Tag Archives: family

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Last week my sister graduated from university, with a 2:1 in Business Studies and Human Resources. As an older sibling, it felt somewhat weird to see this young woman, who I remember visiting in hospital hours after she was born, wearing a gown and mortar board. I felt a huge sense of pride seeing her hard work and commitment being rewarded with a degree certificate.

Graduation 1

It was yet another occasion where someone was missed. I felt a sadness that our mum wasn't there to witness how this once tiny bundle has positively flourished in to a strong, clever, bright young woman.

It would of course be easy to suggest that our mum's death scarred us. That we went off the rails because of it and to wallow in self-pity and anger at the unfairness of it all. And for many years, I did, without realising it.

For a short time it gave me a sense of determination. It was, after all, her death which became the trigger for me to get a job, to move out of the hostel and then meet my husband. However, it also gave me an excuse to be irresponsible. To do things which I never thought I would do, to largely wear a mask, making myself vulnerable only to those I trusted.

For a number of years I was plagued my fear and insecurity. I was paranoid that every little disagreement would see the husband leave me, call our relationship off. He deserved someone who knew, always, that they were loved and adored. Getting engaged, then married and then having a child all briefly helped but ultimately that voice would win, the one that tells me I am not good enough. Except now it changed.  Not only was the husband going to leave me, he would take Harry, I'd never see him again. Harry would grow to hate me, never know how much I love him. Maybe those naysayers were right and I haven't done my best to create a secure and loving environment for me. The mask of confidence and self-assurance is off in private.

More recently I have become insecure about my appearance. I have put on weight and whilst I am not overweight I am bigger than I would like to be. I took this picture of me at my sister's house last week.

Skirt from Joules, top from Warehouse
Skirt from Joules, top from Warehouse

Whilst people told me I looked nice, I didn't, still don't I suppose, believe them. I have found myself analysing this one over and over, pointing out the bits I am unhappy with. It's a strange place for me to be in as I have never really felt that I want to lose weight and I find myself working out ways to do so. I found myself comparing myself to my sisters, which is just silly because I am now in my early thirties and have a child (as well as having my mobility issues) whereas they are late teens and early twenties. I know before I had Harry my figure was very similar.

I am working on changing my perception of myself. A bit at a time I hope to have confidence that I have never had. To accept that I won't have the body I want but I can make the best of the one that I have. To realise that my husband does love me and works pretty darn hard to reassure me of that despite any difficulties we may have had. To prepare myself to be able to grab opportunities that come my way and not think I am not good enough or convince myself that I will fail. Most of all, to become the person I want to be.

My sister, that once small bundle wrapped in a blanket in our mother's arm, has proven that your past doesn't have to haunt you. Maybe I can finally do the same.

Disclosure: I was sent the skirt by Joules (which I love by the way!). The content in this post is my own thoughts and ramblings.

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There is a saying among parents which is, at times, harder to put into practice than carry through. "Pick your battles".

As I said last week, we are having a few issues with Harry of late. He has developed a bit of an attitude and thanks to my lovely readers, I have realised that this is entirely normal, however difficult.

Since last week, I have taken the "Pick your battles" saying on board once more. I have chosen what things are worth fighting over.

Puts his shoes on the wrong feet? Don't battle, eventually he will get uncomfortable and want to change them so they are on the correct ones.

Has a tantrum over teeth brushing? Battle, particularly as last week at the dentist we were told he showing signs of decay already!

Won't eat his meals? Don't battle, put it on the side and can come back to it until it's the next snack/meal time as appropriate.

Wants to wear weather inappropriate clothing? Go ahead, knock yourself out, it just means I have to take a jumper/t-shirt/coat as appropriate.

battles
Image courtesy of imagermajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The trouble with deciding which battles are worth taking on is when you have a difference of opinion to your partner. The husband, for example, will take to spoon-feeding Harry at dinner time if he is being difficult, something I am wholly against as I figure if he is hungry, he will eat. It's not like he doesn't know how to feed himself. If I am honest, it is something which has caused tension between the husband and myself but that must surely be something Harry can pick up on, so with much reluctance, I am letting it go.

Over the past week both the husband and I have had one-to-one time with Harry and for the last couple of days things have mostly been a little better but of course we still have battles. Manners are very important to the me and the husband and is something we are absolutely united on. I mean things like saying please and thank you, waiting your turn rather than no elbows on the dinner table. When we are out and about people often comment on how well-mannered and happy Harry is and yet at home, rudeness seems to have increased. For example "Get me a biscuit NOW!" just is not acceptable in my book and, rightly or wrongly IS something I know the husband and I agree on.

I want to know, what do you stand firm on? What battles do you choose to fight and what do you let slide?

A to Z of Family

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I really wish I could start this new link from Rachel of Confessions of a SAHM on a positive note. Sadly, my decision to use A for Attitude is not positive.

Harry has developed an attitude of late. One that would not be out-of-place in a teenager. Sure, for the most part he is the happy, cheeky, kind and lovable little guy that everyone loves and adores. Sometimes though, just sometimes, we get a glimpse of what I imagine the future will hold.

The husband and I have discovered that there appears to be a fine line between cheekiness and misbehaviour.

If I am honest, I struggle. I find it is so much easier to handle a child who is happy, plays nicely, interacts well. It IS easy. It's not so easy when the same child throws things, shouts, slams doors, is rude. When he refuses to get out of the bath (I can't lift him out), to get dressed, to brush his teeth.

At four-years-old, Harry knows when he has misbehaved or when he has done something that upsets me or the husband. You can see, in the brief moments before, him mentally planning what to do or what to say. Removing privileges doesn't seem to help; use of an old laptop to play games on, TV, messy play, a trip to the park, sweets. We don't have anywhere to place him for time out; one hall way leads to the kitchen, the other to the bedrooms and bathroom. Today we tried to shut him in his bedroom which just ended up with a trashed bedroom. I don't think a reward chart would work either since it's all a series of little things; answering back, shouting, rudeness, refusing to let us brush his teeth, demanding things. Besides, I am not sure I am comfortable with punishing or rewarding behaviour but they are all things we have tried.

I also don't think it helps that things are different with the husband. I don't know whether Harry behaves better or the husband just handles it all easier. Obviously the husband gets to do more with Harry as well, which may well be a part of it; I join them on trips to the park or to play games in the field when I can but often, I cannot.

All of that said, tomorrow is another day, one which I hope will be better. I have planned a bus trip to the local village where we will have a couple of little things to do, followed by milkshake and cake together. If Harry enjoys it as much as I hope he does, then I will make it a regular a thing, each week for just the two of us.

How do you deal with your child(ren) misbehaving? Have you any words of wisdom to impart on me before I lose my mind?

A to Z of Family

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Kirstie Allsopp didn't go to university and neither did I. That's about where the similarities start and end. However, she was all but crucified recently for suggesting that young women should sidestep university, start their family first then go on to have a career. Her comments may well have been intended as an option for women but whether she likes it or not, they come from a place of privilege with her father being a Baron and her own partner being wealthy as well as being a "celebrity" in her own right, seemingly never out of work despite having children of her own later in life. She is in a position whereby she can help her offspring set up their first home.

As I said above I didn't go to university. In fact although I went to college after my GCSEs, I did not end up completing the course or go onto University as I had hoped. I guess you could say I lost my sense of direction. By the time I was 16 I found myself in pubs, bars and nightclubs several nights a week with a part-time job. A job which when a shift was offered, I'd take it even if it meant skipping college that day because, you know, money. When I finished college I went straight into a full-time job, moved out of home and had lots of money and a freedom I'd never had before.

Then, stuff happened and I met my husband at 21. Married at 24 and had Harry at 27. Whilst I have considered for years the prospect of returning to study, the time has never been right. I was too busy working and having fun as part of a young couple. When Harry arrived, I was too tied up in caring for him and now? Now it feels like I have blinked and suddenly he starts school in September.

What am I going to do with my life then? I feel I have lost my way in life once more. As my health stands at the moment, I still cannot work on full-time, normal basis; have periods when I need to nap or when my pain is too high to even leave the flat. Yesterday I went out for coffee with a friend. I was out for 2 hours and that exhausted me. Whilst the government can say the right things and make the right laws (for example that companies have to at least consider requests for flexible working) the reality is vastly different, certainly as a women who has taken time out to raise a family, whether her choice to or not.

Even if I could work, I daresay few employers would be willing to employ a women with a young child. A women who is still in her fertile years and has the potential to go off on maternity leave at the drop of a hat, even if said women (me) declares they are highly unlikely to have any more children. I know by law that selection processes for employees have to be fair but in the real world, I would bet my bottom dollar that most employers would admit that they would be far more likely to employ a man of similar qualifications and experience, to a woman in her twenties or thirties.

So, I have applied to do an Access course. I hope to then study for a degree. All through Open University. Because I still need to be at home for Harry after school and even funding holiday and after school clubs is expensive (and generally not subsidised). I need to have that flexibility now, a flexibility I didn't have to think about when I was younger. The husband will have to look for work to support me and Harry, something which is easier said than done these days.

Isn't this what we should be discussing in the media? That actually women still don't have real choice? If you work in an office environment, workplaces still are not as flexible as they could be. If you work in retail, hospitality and many more industries huge swaths of employers now use zero hours contracts. The sort of contracts that are useful if you are a student but with no guaranteed income, they are not a real choice for those with families to support.

I don't regret for a minute not going to university when I was younger. I wasn't focussed or driven enough and I would not have met the husband. That doesn't mean that if I had a girl that I would suggest she follow the path I took. I would ask her if she knew what she wanted to do and if she did and her choice required a degree (or a degree meant higher earning potential) then I would support her decision. Not in the financial sense (mainly because I don't have two pennies to rub together) but in the emotional sense. But then that's exactly what I will be doing with Harry.

Should we be warning our girls that this perceived choice isn't real, that at some point some thing does have to give, sacrifices have to be made and you cannot really have it all? Because ultimately, whether we like it or not, it is still largely women who make these sacrifices.

When on the road with your family, you have to mind their safety every single second. Keeping them out of harm’s way is your top priority with getting to your destination being next. However, we all know that not everything is within your control. If you have teenage children in your family, and they’re beginning to learn to drive, ensure they’re fully prepared for the experience of motoring by knowing all the rules of the road. Click here for a great on-line resource.

After that, you simply take every precaution to make sure that your family will be as safe as possible throughout the journey. And this involves making a few preparations.  ...continue reading

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I am blessed with a wonderful family.

I have two younger sisters and a younger brother. When Mum died nine years ago, my sisters were just 6 and 13 years old, I was 21 and so Mum's brother and his wife very selflessly took my sisters on as their own, wanting my brother and myself to be free to live our lives without the responsibility of bringing up two young girls when we had barely left our teen years ourselves. This, however meant my sisters were moved from Bournemouth to Bristol.

Despite the distance, we all have a close relationship and so missed each other very much.

When I fell pregnant with Harry, I knew I wanted to be closer to my family. As wonderful as my friends and my brother were, for me, there is nothing quite like being with family. It took some persuading to the husband but when I was informed I was being made redundant, he eventually agreed, knowing that it would make me happy. It was also around that time that my health and mobility deteriorated and I was sure I could count on my family in Bristol for additional support if needed.

Harry is now 3.5 years old and we having been living in Bristol for almost two years now. It has been wonderful to see him grow up around his adoring Aunties, my younger cousins, my sister's boyfriend's little girls and of course my two Aunties and Uncle who all live here. Other extended family come to see us all as often as other commitments allow and I, for one, always have a lovely time.

Whilst we don't necessarily see each other as much as we would like being within a 10 minute drive of each other (depending on the Bristol traffic!), when we do reminds me why we decided to move and leave our friends behind.

My sister came over last night for dinner and a catch up as it had been a couple of weeks since we had seen each other. It was nice to have a rather impromptu evening together, having only arranged it that morning.

Hannah and Harry

This is a very ordinary moment witnessing an Auntie playing with her only Nephew which brought home to me, once again, my main motivation for moving Bristol. And that despite what we have gone through over the last year, it has been worth it. To know that Harry will be surrounded by unconditional love, not just from myself and the husband means the world to me.

I am linking up to Katie's "Ordinary Moments" linky.

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Laying in bed last night I asked myself a question: Who am I?  I am not sure why I asked myself this, other than I know that on the nights I can't sleep my mind goes into over-drive, turning things over and over.  Unless I am absolutely shattered, I find it hard to turn off my brain.  So a battle ensues in my head.  Whilst initially I may not have been able to get to sleep due to the heat, I ended up whirring this question over in my head.

This is me
Me without the red nose.

A Mummy

My first response was "I am Harry's mummy".  I think I am a good mum.  Scrap that, I think I am very good mum except we are not meant to say that, are we?  "What makes you think that?" I hear you cry.

Well of course I feel that as parents, myself and the husband have let Harry down. It would be misguided of us to think we hadn't in at least a small way given our current living arrangements.  Even though I may feel that, I still think we are very good parents.

This is clear from Harry's behaviour, his manners, his demeanor.  He is a well-behaved child for the most part although, naturally, not perfect and does have his tantrums which seem to be getting stronger and more persistent as he gets older.  Generally he now says his "please" and "thank you" on his own accord and a Look will remind him should he forget.  I am aware that he is unlikely to understand the concept of manners at his age but I still don't see the harm in instilling it now and teaching him the understanding this way.

Yet still... That's not me is it?  Being a mummy is a part of who I am but isn't ME.

The 3 of us

A Wife

I am the husband's wife. Obviously.

I happen to think I am a good wife too.  Well mostly, if we ignore my occasional spoiled brat tendencies.  I support his choices and decisions even when I may not agree with them, as long as I am given the opportunity to put my own view across.  Being the more positive thinking one of the two of us, I find I do at times have to help pick him up when we are dealt a blow as generally I find it easier to move on, at least once I have had a little cry.

Yet still, that's not me is it?  Being a wife is a part of who I am but not me as a whole.

So the question remains.

Who Am I?

As well as the obvious Mummy and Wife, I am a friend, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a neice, a grand-daughter, a great-grandaughter and a woman in her own right.

As a part of all of these roles I am loving, loyal, strong, positive, kind, thoughtful, happy, blessed.

I won't lie to you though; I am also selfish, miserable, depressed, anxious, paranoid, isolated, angry and jealous at times.

I have my good points of which I am very proud of.  I also have my not so good points which I am not proud of and I try to keep hidden, locked in a little box and for the most part I think I hide them quite well.

I am me.  I am no one person or role but an eclectic mix with different roles and responsibilities depending on who I am around.

I am me

 

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I'm sure it cannot have escaped your notice that this weekend saw Spring arrive.

OK so it is now an overcast Monday; Spring put in an appearance anyway.

On Saturday, Harry and I paid a visit to my Auntie's house in Portishead.  My Sister picked us up long with two cousins and we descended on my Auntie's house.  We were paying a visit as my Nana and Great-Auntie were visiting from Belfast and we wanted to catch up with them.

After a nice buffet lunch we spent a couple of hours in the garden enjoying the sunshine, watching all five boys (aged from almost-3 up to 10 years old) playing nicely together, whether on the trampoline or playing football.  Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures, other than one I have already shared of Harry covered in ice-cream!  In case you missed it though, here it is again!

Ice Cream!

Sunday wasn't quite such a bright day but after a morning of clearing the washing pile the husband, Harry and I headed to the local park.  This isn't a park that I have been to before because I had always thought it was too far a walk but D insisted that I would be able to manage it so I was happy to go along as well.  Harry decided that as Mummy didn't know the way, he would show me.

the walk3

Harry's confidence on the play equipment has always amazed me, he has never had any sense of fear but then I suppose toddlers are often like that.  I think they mostly pick up on fears from others around them and we've always been happy to let him roam, whilst keeping a close eye on him.  However, during this visit he didn't want our help at all with anything and was absolutely determined to do things solo, I think he was even contemplating the fireman's pole himself but that was a step too far for us and the husband helped him slide down it.

Playground Fun!

After lots of fun on the equipment, we took Harry out of playground to run around the open green and he ran towards the paddling pool.  Since it clearly isn't quite Summer yet, the gates were locked but Harry wasn't convinced so stalked around the gates, stopping every now and again to try and force his way through the barriers.  At the discovery that he couldn't, in fact, squeeze through the railings and Daddy wouldn't lift him over we could see a tantrum simmering just beneath the surface and then suddenly we were saved by the bell.  Well the ice cream van.

Now, to the best of my knowledge, Harry has never actually had anything from an ice cream fan but he does like music, any music and he will dance, so I can only assume it is his love of tunes that made him run towards the van where upon he spotted ice cream and asked for one (including please!).  One ice cream purchased and we made our way to a bench to sit and eat it, shared between the three of us.  Except, stupidly, we chose a bench in view of the paddling pool.  Now there were three tween boys that had climbed over the wall to retrieve their footballs, which of course meant Harry believed he could go in after all.  Mummy and Daddy were clearly lying and the most epic tantrum we have ever had the misfortune of dealing with in public erupted.

Whilst I carried on eating the ice cream (hey, I can hardly pick him up at the best of times!), the husband tried to persuade Harry he could go back to the playground to no avail so promptly picked him up and our trip to the park was brought to an end.

Harsh maybe?  I don't know but there was no way we were attempting to reason with a toddler in full tantrum mode in public!

I am linking up to #CountryKids for Outdoor Fun!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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I realised recently that is has been a long time since I have written about H.  He was the reason I initially started this little corner of the Internet for my own space, which has become more of a sort of therapy for me with all the support I have found.  So, I decided that it was high time my readers, who may miss steady stream of tweets, to find out what the little man is like now.  In a break from my normal blog posts, this one is dedicated to my son and very much a "Proud Mummy" post.

H seems to have bulldozed into yet another fascinating stage.  I almost feel like I haven't been around him for a few months such is his leap in development.

H is quickly stringing words together and doing so quickly.  One of his favourite phrases at the moment is "I didn't mean to".  As much as he may be able to say it clearly, he clearly doesn't understand the concept since he often just randomly says "I didn't mean to" in a tone that would usually be reserved for a grovelling apology.  Although since H can't yet say sorry and an apology consists almost entirely of a hug and and a kiss, I wouldn't know what H's apologetic tone is and at his age, I don't expect him to understand.  When he completes one of his puzzles on an app he shouts "Mamma I did it!" with the biggest grin on his face.  When he can't do a task, he refuses all help and works himself into a state before succumbing to assistance.

My Boys
My Boys

He is very keen to learn as well.  Which is just as well since we have just been told he has a funded place at a local pre-school.  We have yet to have the home visit or indeed visit the pre-school ourselves but the rate at which H is picking up new words and skills, the sooner he starts the better for him.

He recognises most letters of the alphabet now, which I imagine is due to his insistence on watching Countdown.  We even have to show him some Youtube clips just to keep the peace.  The down side to this is that whilst he can say most letters, he refuses to repeat them back phonetically to me when I try to play with his Leapad.  For us, this isn't too much of a worry now as we are sure that once he does start at pre-school, he will quickly pick them up.

Alongside recognising letters, he also recognises from 0-15.  Again, he doesn't necessarily say them all clearly and his counting isn't quite up to standard (whatever that is, I am just guessing from what friends say!) but again, with him due to start pre-school soon, this will likely only improve.

With speech, H is at a stage where he repeats literally everything we say.  It is like having a parrot following you around all the time and as much as it can get irritating, it is wonderful to hear, knowing that he is learning all the time.

He knows what a lot of animals are and the noises they make, although he does insist that cats squeak, rather like a mouse!

My baby is growing into a strong, wilful, determined little boy who definitely knows his own mind.  He gets bored quickly, flitting from one toy to the next and is always on the move.

Recently he has all but dropped his nap for good.  When he does want a nap we try our hardest to distract him but his determination comes into play and the end result means he is later to bed and earlier to wake.

I think what I am most proud of, yet also sad for him about, is his sensitivity.  By that I mean at not even 3 years old, he is aware when I have a bad day, whether physically or mentally.  If I complain of my back being sore, he walks behind me and says "Mama sore back" and gently rubs it for me, before giving me a cuddle.  When I have a bad day mentally he will say "Mama sad" and frequently cuddle me.  Which breaks my heart, as much as I try to protect him from that, I can't all the time.

Somehow, despite the trails we have been through recently, the husband and I have brought up a happy, confident, bright child who chatters incessantly, has a passion for learning and is independent.  I was doubtful when he left the child minder (due to our move) whether I could meet his needs in terms of development but I think we've done a pretty good job and the time has definitely come for him to get more challenged.