I can hadly hobble on my right leg this morning. I'm not amused. If I seem snappish with anyone, now you know why!

We're going to have a quiet day probably, I've got some writing and typing and that sort of stuff to catch up with. Being forced to slow down and not go out or do anything "fun" today will probably be just the push I need to do the sensible stuff. *sigh* Paperwork, work phone calls, essays to type up; and I've got some slightly more personal organising to do as well in the form of Lael's baby box.

The rose bush flowered this week and we have cut and dried the first blossom, an almost ridiculously pink, full, gorgeous bloom. If I have a bit more crying to do then so be it, but the cards can't stay up on the fireplace forever and the poems and bits of candle stub and things will get lost if I don't tidy them into yet another too-small neautrally coloured baby box. There are six boxes on top of my bookcase. One is gold and carries our wedding trinkets, the flower from my hair and bits from the hotel, confetti, that sort of thing. The red and brown box has Jenna's things, the purple one Morgan's. Now there are three cream boxes, too many, too small. But somehow needed.

In the better sort of family news, Morgan has one more new word, and a very important one it is too. She started it yesterday morning "unk" she says, "unk unk". If she gets the wrong "unk" first she shouts "NOoo, UNk [tap tap tap on the other side] UNk!"

26 June 2008

Here there and everywhere all day :)

I haven't stopped rushing around all day today! First we got the bus into town and had a big fruit salad from the cob shop for breakfast (and a smoothie too, Jenna's favorite). We were almost totally out of cereal and other breakfasty stuff so starting the day at home was out of the question.

Then we walked to the Arboretum and met Chris, who babysat while I walked to befriending and back to collect them again an hour later. We all walked back into town, where Chris went off to do some jobs and we did a little bit of shopping (we still have two weeks worth of meals planned out and bought for but we were out of washing powder, cereal, bread, milk and cheese). Jenna talked me into some mini marshmallows to dip in her hot milk (something my mum introduced her to recently).

After we had a sandwich we bussed it back home and had a video, a rest, a snack, and some stories. The girls are REALLY into their books again at the moment. We had months where the only stories they wanted were made up ones (or told from memory) and the weekly story session at the library which was fun more for the small-size tables and other children than for the quality of the stories being read! It suits me fine, I love the chance to sit with my two girls and a large book in my lap.

At about four o'clock we caught another bus back into town, and then the opposite bus up to Emma and Chris's house for tea. It was a lovely journey for once, although busses are getting easier with Morgan she still tends to fidget and pester and want to get down and play etc. Having had a snack and some quiet time but not an actual nap, she slept half of the way and chattered the other half. Jenna chatted at me ALL the way - about everything under the sun. It must be being in a confined but public space that makes her want to tell me all about everything, but thankfully we managed to steer around topics such as death, childbirth, mummy's nipples, periods, sex... Talk about picking your moment to ask awquard questions. "Did the first ever person have a mummy and daddy?"

Last night she asked Martin at bedtime, "Who made God?"

Anyhow, Emma and Chris, lovely tea, lots of talk, board games (I've got to get the one we played tonight, can't remember what it was called though!) and a taxi home because the busses are rubbish in the evenings. When Morgan cried in the taxi Jenna gave her her doll, Lily, who she has been protecting from Morgan all evening. Sometimes those little thoughtful moments just shine out, and I think I'm not doing so badly after all. Never take too much credit, never take too much blame.

25 June 2008

How do you learn to be a better parent?

(a postcard for a friend)

Is it possible to learn good parenting?
I hope so. I don't think I always learn what I set out to learn though. I've recently worked out for myself that what I want isn't to get more skillful at parenting stuff, what I want is to grow up and become a better person - good parenting is a kind of side-effect of wanting to live right myself.

Where do you learn from?
My children. Not in that if they are happy I'm doing a good job and if they are unhappy I'm doing a bad job - because I don't think happy is the only valid emotion and sometimes protecting them makes them temporarily very unhappy indeed. But certainly my children taught me to love, they taught me to trust, and they taught me to listen. If you've got the loving and the trusting and the listening then everything else is just background noise. The key to it is love.

Other parents. The best teachers are people who are that little bit more mature than I am I reckon, but to be honest I've learnt different things from all sorts of different people. Sometimes someone might not know as much in one area, or have less experience or practical skill in some things, and yet have such insight into something else that I just want to sit at their feet for a little while and listen to them making sense.

Can you teach it to someone else?
No. I don't think you can teach someone parenting really, I think the best you can do is to live along side each other and hope to learn something yourself. If you set out trying to make people good, you fail and they hate you. If you believe people to be already basically good and set out to share your lives, sometimes everyone learns something.

All the things you wish you had said

Perspective is everything, I'm just hoping that in a little while I'll get some and start feeling better. We have good weeks and then one bad day makes me feel crazy again and unable to handle the most trivial things. Yeah, yeah, I'm going to see the Mr Doctor (honest).

As for that woman yesterday, well I just wish that I had been a bit calmer and able to think of at the time all those things that occur to you ten minutes later that you spend weeks wishing you had said. ;)

I'm feeling great today in spite of AF clearly being here to stay this time. I've finished a gorgeous necklace with all tiny swarovski crystals and natural pearls and tiny pink japanese glass beads. We are playing with our paper animals and trying to decide where in the world they come from.

Jenna has been playing with a catalogue and making her very own book of "things that are pink". Normal? I don't even know what to aim for any more...

24 June 2008

Feeling MISERABLE, child-unfriendly world adding insult to injury

I have spent ALL DAY crying and I have a headache. I'm miserable again and it's NOT FAIR.

Last night I felt a bit tired and stressy with the children even though we'd had a lovely day, and I felt a little sick which has been the precurser to the last couple of periods. Sure enough, this morning I had cramps and bleeding AGAIN. It was too much to handle all over again and I burst into tears again, couldn't face soft play and all the newborn babies. One of them even has our favorite girls name, it's just so painful not only knowing that that is what I lost but also that that is what I cannot have again until my body co-operates (if it ever does).

There isn't even anyone to ring really, they're either all working or possibly not up yet. And I can't text for lack of credit. I decided that we'd have to go out even though I didn't feel like it because if we're not doing soft play we need to do something. Unfortunately it didn't really go to plan.

After we did a couple of jobs I took the girls to a cafe we like for a rest and some hot drinks. All fine, until Jenna starts quietly singing and the elderly suited couple next to me start to get annoyed. I had asked Jenna to be quiet, but in spite of being very sensitive to whether my children are being noisy in public I wasn't finding her singing too much.

She was HAPPY for goodness sakes - how can you tell a three year old off for being happy? Well the woman lent over and asked me if I was "going to tell that child to be quiet" and I said that she was three, and what would they suggest I do about her singing quietly? She said that it was unsuitable behaviour for in public, and that if I was obviously not going to do anything about it then she hoped I was happy with ruining their meeting. I ignored her, and seethed, and that would have been that if the waiter hadn't heard her raised voice and basically asked me to take the children and leave "if you don't mind, since you seem to be finished".

We sat on the pavement outside and cried and cried. When did the world become this? When did a child having something to sing about constitute a public offence? When did the world decide that children are just an inconvenience and shouldn't be allowed to disturb "real" people? Why did this have to happen to me today?

The rest of our jobs were abandoned and we came home on the bus - I cried all the way, trying really hard not to and failing.

23 June 2008

Role play adventures aka Jenna's Story

Here we have the story cloth that we laid out together, with Jenna's story re-written by me, from memory.

Once upon a time there were some people who lived in the forest and they didn't have any food. There was a little boy all by himself because his mummy and daddy had died and he was very sad because he could see that across the river the people there had lots of food and enough to eat but he couldn't get across the river because a troll lived under the bridge and said, "You can't go past!"

One day the little boy was so sad and hungry that he went to see the troll again and the troll said, "Who's that trip-trip-trapping over MY bridge?"

And the little boy said, "I need to go across to get food for everyone because even the pigs are hungry and there is no food!"

But the troll said, "No, I won't let you come past and if you try to sneak past I will gobble you up!"

The little boy went away feeling very angry and he went all along the river until he came to a shallow place but he couldn't walk across. So he went and found some big stones and dropped them into the river one by one until he had some stepping stones and he got across the river like that.

When he came to some houses the people were very kind but they said they would only give him some food if they could get it back across safely and they needed to be able to use the bridge. So they told him to go up to the castle and ask the princess for some magic to send the troll away and then they would give him as much food as he wanted. The princess saw him climbing up the hill and she was happy to see him because she was lonely in her castle, and she did the magic and sent the troll far away.

Then everybody could cross the bridge any time they wanted and the princess and the boy were very happy and when they grew up they got married. The end.

Day in the life of unschooling tinies (Summer 2008)

About time we did another day in the life, right? Well it's a monday so as good as any other, and we're not planning on going anywhere much so let's see how the rest of the day pans out. :)

9am I can hear the girls next to me with the djembe out. They are making rain sounds on it with finger tips and calling to each other to make it louder or softer. Morgan keeps saying "shhhh!" and then they play softly for a moment, before building up to the previous volume again. Jenna has done some lightning on the cymbals too but I have to put a stop to that because we have neighbours who may be sleeping in!

9.30am There is a DVD in (the Clangers) and Jenna is speculating about building a rocket ship. We all have breakfast.

9.45am There is a little world laid out on the living room floor with sheets, slings and playsilks. There is a hill with a castle on it, a forest, a river with a troll bridge... Jenna has been making up stories and I tell one too, she helps do voices for the characters (cocoon baby gnomes and some wooden families from the dolls house).

10.30am Most of the sheets are away but the girls are competing to build bigger and better castles now. Morgan cheats by knocking Jenna's over but they both just laugh about it. Jenna is trying to guess how many bricks tall she can make it, and guesses the height of some of her toys in "big bricks and small bricks".

11am The Clangers DVD has gone back on (Jenna turned everything on and put the disk back in herself) - she has made a rocket ship but doesn't think it's very like the one she is watching on the TV. Perhaps she'll have another go later or maybe not. If I have the energy I might get out some craft things that could be helpful.

We make some jewellery, because she wants a crown of leaves and a necklace of raindrops. I've not been watching the DVD closely but I'm fairly sure she can't have got the *entire* idea from there. After that we have a snack and experiment with making our own herbal tea bags with some amusing results.

12 noon We have read some story books and played one of Jenna's new games. She gets me to write words that she likes and then guesses which one is which word. She often surprises me with the ones that she knows or can guess, and how she guessed them ("that one says Jellyfish because it ends in Fish"). Then I have to draw pictures for them, and she does a couple too. I rather like her shark but she says mine looks more bitey.

We walk to the shops to get some bread for lunch and she helps me sort out what we're going to eat. She makes a drink for herself and one for Morgan and spends a couple of minutes puzzling over how to put the sippy cup together. Eventually I'm asked to help and I do. The girls have put away the last of the bricks but got out all the musical instruments and are making a racket. They say it's space music, or at least Jenna does, but space music has to go away so we can have lunch.

1.30pm We have some cooking to do for the freezer, and Jenna chops some mushrooms and carrots. Morgan likes to stir and we make soup and two lasagnes. Jenna wants to choose which herbs and spices to put in but I think better of it this time.

2pm We water the plants and cut some flowers in the garden. Jenna spends some time digging in her spot at the bottom of the garden and Morgan carries water up and down from the water butt to make it nice and muddy down there.

3pm The girls need a quick wash and I put some clothes in the machine, Jenna adds the powder and vinegar and presses the buttons to start it off. She remembers that she didn't feed the birds and goes off down the garden again and when she comes in we read some more stories.

3.30pm Both of them seem tired but are still playing quiet games with the dolls. Jenna is nursing her baby and seems spaced out but Morgan is in the comfort corner singing loudly with Mumble the penguin so I don't think they will have naps yet.

3.45pm I have copied some animal pictures from the stories we read and Jenna is colouring them with Morgan "helping" - mostly by eating the crayons. I want to play a sorting game with them but Jenna is getting a bit fractious now and getting cross with Morgan. We decide that it's nap time but Jenna doesn't want to go yet. I give her a five minute warning and she calms down and says that is OK.

4pm Jenna and her dolly have gone for a rest and seem quiet up there. Morgan has a feed, sleeps for about half an hour, then gets up and drags the tree blocks back out to do some more building.

5pm Tea goes in the oven and I wake Jenna up to come and have some. Martin will be home any minute and Morgan is dozing again in the comfort corner. Probably we'll have to show off the crafts, and the pictures I took of the towers they made, and that will be it for todays work!

22 June 2008

A birthday party where Morgan was the only child

After mum came and picked Jenna up for a swim and a sleepover we went out just the three of us - I don't remember ever doing that before. We went to so many places with just Jenna but if we have only Morgan with us we tend to stay in, perhaps it's just our comfort level regarding having a social life has changed. There are far more places you can go with just one child, let's put it that way. We've just stopped a couple of things without thinking about it overmuch or missing them. The only exception is the acoustic club which we can't get to without a car but would gladly brave the coping-with-two-lively-children thing for.

Anyhow, it is my friend's birthday tomorrow and her party was last night. If this entry becomes mostly a list of all the things that Morgan did, so be it - it's a parenting blog lol. What actually happened for *me* is that Morgan wandered off and played pretty much on her own (or getting other grown-ups to help her out) and left me to talk to friends and sit on the sofa eating strawberries. ;)

It's still at that stage when giving her an instruction and having her actually do what I ask is funny, especially to other people. She does that gorgeous toddler thing where you tell her she can't do something and she tries to find the loophole. In a cupboard she discovered a little bottle of Baileys. She wanted it; and after being a little disappointed to find that it wasn't a spray bottle (it was one of the mini ones so about the same size as her nappy spray) she tried to unscrew the lid. We said to put it back. She opened the cupboard again and put it in, took it out again, closed the cupboard. We played this game for a while, until something else distracted her.

They have one of those percussion frogs that we have two of, the kind where it seems to have a stick in its mouth that you can take out and run along its back? It makes a pretty realistic frog sound anyhow, but Morgan couldn't make it go. So she decided to take the stick and find other things to bang with it, the best option being Garry's pint glass which made a great sound when rattled with the stick inside. He had to find himself a new drink after that.

The moment that really made me think how grown up she is was when she put the stick down on a table behind her, slightly above her head. She just reached up and dropped it down, but then she heard that it was rolling - without looking she reached up again and put her palm against the side of the table so that the stick rolled to a stop against it! It seemed such a complex operation for such a small serious person, but she did it almost automatically.

After everyone had managed to drink a suitable amount for someone to suggest such a thing, the indoor golf came out. We *all* had to have a go, and although Martin proved quite good at it I didn't expect to manage it myself! After even Morgan had had a good go at it I obviously had to give in, and sunk a shot in about six tries. After everyone had pretty much given up playing with the thing we tried to show Morgan how it worked, spitting the ball back out when you put it on the magnets. Unfortunately when my friend put it down she pulled it a bit too close to Morgan and the ball flew out and hit her on the leg to looks of shocked pain from the poor baby - who then flinched every time it dispensed after that!

We got home around 11, with Morgan still fairly cheerful, so this morning we had a long lie in. I just couldn't sleep as long as Martin and Morgan, I'm too used to being up early now. Getting back into the habit of a full night's sleep is exhausting!

20 June 2008

Does anyone else "lose" the baby when nursing?!

This is seriously embarassing but I keep doing it and I have to admit it so that other people can come out of the closet and tell me that I'm not utterly crazy or at least they are too. Please?

I keep forgetting that I'm feeding Morgan.

It will be quiet, or Jenna will be playing where I can see her, and I'll suddenly think, "Where did Morgan get to?" And she's latched on sucking away in my arms. My MIL calls it a senior moment, but I don't know what it is in my case! I'm just not used to her being still and quiet... OK so now I've been suitably ashamed of my incompetance...

Right I'm off to make some tea, and read the library books to Morgan again (this will be the sixth time I've read That's Not My Robot today). And stop Jenna from throwing things out of my bedroom window rather than come down from her nap.

19 June 2008

Waiting for the children to come home

The afternoon did get a bit more stressful, though partly it was just me not realising that Jenna was tired until I'd already yelled at her for driving me batty and poking her sister! And of course the usual mess with bills trying to come out of the account before we get paid (which Martin came home last night and dealt with by shouting at people on my behalf which obviously made me feel much better).

Today has pretty much been quiet, with the girls out and me at befriending and hanging out online and reading some more (Douglas Adams, both Dirk Gently books). At befriending I got to fuss the kittens padding around on the lawn tripping over themselves, and I also got the coveted Bath Without Children when I got home. I feel totally ready for them to be home now though, I've missed them.

Gotta do some shopping tomorrow and that's about it!

18 June 2008

Steps forward, one way or another

We have finally added "yes" to Morgan's small list of words, making life a little easier all around. When she's grumping and making low-grade urrrr urrr noises I can go through a logical list. Is your nappy dirty? "Yeah! Bleaugh!" Are you asking for milk? "Yeah mmmmm!" Finally, I don't have to go through everything twice and wait for the NO to get more and more emphatic to work out all the stuff she really doesn't want. Small victories, and all that.

This morning mum arrived with her springer spaniel again, since wednesday is a long day in their house and the dog gets lonely on her own. Em-dog is a licky happy ball of fluff, and gives no indication of her age (nearly ten years). She's still a bit depressed after losing her companion, but obviously pleased to see us all anyway. Morgan especially adores her in that way of toddlers and furry creatures, they often fall asleep lying one on top of the other on the floor and also (more upsettingly) exchange wet slobbery kisses that force me to supress that maternal "YUCK" in case, as often is the way, it makes it a more attractive game to get mummy to pull a silly face. We have all been for a long walk and collected a huge bag of elder flowers which we're making cordial with.

Then the heavens opened and we made for home, with both girls complaining about the wet grey terminal drizzle and the dog jumping in every muddy spot all the way back with every sign of glee. She's in the kitchen now, as although my carpets rarely look very clean they do NOT need muddy footprints added to the whole effect, and nothing dries a springer in need of a haircut.

I frequently rant about the state of my carpets at the moment, because somehow no matter how often we hoover in here it collects little bits of I don't know what. Often it's tiny scraps of paper, sparkles, grit from feet and fluff from clothing. Often too little bits of lentil or rice, food walked through from the table that won't quite hoover up because it has been trodden in. It's gross! Short of going into control freak mode and not letting them in the room without being cleaned first I don't think there's anything to be done about it. But when it comes to inviting someone in, paranoia sets in.

The girls were meant to be going to the in-laws today, twice in one week again, but they forgot and arranged to do something else. Not that Jenna isn't perfectly happy to amuse herself (and nag me every now and again to set up some painting for her or find her a snack please pretty please) but I was counting on getting some kind of work done. Anyhow, I managed to send in my befriending paperwork (desperately need the expenses paying now!) and I might manage some more jewellery later. I have some very nice fabric to make a new mei tai, the BBO-style one I've been saying I'm going to start any day now for the last few months. Unfortunately the serger keeps unthreading itself so I can't even do the bits of it that don't need a proper machine. *sigh*

Oh, but the bleeding has stopped again - and I'm feeling really calm for the first time in weeks. :)

17 June 2008

Packs of wild children!

Bleeding again. No sign of ovulation at all before it started this time. Not feeling too bad but generally disappointed. I'm even considering that if I so obviously can't keep it in perspective and am feeling so low already we probably shouldn't be trying for another baby anyway. I can't help feeling though, that if the world was fair I could just start at thirty weeks or something, bearing in mind that in the last four years I've spent thirty weeks being pregnant and not got to keep any of the three babies that resulted.

Father's Day weekend was stressy and long. Both days we did family event type stuff though so we got through it by not talking to each other. It's just generally that we're all feeling grumpy and impatient but wheras I'm working hard not to let it result in the children being shouted at, Martin isn't managing his temper. I got so upset with him at 3am one morning, when Jenna called out for someone to bring her a drink and Martin shouted at her, that I told him he's teaching her that he only loves her when she's convenient. Most of the time I'd just be patient until it passed and he was back to normal, but I can't afford that when I'm barely managing myself.

Anyway, at the event on Saturday they had some fair-type-games like a board with nails, some of them tipped with paint. Jenna won a sweet quite quickly, with Morgan looking on. Morgan then indicated that she was having a go, and picked out the exact nail she'd seen Jenna put back in a moment before. So she had her first taste of jelly sweets, and thankfully there were no more sweets forthcoming after that so I was saved the decision about how much sugar would be too much!

There was another game laid out where you had to try to get some beanbags into the furthest box, and Morgan watched that one carefully for a while too. Then she scooped up all of the beanbags in her arms, and walked to the end box to drop them in, looking as proud as can be.

Today we had soft play and once again Jenna was running with a large pack of children of similar ages. On Sunday we watched a big group of them running from behind a big shed to a tree and back again, all touching the tree but not seemingly bothered about who was first or last or with any point in mind other than running and touching the tree! Today they seemed to be inventing games as well. There was a sticky moment when Jenna was protesting because she wasn't being allowed to join a game of "rock the tower" which they'd just been building. I stayed back to see what they'd sort out between them.

After a moment of crying Jenna ran off with a cry of "I'm chasing" and they all ran off after her. Nobody was catching anyone, or trying to, and it was unclear who was following or copying either, as they all added to and changed the game. I felt priviledged to watch them at work.

12 June 2008

GP visit and a soothing walk

I saw the GP about how low I'm feeling, unfortunately it was the female GP again who basically said that I was probably fine and left it at that. No questions, no concern, just "oh it will just be hormones" and off you go home, shut the door on your way out. I don't know why I bothered, I've booked to see the nice Mr Doctor who helped when I lost Lael, and if I feel better in the meantime at least I can cancel.

On the walk home, feeling a bit upset and generally cross, I thought about whether I'm really making a fuss about nothing and decided that I'm going to go to Boots and self-medicate with St John's Wort for a week until I ovulate. I don't want to take it while I'm pregnant (just in case) but I really feel like I've got to do something to get my head right again and it seems like the easiest solution without having to see some doctor who can't even listen to me or wait two weeks to see the nice doctor! I started taking some evening primrose oil capsules today too, going on the fact that my mum had them for months when she was struggling with PMT between having my middle brother and the little one.

I took the longer route home and something about the cool breezes and the solitude quietened me. Walking is so restful, and I so rarely feel centred and calm right now it turned out to be the best possible medecine.

11 June 2008

How to talk to other parents?

A friend made me think yesterday about how I get irritated by strangers asking questions about our lives and what exactly I do. She was worried that *her* questions might be offensive or that I might lose patience with her curiosity. I found it hard to explain how I feel, because like anyone it depends on my mood at the time. A friend asking even the silliest question is always welcome, because I have motivation to be patient when I'm not sure if the question is hostile or not (AND of course I can almost always assume that it isn't hostile)! But sometimes when someone I don't know comes over and starts asking if Morgan is still sleeping in a cot and we have one of "those" co-sleeping conversations, or when someone comes and starts grilling me on sling safety, I can get pretty annoyed.

What it comes down to is that to people who know me I'm just someone, just a person they know who is living life and learning and who is doing so as a parent. To people who don't know me I often become Someone, a Mothering Expert, who is doing things the Right way or the Wrong way and who they can evaluate by my Results. That's a big burden to put on someone walking through a shopping centre with two young children. That's a big burden to put on anyone - even someone who writes books about parenting and seems to have all the answers. When I'm tired, I simply get to the point where I can't let myself be that person for other people. I can't even have the answers for *me* and so I won't get drawn in, will avoid the conversation, and will often write that I'm annoyed in my diary!

If you remember me ever saying, to you directly, "I'm not sure I can explain that, I'll think about it and get back to you," that's maybe what I'm doing. If you hear me say, "Yeah we do XYZ," and I change the subject pretty quick, that's what I'm probably doing then too. If I've never sidestepped or changed the subject then you are not asking silly questions, or asking them so infrequently and sensitively that I don't mind. ;)

I would suggest, if you want to ask about someone else's parenting just do it. Do it directly, politely, and respect if they don't give you an answer! Don't think of them as an expert, just another parent with different experiences who might be able to help. Don't expect them to be perfect or their kids to be shining examples of what Good Parenting produces. If you're thinking of approaching a stranger in a public place, smile at them and their children, and don't expect a proper conversation. "I love your sling!" is probably welcome to anyone though.
Generally speaking, I'm feeling calm today and a little lonely without the girls. I'm not crying, but neither do I feel quite my usual self. It has been a long, long, long year so far.

A brief summary of the last week...

Wednesday AF returns for the second time in three weeks, just as I thought I might be about to ovulate (sorry to those for whom this is utterly incomprehensible or just too much information). Coupled with that and cramps come a HUGE mood swing and I find myself tired and snappy like never before.

Friday I totally lose my temper with Jenna when she refuses to come inside for lunch and then screams and screams and screams when I bring her in anyway because she and her friend are being rude to each other and need a break. I act like a complete child, Morgan starts a nursing marathon in the heat, I put Morgan down for a few seconds to get Jenna a drink (she has been nagging for an hour, what three year old can ask only once?) so Morgan hits me and does one of those high-pitch shreiks and I lock myself in the bathroom to get a grip on myself before I lash out at someone. Martin sneaks off work early to come home when I confess that I have self-harmed for the first time in years (please don't shout those of you who were around when I was seriously depressed, I told you that I couldn't make promises to never do it again and this is the first time I've really felt quite this low since then).

Saturday Martin and I row all day because I feel like I'm struggling with *everything*. The fact that AF returning means I'm not pregnant, and my worries about having a big age gap, and my feelings about how I treated my youngest brother when we were tiny, and fear that I'm getting depressed, and guilt about the last couple of days, all rolled into one big bundle of hurt. First we argued about getting the bus - roughly his position was that we can't afford it and mine was that I'd rather be short of cash next week than have Morgan's head sunburnt because she kept throwing the hat on the floor. Then we had a row at the Springwatch event because Morgan had finally managed to lose the hat and he didn't think it was worth looking for it. Eventually we had a quiet but deadly row about who is responsible for watching the children when he isn't working (he offered to babysit lol, which is a pet hate word-out-of-context - a Dad can't babysit his own children unless a child isn't *really* a joint responsibility!).

By Sunday we had made up although I was still feeling shouty with the children and every little thing was grating on my nerves. I agreed to see a doctor about how low I have been this week and about the 14 day cycle I just had. I don't expect it to come to anything. On Monday we had a good day, and Tuesday was fine too (though one of Jenna's shoes has gone missing and we've turned the house upside down looking for it!

Today is Wednesday and I'm child-free while the girls go to Attenborough with their grandparents. I was uninvited by a very stroppy Jenna - she is really being rude at the moment, I guess she's overshooting "assertive" because she's feeling threatened by my anger and tears.

Last night I had a really long cry about how much like my mum I am and how somehow, in spite of trying so hard to avoid making judgements of Jenna and trying even harder not to crush her decision making, she is turning into me. My mum loved me to bits, and parented me wonderfully, but growing up I never understood her love for me, and I still want to think of that as not-inevitable, something that doesn't have to happen to us. I'm passing that on all over again, hating every time I see her reactions changing to fight-or-flight like mine. Hating every time I hear my mother saying, in my voice, all the things I promised I'd never say to my own children.

I'm so proud to be like my mum, yet also so frustrated! And I can't, just can't, want Jenna to be like me. :(

4 June 2008

*More* honest accounts of my own behaviour

What a rubbish day. You know those days when people ask you how you are and you lie rather than tell them that you just want to find someone to trade with right now before you lose your mind? It's always tempting to edit myself here, but hey this is meant to be an honest account of our lives, right?

It started promisingly, as I woke slowly to a quiet house and thought, "Oh, they're not up yet!" Then I heard my mum coming in to the house, realised that Morgan wasn't next to me and Martin had already left for work, and grabbed a dress *very quickly* to go and see what mayhem they had caused downstairs. I don't mind them going to help themselves to breakfast but I do mind them doing it when I'm not even awake and don't know they're down there. I was also a little embarrased that my mum was letting herself in (she wasn't being rude btw, she has a key for moments when I can't get to the door and we'd arranged for her to come this morning anyhow!).

Anyhow, nothing too terrible although Jenna had managed to unlock the back door and they were playing in the garden in their PJs. After I'd gone back upstairs to get myself some a hair band and some socks, I called Martin and ranted at him about not waking me up, feeling like a bit of a heel for doing so even then as I KNOW he was just worried about how little sleep I'd had (feeling ill last night). Anyhow we went off to Shipley for a long walk in the woodland and a general chat and a play. The girls were really very whingy and tearful and stroppy all the way around, but it's easier to deal with out of doors and I figured they were still tired from a long day yesterday.

At home it just got worse, and I ended up behaving like a child myself. I yelled at Morgan for making a mess with her dinner (duh) and then screamed at Jenna for pulling my hair when she tried to climb up behind me on the sofa (a pet hate but that doesn't excuse the screaming). I've talked about it with friends before, this horrible mood where you know that you're behaving irrationally and that just makes you more cross. It's like choosing to have a tantrum because you're rebelling against yourself - oh I can't put it quite right but I've *felt* it a few times... It can't just be me!

All better now, eventually they were persuaded to have naps and me and my headache sat down for a rest and a read. I even got a bath when Martin got back, so I feel human again and can laugh at having thrown my toys out of the proverbial pram earlier. Jenna seems pretty unfazed this time, and when I apologised she gave me a hug and called me a silly.

3 June 2008


Not much to report again, anther fairly relaxed-if-busy day. Soft play went well, and I enjoyed LLL as usual - had an interesting conversation afterwards about whether AP is relevant to parents of older children (perhaps more thoughts about this another day, right now I'm tired)!

Jenna had a complete meltdown towards the end of soft play though, she was tired out and foolishly when she shouted at a small boy and made him cry I gave her the choice to share or leave and she shouted at me that she didn't WANT to play nicely. Another episode of me putting her shoes on for her and carrying her out of there yelling and kicking! As evil as this may be to the other poor parents being similarly hassled it was encouraging to see on the way out that at least three other children were being helped into coats with accompanying wails.

In this case I can see just how it would have gone if I had been in permissive mode. She would have wanted to stay (what child wants to leave a play area?) and she would also have not got any less tired. As it was, she had big feelings about leaving, we talked all the way down the street about how cross she was with me and she was distracted by the sight of a food shop and started the "I'm hungry" whine instead!

We keep having conversations about how to ask for things, but right now she is definately having a whiney month (or possibly more, hard to keep track). So I reminded her that she hadn't even asked me for anything and I certainly hadn't had chance to say no yet, and was there something she needed to say *before* protesting that she was starving and nobody ever feeds her? She laughed and said demurely, "Mummy, please may I have something to eat?"

2 June 2008

Sling demo and independant Jenna

I ended up being called in as a last minute replacement Guest Speaker for the parents and tots group Emma helps with. Two busses, though that wasn't an issue (the fare for a day pass is the same as the fare for a return to town where I live!) and a short walk. Too much organising for the journey to worry about actually doing a sling demo. Until I got there! Anyway I kind of sat and did my internal panic, what am I going to say this time, will my normal basic introduction to different types of sling be useful or relevant to this group that I know so little about? I gathered from Emma that I was better not doing a presentation but just making myself available for anyone to ask questions, so that was my new plan. What if nobody came over?

After ten minutes of loitering I approached someone with a baby, who turned out to be very unconvinced by the idea of slings and told me basically that she didn't have the time or energy to bother with "any of that" for her baby (turned out to be her third). I smiled, prepared to back off, and just when I was thinking I shouldn't have agreed to do the group she called a pregnant friend over and suggested that she try one on for her friend's benefit. I showed her how the wrap worked, and she put it on perfectly first time and declared it so comfortable she organised for her friend and her to buy together to save on costs.

She then became my greatest advocate, dragging people over to me and helping me do demonstrations for the simple cross carry! Result! I generally think of the sling demos for groups like that as general education, familiarising people with the slings and helping to make them seem less strange and unusable. But to have such genuine spontaneous interest, to actually convert someone to trying one out (almost a whole group of someones took away a list of further reading)...

While I was busy Jenna had decided to get herself some toast from the snack table. When I looked over to see what she was doing she had just politely asked a parent to pass the jam over and was busy spreading jam on top of a neatly buttered slice of toast. The parent asked me how old she is, and didn't believe me when I said she's not four til the summer. She did her own toast!

I'm quite impressed with that, although I stuck to a fairly neutral, "You did your own toast," when she came over. But on the other hand, finding that she can do something I didn't know she could isn't really a surprise. She does things I didn't know she could ALL the TIME. She has been coming down on her own in the morning all week, getting her own breakfast and putting the milk on, and most of the time being fed and dressed when we get downstairs!