Tag Archives: parenting

A Mother’s love – how our broken bond was mended

From the first moment I held my newborn son in my arms, I was head over heels in love with him. No, scratch that. Since the moment I knew I was pregnant I loved him. I loved him fiercely and protectively, as a mother should, right from the very start.

He’s six and a half now and I can’t really remember what my life was like before he came along. He has completely changed my life. In the seven years he’s existed I’ve gone to hell and back with my health. I have tortured myself over his health (he’s fine, he’s absolutely perfect, but it wasn’t always so). I’ve lost my career and forged a new one. But most importantly, I’ve discovered what it is to love and be loved back unconditionally. 

A Mother's love - how our broken bond was mended

At various points in his six and a half years, I’ve stopped and looked at him in wonder and thought “right now, right at this very moment he could not get more perfect. This is the best age he has ever been, it can’t get better than this surely?”

I’ve made a point of keeping that moment in my head and storing it away, because it’s impossible for him to get any better than he is at that moment, but it does. I’ve had so many moments of “oh my god, this is the perfect age” that I’m pretty sure that every age is the perfect age.

Before you decide that I look at my son through rose-coloured spectacles, I do not. I am incredibly aware of his faults. I am the person who bears the brunt of his tantrums. I’m the person who has to pick up after this child who walks through the house leaving tornado like destruction in his wake. I am the person who tries to teach him to be a good human, full of care and compassion. My son is not perfect, he is flawed like the rest of us. He’s human, not super-human, but still lovely.

A few weeks ago, over the Easter school holidays we had a night away in Blackpool, just the two of us. We had the best time and it was so good just to chill out and do things together at our own pace. We missed his Dad of course, but it was only two days and he was busy working anyway. 

It’s been a tough 12 months for us. I lost my Dad and he lost his Grandad. It’s been a year of tears and sadness. There have been splashes of light and colour, it’s not all been widow’s weeds and lighting candles in remembrance. But our two days away reminded us both of the good things we have in each other and it has really brought us closer together.

I never thought I’d bond with my son the way I have. When he was two years old I had an accident, followed by two emergency surgeries. I was bed ridden and full of pain medication for 8 months. In that time I was a zombie who couldn’t care for myself, let alone anyone else.

My amazing husband stepped up and parented for the two of us, but in that time the mother-son bond was damaged and it’s taken a lot to get it back. We’ve always loved each other, always enjoyed being with each other, but his go-to parent has always been his Dad and I’ve often felt excluded.

A Mother's love - how our broken bond was mended

Last night my son sleepily presented himself at my bedroom door. He wanted a cuddle because he couldn’t sleep. So he got in with me, we cuddled and then he fell asleep in my arms. I looked at him in the orange glow from the street light outside and my heart swelled with love for him. He is as good as it gets and I am delighted with that.

Right now at this moment, this is the best he has ever been. This is peak Benjamin. He cannot possibly get any better than he is right now. He is funny, helpful, kind, caring, loving and very much his own person. Six and a half is the best age. He is the best, my best and I am blessed by his presence in my life and the bond we share.

A Mother's love - how our broken bond was mended

Why I don’t need fuss on Mother’s Day

I know I’m a rare specimen, but I can live without too much fuss on Mother’s Day. I’m very content with a homemade card and a cuddle. I have a great relationship with my son and I feel loved, admired and appreciated by him every day. Plus I don’t want him to grow up feeling obligated to make a fuss when no fuss needs to be made.

Why I don't need fuss on Mother's Day

Nevertheless, I know at school there will be some card and gift making going on in readiness for Mothering Sunday. No doubt instructions for fuss making will also be issued from my husband.

My husband is prone to bouts of extravagance, so I have very firmly put in a request to go to our local community farm to see the baby animals. This is something we can all enjoy together. Ben and I can see the animals and meet the newborn lambs and calves. Daddy can walk the dog and then we can all go to the playground and have an ice cream. Sounds like a pretty good day out to me and one I’m really looking forward to.

Last night after dinner, I asked Ben some questions about Mother’s Day and got some surprisingly adorable answers. We’d been talking about the zoo, so both the zoo and walking the dog feature heavily; but I reckon this is worth three minutes of your time any day. 
 

I am so proud of my boy. Every day he brings sunshine and light into my life. We laugh and giggle an awful lot. He’s wonderfully creative and determined. He’s stubborn and wilful and as bright as a button. He wakes me up every morning with a kiss (because that’s how you wake a princess). Ben goes to bed every night insisting that we have a big family cuddle. He is kind and caring and I love the very bones of him.

Having him in my life is the best present I could wish for on Mother’s Day. Being a mum isn’t easy, not by a long chalk, but for me at least there are endless rewards.

What are your plans this Mother’s Day?

 

Love wins – playing parenting good cop bad cop

At 3am this morning the screaming and shouting started. The small boy had woken up and was engaged in complex negotiations with his dad about returning to bed and going to sleep. The small boy has a bad cold and is what can only be described as incredibly overtired.

I lay in bed and listened to the back and forth between father and son. After 20 minutes or so of tantrums and tears I intervened. It was clear it was my turn to play bad cop, so I marched in, confiscated the Lego he was arguing over at that moment and threatened to put all of his toys in bin bags unless he got into bed.

This did not work, he sat on his bed cried a bit harder. I went back to my room and waited for the next stage of negotiations to fail. This is ridiculous, he’s perfectly capable of going to sleep and I’ve never heard him behave like this for so long. I thought about it while I listened to them.

It was my turn to play good cop. My boy was poorly and tired. When I’m poorly and tired I want someone to cuddle me, stroke my hair and sing soft kitty to me. I warmed up his hottie, made a little nest for him under the blankets on my bed and welcomed him in for a cuddle and some love from his mummy.

Within minutes his tears had dried and his breathing was slowing. I squeezed him a bit tighter and told him I loved him and that I’d always look after him. He was asleep and snoring quietly to himself soon after. What’s more he slept past his normal 6am wake up and right through to 8am which is tremendous.

Today I resolve to love my son a little bit more and give him the things that I want and need. Love, friendship, consideration, affection, laughter, happiness, safety, freedom and respect. Last night at 3am I lost sight of the poorly little boy with needs and was more concerned with getting the household back to sleep. This is not a licence for him to get away with 3am tantrums every day, but a reminder to me that I need to think about why he’s behaving badly and deal with the cause and not the effect.

Today we’re having a lazy day with lots of cuddles and calpol. Tomorrow is a new and hopefully brighter day.

Good cop bad cop

Mummy? How do you spell f**k?

The inevitable has happened. The small boy has uttered his first major swear and it didn’t end well for him. 

Picture the scene. It’s bathtime and the boy is splashing about and playing with his foam letters, spelling out words and the names of his friends at school.

“Mummy, how do you spell f**k?”

“Erm, can you say that again please, I didn’t quite hear you.” *Quickly beckons husband into the bathroom*

“F**k” he replies. Husband and I exchange slightly panicked glances.

We knew this day would come, but we weren’t expecting it to happen just yet. He is only 5 and we try very hard not to swear in front of him, though it turns out husband is quite the potty mouth when he’s driving.

I remember my first swear. In the car on the way home from something when I was about 8 years old I said that “I was knackered”. As soon as we got home I was chased into the house by a red faced parent wielding a wooden clog to spank me with. In spite of this I have grown into a creative and enthusiastic private swearer.

We dealt with the boy’s verbal transgression without resorting to a beating. We figured it was one of those “teachable moments” so we pulled up our parenting socks, sat him down and had the conversation about naughty words and why he shouldn’t say them. We asked him where he’d heard the word and he said one of the boys at school had taught it him. We were secretly relieved that neither of us were the one who taught our son how to swear (we were very f**king relieved in fact).

There were a few tears before bedtime, a punishment sanction of his Lego ( for giving excessive cheek during our discussion) and a discussion about how it’s not nice to say rude words which might upset people. We quietly congratulated ourselves on a tricky parenting situation handled appropriately. 

The next morning he woke up, lesson learned and enjoyed the day with us. At bedtime, snuggled up with a story he sighed and happily said…

“I’ve been a good boy today Mummy, I’ve not said f**k or anything like that”.

*facepalm*

kids swearing

The Facebook Motherhood Challenge

Are you on Facebook? Are you a mum? Have you been tagged in the motherhood challenge? I pretty much universally hate this kind of thing, but since it’s only posting five happy shiny pictures of me and the boy how hard can it be?

I’ve loved looking at everyone else’s five pictures, and like them I’ve chosen to highlight the good stuff. It’s like a CV of parenting, you accentuate the positive and hide the negative stuff away and hope nobody sees it.

Like when he was 3 weeks old and we were both crying hysterically and we’d run out of tissues so I was so delirious with exhaustion I blew my nose on the duvet and we promptly fell fast asleep.

Or the time when he projectile pooed all over me and then peed on my face when I was cleaning him up.

Or all the cakes he’s coughed and sneezed in while we were making them (plague cake anyone?).

Or the times he’s shouted at me that he’s not my very best friend anymore, then cried out for cuddles before bed.

Or when he was having an operation and I almost tore my heart out with a mixture of fear and anxiety.

Or the times I’ve been too full of anxiety to do anything other than cry and rock to myself until it stopped.

Or the money troubles, the times I’ve not been able to scrape the money together to buy enough food for his tea, never mind the Lego set he dreams of.

Of the things I’ve missed out on in his life because my ruined spine won’t let me kick a ball around with him in the park, or carry him upstairs when he’s sleepy, or wrestle around in the floor playing horsey.

I’m just a normal mum, doing what I can to make sure he grows up to be a happy and productive member of society. My parenting isn’t perfect, in real life it’s not all lovely smiles and cheeky kisses, it’s not been carefully staged for Instagram, with filters applied left, right and centre. Parenting is messy, physically and emotionally, but would I change it? Not on your nelly.

motherhood challenge

12 Things I love about my son

I get a bit teary sometimes when people ask me when I’m going to have my next child and I have to tell them I can’t have any more children. The loss of what might’ve been I feel acutely, but I know I am bloody lucky to have what I’ve got.

I creep into his room most nights to look at him, partly because he’s still for once and I can get a good look at him, partly because he looks so damn cute when he sleeps, and partly because I think it does me good to fill my heart full of love before I go to sleep at night. So with that in mind, here are 12 of the things I love about my son…

  1. I love the sound of my son yawning when he’s having his dream wee.
  2. I love the way he sleepily snuggles onto his dad’s shoulder when he’s carried back to bed, like the little boy he is and not the big boy he thinks he is.
  3. I love the way he wakes me up “like a princess”, which is to kiss me like Sleeping Beauty might be kissed by her handsome prince.
  4. I love the way he climbs into bed with me for ten minutes of putting stickers in his farm book before he goes to school.
  5. I love the way he shares things with us, breaking off a small piece of his toast for us and sharing every bag of sweets he gets.
  6. I love the way he stands with his hands on his hips, surveying the street like a tiny foreman, pointing out anything of interest “look mummy, a rubbish lorry”.
  7. I love his sleeping face, peaceful and angelic, still with the soft round cheeks of a small boy, framed by his long eyelashes a thousand girls will later envy.
  8. I love the way he slips his hand into mine when we walk together, his is so warm and soft and he doesn’t mind me squeezing it as I try to burn the memory of his little hand into my mind.
  9. I love the way he loves music, asks for it to be turned up and rocks out whenever he has the chance.
  10. I love reading with him, baking, making crafts and drawing. I love talking about our days and about all of the things in our lives.
  11. I love how polite he is in company, how he will behave impeccably in a restaurant, how people say he’s a credit to us.
  12. I love learning about him. He’s good at counting, less good with phonetics, loves sport and is a bit obsessed with robots.

I love him. With all of my heart.

Of course there are things I don’t love. The rough play, the tantrums, the frankly gross habits I know I’ll be moaning about for the rest of my life. But I’m the mother of a boy, a beautiful, lively, intelligent, caring boy. And I wouldn’t swap him for the world.

things I love about my son

Parenting is hard… but it’s temporary

Yesterday my over-tired 4 year old spent most of the afternoon screaming and crying. He was in a foul mood and was really hard to be around. Together my husband and I spent the long hours until bedtime tagteaming him. Trying to gently entertain him, soothe him and keep him happy. He was hard work, and we felt every second of those six hellish tantrummy hours we endured before he went to bed.

But you know what. I didn’t bitch about him to a soul. I didn’t go on Twitter and call him a dick and do the old #freetoagoodhome hashtag, I didn’t post a *sad face* Facebook status update and I didn’t instagram him mid-meltdown. Because I have so much respect for this little human being I carried around, birthed and have lovingly nurtured up to this point.

I get that we all use social media to vent. I know this because I vent all over it. I get that sometimes it helps to post a little ranty status update about the little person who loves you unconditionally and relies on you for 100% of their care and attention. I get it. I couldn’t tell you if I’ve ever publicly been a bit nasty about my own child, I might’ve been, but it seems quite unlike me.

Parenting is bloody hard. Bloody hard. You’re knackered. All. The. Time. You lack the freedom you had pre-children, you can’t do what you want, when you want. Money is tight, there is rainbow covered crap all over your once tastefully decorated house and you have to take a personal interest in the bowel movements of another human. It is hard and it is gross. I get it.

I think we’ve all seen those “reasons my son is crying” memes. The ones where it says “he’s crying because I wouldn’t let him lick fire” and stuff like that. There was a counter meme which struck a chord with me. My son is crying because he’s tried. My son is crying because he’s confused by what’s going on. My son is crying because he has no frame of reference for this new experience he’s having and is clearly terrified of. Yes. Nailed it.

My child is not being difficult just to piss me off, or stop me watching my favourite TV programme, he is crying and being difficult because for him life is all new, confusing, difficult, stressful, whatever. My son doesn’t need me losing my temper with him for this, he needs me to understand that having a tantrum, for most of the time at the very least is evidence of the gap between his existing skills, experience and knowledge and what is happening to him right here, right now.

What he doesn’t need is to look back when he’s old enough, scroll through my tweets or Facebook posts and see for himself how hateful I was towards him. Parenting isn’t easy, I don’t think I ever gloss over it. When I started blogging it was in a way an online diary which we could look back on as a family, or when I’m gone, warty bits and all.

It goes back to the old saying “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. Be real, be honest, be truthful, but don’t be a dick. After all, this child you’re bitching about now will be picking out your retirement home soon enough. Parenting is hard, but the actual child rearing bit is comparatively short and they’ll be off to uni before you know it. It’s hard, but temporary. So be nice.

parenting is hard

I love that boys face, and I’ve grown to love all the rainbow coloured crap that moved in when he did.

You’re not my best friend!

“You’re not my best friend!” I wonder how many times a day this is bellowed at me.

“Please can you get dressed” I ask, he resists, “You’re not my best friend!” he shouts.

“Please can you brush your teeth” I ask, he protests, “You’re not my best friend!” he yells.

“Please can you stop playing with your train track in the middle of the kitchen while I’m trying to cook a meal” I ask, he responds angrily “You’re not my best friend!” and refuses to budge.

Calmly, when I have time and patience I sit with him and explain that I don’t want to be his best friend, I want to be his Mummy, the best Mummy I can be, doing the best for him, helping him to learn the skills he’ll need to get on at school, to learn how to be the best he can be, to understand what is safe and appropriate (whizzing around a kitchen filled with bubbling pans isn’t safe or appropriate).

I don’t want to be his best friend, of course there’s a part of me who wants to be his very bestest of best friends, but I can’t be, he needs a Mummy, an appropriate adult to be there to tell him off when he needs it, to cuddle him and kiss it better when he falls over, he needs someone to tell him all of the very excellent things he is, to build his confidence and help him to explore the things he likes and dislikes to help him find his path. He needs me to be his Mum.

I want to fill his little life with experiences he will remember always, days out, adventures, great family time together, things that will help him grow into the man he will eventually become. But what he also needs is the guiding hand of a parent, not the mischievous boundary pushing fun he can only get up to with his best friend.

I love the small boy to bits, it hurts a little bit to sit down and explain that I don’t want to be his best friend, I just want to be his best Mummy. Of course there is a lot of space for me being daft with him, rolling around on the floor, chasing him and his friends around the park, singing silly songs on the bus (sorry fellow passengers), but I am his Mummy first and foremost, not his best friend.

Oh, if you’re wondering who his best friend is….it’s his Daddy.

You're not my best friend

How to have a bath

If you have children it can be difficult to get half an hour of alone time. Having a bath is a great way of relaxing, enjoying some quiet time and having a good wash. Here are my top tips for having a bath during half term.

How NOT to have a bath

Picture the scene, it’s half term, you have a lively three year old and two small dogs, you fancy a quick bath, because you’re worth it.

1. Run the bath, add your favourite bath oil or bubble bath, create a relaxing bathing ambience.
2. Put the TV on in the bedroom, supply the small boy with juice and a snack, all seems well so leave them to it.
3. Get into bath and allow the warm water to lap over you, breathe in the aromas from your expensive bath oil, relax.
4. Realise that you’ve forgotten to shut the door.
5. Moments later the small boy and two small dogs wander in. Chaos ensues.
6. Forget how to relax as the small boy bellows “CAN I HELP WASH YOUR BOOBS PLEASE”. Die a little inside as you explain that your boobs don’t need cleaning.
7. Repeat the phrase “no you can’t get in the bath with me” seven times before he just climbs in the bath with you. Die a little more inside.
8. Give up trying to shave your legs and resign yourself to being half smooth goddess and half yeti.
9. Give up on your half an hour of me time. Get out and leave the small boy to enjoy your delicious bath with expensive bath oils.
10. Finish washing your hair in the sink. Voila!

How to have a bath

1. Run the bath, add your favourite bath oil or bubble bath, create a relaxing bathing ambience.
2. Put the TV on in the bedroom, supply the small boy with juice and a snack, all seems well so leave them to it.
3. Firmly shut the bathroom door, locking it if possible.
4. Get into bath and allow the warm water to lap over you, breathe in the aromas from your expensive bath oil, relax.
5. Emerge from the bath scrubbed, shaved, invigorated and beautiful.

Guess which kind of bath I’ve just had.

How to have a bath

Only child. Lonely child?

When we had our son in November 2010 we fell completely in love with him. I knew the moment I held my bundle of gorgeousness that I wanted another baby. We talked about it, decided to give it a year or so and then get cracking with giving him a little brother or sister.

Fate then stepped in and after an accident and a couple of surgeries my back is too ruined now to even consider getting pregnant. Even if I spent 9 months in bed, I’d still have to do all the lifting and bending that comes with a baby. Sooner or later I’d be in a wheelchair and my children would become my carers.

I can’t have any more children and my son will be an only child.
Only child

I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and worrying that he’s lonely, it hit me today when we took him to the playground and he met a little boy, they hit it off immediately and spent nearly an hour chasing each other, rolling around and laughing. It was really wonderful to see.

I can’t shake the feeling that he’s missing out on something, that being an only child deprives him of all kinds of childhood joy. There is a voice in my head which tells me that because he’s an only child he’ll get more of us and he’ll get spoilt more for sure, but he’ll also get more focussed attention with homework and play as well as discipline.

He’s at school now so his days aren’t lonely, his weekends are pretty packed with things we do together as a family and I don’t think he’s quite as lonely as he used to be, though he probably was when it was just me and him at home.

I worry that because he’s an only child this will adversely affect his confidence with his peers, though he’s usually very forthcoming with adults. Maybe I worry to much.

I’ve got a little brother, he’s two years younger, we got on, we played together but we were not best friends and we had frequent arguments and falling outs. But we’d always look out for each other in the playground and I’d muscle in to warn the big boys off if he needed it. But having a sibling is probably no real guarantee that you won’t be lonely.

In a few months we’ll be getting a puppy. When we got our first dog I got a best friend and a constant companion, he loves dogs and I think they’ll be inseparable. I know it’s not the same, we’re doing everything we can to stop him feeling lonely, lots of play dates, lots of special time with mummy and daddy. I hope it’s enough. I hope he never feels lonely and alone, because he isn’t.