Sanity 101; for Parents.

That’s the thing with children I suppose; as much as we love them they drive us crazy in equal measure, and as you climb the rungs on the parenting ladder you lean certain undeniable truths along the way — one of them being that in order to maintain a little sanity you must have little treats and rewards up your sleeve, and I don’t mean for the troops — I mean for yourself. After-all being ‘Mum’ isn’t an easy task, and there are times when a nice full glass of red and an episode of Castle, (a very important treat for me) sometimes just isn’t enough.

It’s my Mum friends that can always save the day. Our children run in age right up the scale, and when my child patience and “let’s work through your maths homework once more” energy is depleted, (even defibrillator pads aren’t bringing this one back – CLEAR!) it’s my other Mum’s that become my support. A midweek night out at the local Italian, (we’re coupon cutters – the waiters love us) always turns the frown upside down. It’s about being able to share…

“why wont he just put his shoes on?”

“is bringing home a lunchbox so difficult?”

“what was the desperate need to put a rubber up her nose anyway??”

and the always old favourite; “my phone bill! You’ve never seen anything like it!”

And we don’t feel better because we’ve sat and moaned about our children — it’s because we’ve shared the burden, and we’re not alone. It’s because a couple of hours together always goes to prove that our children are not monsters, and we’re not epically failing as parents, (massive parent fear btw) and that really they are just children, all going through the stages and trying to grow up.

We walk to the car park and hug goodbye, knowing that in six weeks or so we’ll all be back for a little more therapy — and next time it might not be the children, it could be the husbands, work or our own parents — after-all they basically revert back to children….i’m looking forward to that particular stage of parenthood immensely.

One of those days;

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Ok, so today was one of those days-

No, that’s wrong – the day itself was ok, you know – samey, like most other days.

But the evening, well….That deteriorated into an all shouting, all law-laying down, complete parent overkill-event quicker than the time it took for Usain Bolt to run the hundred metres.

You know what I mean? (Clearly, this question is aimed at other mad-parent-types out there.)

Continue reading “One of those days;”

Children and Questions – any idea’s?

I wrote this in the summer last year – and have just found it again, and it still has resonance for me so I thought I’d share it with you…

No.1 son decided on the way home from cubs to talk about words; “What does truce  mean?”
I gave him a brief explanation about how it’s just a way to make an agreement, and it’s a good way to keep the peace – my mind was already on making lunches and ironing uniforms for the next day.
“Why don’t the armies do that then? Why don’t they just call one of these truces and not go to war?”
The idle chat on the journey home instantly became one of those moments – well, it did for me at any rate. I was suddenly desperate to give him the right answer – but what was that exactly? What was I supposed to say?
He sat looking at me as I scratched around for a response, until finally huffing at me he turned to look out of the window.
I lurched into a bumbling explanation that both sides need to want peace to call a truce, and that’s not always how it is…which naturally lead to a waterfall of more questions, it turned out that I had entered… The ChildMind-field. That day at school they had been talking about soldiers, and communicating with different cultures.
“Mum, did you know Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas? That’s not even fair, how can Father Christmas leave those children out?”
He was outraged on behalf of the present-less children, and I just pulled a blank – what could I say? He was 9 a week ago, and I’ve been really keen for him to keep his Christmas belief for one last year, and the absolute unfairness of his observation struck me that I may have succeeded a little too well – he did believe. But he was now vilifying a cheerful old man in a red velvet suit for leaving other children out.
I need a handbook that has all the answers, as I never seem to have the right ones. I just offer up explanations hoping I get across a fair opinion for all, and in the meantime I just make things worse by offering too much information, or maybe not enough – or in the case of good ol’ Saint Nick, by not just telling him the truth…

What happens as our babies become children?

OK – so this blog is a bit garbled, but i hope you get the general idea…..

The Next Stage.

I’ve just driven home, and passed a man in a velvet jacket in his – I don’t know – early 30’s – ish, pushing one of these new fangled buggy’s with a little baby – who was maybe six to eight months old. And it strikes me that I wanted to get something down on paper that conveys this feeling – this ‘Sophie Dahl’ type expression of melancholy. That minute where you know, especially in this day and age that you’re not old per say – I mean, I’m only in my thirties, I’m still young (right?) – but there is a moment when you see a man – a Dad or a Mum – singularly or both together with a young baby, where you realize that isn’t you anymore, that stage of your life is over and you just have no – no…..what?… it draws a blank thought.

You know that the next time you hold a baby in your arms that you’ll care about in quite that way, will be when your own children have children.

I remember reading an article a few years ago along the lines of; gone are the days when you want to be the next David Beckham – now you hope that for your children, (not that I want for my son to be the next David Beckham, but you understand the sentimentality behind it), there is a point in your life when your hopes and dreams, almost aren’t for you anymore, you wish your hopes and dreams for your children. (Not like some pageant mum, shoot me now.) But you wish and yearn for them to have that newness of discovery, those feelings that you used to yearn for yourself, and it’s somehow more apparent when you see young Dad’s – it’s not quite the same when you see Mum’s, because we’re Mums, we know that they are worrying about milk and nap time’s and routine. But when a Dad is out on his own pushing the buggy – then you realize that those discoveries, those enormous big firsts in your life; (and I know this may sound a bit 1950’s), but when you get engaged and when you plan a wedding, when you get married, and you become a Mrs. and you introduce your ‘husband’, and we’re going to have a baby….those wonderful firsts.

And there is that feeling that your life is just starting out, and that you have become a grown-up in your own right, your starting a ‘life’ with a young family – when everything is new and fresh and surprising and frightening, and then there suddenly comes a time – or a stage ….

When even though your children are still young, they’re just not babies anymore, they’re not toddlers, they are growing up, trying to find their stride in life – working on they’re personalities, becoming their own person.

And then you see these little babies in buggies and you feel a sense of loss, for the children that you wont have – even though I’m lucky enough to have three lovely children of my own and I don’t want to have anymore, but I also suddenly realize – like a punch to the heart – that this stage of my life is over.

It’s gone.

I was once the new Mum, the young Mum. But not anymore, now I’m becoming “Mother” *said with my best teenage infliction* (and when dealing with teenagers I definitely mean infliction, not inflection) I’m working towards becoming the embarrassing parent – you know the type; “Mum! Don’t dance like that” or “Mum! Why would say that?! Mum pick me up from the car park don’t come up to the school.”

Suddenly I’m fast approaching becoming that Mum, I’m not …ready? To become my parents. I find the thought quite distressing, and I wonder, is this when the crazy stages start setting in – when I decide to cut my hair in some obscenely young style, wear clothes that are inappropriate to me, like those – oh! Do you remember those tops back in the nineties, those bright sweaters with printed pussycats and printed dogs on and cute slogans underneath, I always remember my Auntie used to wear one of those; and she was about forty, and I used to think, ‘my god I wouldn’t even wear one of those (I’d have been 15 ish) what are you doing in one ?’ And now I don’t know, now I see these cute little sparkly flowery hairclips in shops and I think ‘oh I like that’ …DO I?? I mean really, DO I? Or am I scratching about for my youth. Should I just grow old in a rush – go to Marks and Spencers by a couple of white blouses, a pair of sensible brown trousers and brown flats, get my hair cut short – some sensible straight brown helmet of hair – square specs that I can frown over, a shawl, how far does this go ?? A nice little beige pashmina – how desperate.

But, there it is – that’s what it is, the next stage is fast approaching …

Autumn is here…

So, it would seem the day the children went back to school was the day we kissed goodbye to any memory of summer. The evenings didn’t appear – it was just DARK. One day; sunset at 9.30 ish, next day, BAM – 7 o’clock; pitch black.

That said I would almost like to be able to stand there moaning about the onset of dark of evenings with everyone else – but I can’t. Because I love the start of Autumn and the approaching Winter. Husband thinks there’s something wrong with my love of the gloomy season. But I just love the heavy coats and scarves, gloves and open fires. And yes I know it sounds like I’ve romanticized it, Husband says often that there’s nothing good about ice on the roads and the pouring rain. But winter is a British institution, with its leaves on the track, fireworks and Halloween, throw in a healthy dose of christmas cards in the shops by early September, and it sums us up. My children keep starting sentences with “when it snows this year…”  it doesn’t seem to matter that I keep telling them that we don’t usually get snow this far south, in their little lives we’ve had snow for two years on the trot. Ergo; ALWAYS. This clearly exemplifies (to them) how foolish I am for not assuming there will be snow this year. But then when you’re a parent you’re always foolish, as you know too well by those ‘particular’ looks you get given by the 9-year-old when you say something colossally stupid, like Husband did yesterday…     “Saw in your magazine that you can get Jajabinx as a lego figure now..”  Which was met with an incredulous glare, and prompt reply of “Dad, he has been a standalone figure for nearly 3 months!”  Told husband to give up trying to be ‘hip with the kids’…..

But, back to Autumn. I’ve noticed over the last few years that ‘Make Your Own’ has been gaining increasing popularity, probably due to shows like River Cottage and CountryFile (both of which I love – I’m not ashamed.) And like everybody else, I’m keen to do my bit, and it has turned out to be one of the highlights of my year – I mean right up there with wrapping presents, flying kites and BBQ’s (don’t judge me). We’ve been picking blackberry’s, and collecting windfall apples, hazelnuts, sloe’s – you name it and somewhere I’ll have something homemade in a jar, box or bottle. I don’t remember doing it as a child – maybe it wasn’t popular? I don’t know. But I’m sad that I didn’t, yet glad that my children get to, and despite my mediocre cooking skills the troops love to eat something that they’ve been and ‘hunter gathered’. The only negative is, it glaringly highlights how wasteful we were before – it’s funny how loathe I am to throw out food that we’ve picked, I can’t bear to see it go to waste. I remember being young and my grandparents going through the fridge and the cupboards using everything, never letting anything go to waste. Maybe that attitude comes with age and experience, or maybe its a sign of the fiscal times. Who knows….

oh, and I know it’s a bit late, but I said I would warn you when a ‘parent with cute child story’ ended up on the blog so…..   WARNING!!