Mother (Almost Never) Knows Best: January 2019

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Secret Lives: The Mystery of Childhood

There have been times of late when I have felt that there has been an almost imperceptible shift in my family. It took some time for me to put my finger on precisely what had changed but I felt like I woke up one day and everything just seemed that little bit easier; that little bit less of a struggle. There was a little more time to put the dinner on, put the clothes away and get the hoover out. Fortunately, I managed to restrain myself from doing any of those things. Sure, I am still answering copious summons to the toilet where I am often greeted by a bare bottom being thrust in my direction thereby allowing me to “check” that the use of the first half of the toilet roll was sufficient but the other needs, whilst still plentiful, are not relentless in the way they once were. My children are discovering their independence and I am celebrating and lamenting in equal measure.

Where are you going? 

For the first born, the start of school has heralded a change in our relationship as she now spends the majority of her waking hours during the week away from me. I realise that the concept of school is not a new one and I probably should have been prepared for this but I don’t think I was ready for the her having a whole world away from me and for me to know so little about it. Don't get me wrong, I ask lots of questions, of both her and her teacher to try and gauge the pivotal moments from the day but the answers often just act to generate more questions. "Is she happy?", "Is she popular?", "Is she confident?" "Did she actually eat those peas she said she did at lunchtime?" I suspect I know the answer to the last one.

The school girl 

Meanwhile the youngest, while still having a temper like a bear with a migraine is, on occasion, to be found entertaining himself in his bedroom when his sister is not in the house. He can largely communicate to us what he wants (or "neeeeds") and whilst it may generally incur a negative parental response the resulting tantrum is half hearted and short lived. 

His two days at nursery are the highlight of his week but once again, due to his ability to mingle reality with a Paw Patrol storyline and his inability to understand the concept of time, his day often remains a mystery too.

He spent the day in a stab proof vest.
A STAB PROOF vest people!

It would seem that my babies are forging their own paths (albeit not too far away) and have elements of their own lives in which I am not allowed to partake. This theme seems to extend to their own sibling relationship. I longed for the day that I would take on the role of understudy; no longer being roped into playing pretend and having to act out multiple scenes from various Disney films but when I chance upon them playing together and hear the resultant peals of laughter I desperately want to join in. Unless, of course, it is Peter Pan then, quite frankly, they are welcome to leave me out of it.

The thing that I am struggling to define is exactly how I feel about it. I swing from the ache of a huge void that must be filled to relishing the freedom to pretend that I am doing the laundry when I am really scrolling down an Instagram vortex. Whilst I am (extremely) tempted to start the process all over again I am not sure one more child would ever be enough for me and that is ignoring the fact that with the life choices we have made we can barely afford the two we already have.

My friend once said that she often heard of someone with two children debating the third but rarely heard of the parent of three debating a fourth and therefore we must deduce that the third is one too far. However, she then went on to have a third so I don't listen to her anymore.

I think for now I am going to enjoy the minutes of freedom that their nugget of independence affords me and open a book or run an extra mile. I might just savour the relentless having relented even if only for a moment and spend a little more time choosing to ignore the housework rather than having to.

They still hold my hand... For now. 

Sunday, 13 January 2019

My Girl: Now You are Five

I saw you the other day but you didn't see me watching. I saw you as you ran to the side of that little girl after she slipped on the wet tiles by the pool. I watched as you knelt beside her and asked if she was OK before helping her to her feet. I looked on as you bestowed upon her one of your most empathetic embraces whilst she waited for her mummy to return and take away her pain.

It reminded me that you are one of the best human beings that I have had the pleasure of meeting. As a parent I know that it should be me who is showing the way but you make me want to be a better person. Your inate awareness and understanding of other people's feelings is the most special thing about you.

With your birthday (and full class soft play party) looming in the distance, the stress of ensuring that everything was going to run smoothly meant that I was completely taken a back when someone close to me pointed out that they couldn't believe you were going to be five when there was a time when we thought we were never going to get to meet you and then, having achieved that goal, a brief period when we feared you would not make your 1st never mind 5th birthday.

It is neither a time I would choose to relive nor would I ever wish such an ordeal upon another living soul. The cryptic uneasy glances shared across my lubricated swollen stomach by knowing health professionals; the calm ushering into a non descript room bare but for a box of tissues placed within easy reach; the measured even tones of the Consultant as she uttered the phrases "appears non viable", "likely chromosomal defects" and "need to wait for nature to take its course"; the endless waiting and aching need to dispel any seeds of hope which might take root and break me entirely.

Then there was the glimmer; the optimistic "let's give it one more week". You fought and you won. You made it out, albeit not entirely unscathed and with multiple minor battles still to be fought but you were here in all your 5lbs 3oz glory. The most beautiful shrivelled vole that I had ever seen.

My beautiful shrivelled vole

Then the questions started again. It would appear that your missing digit could have been a sign of a more pervasive problem, one which could include a "limited life span". There were blood tests, x rays taken of every minute bone in your tiny body and a series of grim looking professionals discussing your case. More waiting.

Then it was over. You were you. Different for sure, but amazing in every way.

So on this, your 5th, birthday I hope that the inability to demonstrate your new age using your right hand serves not as a reminder as to where you fall short but as a reminder of your inner strength. For before you had the capacity to make decisions you chose to live and when life isn't going your way (because sometimes it won't) I want you to look at your hand and remember that you are stronger than you realise with a courageous nature that runs deeper than you know. 

Happy Birthday Bear. 

To us you are perfect. 


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...