Find out? Or wait for a Surprise?

I don’t like surprises. I’m rubbish with them. There’s generally too much pressure and I don’t know how to react to them. My hen do was a classic example of this as my lovely bridesmaids put in a lot of effort to organise some really thoughtful surprises. I really appreciated their efforts, but honestly? I kind of wish they hadn’t. I felt excluded at times as there was so much whispering and giggling behind closed doors, and the rest of the time I felt under a lot of pressure, with all the comments of “I can’t wait to see how you react” & “I think you’re going to cry.” It sadly turned some lovely, fun, thoughtful things into a bit of a stressfest for me and I then felt I had disappointed them by not reacting the way they wanted.

I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but I’m a planner, and ok, I admit, a bit of a control freak. I like to know what I am doing and what is going on. That makes me happy. I can be a bit spontaneous at times and of course the odd  little surprise of something like hubby coming home from work a little early is lovely. But big surprises, surprises that aren’t really surprises because you know they are coming but you just don’t know what the surprise itself is? Nope, I don’t like them. Maybe the fact that I am impatient doesn’t help either – I literally hate the suspense!

This is one of the many many reasons why we won’t be waiting for a surprise to see whether we are having a girl or a boy for the next baby. I understand that for many people the surprise is incredible, and a wonderful moment, and I’m not saying they’re wrong and that everyone should find out, this is purely about my personal choice. Because I don’t like surprises at the best of times, waiting for a surprise at that point in time, when there is already so much else to worry about (is the baby ok, am I ok) just feels too much for me.

The other main reason though that we will be finding out at the 20 week scan, is that I don’t like calling the baby ‘it.’ I understand you can name your bump, and I also know that gender isn’t everything that defines a personality, but somehow, calling the baby “he” or “she” rather than “it” makes it more real for me. It makes the baby a person rather than a thing. You know how it is, we anthropomorphise everything – we give human traits to animals, appliances and inanimate objects. It’s what we do! (come on, tell me you’ve never described a washing machine or car as temperamental, or assigned them a gender?)  So it feels natural to me to refer to the baby, which is a human, as a human (he or she) rather than ‘it.’

He? She? It?

He? She? It?

Monkey was Monkey before he was born. We had loved his name since before we were pregnant but held back in case, as some people say, we saw the baby and the name just didn’t fit. So we weren’t shouting his name from the rooftops, but privately we referred to him by his name. And we loved it. He was a wriggle bum then and stubborn as he wouldn’t turn (we didn’t know at the time it was because he physically couldn’t turn)  and we liked giving him personality traits. You could obviously do that without knowing, but for us, we just loved knowing that ‘it’ was a ‘he.’

I know that they can’t always be 100% certain when determining gender via ultrasound, and I’ve read stories about people decorating rooms in pink with names stickered onto the wall, only for it to turn out not to be the little girl they were predicted. Having said that our ultrasound technician was pretty convinced that Monkey was a boy as he told us that Monkey had been playing with his bits for most of the scan, and that for him it was pretty conclusive!

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

We aren’t pink for girls, blue for boys people, so the baby’s room is probably going to be white and pastel colours, regardless of gender. We may go a little more girly if a girl is predicted but it would be pretty subtle. The baby will also probably wear Monkey’s old clothes, regardless of gender too, so it’s not so much the preparation side of things. Although I guess mentally preparing for a either will be good for me. I honestly don’t mind what we have, of course I like the idea of a girl so we have one of each, but honestly, girls scare me a bit when they get older, and boys are a bit more of a known quantity! So I will honestly be happy either way. It will be nice to prepare mentally for either though, as again, I don’t like surprises!

I just want to know. And, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can know. A lot earlier, when I am feeling calm. And honestly, it’s still a bit of a surprise no matter when you find out, isn’t it? This is obviously a massively personal issue and there are two set camps, those who choose to find out, and those who love the surprise. Neither is right or wrong, each to their own is what I say, but these are my reasons.

How about you? Do you like surprises?

mumturnedmom
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Mother's Always Right

Unexpected personality traits

When you have a child, you can’t help but wonder what they will be like. Will they look more like you, or your partner? Will they share your love of books, or cars, or music? Will they inherit your stubborn streak. There’s been much debate about nature vs nurture. How much is taught via how much is natural.

There are things we have taught Monkey. He says yum yum when he is hungry, or eating or enjoying some food, because we have been saying yum yum ever since he was tiny and he has learnt that is what you say (to a much greater extent than we would ever say it, but he has clearly learnt it from us). He has learnt to do Aeroplane arms with me and swirls his arms around all over the place. He has learnt to laugh when he falls over (unless he hurts himself) because we have chuckled at him when he slips or trips or falls over.

He can be quite reserved and shy and I do wonder if this is nature or if he has learnt it from me. We go places and I try very hard to interact with people, and I am quite outgoing when I am amongst friends. But I find it hard to interact with new people. I try and fake it some days but other days I don’t, I keep myself to myself and am wary of other parents. Is he learning to be wary because he sees me hang back. I hope not and he is definitely interacting more with children now so hopefully it was just a phase and I am not holding him back.

On the flip side, there are things which we haven’t taught. That are part of him and his personality. He likes order. He loves tipping crayons out of the box so he can put them all back in again neatly. He likes things to be ‘just so’ and in the way he wants them. You give him some tins and he will line them up or arrange them in a triangle or other shape. When he is organising something, heaven forbid that I try and help in a slightly different way, it has to be perfect and his way! I’m not sure that either hubby or I are that precise, but his Granddad is and his Uncle is so we see it as an inherited trait rather than a learned one.

He is very generous. Now obviously this is something we have always encouraged but it always surprises me how generous he is. When eating his little fruity sweets, if any of his friends come over, obviously wanting one, he will happily give them one, or even put them in their mouths. Not just one either, but all of them unless I remind him to eat some too. At a soft play centre a few days ago he was happily playing with his bus toy out of my bag but when another little boy came over, he gave it to him. They played together a bit and he was not bothered at all by another little boy playing with his toy. In the end there was a few of them playing with it and a couple of them were much more possessive than Monkey was. Occasionally Monkey would take it back, but then he’d go and give it to another one of them. It was very lovely to see him sharing without us having to prompt him in any way.

I’m sure a lot of parents would agree that this isn’t always the case with toddlers, so I am pretty sure we aren’t doing anything special and that this  must be part of his nature rather than learned behaviour!!

He doesn’t like dirt or being dirty. He gets dirty, obviously, but regularly holds his hands out to be cleaned, or if you give him a wipe he will clean his own face or hands. He also likes cleaning, If he spills something on the floor, and you give him a cloth he will wipe it up. He uses bathy crayons in the bath every night and makes a right old mess, but he also has his own sponge which he uses and he scrubs the bath clean at the end of the bath, making sure there is barely a scrap of crayon left on the bath or tiles. Obviously he has seen us do it, but we don’t prompt him in any way. Sometimes hubby assumes he is still drawing and then looks and finds that he is in fact cleaning. He’s not even 2 and cleanliness is just a part of who he is. Messy play is only ever fairly short lived as he can only tolerate having sticky gooey hands for so long before wanting to wipe or wash them.

He loves music and dancing. His favourite song has been “wind the bobbin” for such a long time and so many times now we have caught him just sat staring into space, repeating the hand movements over and over while I guess singing or hearing it his head.  A new favourite is row row row your boat and I catch him rocking backwards and forwards by himself a lot at the moment. Any music though can get him dancing and spinning and clapping and he loves bashing away the keys on our old piano (that hubby got off ebay and is in desperate need of tuning) and he has gone from hitting with his palms to pushing the keys one at a time with his fingers. He is surprisingly musical. Hubby’s family is very musical, but mine is not, so it must be another trait inherited from his side!

When he hears a noise, a plane or a tractor or a motorbike in the distance, he holds a hand over his ear as if to ask what is that noise? It can be noises in the house too, the shower, an extractor fan or something and the hand goes over the ear. That is definitely not something we have taught him!

I love learning these little personality quirks, love watching him grow into his own little person. I love it when he does something unexpected and surprises me by displaying his own nature or when he discovers something himself. I am very much looking forward to hopefully giving him a sibling and watching them both. To enjoying their similarities and their differences.

This post slightly tenuous link to this week’s ‘The Prompt‘ which is “That was unexpected.”

What unexpected traits does your little one have? What are your favourite personality quirks?

mumturnedmom
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Design Ideas for Operation Garden Renovation – Our Spring Project

You may have read that we have started Operation Garden Renovation this Spring. We had it in mind that we would get going with this project this year and with the sunny weather arriving, we have made the most of it and got out there nice and early.

At the moment it is all about clearance and creating a blank canvas we can work with. It was so higgledy piggeldy before and felt a lot smaller than it is. We had an idea in our head of how we wanted it to end up looking, but honestly, as the clearance has progressed we have changed our minds and are now uncertain of how we would like it to look.

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Love cottage gardens

We have to think about how we are going to use the garden. While I would love a cottage style garden or an abundance of wildflowers, that look doesn’t really fit with the space we have, or what we want to use it for. We have a child and hope to have another. We need space for them to run and play and explore as they grow. We want them to learn to ride trikes and bikes in the garden. We’d love them to play football, or have a swingball in the garden. I love the idea of waterfights in the summer.

We need open spaces. A mix of deck/patio and lawn. With some beds of trees and bushes and flowers too.

We originally thought that we would like a large decked area, pretty much where the existing patio was but going off diagonally rather than squared. However we realised that that area is hugely sunny, and actually it may be better to have the seating area in the one slightly shady bit of the garden, which is under the tree, behind the conservatory.

We’re also wondering whether decking is the way to go, or to go for a patio. Not like the rubbish patio that was there before, but perhaps a curved path starting from the garage door, curving round past the conservatory doors, and opening out onto a large curved patio area. There are so many different designs of patios, with a variety of colours and shapes and sizes of stones.

Hubby really likes this circular design, and I do like it, but I’ not sure how you then lead that into a path around the house…

patio2

This is quite nice too:

patio1

 (Both the above Patio images come from Rose Landscapes in Peterborough)

We want most of the area to be lawned and then will have a few beds, and we would love to plant a few young trees, sort of spread around the edges of the garden, for a bit of privacy as they grow over the years. (Plus I have a hammock and I would love to be able to have a couple of trees to attach it to again! :))

We’d like some trees to give us some lovely colour and texture throughout the year. I’d love some beautiful blossom in spring, and some gorgeous russet or golden leaves in the autumn.

Perhaps a Japanese Dogwood for some nice blossom?

and a Chinese Tupelo, or Oriental Sweet Gum for autumn colours?

   

These are obviously rather large specimens and we will be starting off with much smaller versions of these!

Then we will think about bushes (love a nice hebe), get some spring bulbs in for next year and plan some summer flowers too.

LOTS to think about with this garden renovation. We are doing well on the clearance front (more to come on that on Wednesday) but I think we will need to get an expert in to help us decide on patio/deck and the designs etc. as we hope this renovation will be the only renovation on the garden and last for many many years to come. We don’t want to make a hasty decision and then regret it within a few years (or months!).

It is good fun though, we have got a real project to sink our teeth into, and a blank canvas so we can make our garden exactly how we want it to be… if we can figure out what that is!!

I am linking this post up with Iona and Jocelyn for The Theme Game, as this week’s theme is Gardens.

The Reading Residence

I am also linking up to the lovely Sara for The Prompt, which this week is all about Spring Projects, and this is very much our Spring Project!

mumturnedmom
All of the above images (bar one) were obtained from a Google Image search, I do not have copyright for any of these images and are merely using them for illustration purposes

Reflection #ThePrompt

The Prompt from the lovely Sara at MumTurnedMom this week is “Reflection.”

As always, I wasn’t sure which angle to take. I had some provoking ideas – “Is your child a reflection of you and your parenting?” or “Is blogging a reflection of real life?” But honestly it’s been a busy old week and I really haven’t had the energy to tackle a deep or potentially controversial topic.

So as Monkey and I are sat on the sofa, at the start of a day where I have nothing planned, and we are both happy and calm, I am reflecting on how much things have changed. How much he has grown and how much I have grown as his mummy.

I make no secret of the fact that I found the first year of his life a struggle. Coming to terms with this new role of ‘mother.’ Coming to terms with no longer working, of trying to adapt to fit this new life as  a SAHM. It’s why I started this blog.

If you’d asked me a year ago what my top tip would be to surviving, it would have been to get out of the house every day. For a large chunk of Monkey’s life – particularly since he became more alert and needed entertaining – I have had our weeks planned out. An average week would look like this:

Every morning, a work with my neighbour from 9-10ish. Then

Monday: See my parents
Tuesday: Tumbletots
Wednesday: Music class/Play date
Thursday: Storytime at the library/Play date
Friday: See Hubby’s parents.

Every morning and early afternoon was filled and if we did have a day with nothing, I would have to plan an activity – more for myself I know, because I struggled to spontaneously think about what to do to entertain him. I had to have a plan to keep myself sane. Days without a plan, or when plans got cancelled, were invariably the bad days. The days where I struggled, where I guess I panicked at the thought of having to entertain Monkey by myself all day. Where I started the day on the wrong foot and instead of being optimistic, I expected the day to be difficult, so of course, in a self fulfilling prophecy, it was difficult.

Things have changed now. Monkey has grown up. In may ways he is easier to entertain now. He has a longer attention span so isn’t distracted every 2 minutes (now it’s about 10 minutes ;)). He is getting more independent, and will find what he wants to play with sometimes. He can think for himself and though he obviously still wants a lot of my attention and interaction, and I am happy to give it, there are times when he doesn’t want or need me so much. I love watching these changes in him. It’s a bit scary to see my little man growing up and moving ever so slightly away from me… but for the most part I am just so proud watching him grow up.

I’m proud of myself too. The thought of a day with no plans doesn’t fill me with the same trepidation it once did. I don’t start the day miserable at the prospect. I know that he will be fairly happy pottering about in the house for part of the day. I know that a bit of telly won’t do him any harm (though he gets bored of the TV easily so it’s never on for long). If the weather is fine we will go for a run down a hill, or just on a walk around the local area, picking up sticks or knocking on trees.

If the weather is less good I will get out the paints, or cloud dough, or we could do some baking, and the time will pass. If we do go a bit stir crazy we can pop to a local shopping centre for a wander, or pull on the waterproofs and wellies and got for a splash about in the rain.

I used to obsess over weather forecasts to see what it meant for our day. Now I look out the window very so often.

I am a planner by nature so for the most parts our weeks are stilled planned, though there are definitely more gaps now. On a day with no plan, I try and form a vague plan in the morning, but it changes as the day goes by depending on how we feel and Monkey’s mood. I don’t cling to my plans like a liferaft.

Before Christmas I mentioned that we are thinking about baby number 2, and it is very much on our minds at the moment. The thought of going back to baby days does scare me slightly, because I struggled last time. I know it will be different this time, as I have done it once, and I have Monkey. But I know it won’t be easy so I am sure I will be needing my plans again if we are lucky enough to get pregnant again!

mumturnedmom
I’m also linking up with Mother Wife Me, Mama -and more and City Girl at Heart for All About You.

#AllAboutYou Link & Pin Party Mama and More

SuperBusyMum

Through the eyes of a child #ThePrompt

It is Friday so  I am linking up with the lovely Sara at MumTurnedMom for The Prompt.

This week’s prompt is the following quote:

Seek the wisdom of the ages but look at the world through the eyes of a child. Ron Wild

When you look at the world through the eyes of a child, everything is new, everything is a learning experience.

You see the fascination on their faces when they first notice dust particles floating in the air. When he was younger, Monkey used to try and chase the sunbeams around the living room floor (it was so cute). He sees wonder in things that are just normal to me. He loves buses, and sticks, and tin cans. He likes knocking on trees. He can spend ages flipping light switches (if you let him!). He wants to have us read the same story to him over and over and over.

Every time he has some cream cheese he has to dip his fingers in, rub it around his hands and then smear it on the table, like he’s never felt anything like it before (even though he only had cream cheese sarnies 2 days ago!).

For our little ones there is so much to learn and so much excitement in their learning. Monkey is at a stage now where he wants to know the name of everything. We can spend ages with him holding up two items to me while I repeatedly name them one by one, Bottle, Lid, bottle, lid.. or Red crayon, green crayon, red crayon… you get the idea.

Sometimes, when he sees something new, for example he saw a picture of himself on my open laptop the other day, his little brow furrows then the eyebrows raise. You can see the thought process of “what is that?” “Woah that’s me!” then begins the point and the ‘ga!’ as he wants me to explain it to him.

We still don’t have words yet, I know it’s within the range of ‘normal’ but I am very impatient for words to come. We are getting nearer, there are a lot more noises approximating words, but for the moment our communication very much relies on watching him, watching what he is seeing through his eyes, so I know what he sees, what he wants to know the name for.

And what I see, when I watch  his eyes, is wonder. He is fascinated by everything and wants to know how everything works. He wants to help me peel the vegetables. He wants to run down that hill to know what it feels like. He wants to be tickled because he likes to giggle. He wants to pick up the stones because he likes to watch them fall from his fingers. He likes to play with his numbers and help me put them in order. He likes to close doors, and try to open them. He wants to put lids on bottles, and take them off again.

He looks at the world with wonder, and I look with him.

mumturnedmom
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Pink is for Girls – #ThePrompt

The Prompt is a fantastic link up designed to inspire you to write, brainchild of the lovely MumturnedMom. This week’s Prompt is:

Pink is for girls.

I’ve written about this a little bit before – when I was musing about toys in particular in my post ‘different toys for girls and boys‘ and honestly that post opened up a whole world of ideas and thoughts and questions in my busy brain.

So many thoughts that it’s difficult to extract them one by one and write them down but I will give it a go. I apologise in advance for going off at tangents!

Gender stereotypes exist in our culture. They have ALWAYS existed. Will they always continue to do so? The nature of said stereotypes have varied from culture to culture at different times. There have been matriarchal societies and patriarchal societies with each gender fulfilling different roles and therefore the gender stereotyping in that particular culture has reflected this.

Yikes I feel like I am back in cultural studies at Uni, or worse my boring Sociology A level!

Our culture has a long history of the subordination of women. Of women not having equal rights to men. We have thankfully come a long long way forward with this and many things are much more equal now. But, even with the increased freedom and the rights that women have, we still have Gender Stereotypes. There are still ‘manly’ things and ‘girly’ things. It starts when you are tiny. Pink and Blue. Cars or Dolls. Etc.

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A girly toy?

There’s a part of me that rebels against this, and as I have mentioned in my previous post Monkey plays with all sorts of toys, girly or otherwise. His bedroom is yellow. We don’t want to stereotype him. BUT we dress him in trousers and not skirts. Some of his clothes have dinosaurs or trucks on them because that is what is sold as ‘boy’ clothing. If we have a  little girl I’m sure she’ll wear a lot of his hand me downs (to save money) but no doubt she will have some prettier things too.

There was an article not too long ago about parents who dressed a little boy in a Tutu and said they were trying to raise him as ‘gender neutral.’ Part of me thinks ‘good for you’ while another part of me feels sorry for the little boy, because is it really possible to raise your child in a gender neutral way, when the society we live in is not gender neutral? Is it fair on them to expose them to potential ridicule by parts of society rather than to protect them from it?

I am all for men and women working having the same rights. I am all for stay at home dads or working mums, of female CEOs and male nursery nurses (I am just coming up with some random examples here). No I don’t like stereotypes that pigeon hole people, I don’t want Monkey growing up in a world where something ‘girly’ is bad. I don’t want him thinking that girls are less intelligent than boys (as a SAHM I worry about his female role models) or that boys are less caring or sensitive than girls. My hope is that I can nurture him so he feels he can be whatever he ‘wants’ to be, rather than what society tells him he should be.

But it’s not entirely up to me. I can’t keep him cocooned in a world of my making. He watches TV and will read books and magazines that portray the stereotypes I hate. He interacts with other children who have their parents’ values. I know of parents who use the gender stereotype of ‘boys will be boys’ to gloss over the fact that they are aggressive or hit other children. Or on the flip side when a girl turns on the taps at the slightest knock and are immediately cuddled and cooed over because they are a girl.

I don’t want monkey to be aggressive or over-sensitive. He usually laughs when he falls over (unless he really hurts himself) and he is learning that hitting is always wrong – even if someone else hit you first. But it isn’t my place to enforce my values on other parents and their children. (Who even says that I am right and they are wrong? I certainly don’t know for certain!) Everyone has to do what they believe is right and because of the gender stereotypes embedded in our culture, many parents teach their children (maybe even unintentionally?) that they are correct. I can try and teach him why I believe them to be wrong,  but I can’t choose what he believes or decide his opinions for him. 

Should our society even be gender neutral? Men and Women are different. Our bodies and physiology are different. In the broadest terms we do have ‘different’ skills. Men are often physically stronger than most women. Women have the physical ability to produce children and breastfeed. We are physically different, and men and women are ‘said’ to have different cognitive abilities. Such as multi-tasking, or spacial awareness (though of course things like this vary from person to person and can’t always be simplified down to one gender does this, another does this. maybe that’s the point?). We are different so why not celebrate that and be proud of the gender we are?

I also wonder where it ends, should we all wear the same androgynous clothing? Have the same haircuts? Should none of us (men or women) wear clothes that flatter our figures? Should we not care about looking nice? That opens up a whole other avenue of thoughts and do we only care about looking nice because of the objectification of bodies and the sexualisation of our culture and I guess the two are linked but I won’t go down that road for now!

I rejoice at the small steps taken by groups such as “Let toys be toys” which tries to take away some of the gender stereotyping that influences our children from such a young age. But I feel that these are just tiny chinks in a huge wall that will take many years to knock down. I also worry about what happens when the wall is down? What are we left with?

I don’t know the answers and if I’m honest what I think about it isn’t really fully formed. i guess some kind of middle ground… but what would that consist of and who decides?

Interesting debate though eh? What do you think? Is pink for girls?

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

mumturnedmom

 


SuperBusyMum

Happiness & Marriage #ThePrompt

The quote for The Prompt this week is all about happiness

Happiness is anyone and anything at all, that’s loved by you. You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown

I guess it means that the person they are talking about is so wonderful that anyone or anything that is loved by that person can’t help but be happy as a result of that love.

I’ve also learned that this week is Marriage week and with Valentine’s Day coming up (we don’t actually do Valentine’s day, I have nothing against it, it’s just not for us) I wanted to write a post about Love and Marriage, and I felt that the two things actually combined rather well. I will try not to get too soppy though  :)

Girly fun at Glastonbury 2009

Girly fun at Glastonbury 2009

For most of my twenties I had been happily independent, enjoying life and was for the most part single.  But I knew what I wanted long term – which was to have a family, so I kissed a lot of frogs. I mean a LOT of frogs. I tried online dating and all sorts in my quest to meet a decent guy. I was even engaged once when I was younger. But I put up with some serious c**p from boyfriends. There’s been lazy ones, selfish ones, rude ones. I’ve been cheated on and been made to feel pretty worthless. And I put up with it. Why? Because I didn’t really believe in happily ever after, or one true love.

I liked the idea of it but was pretty cynical. I’ve always been one to look for the best in people, to give them the benefit of the doubt and to make the best of a situation. I always assumed that relationships were hard work and that you had to put up with some things (not the cheating or making you feel worthless – I never put up with that for long!) and that you would never get close to perfection in a partner. (I really don’t believe there’s any such thing as perfect in anything in life, but I’ll save that for another post!)

But by the time I met my hubby I was starting to despair somewhat and even called myself Terminally Single. So when my mum broached the idea of a blind date, instead of saying no as I had in the past, I said ‘why not? he can’t be worse than the guys I choose for myself.’ The rest, is history (You can read more about how we got together here if you want :) )

Now? I am a bit of a convert. I am still cynical about a lot of things but I really believe my hubby is as close to being my perfect match as it is possible to get. I also think that we met at the right time and that had we met earlier (before the kissing of many frogs) I wouldn’t have appreciated how wonderful he is.

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He is my best friend and he really is my ‘other half’. We very often think (and sometimes even say) the same things. We talk to each other about everything, and believe there’s no problem in our marriage that can’t be helped by talking about it. There’s nothing I can’t say to him, no matter how stupid I fear that it sounds. He’s the one person I know I can be 100% myself with, ho holding things back. In fact we are seriously rubbish at surprising each other as we are pants at keeping secrets from each other and very often give the game away – it’s the thought that counts though hehe.

Having a good old boogie together at my brother's wedding.

Having a good old boogie together at my brother’s wedding. We’re both a bit loony I think!

We bicker occasionally but don’t really argue very often. We laugh together a lot. We support each other and the things we want to achieve – independently and together. I couldn’t imagine my life without him, which is a real biggy for someone who prided herself on her independence just a few years ago!

We want the same things out of life and have the same attitudes about a lot of important things, such as saving money and not using credit if we can avoid it. We agree on the way we want to raise our children (the number of children we don’t agree on yet but we will come to a compromise) and the importance of family in our lives.

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Early days of parenthood…

No relationship is perfect, and we both have lazy tendencies so sometimes there is a bit of nagging that goes on and as we are both novices at this parenting lark we have disagreements about the day to day stuff, although they rarely last long. How best to get Monkey to sleep, how to get him to eat better, how/when should we introduce discipline. We don’t have all the answers and we don’t always agree but we muddle through and figure it out together. Our marriage is a partnership.

As a stay at home mum it’s sometimes hard to feel equal in that partnership, to feel that I am contributing as much as he is. I was so used to doing everything for myself that to have my hubby work so hard so I can stay at home to raise our Monkey was (and still is) a massive challenge for me. But I have to not focus on that or worry too much. I know, deep down, that both contributions are equal, just different. I try to do lots of little things that make hubby’s life a bit easier (I do some of his business accounts and other bits and bobs) and he does the same for me (like helping with the housework and with monkey so I can have me-time).

I’m very lucky that he recognises that being a SAHM isn’t an easy job and although I often feel like doing all the housework should be my responsibility as I am at home, he doesn’t, and he helps where he can. He NEVER asks the question ‘what have you been doing all day?’ even when he comes home to the house in a state and a dinner out of the freezer. He understands why there is usually a huge pile of washing to sort and why I often put writing this blog before housework in my list of priorities.

We appreciate each other and, fundamentally we are happy.

There’s a scene I love in the Sex and the City film (I am a huge fan!) where Samantha asks Charlotte how often she feels happy in her relationship and she says “Every day. Not all day, every day, but every day.” I love that line and that’s how I feel too. Not every day is amazing (that would be impossible), we have our downs as well as our ups, but there is always something, even if just one thing, every day that makes me happy in our marriage and with our life.

I know I am very lucky and hope I will never take my hubby or our marriage for granted, because I know how hard it was to find him.

At his work Xmas Do in December

At his work Christmas Party in December

Why don’t you join in with The Prompt by Mum Turned Mom? Or share your Marriage post with 3 Children and it.

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Monkey doesn’t wear jumpers!

This week’s The Prompt immediately reminded me of when Monkey was a tiny baby and it has led me to thinking a lot about those days.

The Prompt, if you don’t already know, is a linky hosted by Mum Turned Mom, and this week’s prompt is the following quote:

Sweater, n. Garment worn by child when its mother is feeling chilly. Ambrose Bierce

9 days oldThis quote reminded me of what we were told by health visitors and midwives about dressing our Newborn Monkey. They said he should wear a vest – which we should count as his skin, then he should wear the same number of layers as us, plus an extra layer. So if I was wearing a t-shirt, he should wear a vest, a t-shirt, and then another layer. If I was wearing a tshirt and a jumper, Monkey should wear 4 layers. You get the idea.

In reality, we soon realised that for Monkey, this was completely wrong. I know it’s just a rule of thumb and that it is probably perfectly accurate for a lot of babies, but for Monkey this was waaaaay too many layers. He was one warm baby! Still is in truth.

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In summers, especially the first summer when he was born, he was basically in nappies most of the time, slept with a fan in his room and actually his favourite thing on a hot day was to be positioned in front of a fan (at a safe distance) to get a nice breeze, he has always loved feeling the wind in his face!

 

 

Just found this cute clip of Monkey very much enjoying lying in front of the fan :)

Occasionally we have forgotten what a hot baby he is … with disastrous results.

For example, his first Christmas, we bought him a really cute fleecy baby-grow for him to sleep in with the idea that he would look really cute on Christmas morning. We forgot how warm he is naturally and oh. dear. lord. He went to bed fine, then about an hour and a half later he was screaming, we went upstairs and he was on fire, just completely overheating (cue us feeling like the worst parents in the world) so we had to strip him down to his nappy and basically held him up in front of the open window (and it was cold!) to cool him down. Thankfully this worked and he slept fine for the rest of the night in one of his normal baby-grows. But that pretty much put paid to our relaxed Christmas Eve! He still looked cute on Christmas morning though and we will never make that mistake again!

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So, honestly, Monkey hardly ever wears sweaters (or Jumpers) because I know he would completely overheat in one. I can be really chilly and in a big jumper with a t-shirt under and he’ll be in two thin layers, perfectly happy. He is in a sleepy bag at the moment but he is still in the summer Tog one, we have bought a lovely winter one but it seems so thick and it just hasn’t been cold enough for him to wear it.

I really like the quote, but for us it is very much untrue!

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Feeling saddened by the judgement we face as parents

I am linking up to ‘The Prompt.’ A wonderful Link up hosted by the lovely Sara at MumturnedMom.

This week’s Prompt is “I was Saddened by…” and I have really struggled to know what to write for this, or whether to write at all. There is a lot of sadness in the world, and for my part, I would say I have had more than my fair share of sadness at times, however I am not ready to write about those times, at least not yet and not here. I started this blog to chart my journey into becoming a stay at home mum, and whatever I write, I want it to be true to that theme.

So after a lot of thought about what saddens me in the world of parenting, I realised that one of the things that saddens me the most is that when you become a parent, you enter a whole new world of judgement. There is something about being a parent that makes people feel entitled to judge you, and no matter what you do or however hard you try, it always seems that somebody, somewhere, is judging you for it.

It starts when you are pregnant – and you can be judged on how much weight you’ve gained, what you are eating, whether you are exercising. And you can be judged either way by different groups of people. I have written about how I struggled with pregnancy and I have never felt so judged in my life, as I truly believe some people thought I was just putting it on. Then, when thinking about the birth, will you want pain relief, or will you ‘tough it out?’ If you want a natural, painkiller free birth, some will say you are naive, if you want pain relief, others say you’re a wimp or something. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

I’m not even going to get into the breastfeeding/formula feeding debate! And it by no means ends there – weaning, with purees or babyled? Sleep training? How much TV does your little one watch? Are you in a routine? Then as they get older it becomes about discipline and how well they eat. There is judgement about whether you choose to go back to work – with studies about how being in nursery or childcare is bad for your child. Then if you stay at home you are judged for being a sponger or of lower intelligence for not wanting to go to work.

The judgement comes from everywhere. Well meaning family and friends. Healthcare professionals, midwives. The media, politicians. Everywhere you look there is someone who has an opinion about the best way you should be raising your child. It leads to so much worry and doubting yourself because it is so easy to take all this judgement to heart and feel that you are clearly not doing something right, when I think that all any of us are doing is trying to do the best for our children.

What really saddens me though is the fact that it is everywhere. As a society is this really what we are like? That we judge people for everything that they do? Do we all think that we are so perfect that we therefore have the right to judge others? Whatever happened to people in glass houses not throwing stones? Whatever happened to supporting each other? To respecting others wishes for how they choose to live their lives or raise their children?

I guess there is a flip side to this. There are always so many stories in the press about children being harmed. Harmed by family members, or parents whose job it is to protect them. Being harmed by the people they trust most in the world. I read something recently about how we should all be responsible to report something wrong when we see it. To step in before something dreadful happens. Of course I can see the logic in this, if making a judgement about a family and the way they treat their child may protect that child from harm.

I worry though, where to draw the line? Wasn’t there a story recently where somebody called the police because they saw a mother and child out on the seafront and thought the child was too cold? The police went, but was it a waste of their time? Should we put more trust in the mother that she is looking after a child? Or should we report every tiny worry? I guess it’s a case of the acts of the minority of bad people affecting the lives of the many,who would never harm a hair on their children’s heads.

Is this even the same thing though? Is judging someone for whether they wean with purees or do BL weaning really comparable to judging someone for something that may be a sign they are harming their child? If a parent chooses to go back to work because they feel it will enable them to provide a better life for their child, should we judge them for that? Likewise if a parent chooses to stay at home to raise their child because they feel that is the best option for them, do they deserve to be judged for it? Where does this judgement come from? I don’t believe that these judgements  are based on worrying what is best for the child, so where does it come from? Is it about protecting ourselves? Are we judging the way others choose to parent in order to convince ourselves that we are doing the right thing? Why can’t we support each other while accepting that we choose to do some things differently. Does there have to be a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way?

I don’t know what the answer is to any of this, I really don’t. Can you offer support to someone who you think is struggling without them feeling judged? I’d like to think you can, but in reality I’m not so sure. The more I think about it, the more I realise that this judgement isn’t confined to the world of parenting as throughout society people are judged. Judged by their looks, by how much money they make, by their gender or sexuality. Maybe it’s just a part of human nature. Maybe I just feel more judged now because of the weight of responsibility that is raising a child.

It saddens me…

Do you feel judged as a parent? Where do think it comes from?

 

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Is it my fault?

This post is inspired by ‘The Prompt,’ a fantastic idea by the lovely MumturnedMom. This week’s prompt is the following quote:

“Guilt to motherhood is likes Grapes to Wine”

This seems to describe my life quite well as we have a few worries with Monkey at the moment -Shyness, Fussy Eating and Lack of Speech. With each of these three things, I keep asking myself, is it my fault? Have I encouraged these behaviours? Am I not doing a good enough job? I feel guilty that potentially decisions I have made over the past 19/20 months have led to these attributes.

Is he shy because he is with me all the time? Would he be more social if he was at nursery? Or would that make the shyness worse? We go to toddler groups and on play-dates every week. He spends time with people other than me every day most weeks. We see both sets of Grandparents every week, he has 4 doting uncles who he sees regularly. We go to play-centres and baby cafes. He mixes regularly with children older than him, younger than him and the same age, and yet he is terrified of strangers, hates me to leave him, even for a second (though he is usually ok with daddy or grandparents) and even sometimes gets scared of other toddlers who he sees regularly. Is it just his nature or is he picking something up from me?

The fussy eating particularly does my head in. I worked so hard in the first year of his life to make sure he ate a huge variety of food and he loved most things! Not everything but nearly. Then 13 months came round and boom, no more pasta. No more broccoli, or really much fresh fruit or veg at all. The list goes on. I have read repeatedly that fussy eaters aren’t born, but that they are created by their parents. My question to this is, HOW? If it is my fault how did I do it? Where did I go wrong?? As the problem has got worse I know there has been times I have exacerbated it by being stressed and putting pressure on him. I know that and am trying very hard to remove those aspects from mealtimes in a bid to help this fussiness. But where did it come from in the first place? Where did I go wrong?

I also worry hugely about the lack of speech. I am terrified of the fact that he may not be speaking by his 2 year check and the judgement I will get from the Health Visitor. I have again read repeatedly that delayed speech is a sign of the parents not communicating enough, not helping them learn to speak. That toddlers who speak well at this age are a credit to their parents. So is it my fault that he doesn’t use words yet? We have read to him daily since he was a newborn. We sing constantly, make up the daftest rhymes for mundane daily tasks. Sing his favourites – ‘wind the bobbin’ and ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ millions of times as well as introducing him to many other rhymes. We talk all of the time! I was talking to my lovely neighbour a few days ago and she laughed and said that hubby and I are two of the chattiest people she knows, so it can’t be through lack of talking to him. Do we not give him a chance to speak? We listen, we encourage but we don’t want to pressure him either.

I know lots of kind people who have said they didn’t talk until they were three and there was no long term problems at all. Everyone seems to know someone who was a late speaker so why do I worry about it so much? He is getting closer, I know he is. There has been a few times recently where his babble has been a bit too close to a word to be coincidental. For example when Daddy said ‘in a minute,’ Monkey got cross and ran across the room shouting na naaaa, which could have been a ‘no now!’?? Am I just clutching at straws? I just worry that despite our best efforts that the delay is somehow our fault. That he watches too much telly. That I don’t talk to him enough maybe? Does he not talk because he already gets what he needs from us? He shakes his head, he points, he pulls us to where he wants us to go. He lets me know it is time for his nap by cuddling me and waving. By doing what he asks silently are we not encouraging him enough to use words instead? Oh who knows.

Guilt. My life as a mummy seems to be riddled with it.

On the reserve side he does so well with so many other aspects and yet I struggle to feel proud. I give him more credit than I give myself. It is so easy to feel guilty, but much more difficult to feel proud of myself. Proud of him, yes, but me? No.

He is such a good sleeper and has been ever since we did the cry and wait technique at 4 months old. Did we do that? Or did we just help him achieve it sooner? Would he have got there anyway? He is very coordinated. He walked early and now runs a lot. He kicks a ball really well and has a seriously strong throw. His fine motor controls are fantastic too and he threads spaghetti through his sand sieve with ease. He loves drawing and painting and is really good at it now. He feeds well from a spoon and has a good stab with his fork. He’s great at putting his coat on and his learning with his trousers and tops.

He understands sooo much. If I say “sit on the step so I can put your shoes on”, he trots off to the step and sits down. If I say “Shall we go upstairs to get dressed?” He takes my hand and takes me upstairs. He knows where his relatives live, if we walk past the path to Uncle Simon’s house he points and says ‘er er er’, the same goes to the paths leading to Grandma and Granddad’s house. He can point out the animals in his favourite books.

For the most part he is such a wonderful, happy little monkey that I push all of this guilt and worry to the side and enjoy the time I have with him. I tell myself that he will learn to speak when he is ready. That the fussy eating and shyness are just phases he is going through. That I am doing my best. But I never quite manage to convince myself.

I’m sure that these worries will pass and be replaced by others but  Guilt, I think, is to be a lifelong companion. That, and Wine :)

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