Wednesday, 29 August 2012

One Moment in Time

Hindsight can be a cruel, enslaving taskmaster. The battle to be free of it's clutches is a tough one.

I very rarely watch the tv anymore. Not because I'm an earth mother with better things to do with my time, but mostly because I don't get much of a look in and I'd rather read my book. When I do watch it, it shocks me with it's in your face reality. Last night was one of those moments. I happened to come across a programme on pregnancy and birth and it brought back my own extremely vivid memories. Awash with emotion, I watched these ladies meeting their babies for the first time. Loving them unconditionally, cuddling them, stroking their faces, unaware of who their little ones may grow into but overwhelmed with the responsibility of bringing up their child.

Part of me yearned for those days again. Those simple days of nappy changing, feeding, cuddling and pacing up and down at night. The more rational part of me remembers those days with anguish. I don't want another baby. I don't want to start all over again. I just want to do it over again but get it right this time. I didn't cuddle my babies enough. I didn't lavish enough love on their little frames. I didn't make the most of that short, fleeting moment of utter dependence on their mummy. I didn't treasure the moment. I was too focused on helping them to be independent to realise that at that moment in time, they needed me. I was face forward, eyes set on survival. And we did survive.

It made me wonder if, in 10 or 15 years time, will I look back at this time with my boys and wish I could do it all over again too? What can I change now to prevent regrets? If I knew, when they were babies, that they wouldn't cuddle me forever then I would have spent so much more time with them in my arms, languishing in the softness of their skin against mine. What is it that I need to do now? Play with them more? Live in the moment more? Treasure each and every stage, however tough it is? Forget about the mess and noise and just enjoy them?

One day my house will be tidy and quiet. I'll have access to the tv again. I won't have little voices shouting, giggling, arguing, crying, hollering, laughing all over my house. I won't have smooth skin to stroke or little hands to hold. I won't have funny little pictures hastily scribbled and presented to me as priceless works of art. Somehow I need to treasure this moment because that's all it is. A moment.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Real Tales

Mum, Toby keeps coming in my room.
Mum, Jonah has messed up my puzzle.
Mum, Toby keeps shooting me with his nerf gun.
Mum, Max is in my room and I want him out NOW.
Mum, Jonah keeps trying to sit where I'm sitting.
Mum, Jonah keeps kicking me.
Mum, Toby is ANNOYING me.
Mum, Max strangled me.
Mum, Jonah keeps taking all the magnets.
Mum, Max is whipping me.
Mum, Jonah weed on me.
Mum, Toby put water all over me.
Mum, Tell Jonah to stop pulling my penis.
Mum, Jonah is shouting loudly and I can't hear the telly.
Mum, Toby keeps teasing me.
Mum, Tell Max to get out of my room NOW.
Mum, Toby stamped on my head.
Mum, Jonah said a rude word.
Mum, Jonah threw a pillow at me.
Mum, Max is on my bike and I want him off.
Mum, Toby gave me a nipple twist.
Mum, Max punched me.
Mum, Jonah just drew all over my picture.
Mum, Get Max out of my room NOW.
Mum, I've tidied up my mess but Max won't tidy up his.
Mum, Toby put my arm right behind me.
Mum, Jonah licked me.
Mum, Jonah wiped his snotty tissue in my face.

Is it a wonder I am sat with my hands over my ears, desperately waiting for next week to come?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Last Week..... Anyone need ideas?

And here we are, entering the last week of the holidays. Phew. Nearly made it.

If, like me, you have run out of ideas and can't even bring yourself to answer the "Muuuuuum, I'm boooooored" cries, here are a list of things we have up in our kitchen. When any of them tell me they are bored, I point them towards the list. If they can't find anything to do on said list, I give them a job around the house to occupy them with! You may wish to ignore the list - feel free, I won't know!

-Bike ride around the block
-Play with lego
-Play with magnets
-Jump on trampoline
-Make mud pies
-Junk modelling
-Jigsaw puzzle
-Make your own jigsaw puzzle
-Create list of inventions
-Choose one invention to make
-Play football
-Play frisbee
-Garden games
-Make a book
-Make a kite
-Make a treasure hunt
-Collect snails and race them
-Hunt for frogs
-Make an obstacle course
-Make a den (inside or outside)
-Make up a song and film it
-Borrow a camera and be a photographer. Print out the photos and stick them in a book
-Collect worms and make a worm house
-Make a cartoon storyboard
-Make a giant outdoor sculpture
-Have a tea party - make cakes/biscuits. Decorate the table.

Enjoy your last week (and the week after!)!


Today is my birthday. I'm 17. I know it's difficult to believe because I don't look a day older than 16.

This morning I have been reflecting on birthdays. Children long for their birthdays. They love the fuss and attention (and if I'm honest, so do I!). They look forward to the birthday traditions followed by each family. They enjoy the cake, the presents, the parties, the acknowledgment of their growing up. The whole shabang. (Is that a made up word? The spell checker didn't seem to recognise it.)

Adults on the other hand are quick to dismiss their birthdays. Do we really want to be another year older? Is there anything to celebrate in gaining yet another year on our age?

Last night I was feeling rather grumpy at my impending grand old age of 17. I went to bed feeling old and past it. I don't think this was helped in any way by spending the last week camping with 7,000 teenagers who made me realise that perhaps I am not 17 after all (ssshhhh). I was not looking forward to this day at all.

My boys, however, were 'secretly' (but loudly) planning to celebrate my special day in style. Before bedtime last night they all scampered off to their bedrooms where I overheard sniggers, giggles, poems and raps being practised, paper being cut and "I love you's" being whispered. Toby came downstairs armed with a notebook and asked me what my order for breakfast in bed might be, then raced back upstairs to his fellow conspirators un-whispering his news. It warmed my 17 year old heart.

This morning, I was woken with homemade cards and presents (the best kind), funny little poems (you're so cool, you make men drool...??!), tear jerking sentiments from boys who can clearly show their love, flowers, breakfast on a tray, chocolate tiffin and lots of hugs and kisses from boys who would usually rather not (Max is going for a record in how many hugs he can give me today. He doesn't often hug me so I am making the most of his stiff-backed hugs).

I realised that whether I want to celebrate being 17 or not, my boys want the celebration. They want to use the occasion to show their love for me. My boys who have spent most of the summer holidays arguing with each other and shouting at me for being the worst mummy in the world actually don't mean those things they say in the heat of the moment. They do love me. It's all simmering there under the surface and all they need is an occasion to let it bubble over. Today it has well and truly bubbled. Perhaps it's worth being 17, after all.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bad Mother Day(s)

Excuse the recent quiet. You, of course, will be rejoicing that I am not wittering in your online ear. I, on the other hand, am not enjoying quiet at all. The tables have been turned and I now have constant wittering in my ears. This irritating noise is preventing me from being able to think, write or even at times speak coherently. I know, you are amazed. The droning hum, combined with the post-camping exhaustion and washing, has produced more Bad Mother Days this week than previously put together in the school holidays. Here is a glimpse of today's efforts:

1. Once I finally managed to drag myself out of bed this morning, I attempted to stay away from the boys so that I didn't have to cope with their early morning nerf gun battles.

2. Delving and digging into the dark, damp recesses of the 'things to do' department of my brain, I made a vain attempt at making a trip to the park sound attractive. They moaned at me "Oh noooo, not that park! We want to go to Sanders park". Instead of standing my ground, I gave in straight away.

3. Armed with bikes, football and my all important book, we arrived at the park where I plonked myself onto a bench with my book. I successfully 'under parented' whilst reading said book. I had no idea where they were for most of the time we were at the park. Every now and then I looked up, clocked their brightly coloured t shirts in the distance, and escaped back into my book again.

4. As soon as the first "I'm boooorrrreeeeed" cry went up, we loaded up the car and came home. I was all too relieved to be escaping the, now full of screaming babies, competitive mothers, tantruming toddlers and pant-showing teenage boys, park.

5. Arriving home with hungry, thirsty boys who had presented me with their food and drink orders before I had even walked through the front door, I ignored them and answered the call of my washing machine (again). Instead of 'perfect mother who makes food for her children' I was 'how long can I ignore my children for before they will give up and make their own lunches?'mother. It worked. They made their own. Yet again, under-parenting at it's best. (Best for me, anyway).

6. I tried my utmost to bake cakes alone, only to be caught out by Max on his way through the kitchen. My heart sank as he asked the dreaded question "Can I help?". While he washed his hands in preparation I tried to speed up the cake making process so there wasn't too much for him to help with when he arrived.

7. Whilst having a lovely, long and luxurious chat with my two sisters, I happened to notice Jonah sneaking past me with the hand soap under his t shirt. Later on, I heard the tap running in the kitchen. When I eventually hauled myself up from my comfortable sitting position, I discovered the washing up liquid bottle empty on the side. Outside, the boys had been making 'potions' and had used all the soap in the house.

8. Screen time finally arrived and I was secretly more pleased than the boys. Of course, I had to still outwardly show my distaste. When Max had his '20 minutes' on the computer (he'd had 10 minutes in the morning) I made excellent use of the fact that he can't properly tell the time yet and his '20 minutes' miraculously turned into 40. Peace and quiet for me, and he still thinks we are sticking to the bargain.

And so another Bad Mother Day has been and gone. Tomorrow my Morning Knight in Shining Armour will be absent and so I plan to begin the day as a bad mother, putting the television on for Jonah when he wakes at the crack of dawn and clambering back to bed for another hour. Toby will bring me a cup of tea in bed and perhaps another Bad Mother Day can be avoided. Who knows?

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

"Under parenting"?

This article has been published in the Telegraph today. I feel like I have been shouting it from the rooftops for years and when I read it, wanted to shout "I TOLD YOU SO!" to the world. I refrained.

Whilst I love the article and the actually rather traditional way of parenting that it presents, part of me feels uncomfortable with the term "Under parenting". To my ears, this sounds negative. It sounds as though you are neglecting your child in some way. In actual fact, it is quite the opposite. This quote explains why:

"At the heart of underparenting is an ethos that encourages children to do chores, learn to cook, get muddy – and fall off the climbing frame from time to time."

Under parenting is not neglecting our children. Far from it. Under parenting in actual fact gives our children the skills they need for the rest of their lives. We would not expect a Surgeon to spend their whole time at medical school sitting in front of an X box and then throw them into the hospitals and ask them to perform surgery. Likewise, we need to train our children in the way they should go (heard that before somewhere....). We MUST teach them basic skills such as cooking, doing the laundry (including the dangerous implements like irons and knives), finding their way to places, buying items in shops and having the correct coins or counting their change. We MUST allow them to take 'safe' risks whilst they are young. We MUST give them the confidence in their own abilities to assess risk and act appropriately. We MUST allow them to make mistakes and learn from the consequences.

This is not negative in any way. This is the most positive action we can take for our children. Let's do this for our children. Let's put their futures back into their hands.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Beach Myth

A visit to the beach is supposed to be an enjoyable, exciting family day isn't it? Holidaying close to several beautiful beaches last week, I had the opportunity to make some beachy observations.

1. Sand is not always fun. Sandcastles, hole digging, the hilarity of burying people (especially if you give them boobies) is clearly not for the faint-hearted. One particular boy (who will remain nameless) spent at least an hour of the beach trip attempting to keep his hands sand free. He would not play in the sand or even sit on the sand. If, by dreadful mistake, he managed to attract a few snippets of sand onto his hands he would sigh, shrug those shoulders of attitude and make the long journey back to the sea to wash the sand off his hands. I discovered that ignoring was the best policy, and soon enough he was playing with the others again.

2. Wetsuits are a necessity. Unless you happen to be on the beach during the week long yearly heatwave, British beaches are windy, chilly places. At what other time would you dress with so few clothes on and expect to be warm? Once the wetsuits were wet and the boys had left the icy seas, they became rather cold. The cold turned to moaning, blue lips, shivering, goosebump covered bodies and eventually grumpiness. It took all of our efforts to keep up their spirits and all of our clean towels to drape around their apparently hypothermic bodies.

3. Children continue to be themselves, despite our expectations of a lovely day out.
Here is a conversation between a nephew and his mother which took place within an hour of arriving at the beach(and if you know them, you can try to guess which nephew):

Nephew: I've finished playing now Mum, I want to get dressed again.
Mother: No, not yet. If you get dressed you won't be able to go in the sea again, or play in the sand again.
Nephew: Well, I don't want to go in the sea again or play in the sand.
Mother: What if you decide that you do want to?
Nephew: I won't. I'm definitely not going to be playing in the sea again or in the sand. I want to get dressed.

This conversation continued for a good hour, while said Mother ignored the protestations of "Muuuuuum, I won't play in the sea again. I just want to get dressed!"

And it's a good job she did ignore them, because a couple of hours later the child who had decided they weren't going to go in the sea again picked up a body board and, with glee and relish, spent another half an hour splashing, body boarding, smiling, laughing, jumping and playing the sea.

4. The sea air that is so good for us, is also rather windy. Despite having erected a windbreak, the aforementioned boy (point 1) spent a great deal of time attempting to create windbreaks with dinghies, body boards and other beach paraphernalia. Unfortunately, for his windbreak to remain upright against the hurricanes blowing in from the ocean, he had to stand in the wind to hold it in place, thus defeating his object.

Having said all that, we did manage to have alot of fun and make some great memories. Just be warned, trips to the British beach are not the idyllic family day out that we all believe. Or perhaps it is just my family who don't sit eating their sand filled sandwiches in the sunshine, radiating smiles and joy.


Watching the incredible achievements of the Olympic gold medallists last night, I was struck by a thought which grew to a deep down, feel it in your waters, excitement.

Jessica Ennis. A national heroine. An inspiration to young athletes. As she stood receiving her medal with a smile that could have engulfed the whole stadium, the irritating commentator who had clearly run out of things to say waffled on.

"The whole nation loves her."
"Loved by the whole country."
"Everyone loves Jessica Ennis."

The roar of the crowd and the tears in Jessica's eyes were enough to make the hardest of hearts melt. This girl has worked tirelessly for her achievement, and the nation is rightly proud of her. British stiff upper lip was forgotten as the whole country delighted in her.

It felt as though the whole world was watching and roaring their appreciation for this one girl.

One day, every eye shall see the true Champion coming. Will we be able to contain ourselves or will we also roar, cheer, jump up and down in ecstasy, shout, dance, wave flags and probably cry? Our 'worship' of these athletes is a tiny glimpse of the worship to come when our Hero returns. He will wipe away every tear. His coming will dawn a new day in which there is no pain, no death, no sadness. All our earthly achievements will fade away as we gaze into His face and see our true reason for existence. Our party will eclipse all 'post medal ceremony' parties. Joy, which originates in God, will find it's rightful place again.

Do I believe all this? Absolutely. And watching these Olympics has blown again on the embers of my excitement. I can't wait.