Posts Tagged 'Parenting'

Raisin’ raisins

They are cheeky little juicy bits of heaven in my book but then I’m dried fruit fiend.  The question today is why does my daughter participate in such rigorous quality control over said raisins?  Does anyone else have this problem?

Is it not enough that they are the finest organic specimens, boxed neatly and colourfully for her delectation?  Does she know something we don’t?  Is there a conspiraisincy?  Or perhaps this is a future wine tasting genius in the making and she’s getting her laughing gear around the closest thing that’s legal for her age?  If so I hope she has more success than her mother.  I taste a ladda wine but I’m no closer to being a genius.  I shall keep plugging (or rather uncorking) away.

Anway I digress.  Back to the question.  Why are half the raisings eaten and half spat out from any given box she is presented with?  I have assessed the specimens on the basis of colour, size, freshness and wrinkliness and can find no answer!  Thoughts on a piece of dried fruit please to this address.


What every parent needs in their toolbox

Emergency Chocolate

This is now in a safe place behind glass in my kitchen.

Nuff said.

Why children and pampering don’t mix

We all need our treats don’t we?  You know, the ones we like to savour and enjoy at a slowly and leisurely pace?  My treat is my hair cut.  I don’t get it done very often now because it’s so expensive.  It seems vain when I could be spending the money on my daughter or squirreling it away to put towards buying us a little home at some point.

However after 6 months of neglect, I was resembling Cousin It and my hair was splitting to worrying levels.  I had a vision in my mind which went something like this: invite mum’s visiting hair dresser over, position bubba with toys in front of me, she can watch mummy and play, I can drink tea and gossip with said hair dresser whilst she cuts and colours away (all for the bargain price of £25 bless her) and I can enjoy my treat in the comfort of my own home without worrying about a babysitter.

Oh how wrong can you be!!  Within minutes of my hairdresser arriving, munchkin had tipped over her bag and started stealing combs, clips and brushes.  So we put the bag on the table.  I get out her toys.  She plays and my hairdresser starts snipping.  But oh no, the toys are no longer of interest.  Now she wants to pull the grill tray out, push the ignition on the cooker and turn the gas dial around like she’s watched mummy do.  And now she wants to hang off the bar on mummy’s running machine like a naughty monkey.  If I had a pound for the number of times my hairdressed had to stop whilst I removed little miss from getting up to no good I’d be a rich woman.

The piece de la resistance was when the colour went on my hair.  It was supposed to stay in for 20 minutes.  My hair dresser had to leave to collect her kids from school.  Fine, I thought.  I paid and off she went.  Until a certain little person simultaneously did a poo and fell over and bumped her head.  Cue 10 minutes of crying and cuddles and then nappy changing from a mummy who now has a burning patch on her face where some dye desperately needs washing off and a wonky carrier bag on her head as it was the only thing she could find to protect little one from getting any dye on her. 

This all provided 10 minutes extra time for the dye to work its evil magic on my hair.  Iced chocolate the box said (i.e. mid brown).  It’s now veeeeeeery dark brown with almost a plum tinge.  It’ll wash out in due course.  Just like the spilt dye on the carpet when little miss decided to body slam my hairdressers’s legs at one point.

So next time, oh yes next time, will be at mum’s house.  With fingers malone being babysat in the lounge so I can try and enjoy my treat properly.  Bless her.  It is all said with a wry smile.  I wouldn’t change my inquisitive little poppet for the world. 

As for me, well my dull corporate office mousey brown haired girl image is now slightly, well, rock chick! I haven’t looked liks this in YEARS! Now, where’s my ACDC t-shirt and my skinny jeans (that Norovirus related weight loss couldn’t have been more well timed ha ha).

Coping without dad

As a single mother, when it comes to tasks like collecting furniture or fixing stuff, dad’s the man.  However his strange symptoms of late now preclude him from helping me in this way.  This vibrant, once physically capable man is now  unable to get out of a chair without almost falling over.  He’s unable to walk in a straight line.  He’s unable to drive because it summons all the strength he has to tell his brain to go straight when it wants him to veer off to one side.

The strain of not knowing what’s wrong is showing.  He’s so quiet when once he was the joker.  I can see the worry etched on his face.  I can hear it in his voice.  And there’s now the tears from mum when he’s out of the room.  Tears I save for when neither are around.  Like now.  His appointment with the consultant is on Thursday.  It can’t come soon enough.

For me it’s a double whammy.  I’ve realised I’ve taken so much for granted with him, thinking that he’ll always be there to help.  It’s a timely reminder that I need to think about friends locally who might be able to help more with this sort of thing.  As dad is retired and on hand always to help, up until now I’ve been able to make arrangements last minute (like collecting the wardrobe I won on ebay tomorrow night as a whim, or collecting my daughter from nursery when I’m stuck on a delayed train).  I need to get into the mind set of planning a bit more ahead and accepting a new reliance on others. 

It’s also the realisation that if this isn’t just a simple ear infection but something more serious, this is potentially the start of a rough ride for us all.  It’s hard not to think worst case scenario given his youngest brother died suddenly of a brain tumour and his other brother is now so ill with Parkinson’s disease he has to crawl on the floor to get to the front door to answer it if his wife is out. 

It reminds me just how awful and debilitating those stresses in our life are that we have no control over.  I understand all the psychology (it’s not events that stress us but our reaction to them, we can control how we react to situations etc).  But I defy anyone not to have a similar reaction when a close relative, particularly a parent, sibling or partner, falls suddenly and quite badly ill. 

I’m a daddy’s girl.  Always have been, always will.  That man is my rock.  My objective voice of reason.  My wise counsel.  He’s rarely wrong about ‘life stuff’.  We only ever argue when he’s stating a truth that I don’t want or am not ready to hear.  His experience, his pragmatism, his damn knowing, is my oxygen when I’m under strain. 

I love him so much and have much to thank him for in my life.  He’s the one whose eyes I want to connect with when certain pieces of music are playing.  There’s a knowing that only he would understand because it was he who gave the gift of the love of Oscar Peterson and other jazz artists to me.  There’s films I don’t find funny but will watch with dad because watching him laugh so much is such fun. 

I’m still amazed that he can laugh at The Blues Brothers like it’s the first time he’s watched it given I’ve lost count the numbers of times it’s been viewed by us.  And I forgive him now for every time he’s mortified me on the dance floor at the annual black tie do we go to by suddenly stopping his dancing arm in arm with me and breaking into a demented tap dance just to get laugh.

I’m not religious.  I don’t believe in God and I’m deeply sceptical of organised religions.  I suppose I’m an atheist buddhist (of the Stephen Batchlor variety – his book Buddhism Without Beliefs I cannot recommend highly enough).  But you know, right now I’m praying to whoever will listen that they’ll fix my wonderful dad.  Please let him have many more healthy years to enjoy with us. 

This is completely contrary to the buddhist views that I try and live my life by.  Such as understanding that nothing is permanent.  Such as accepting suffering and letting go of craving.  However I know enlightenment is a journey not a destination.  I also know it’s bloody hard path to take.  Yet certainly an easier path than the alternative spiral of never ending suffering that may reign.

Parenting: I literally love my books

Munchkin and I have a bedtime routine where she picks the books, brings them over and snuggles on my lap with her milk and Pooh Bear, and we read.  Or rather I read, point things out, ask what this or that is and if she’s feeling brave she’ll volunteer the odd word.

For some considerable time now Munchkin has had no greater love than for Pooh Bear.  Pooh is her no. 1 love.  She adores him,  I don’t know when or how this started but one day she just decided that bear was going to get more love and kisses than any other cuddly and boy she doesn’t hold back.  So naturally one of her Pooh books usually features in our nighttime routine. 

Tonight she trumped all pre-existing levels of cuteness and affection towards her object of desire.  We got to the last page of the story, showing a picture of Pooh sat in bed (honey in a pot by his bed, naturally),  Munchkin leant forward, kissed the page and rested her head on it and said “aaaaaah”.  It’s enough that she’s now making connections with what she’s seeing in real life and what she’s seeing on the page.  To see her displaying such love is just beautiful.

Next, she slid off my lap, got another book and hoiked herself onto the arm chair in front of me.  She sat Pooh next to her, opened the book, showed it to him and babbled something incomprehensible.  To me, at least.  It was probably actually quantum physics.  Then she stopped, patted Pooh’s arm, and carried on turning the pages,  showing each to him.

Now I know kids go through the stage of copying what they see adults doing but this just melted my heart completely.  It spoke volumes to me (pardon the unintended book pun).  It suggested more than just copying, but that she understood and enjoyed our routine enough to want to repeat it in her own way with her beloved Pooh.  And in the process she made me a very proud mum indeed.

Cognitive restructuring / Reframing

Since splitting up with boyfriend I have decided to do a bit of a ‘life laundry’.  I’ve decided to focus on what improvements I can make to reduce the things the remain in my life that are any cause of stress.  The biggest issue is my poor relationship and inability to communicate effectively with my ex husband. 

I don’t know whether the strain of work, both my daughter and I being very ill with norovirus recently and the final break up with boyfriend have caused this.  However I’m just tired of fighting with my ex husband.  He continues to do battle with me in every way possible, dragging out the final filing of the consent order settling financial matters with amendment after amendment.  Now the clauses are finally agreed he’s now nit picking over the wording of the clauses. 

Naturally I find it hard to be anything other than cooly civil to him when he collects and drops off our daughter.  Yet continuing to be so angry with him and putting on that cool front, when I’m basically a warm, friendly and forgiving sort, is draining the life out of me.  Its taking huge energy and wearing me out.  I’ve had enough.  I want to rise above it.  So I finally decided to give myself permission to sort this out rather than rail against it.  As I always say to others, if you want more of the same, do more of the same.  If you want something different, change something.  If only I was good at it!

I happened today across a site talking about cognitive restructuring and the damaging thought patterns we get ourselves into.  I’ve been banging on to a friend lately about importance of giving himself permission to let go of some emotional pain he’s feeling.  Yet I don’t seem to be taking my own advice!

After a good bit of navel gazing I’ve realised that continuing to be so frosty with my ex husband it is my way of showing him that I will not ever forgive him for the way he treated me during our break up whilst I was pregnant.  I’ve got myself into a negative, destructive thought and behaviour pattern which goes something like, ‘if I’m polite to him then he’ll think he’s off the hook, that I’ve forgiven him, that somehow he’s got away with treating me like that and got off scott free’. 

This is clearly a breathtakingly dumb ass attitude now that finally, for whatever reason (and who knows why we have these epiphanies when we do) I’m able to take a step back.  No, I probably won’t ever forgive him for the way he treated me and risked my baby’s life by putting me under such unnecessarily cruel stress.  I now realise I can retain that lack of forgiveness and still move on and develop a positive relationship with him, on my side at least.

In conjunction with thinking this I was also pondering that if I let go of that thought process, what it would feel like to no longer have that tension when he collects and delivers my daughter?  The words and sentences that sprung to mind were telling:

  • Peaceful
  • Productive for our daughter
  • Laying the past to rest
  • Adult
  • Proud

I was starting to formulate these thoughts on Saturday night.  I did a test run on Sunday when my ex husband dropped my daughter off.  Instead of avoiding his gaze and talking to him through our daughter (i.e. “right, say goodbye to daddy” etc) I smiled at them both when I answered the door.  I asked if she’d been ok, which I don’t normally do.  He said fine.  I said goodbye directly to him and then got munchkin to say goodbye.  Instead of practically shutting the door in his face after those goodbyes I let her wave him off.

I can’t say it felt comfortable and I still had twinges of feeling like I was being a hypocrit.  However I know from previous experience that retraining your thoughts and behaviours takes practice.  It will feel uncomfortable for a while.  Sometimes I may regress but as long as I spot that and put it right asap it’s ok.  I’m not going to be too hard on myself.  I’m going to take it a little step at a time.  Eventually the awkwardness will pass and it will become more natural. 

The best bit though is that I’m doing what comes naturally to me – which is basically being nice.  I always says that being nasty or angry takes up huge amounts of energy but being nice is energising.  At least I’m starting to listen to myself!!

Single parenting: would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Munchkin has to get up at 6.40am for the nursery run three days per week.  Or rather I stand there for 30 seconds feeling guilty and terrible about it and then try and rouse her from her slumbers.  The poor thing is whisked out of bed, into her clothes, into the car and dropped at nursery before she can say “hey mum, what the flippin ‘eck are you trying to do to me here’.

Blissfully we have a later start on Mondays and Fridays and when left to her own devices munchkin will sleep in until about 7.30am or so.  If she wakes sooner, sometime around 7am, we’re into the habit me putting her in with me for a sleepy cuddle and nuzzle before getting up around 8am.

This morning she awoke at 7am crying which is very unlike her.  So I padded into her room, scooped her up in her grobag and took her back to my bed.  Unusually as I was dozing next to her I noticed she’d rolled over onto her side and was staring at me intently.  So intently that I couldn’t doze anymore and so gazed back into her gorgeous brown eyes.  This went on for about 20 minutes.  It was beautiful.  Peaceful.  Otherworldly.  Moments like this remind me of the closeness of carrying her during my pregnancy.  The bond is so strong I could almost weep.

Eventually I got up and unzipped her grobag.  At which point the beautiful moment vanishes as I see that her nappy has leaked – just pee – but all down one side of her pjama leg.  I feel terrible and hurry to get her stripped down, washed and into a clean nappy and clothes.

I’m aching for her to talk.  I felt so awful.  That she would lay there not saying anything, just gazing at me and waiting for me to take some action is incredible.  Most children would have been screaming by then.  I’m not wishing her life away but I yearn for her to be able to communicate to me when she needs something.

When she was newly born I (in my ‘I’m still a rocker and go to festivals’ denial phase) I refused to learn any nursery rhymes.  I used to sing Coldplay’s Yellow or Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars to get her to sleep.  This moment, with her love and patience as she lay next to me, reminded me of that Snow Patrol song.  It’s something I need to remember more often when I let life get to me:

I need your grace
To remind me
To find my own

I love that girl so must I could burst.

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June 2018
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