Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: August 2018

Friday, 24 August 2018

Slipping Through My Fingers: Her First Day of School

Today it happened.

I knew that it was coming and, to be honest, more recently it has gone from being a vague August date pencilled in to the not too distant future, to a craved, crossing off the calendar- type, event. For today, my daughter has started school.

At four and a half, she is on the younger side of the permissable age range but I never really worried about her starting or contemplated deferring as she has always possessed an insatiable curiosity that in more recent times I was struggling to assuage. She has never shown anything less than emotional maturity but more recently she has been bedevilled by an effervescence of spirit that borders on insanity. 

It has been hell.

In my sensible parenting hat I realise that the volume and mania has all been due to nerves and the fear of the unknown with her school date hanging in the periphery. I know that she wants to love the experience of school as much as she is being told that she will. I am aware that she possesses a desperate need to please and will refuse to admit that there is anything less than unadulterated excitement coursing through her veins but that her anxieties also need an outlet. 

That outlet is cacophonic to the extreme.

When words fail her she moves to singing, tapping, banging, drumming, rattling and even devising her own language which she is willing to teach to any unsuspecting passerby as long as they are willing to swear allegiance to her totalitarian regime. She has been impossible. So, as the first day loomed I wasn't particularly emotional (despite pretending to be) as she had filled me with her own false confidence. This was what she needed; she was desperate for it. Her pre-school had served its purpose but was no longer challenging her in the way that it once had, her friends were making her feel inadequate as a person and she craved stimulation in every sense of the word. School would save us all.

School ready

So, on the 23rd of August the uniform hung in her room like the gown of a young bride; a promise of the amazing life changing day she was about to relish. She would look at it adoringly savouring it's textures and distinct tartan that would identify her as a member of a community; a posse, a clan. She would belong. Breakfast was the same as always with encouragement required to desist from incessant, nonsensical chatter to consume even the meanest morsel. Donning the garments which she had been yearning for followed with only three separate attempts by her parental unit at tying a tie being required. She was ready.

Poised and ready

There was then a 1.5mile journey to contend with; on a scooter. We made it with only minutes to spare. She told us how excited she was and how much she was looking forward to her day. We were dismissed with a distracted wave of the hand as, with tongue poking out of the corner of her mouth, she started furiously colouring a picture of three children skipping through the school gates with wild abandon. 

No tears, from anybody. We had aced this. She was ready, prepared and made for this. School was going to be her domain; her haven. 

Pick up did nothing to dispel our beliefs. Whilst waiting outside the classroom amidst the other anxious faces we could hear her voice ringing out. Despite exchanging rueful glances, my husband and I were secretly delighted that she had clearly retained her joyful enthusiasm for life and everything that school had to offer. Her constant chatter continued throughout the afternoon and evening with any query about her day being met with nothing but unadulterated zeal. 

"I love school!"
"Best day ever Mummy!"
"I am going to love school even more than you did Mummy!"

Well that was an odd comment but I initially dismissed it until her eyes filled with tears.

"There was this one thing though Mummy. At lunch I was in the playground and I couldn't find anyone. The girl I was meant to stay with kept running away from me. I missed you then Mummy." She sniffed. "It was just that one thing though Mummy."

My heart broke.

I put her to bed. I told her how awesome she was as a human being and how lucky the friends, whom she is yet to discover, will be to have her in their lives.

Then I took myself off and wept. 

No one warns you about the second day of school.

She is awesome.

Monday, 13 August 2018

I Dreamed A Dream: The Things I Miss Since Becoming A Parent (Part One)

I have been in the situation of parenthood for four and half years now and there are a few things I am beginning to note by their absence. That is to say: i miss them a lot. Of course, I love my children, they are "my world", I am such a "better person for having had them", "a world without them is one I could (and would) never wish to fathom", etc. However, was there never to have been this husband, these children and this life there are a few things that I would immediately stop taking for granted:

1. Music

Now, I have never been, what anyone would deem, a discerning listener and my idea of a good tune is one which I can belt out in my own private concert on any given motorway. If it has a strong melody and lyrics to which I can somehow relate I am ALL there. The driver's seat is my bar stool and the open road, my stage. 

However, it would appear that my bringing life into this world has coincided with a complete exodus of opportunity to choose the music being listened to at any given time. The soundtrack to my life is now a mash up of the Disney Princess back catalogue interspersed with some classic nursery rhyme anthems. 

I now jump at the chance to drive to the local supermarket for any last minute errands or to undertake the more arduous of meal preparations just so that I can slip in five or six hits from days gone by. It would also appear that my most recent song purchases  were from a time when Miley was dealing with her break up from Liam (the first time around) in a rather destructive fashion, One Direction were not only together but were actually a quintet and Avicii was promising to Wake Me Up when my music drought was all over. 

I would have liked to have been able to have held him to that.

Headphones used to fit better

2. Reading

I was a prolific reader in my pre-child life. I would devour novel after novel with my holiday luggage (because I also had them back in the day) consisting mostly of pages populated with characters, situations and plot twists that I could lose myself in for hours on end. It was bliss. 

I planned, rather optimistically, that my first maternity leave would be spent with baby on breast and my face buried in stories being ticked from my bucket list of "must reads". I would return to work having expanded my mind rather than have let it go to the same consistency of mush that I was spoon feeding my baby. 

I read about six pages. I also read them twice, only realising in the last paragraph that I may have been here before.

I have since turned to audio books and whilst this allows me to lose myself in another person's story for an hour or so whilst I plod the pavements, it is not the same. Enjoyable yes, but not the same.

I used to read in the sun, now I parent.

3. Post work drinks

My social life could potentially have been put on the list in its entirety but that would be unfair to all of the friends whom I get to see in my parenting role. However, outside of these groups, my social life is largely based in my workplace as these are the people my maternal guilt will not prevent me from seeing. These are the people whom I get to speak to uninterrupted with requests to "GO WEE WEE!" or "you be the baby Mummy" or "SNACK!" These are the people with whom I get to be an adult and not a parent. That is until the invitation for an after work drink is issued, then I am most definitely the parent again.

"You won't be able to come will you?"
"I take it you are having to run off?"
"Not even time for one?"

I'd be disgruntled about their assumption except, more often than not, it's true.

I'll be off then...

Obviously my children have given more to my life than they have taken away and I can happily say that I have never actually missed the freedom of choice I no longer have more than I have delighted in the joy that they have brought but if they would just stop making me Let It Go and just allow me to Kiss the Rain from time to time, I would be a lot happier.

If you too suffer from withdrawal from your pre- parenthood lifestyle, do not suffer alone. Talk to someone. Lament together.  

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Big Green Country: An Irish Holiday

Dear Papa

I just wanted to thank you for having us to stay at your farm. Ireland has a lot more sheep and tractors than I anticipated but they seemed to keep my little brother happy so I definitely wasn't disappointed. 

Mummy had warned me in the weeks running up to our visit that I should soak up the sunshine in Scotland (not something anyone has ever heard before) as it was likely to rain so I was well prepared for the daily downpour but to be honest I barely noticed as I tended to be wet from other activities and it merely gave me a chance to test the integrity of my wellies. Note of warning, I would shop Primark for style, not substance. 

The Green, green grass of your home

If I were to cover a few highlights of my week they would include (but not be limited to):

1. Culdaff Beach
Daddy said something about blue flags but I didn't see any. What I did see was our kites flying higher than anyone elses. I know Little Brother's stayed in the sky for longer but I really enjoyed when Mummy was in charge of my unicorn and she pretended to lose control and nearly take Moomie out. That was hilarious. Moomie's face was a picture. 

I also enjoyed the water. Daddy kept complaining about the temperature and mentioned something about the "Atlantic" and icebergs but I wasn't really listening, I was too busy chasing the waves and Little Brother was putting the sand back in the sea. He really was quite worried that there wouldn't be enough in there. 

I have always wanted to go to New York and Mummy said I was nearly there at one point, I grant you she didn't look too happy about it but I think that was because she stupidly waded in fully dressed to hold my hand. Next time!

Next stop: New York.

2. Horse Riding at Tullagh Bay 
I know that I said I wanted to ride a horse but I will let you into a secret: I was terrified! I couldn't understand why my parents would think someone who cannot sit through The Gruffalo would be contented sitting astride a mammal four times her size. They really are silly. The thing is though I actually loved it! My pony, Sally, was handpicked for me and had the loveliest temperament (until another horse sniffed her bottom, which is entirely understandable, I think.) Even Little Brother got a ride, which I was told he shouldn't have as he was so small but his petted lip was so prominent that they couldn't say no. That boy has skills!
That boy has skills

3. Beaver Spotting with Moomie
My Moomie is insane. Maybe that is why we called her something different. I swear she is three shades of crazy. She travelled in the back seat between my little brother and I ALL of the time and told us that we had to shout "Beaver!" everytime that we saw the first horse of the journey. In hindsight, I am not sure that Little Brother really understood as he seemed to shout it an awful lot at what Mummy said was "inappropriate" times. I thought it was hilarious! The priest didn't seem quite so amused. 


4. Learning to Swim
The intermittent inclement weather merely gave me time to focus on my water sports. Mummy and Daddy had been molly- coddling me for too long. Two minutes with my Moomie and I was thrashing about like no one's business. Arm bands are for losers. Sure, Mummy thought I was drowning being that there was little coordination and more splash that Pavarotti doing a belly flop but I was on the move. Frankly Papa, I nailed it. Mummy now calls me Becky but says it is hyphenated? Adlington, that's it!

5. Driving Papa's Car
I know my brother's enthusiasm may have been exponentially more evident being that he spent most of his time on the farm being resident in your car, experimenting with the various knobs and buttons that you may not have known existed but I too loved every moment of driving through the fields. I am glad that the sheep remain in fine fettle as I was a tad concerned about the one who tried to leap head first through the fence on my approach. There was plenty of room, I swear! Survival of the fittest I say.

Toddler Driving: Sheep Beware!

All in all we had the best time and I will be telling all my friends about it. My Mummy says it is perfect for toddlers as they don't seem to notice frizzing of the hair? I don't know what she means, it seemed to work wonders for my curls!

Till next time Pappy

Lots of love

Bear x
3 Little Buttons

Everything Changes: Working Out the "Working Mother" Bit

It's been a big week this week and, no, we haven't sold our house. In fact, it is no longer even on the market which was both a hea...