Tag Archives: parenting

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We are currently a poorly household and as such I have been unable to put as much time or effort into the blog as usual (or at least anything that requires thinking, like writing) so yesterday I asked on Twitter if anyone would like to write a guest post on my blog for me.  So I am pleased to introduce a guest post from Cate who blogs over at Me Add Three. She is a mum of two gorgeous children, a five-year old boy and one baby girl. You can also find Cate on Twitter at @PiscesCate.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How many ways can we love them?

Our children that is.

I have two.  What about you?

How many ways do you love them?  I ask because it’s probably many....

Do you love them in different ways?  As time goes on I’ve found love becomes more and less.  Reflective and proud.  Nurturing, releasing, almost admiring.  The same but different.

Confused?  Me too.  But I bet you understand.

Even if you didn’t feel the ‘rush’ of all-consuming love at the birth of your first-born, even if it took a while to take hold.  Take hold it inevitably did.  And a few months in, when you were weary from the broken sleep and your old life felt a million miles away, you realised you’d do a lot for the little person in your arms.  Not just a lot.  Everything.

And when they cried with pain, you hurt.  Those injections might as well have gone into your arm.  Those wobbly first steps, so much anticipated, and your love wobbled along with them, feeling every bump, anticipating every corner.

You turned round, and they were off on their bike.  And when they fell off, your heart did too.  But slowly, slowly, love lets you release them.

Love, it seems, evolves.  It has many layers that can be occupied.  It can take many knocks.

Second time around the layers and dents are already there.  And as they are filled with another, love takes an even tighter grip on your heart. Top layers are full of pride, joy and almost reflective love for your oldest; bottom layers are full of the familiar protective nurturing love for your newborn.

The result?

You love them both, even more.  The same, but different.  Who knew it was even possible.

I wonder how it goes with three?

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I am absolutely honoured to host the anonymous guest post from a fellow blogger. One who wanted to share some of her own story but felt unable to on her own blog. I am, quite frankly, amazed at all this lovely lady has been through and continues to battle with her daily life. Please do show her some love in the comments.

10 years ago now my family was complete ( so I thought) I'd been married ten years and we had just sold our tiny flat and moved to a much bigger house in a cheaper area. Far from home.

It was going to be the start of good things.

But not long after we relocated things changed.

I was busy settling the kids into new schools and making our house a home while my husband was busy having an affair with a new colleague.

We split up not long after. 

I was alone in a new place with no support and an ex husband with no interest in helping with the kids.

Two years after we had moved I got into a new relationship , purely casual. It was a neighbour that had been doing jobs around the house for me. I fell pregnant ( by accident) and told the father, I made it clear that he had no obligation to stick around. 

But he changed. He became possessive of me. He wanted my be his side all the time. Didn't like me to sit by the kids. Or hold hands with them. I tried to break it off. 

I didn't want my kids to live like that!

He became aggressive and threatening.

Telling me if I finished with him he would hurt me and himself.

I stood my ground , but then one night he came round to talk and smashed all my possessions. Then he hit me.

The next day I asked my ex to look after the kids and I took an overdose.

I couldn't see any other way out.

The kids weren't safe. I wasn't safe and the baby I was carrying wasn't safe.

I began to feel really unwell and realising what I'd actually done I called an ambulance.

It turned out I hadn't taken enough pills (thank god).

I was kept in hospital for a few days, I had to have lots of meetings with the psychiatrist and couldn't leave till he was sure I wasn't going to do it again. I was discharged and in the morning I took my kids, left all our stuff behind and got a train out of there.

I went home. 

To my mum.

She took us in , but she made it clear that she was angry with me.

Coming home tail between my legs single with kids and no home.

I didn't tell anyone I was pregnant.

We had to apply for temporary housing as mum didn't have room for us.

And when I took the kids to visit their dad he told me he was keeping half of them till the house was sold (to get half the money).

He tried to make me choose between the kids. I couldn't.

He kept 3 of them.

We would be 200 miles apart.

I was living in temporary housing, with depression (diagnosed after the overdose) and now I had to fight to get my kids back.

I still hadn't told anyone I was pregnant!

At the first custody hearing my ex was told to give the kids back, and told there was no way they would be removed from me. He appealed. Which meant another 8 months apart while social services did checks and reviews.

I was getting more pregnant all the time but I couldn't connect with the pregnancy. How could I look forward to a new baby when my children were so far away from me?

When I was 8 months and very visibly pregnant mum confronted me and made me go to the doctor. I was given a scan to make sure baby was ok and flagged up for depression.

It was Christmas when the baby was due. After getting a court order to have the kids for Christmas I had to go 200 miles by train to collect them. Just a few days before Christmas Day. My GP warned against it but I had to have the kids with me. 

I went into labour the next day.

I was out shopping for presents at the time. I had to go to the hospital alone as my mum had the children.

Labour was difficult. I was alone and still felt no connection to the baby. 

I was scared that I couldn't love it.

That changed the moment he was born as soon as I held him I loved him. Although I was and still am saddled with guilt over the fact that I had been completely disconnected from the pregnancy.

I had the kids for two weeks over Christmas. It ripped my heart out letting them go back. The guilt was huge. Sending them away while I had a new baby.

In January all the social worker reports came back, all recommending the kids be returned immediately to me.

On the day of the custody hearing in February, at the court my ex stated that he no longer wanted to appeal for custody. 

The sale of the house had gone through and his new wife was pregnant.

All those months of heartbreak were for nothing. 

I got the kids back a week later!

Having us all back together was one of  the most happiest moments of my life.

We settled down quickly and for  6 years we've lived in the same house in the area I grew up.

I'm now closer to my mum than ever.

Although initially she had been angry she is ultimately very very proud of me after all I went through and survived.

The guilt will always be with me. I didn't love my last baby till he was born, I overdosed while carrying him

But he is loved, he is loved so so much.

Not just by me but by his siblings and my mum. He is my silver lining.

My point in writing this post was a few reasons : to say that if you are in an abusive relationship getting out of it will be scary. Terrifying. But do it. 

Get help. Get out. It may seem like the hardest thing you will ever do. But do it. Get out.

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, fear, don't go through it alone. Don't be ashamed to ask for help, to tell what you are afraid of. Do it. 

I didn't do it. And things could have been so much easier if only I had. I could have had support throughout my pregnancy.

If you come to a point where you feel like you can't go on get help call a relative , a friend , your doctor , the hospital , an ambulance. Call someone get help.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

Things can get better!

I went through the absolute worst year of my life. I hit rock bottom. I wanted to end it. I struggled with a pregnancy I couldn't  connect to.

But now we are stronger and happier. 

Life throws crap at us but I know I can deal with it. I know I can ask for help.

I got out.

If I'd asked for help sooner it would have been easier.

Never be afraid to ask for help.

 

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Until now H hasn't had a huge amount of interaction with his peers or a consistent playmate.  On moving to Bristol I found one local group I liked which became so popular you had to pre-book, sometimes two weeks in advance (at least one week, no more than two weeks and not two weeks in a row...) and I gave up with it once we discovered we were going to be made homeless.  Since living in temporary accommodation his only interaction has been us and my family although he does not seem to have been hampered by that.

A couple of weeks ago we passed a woman and her son in the hall way of the hostel in which we currently live and her son and H started playing.  It was just a short period as it was coming up to dinner time.  A few days later and the boy knocked on our door and asked if he could play with H, his mum was with him and so they came into our room, again just briefly.  Last week was half term here so H and Z (who attends pre-school usually) played almost daily, sometimes for a couple of hours at a time.  Whilst I like that H has a new playmate and it has highlighted that he has missed having peers to play with however much fun he can and does have with Mummy and Daddy, it has brought a whole new dilemma.

The Playmate Dilemma.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

You see, I don't particularly like Z.

I know he is only 4.  I know whilst it is clean and safe it's not particularly pleasant or secure (in the sense it isn't permanent or even long term) for any of us to live here.  I know that the snatching is normal.  I know that the being defiant (even when it's just me supervising) is normal behaviour.  I know it is perfectly normal for him to be territorial over his own toys as well as H's when they play together.

The real problem the husband and I have with Z is his swearing.  We have heard him use the whole range of inflammatory phrases and words. Whilst I don't really regard an exclamation of "Oh my God!" as swearing it is offensive to some people and also, in my opinion, not particularly pleasant to hear from such a young child anyway.  I have also now a few times heard him say "Fuck off" to us, to his mum and to H and whilst I always hoped to not have to tell someone else's child off (clearly I am naive) I did tell him that swearing isn't nice and if he said it again he wouldn't be able to play with H again.

Perhaps I am too used to being able to control who H plays with.  Maybe I need to loosen those apron strings a little earlier than I had hoped.  I know he will pick up these behaviours and language when he starts pre-school.

I am aware H isn't perfect but on the whole he is polite and well behaved but then he is in the presence of at least one of us all the time still.  Even when he did attend nursery and then a childminder, we never had any complaints regarding his behaviour, although I recognise that he was a lot younger then!

I don't want to stop H from playing with Z.  It isn't fair to either child really, least of all my own since Z is currently his only play-mate.  Yet I am concerned by H already picking up certain behaviours from him.  I've noticed a marked increase on H's whining.  The husband has noticed him reacting in an usually OTT way to a simple trip.  Although there is no real telling whether it is pure coincidence or not!

I know from reading an article in the Fail today that I am not alone in wanting to try to retain control of my child's choice of play-mate, not that H has much of a choice currently but it doesn't make it any easier feeling so conflicted.

Realistically, how much control can we have over who our children play with?

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H is usually one of the most laid back, adaptable toddlers I have ever known.  Everyone comments on his nature and a line that is often said to us is "He is so laid back he is horizontal".  Whether it be keeping him up late, going away for one night or four, changed his routine through switching childcare providers or jobs, he has always adapted well and on returning home after going away, settled back into his original routine with amazing ease. ...continue reading

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Image courtesy of Phanlopp 88 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I am the first to admit I am far from a perfect parent.  I make mistakes.  I mentally chastise myself when I make mistakes anyway but when it comes to a slip of concentration or error of judgement with H I can beat myself up for days at a time.  However, I do try and learn from those errors.

In my sensible moments (which let's face it are few and far between), I know that every one makes similar mistakes. ...continue reading

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Toddlers can be contrary creatures at times, can't they?  At least H can be.  Him up there. *points up there*

Breakfast time goes something like this:

Me: "Is it time for breakfast now?"

H: "No!"

Me: "OK, what shall we do?"

H: "Daddy!" (He actually says the husband's first name but let's forget that for now) ...continue reading

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My wonderful twitter buddy Karen (@cherriemayhem) has kindly agreed to share a snapshot into her busy life as a SAHM to three children; a nine-year old with special needs and two toddlers.  You can read more of her blog here.

Without further ado, her is Karen in her own words.

"CHAOS

That one word sums up our household. I’d like to think we live in organised chaos rather than just chaos, but I think that really depends on who is judging.

So, here’s the background. Samuel is 9 years old and he has Chromosome 22q11 Deletion Syndrome. Generally I find that no-one has ever heard of it, but it may shock you to know that it's actually the second most common chromosome syndrome after Downs Syndrome. Anyway, Samuel’s 22q11 means that he suffers with a variety of issues:

Speech difficulties due to a sub mucous cleft palate (he’s had two operations but his speech remains unclear at times)
Learning difficulties (currently at the end of school Year 4, but reaching the level of Year 1 pupil)
Behavioural issues - oppositional, easily distracted, low self-esteem, obsession behaviour, anxiety
Bed wetter
Poor teeth
Short stature
Leg pains
Poor motor skills

Samuel has been attending mainstream school with 1:1 help through a Statement of Special Educational Needs, but in September he will be starting at a local special school that will be able to meet his complex needs.

I also have two toddlers, Oliver and Isabella. They are not twins, there is just over 12 months between them, but to be honest it is very much like having twins. They are just starting to squabble, usually because they want the same toy, and lately we have been trying to deal with Issy’s biting - she seems to be trying to bite her brother when she doesn’t get her own way!

At times it is almost like having three toddlers. Samuel suffers from poor concentration and is so easily distracted, I can send him upstairs to brush his teeth and half an hour later find him sat on his bedroom floor waving a pencil around as if its Harry Potter’s wand, with no idea why he was sent upstairs in the first place. He needs constant supervision to keep on track, but of course he’s not a toddler, so too much of mummy prompting can often lead to Samuel throwing a pre-teen strop!

Samuel thinks very literally and this is something that my husband and I constantly forget. For instance, if I told Samuel that he was driving me up the wall, he would give me a blank look and perhaps reply with “don’t be silly mummy, I can’t drive”.

Samuel and Karen

Lately a major issue with Samuel is sleep. Once actually asleep he is fine, but getting him to settle to sleep is becoming increasingly difficult. We can virtually guarantee that whatever time we send him to bed we will have at least 2-3 hours of him up and down the stairs with a variety of reasons for his reappearance. The reasons vary from being too hot/too cold, hearing gun noises (we live in a quiet village), or just because he wants to tell me something, which can often go something like “the other day, last year, remember when I found that shell on the beach”.

Samuel bed wets, so he still wears pull ups, but he wets a lot, so often leaks and more often than not I have a wet bed to change in the morning. I believe that this is because he is such heavy sleeper once he is asleep, but the medical professionals continue to tell me that heavy sleeping has nothing to do with it at all. We’ve tried bed alarms, but he doesn’t wake up to them. We are now giving tablets a go, but he’s still wetting, just not as much volume wise and the pull ups mostly hold it all while he takes the tablets.

I guess the other really frustrating issue is in relation to Samuel’s obsessions. Many children become over interested in certain subjects/toys etc, but when Samuel becomes interested in something, it takes over his life….our life! At the moment he is obsessed with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diablo’s. We have to ensure that neither his books or Diablo are accessible in the mornings when he is getting ready for school, or at bedtime, otherwise we’d never get him ready for school or bed! This of course does not stop him talking about these subjects. To be fair, I think the book obsession has been one of his better ones, as he has now started trying to write his own journal, so at least he is practising writing and spelling without me having to nag him. He draws pictures in his journal too, so more fine motor skill practice.

Overall, yes it can be tricky to balance Samuel’s needs with those of Olly and Issy, but I think we manage ok. Before I met my husband I managed as a single parent with Samuel for about three years and at that time worked full-time too. Now I am a stay at home mum, although I have the little ones to look after, I do feel that I have more time to give to Samuel than when I was a working mum. At least I no longer have to beg my employer for time off for Samuel’s many appointments.

I do have to admit that I have found caring for a child with special needs very emotional and at times overwhelming. I’d like to think on the whole I’m a sensible parent, but there have been times over the years with Samuel that I have felt like curling up in a ball, shutting out the world and just crying. And I have cried. I have cried in meetings about Samuel, I have cried on my husbands shoulder, and I have cried myself to sleep. I’m not embarrassed about it at all, I love my children so much, and shedding a tear whether happy or sad is a perfectly normal mummy reaction.

Parenting is a rollercoaster, parenting a child with special needs is like riding a rollercoaster with a blindfold on."

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I've been following this meme from mother.wife.me and Pret A Mummy for about a month now but as I am not a working mum, I've not taken part.

However, as regular readers/twitter followers will know, I am now looking to return to the workplace, largely through financial necessity and have very mixed feelings about this.  I am sure that it is these thoughts, worries, apprehensions which Musings From A Mum had in mind when she took her turn and then tagged me to join in!

It sounds straight forward enough so I shall give it my best shot!

Rules:

Post the rules.

Answer the questions in as much or as little detail as suits you.

Leave a comment on mother.wife.me so we can keep track of the meme.

Tag 3 people and link them to your blog.

Let them know you've tagged them.

Tweet loudly about taking part (well OK, that isn't a rule but how about if we start a hashtag - #amothersworkmeme).

Questions:

Did you work before becoming a mum?

Yes.  I was working full time within the financial services although, I hasten to add, I was NOT a banker or trader.  I actually quite enjoyed my job although it was at times very stressful with little satisfaction or reward.  Don't believe everything you read in the papers.  Whilst I loved my actual role, there were elements I was unhappy and if I am totally honest, I only stayed for the very good maternity package, although pregnancy wasn't on my radar for a good few years.  Then I fell pregnant.  I got SPD early on, in fact my midwife suggested it at my 8 week appointment, by 17 weeks (when I had finally seen a physio) it was confirmed and by 22 weeks I was on crutches and off work.  I guess I was a bit of  a late starter in terms of choosing a path and (as is often the case) I fell into the financial services industry quite by accident.

Once I had H, I started to dread returning to work.  I adored being at home with him and meeting up with the new friends I met through a couple of groups I attended.  Once I informed my manager of my intended return date, she advised me that I had been selected for redundancy and therefore, would go in for a meeting on that day, be given my notice and that was it.  Except things didn't quite happen that way and it was a further nine months after my return before I was officially given notice.

I struggled a lot with working.  Not so much in the four months when the husband was unemployed and a SAHD, then various health issues of mine came up, both physical and mental.

What is your current situation?

I was officially made redundant in December, although I had not been in work since an accident in September and actually was off sick for a total of six months last year.  I have spent the last few months as a SAHM and in all honesty, as much as I love H, I am quite frankly shite at it.  I can play with him, entertain him, love him etc but I always feel like I am not DOING enough, like the stuff I want to do with him costs money that we don't have (baby sign, music and movement classes, swimming classes etc).  Added to that I am the opposite of a domestic goddess and really, I'd be more use back in the work place.

Freestyle: Got you own point you'd like to get across about this issue?  Well, here's your chance...

Where to start?

Childcare is the biggest point I think.  Not only the hourly/weekly/monthly costs but the fact that there is no help available for those initial deposits or payments in advance.  How one is expected to magic up this sum of money when they have been taking home a fraction of their usual income is beyond me!  For us, this is the biggest hurdle to me returning to work now.  When I went back after maternity leave I was lucky enough that I had family who could loan us that money (remember, I had been told I wouldn't be required then was given two weeks notice of a new project).  I can't really ask them again.

Since the recent budget announcement by the Chancellor, the handy BBC Budget Calculator has revealed that we are worse off BOTH working full time (based on my salary expectations as advised by various recruiters) than if I was to go back to work full time and my husband just work two days a week, which in turn has the impact that we wouldn't get family time together.  I'd like Mr Osborne to explain what he means by this year's budget being one for the working family?

So there are my thoughts.  And now I tag Romanian Mum, Chelseamamma and The Mummy Blogger.

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It's been a lovely summery few days here in Bristol and indeed, much of the country.

Earlier in the week I wasn't really looking forward to this weekend. It was the first one since The Big Move where not only was the husband working all weekend but the family had all made plans.

Friday and Saturday mornings were spent at the park with H. Which was lovely and tiring for both of us. H usually gets bored easily and in fact the last time we went demanded to go home after just 10 minutes.  On Sunday we spent the morning in our back garden and then my sister offered to come over with her partner, his two daughters, a BBQ and supplies to make the most of this lovely weather which surely, as per the law of Sod, would disappear before next weekend.  Excellent!

They arrived mid afternoon and a fab few hours was had by all, enjoying food and games in the sun.

Apart from this one minute.  Which felt like hours.  And hours.  And hours but it honestly wasn't more than two minutes.

We couldn't find H.  One of the girls needed the toilet and still requires assistance so off her Dad took her.  I was pottering in the kitchen refilling drinks and I heard the Dad shout down that new pants were needed for his daughter, so I shouted out to my sister to get some from the car, which was parked right by the gate.  She came back in and ran those upstairs, then I popped out to take out drinks to the other daughter and H.  Except I couldn't find H.

He wasn't in the playhouse.  He wasn't behind it.  The gate was locked.

Everyone stopped what they had been doing to run around the house, opening cupboards, checking under beds, even in rooms where dors had been shut.

He was no where in the house.  I started wailing.  My sister started sobbing.

Then "He's here!".

Somehow, despite her being but a second or two, H had followed my sister to the car and was waiting the other side of the gate to be let back in.

The relief was immense.

And then the guilt.

How on earth does a 22 month old manage to vanish despite there being THREE apparently responsible adults in the vicinity?  Who decided I could be a responsible parent?  Clearly I can't.  What if he had run into the road in front of a car?  What if he decided to go for a wander to the park or the shop?  What if...?  Well, there are lots of what ifs.

None helped by the husband looking none too pleased when I told him this morning.  There is a reason I originally thought not to tell him but hey.

He's here.  He's safe.  He wasn't run over, or abducted, nor did he go for a wander to the park or shop.  He had been stood by the gate waiting.  As soon as I let him go after cuddling him (and I didn't think I would ever let him go again!) he ran off to the playhouse again, with his big cheeky grin.  He is untouched by it but me?  My sister?  We still feel pretty crap.