Some Parenting Thoughts

Hey guys. I hope you are all doing ok in this current state of chaos.

I am trying to to navigate each day with a pair of thick metaphorical spectacles. You see, my son has suddenly had a growth spurt. He has shot up and his head is now reaching my thighs. I see it bobbing by as he walks past the table.. yes, WALKS. Walks with a purpose. Little mouth set in between two large, soft, round cheeks, and a little tummy that pokes out like a middle-aged beer belly… only cuter.

Because he is no longer a baby, he is a BOY. He toddles and has an opinion, and voices it vocally.

Naturally, with his new-found abilities, he has developed new-found interests. Toys are now boring, and he must be entertained and taught and spoken to. He comes toddling up to me several times a day, grunting with the effort of lugging his books from one corner of the house to the next, begging me to read to him. He gets so upset if I don’t immediately put down what I am doing (gloves on, water dripping from half-washed dishes) and read to him. He experiments with everything, and has no understanding of safety whatsoever, no matter how many times he has caught his fingers in the washing machine doors, he will still wriggle out of my arms and make a beeline for danger.

This means my days are no longer structured around a baby, they are structured around a little human boy. 

A real person.

He lay on me the other day, and I rocked him to sleep, and his head was on my chest, and his feet reached all the way down to my knees. And my husband came in and said, ‘Wow. Remember when he was small enough to fit in your stomach?’

I did, folks. I remember when he was breech and his little feet would kick down near my abdomen and his big heavy head would push up against my lungs so it hurt to take a deep breath. I would have to do some yoga and walk around for him to move position. And now his little body is taller than my torso.

He is so small but so BIG!

I do stupid things like cry when he is asleep because I am worried somebody might break his heart one day or bully him or make him feel bad.

I voiced these concerns out loud, and my husband asked, ‘Would you rather him be bullied, or be a bully?’

Straight away I said, ‘I’d rather he be bullied.’

My husband reckons that is an awful choice, but I’m resolute. I’d rather my son have a kind heart and good character than cause anybody else harm. I was bullied some, as a child, I think most people were. You learn how to be considerate of others when you’re hurt yourself. I never want him to be so mean spirited and cruel as to deliberately hurt somebody else. I confess, when I was four, I used to pinch this little girl in my class. She would cry. I don’t know why I did it. And I still feel despicably awful about it, even though we are friends now, and even though I apologised to her many times over the years. I still feel so despicable every time I think about it.

Would you rather have your child be bullied, or be a bully?

A drag and a haul

Folks, sometimes you gotta drag yourself up and haul yourself to each of your jobs, one by one.

That is what I have to do this evening. Drag myself up and put some rice on, haul myself over to the bathroom to run a warm bath for a wriggly little baby, while scooping him off the bathroom floor numerous times and setting him firmly outside on the carpet. Oh no here he comes again, little hands smacking the floor in his excited haste to crawl into the bathroom. That boy loves bathrooms. He loves baths too.

Heave myself off this couch and glance at the stack of dishes in the sink. No way they are getting washed tonight. I am just about done. That bath will knock me out, then it will be getting boy into his pyjamas… mission impossible. He wriggles away and crawls off with a bare bottom, so fast, laughing at my futile attempts to drag him back to be changed. Then it will be reading so many books before bed, boy turning the pages faster than I can read them, because that’s the fun thing to do now.

Then it will be milk time, and then hopefully.. HOPEFULLY… he will turn on to his stomach and splay his arms about, wriggle a bit to get comfy, and slowly fall into slumber.

I say hopefully because last night slumber did not arrive for the fella. It choo chooed into the station, for sure. But boy did not get on that slumber train. He tossed and turned and eventually, frustrated and tuckered out, he cried. For hours and hours. Until 1:45am. YES I counted.

So hopefully tonight my dragging and hauling will yield me some dead time on the sofa before I crawl into bed.

Hopefully.

On This Strange Feeling

Folks. I appear to have run out of motivation. I appear to be standing in a stagnant pond, the foul smell of water that does not move, that catches waste and sits there with no way to dispose of it, wafting around me. I wear long rubber boots and a net hangs loosely in my hands, and I know I am supposed to be doing something, but cannot for the life of me fathom what it is.

Some would be of the opinion that I am doing God’s work. Striving to raise a part of the next generation. It is a selfless act, they would say. You are a martyr, for the time being. Embrace the drudgery, revel in the happy moments, and keep on keeping on.

Others would pity me. You have lost your freedom, they would say. Your mind is blank and, dare I say, dank? Your thoughts are preoccupied with another’s well-being, your brain is scattered, your emotions hang by a single, filthy thread. Every day is a battle for you, and you only have things to lose.

For me, standing here in this discomfort, it is a bit of both. I feel smothered and out of control, but at the same time overwhelmed with control and good feeling. I would not like to be anywhere else, any place else, and yet I want to be far far away. Take me far, though, and I would be miserable.

And ponds can be quite beautiful places to stand in.

On Reading and Narrating

I am reading a book now called Mrs Bridge.

It is written quite simply, with simple events and simple people. So far. Chapters are 3/4 of a page long, and deal with the simple people doing simple things. Except there appears to be an underlying shift under all the simplicity. A coiled snake, waiting to spring. It is a far cry from the previous book I was reading, in the manner of its writing. Less of the explosion, more mature. No feelings. Well, barely any. And always concealed under decorum.

You may be wondering how I am now managing to read whilst also navigating busy days with an ever-moving, ever-learning 6 month old (7 months on Sunday).

Well, I now read arduously during his ridiculously short naps. 40 minutes is all he has. I no longer rush about doing chores or beautifying myself. I am done with that. Chores accumulate the minute I have finished choring them, and I am just fat now. So until I lose this baby fat I really am not going to bother shoving myself uncomfortably into nice clothes and feeling depressed that they don’t fit me like they did pre-baby. I am just going to wear my leggings and my hoodies and feel comfortable, and lie on my sofa reading until the baby wakes up, when the cycle of shallow breaths (from me. Need to learn how to breathe deep more often) and nonstop exhaustion starts again.

How do people with more than one kid do it? Am I just so selfish?

I also strap baby in his pram, stick my headphones on and walk for two or three hours, listening to audiobooks. The weather is lovely for that now. It is September, and the August wasps are waning. There are so many Painted Ladies adorning flowers and fluttering here and there, landing on the top of the pram more than once. Blackberries drop lusciously from pregnant wild bushes, and their juice is just so sweet on the tongue. It is a lovely season, this season of late summer. Things are lush, there is no heavy sticky haze of heat, and the wind is fresh.

So I get my reading in, and the baby stares out at nature, smiles and gurgles at me, attempts to grab things, and eventually falls asleep, tired out by all the colour and stimulation.

And for me?

Well, it is a break from chores and baby entertainment.

We read so many books together everyday, sing songs, play games, and I try to talk to him as much as I can, narrating EVERYTHING. Right, i am putting your sock on. Oh stop wriggling your feet, naughty boy. That’s it. There. Both socks on. They had better stay on else you’ll get cold toes! Oh look it is raining outside. Shall we try to touch it. That’s it. No, don’t touch the muddy windowsill that Mummy hasn’t cleaned since before you were born (true story). Ok. Shall we read this book? No? You want to put it in your mouth. Alright. Can Mummy drink a cup of tea now? Look at this toy. How it rattles.

I am sick of my own damn voice I tell you. And sometimes I just want to be silent.

And I am quite isolated and know that lately, in society, a lot of new mums are, whereas they weren’t before. It is just how we live now. And I just can’t help thinking how bad that is for mental health, and how it might negatively impact the good I am trying to impart to my son.

 

Little

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my thirteenth post.

Little toes

Little nose

Little mouth

Little frown

Little thighs

Little sighs

Little fingers

Little dimples

He’ll be little for quite a while

But boy, what a big smile!

Poor attempt today – my little has sapped my energy!

Weight

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my sixth post.

 

Well well well, I see you have found the scales.

Go on then. Stand on it, do. Won’t do you no harm. Sure, a number will pop up, but that should only show you how much mass you have accumulated on your years here on earth.

Would be very different on the moon. You’d weigh less there – but perhaps if humans inhibited the moon there would still be a stigma, just on a different range of weights.

When you were a baby your mother anticipated each weighing you had. They stripped you and sometimes you cried, your little naked chubby body going blotchy because there was a draft. They laid you gently on the hard plastic of the scale and your mother – well she squealed in excitement when she disovered you’d almost doubled in weight since the day you were born. She sure does remember your exact weight and treasures it in her heart for some odd reason.

Yes he weighed 3.45kg when he was born and now he weighs 5.9kg, isn’t he growing fabulously!?

Such pride and happiness in her voice. She longs for you to grow and yet laments your tiny self from a month ago.

So weight is important. If you weren’t increasing in weight they would worry. If you increased too much they would also worry.

It’s just when you reach a certain age. An age where weight seems to become evil and high numbers on a scale are devastating. People begin to become fixated on these numbers, and eat green things in favour of beige things in the hopes that the scales will read them a lower value.

Some barely eat at all.

But no.

Those scales you are standing on are just an inanimate object. Revel in your mass. Revel in your form. It takes up just the right amount of space here on earth, and presses down on our planet along with billions of other masses – the comforting humdrum thump thump of earthlings weighed down by gravity.

All it is is gravity. Your weight. Here on earth.

Red Lips

I am challenging myself to write a post every single day in May, to kickstart my writing again. I will be following some prompt words that I ‘stole’ from somebody on instagram. Here is my fourth post.

My to-do list is huge. There are so many things on it that get pushed and pushed and pushed back until they are curled and blackened and covered in layers of wanting to be clean.

Other things take precedence.

Bottoms must be wiped. I know, such a charming topic. Clothes to be changed, cries to be soothed, cuddles to be given and soft chunky little bodies to be fed and bathed and rocked gently to sleep.

Lullabies to be sung.

Baby clothes to be washed.

The floors can wait, my hair needs care, nails are bitten down to stumps and polish dries in glass bottles as the dust settles on their lids.

Lips are cracked.

I wore a red dress at my wedding party. After the white one. An A-line princess neck dress, embroidered bodice, tulle under a skirt that flared out just enough to be elegant. Not too much. A red dress and red lipstick, sultry and deep and when I look at photos of myself I do not recognise that carefree girl.

I want a baby, I told my husband, I have so much love inside me and it wants to come out.

Give it to me, instead, he told me. And I did, of course. Red lips and high heels and night dates and spotlights and kisses in the moonlight, in the heat of the sun. Kisses before and after work. Sleepy ones and excited ones and ones that are routine, barely noticed and vaguely appreciated.

And red lips. Perpetually. The soft click of a good quality lid, the deft twist and the scarlet balm smeared on two lips in a matter of seconds, turned up hair and a pretty dress. So much love to give, galavanting from place to place. Work to home and travelling here and there in between.

Evenings enjoyed. Nights slept in full. Mornings together, just the two of us. So much love to give. So much given. Eyes meeting and smiles amid hours of companionable silence.

I don’t wear lipstick anymore. Ever. Barely. Silence is fleeting, moments together are snatched. Cuddles involve tiny arms and legs, and two large heads cooing over a small one.

I don’t have red lips. But I still do have so much love to give.

 

Life

Sometimes I think I want children but then I remember I am an awks person who can’t look some certain people in the face or say their name. I hang up on phone calls mid sentence because I feel too awkward to carry on the conversation and I make a right fool of myself to strangers.

Also I don’t make the best decisions about anything and I think I have a lot of growing up to do. Like, a LOT.

I can run a house, that is easy. I’ve done it since I was eleven years old. What can I say? My mother gave me a tonne of responsibility. I can change nappies; I’ve changed hundreds. Probably. I had two younger brothers, one born when I was eight and one born when I was eleven, and yes I have changed both their nappies and babysat them and bathed them and took care of them and put them to bed and just the usual things the oldest sibling has to do. I also had a tonne of baby cousins growing up and I just loved babies so much, so I helped out a lot with them.

So I can do a lot of things mums need to do.

I can even deal with children very well, since I have had lots of experience. Also I work with young children, I know how to speak their language. I honestly do.

But, I still feel as though I am not grown enough as a person, to be able to bring another kid up. I am a bit selfish, and entitled. I can be very mean sometimes and while I have a lot of patience with children, I don’t really. I can go home and relax and I can send the baby back to her mama.. but when it is my own… I am the mama. Where do I send it then?

Also having a kid might be nice to begin with but all that exhaustion? Also to have to then spend the next twenty odd years taking care of said kid, not being able to be flexible, not being able to get up and go somewhere at the drop of a hat, schooling, nurturing, emotional availability…

Oh I don’t know.

My friend just realised two weeks ago now that she is three months pregnant, after bouts of nausea and fatigue.

She told me the other day that she went for her first scan with her husband and it was such an emotional experience.

‘Why?’ I asked, completely oblivious. Why should a scan be emotional? It’s just a scan, all preggers people have it. I carried on munching my Hula Hoops.

‘Well, because although you can’t see anything there, it’s just a blob really at this stage, you can hear the heartbeat of this person inside of you, that came from the both of you, and it’s just real, it’s alive, it’s there.’

Never did I feel so immature and out of it than in that moment.

I remember my own mother having scans, and us in the room with her, a thunderous heartbeat reverberating around the room and echoing in my mind. 

A child is real.

I remember once my mother went for her scan and the nurse sent me out of the room for some reason. I was ten. I peeped in through the half open door and I heard the woman say, ‘I can’t hear the heartbeat.’ and I saw my mother start to cry, and I didn’t realise how big it was for her and how much pain she must have felt. I saw the nurse consoling her and saying they would check again, and the jelly on her swollen stomach and then suddenly, the tharrump-tharrump, the thumping sound of life swelling through the room.

A child is not a hindrance or a plan or a barrier to life.

My mother’s silent crying in the cab all the way home.

It is life. It is a person. It is a human.

I don’t know. I know I am not ready.

But I also know that I am ready to be ready someday, and I suppose that is enough for now.

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On Mothers

Mothers are strong creatures. They sustain life within their able bodies for nine months, and then after the trauma of growing a real life baby and birthing it out of them in what is commonly hours and hours of excruciating pain and exhaustion, do they get a holiday?

No, sir, they do not. They immediately launch themselves into a manic system of nurturing, which makes for very comfy times for the newborn baby (who by the way remembers nothing of the pooping and crying and burping and crying and pooping and crying), but horrific times for the mother. Staying up all nights at unheard of hours. Is she partying? Well, she has vomit on her but none of it is alcohol induced. She is rocking and patting and humming and sleepwalking and sometimes, she might be crying.

Her body has just gone through a tremendous change and she is sore and painful and completely, utterly self-less. Nothing she does is for herself. That bath? For her? Gosh no, see how she dips her elbow inside to make sure it’s the perfect temperature? She WISHES somebody would do that for her. No, folks, it’s for the precious little person that she is taking care of now, that is claiming every second of her life. She will gladly jump into a bath of cold water just to get the baby gunk off her. Hell, she is too afraid to poop in case it wakes up and screams its head off.

She is a powerful lady full of love and care and emotions. Sometimes she has other minions who are clinging to her skirts as she attempts to take care of the little creature she has birthed. These other creatures are a little older, but still as demanding.

‘Where’s my breakfast?!’ screams one.

‘Charlie is eating my toes, Mummy!’ shouts another.

‘Muuuuuuum. Tell Peter to get out of my room!’

‘Mother, I can’t wear this it’s stained.’

‘TELL LENORA TO TAKE OFF MY SHOES RIGHT NOW MAMA!!!!!’ (my sister, folks)

A mother is a therapist. She listens to everybody’s problems and helps them come to a solution. A mother is a cook, a cleaner, a nurse. She is exceptionally skilled at hearing noises in the night time, and can wake up at the slightest floorboard creak. She is used to her little ones running up to her to tell her all the gory details of their potty business.

A mother is a selfless being who gives everything she has to her children, only to have them move away from her at some point when they reach adulthood and start fending for themselves. For a lot of mothers, this is a welcome break.

Be gone, they think, and leave me finally to do what I have been wanting to do for eighteen years! To sit back and have a cup of tea without any interruptions!

But that doesn’t stop them from worrying about whether or not Peter has had dinner and why Jane is looking so pale.

Mothers are powerful because they have magical ears that can pick out exactly what their baby’s cry means, the silence that means a toddler is behind the door with his fist inside the sugar bowl, and who is in the kitchen by the way they open a fridge.

‘GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN,’ the mother roars, aware she sounds just like her own mother.

They are strong because they put everybody’s emotions before theirs, and carry their troubles along with their own. They cater to everybody’s needs, at the detriment of their own.

They are forgiving because no matter how many times you have transgressed the limits, they will still love you and make sure you have a nice hot meal when you come home late from university, shattered.

My mother lost her mother five years ago. Sometimes my mother wants a mother to get warmth and comfort from. I heard her say to her friend once, ‘It’s just hard, you know, a mother is the centre of your world.’ Sometimes I say, “I’ll be your mother, mama,” because if I didn’t have my mother I would be lost, so lost. I want to make her feel better. It’s nowhere NEAR the same, of course. She bats me away and tells me not to be so ridiculous when I try to give her a motherly hug. Sometimes my mother will get a faraway look in her eyes and when she thinks nobody is looking, a great sadness will come over her face. I know, then, that she is thinking of her mother and it breaks my heart because she is my mother, and I never want her to be sad. When my mother used to cry, I would cry too, because her pain is my pain. And I am not always the nicest daughter to her, and I am so sorry for that, so I am actually going to pause this post and go call her.

Mothers are special folks. Not everybody gets along with their mothers. Some mothers are different from other mothers. They come in all shapes and sizes. But if you have a mother, and if you love your mother, then this is a post that commemorates her along with all the other hardworking mums out there. May they be blessed and happy and healthy, and may they find peace and happiness in their children and families.

Shriya Das mother-and-child-painting-358-L

Shriya Das

 

Tuesday.

 

Oh hi.

I am sitting on a comfortable bed at the moment. My eyes are stinging, I am exhausted and cannot take another verse written by Wordsworth. I really can’t. I assure you I am not dissecting his poetry because I care about it. After extensive study, I really don’t see why he was such a celebrated man. I can understand why Austen has reached the level of recognition she has, and even Shakespeare. I acknowledge the greatness of Dickens, and appreciate the poetry of Dryden, but I just CANNOT get my head around why Wordsworth is so highly praised. He just seems like a big headed, self obsessed snob.

I have had a long day.

The baby is keeping me company. She is sitting next to me on my bed. Her large cheeks are flushed, and her chubby little fingers are scrabbling through a pile of books, her sweet little voice telling me intricate stories, of which I can only make out the bare minimum. Words like “lion” and “dinner” and “stouwy” emerge from the baby jargon.

“Otay Len?” she says, after turning the page, to make sure I have listened to her tale. She can say my name properly now.

“Okay” I tell her, smiling, before turning back to my screen.

I got up before the sun roused itself from sleep. I worked out for a good two hours. I cleaned my mother’s house and spent five hours tutoring some children before settling down to pore over vexing poems. I then drove to an Arabic grammar class I signed up to as per my New Year’s list.

It was such an exhilarating experience. The other people there were all of different ages, and so jokey and cheerful. The teacher introduced me and they all welcomed me in such a friendly way. I felt at home immediately. I wasn’t expecting her to ask me about my background in Arabic though, and so wasn’t prepared to be put on the spot like that in front of a whole roomful of silent people. I felt my face flushing hotly as I told them that I had my father speak it to me as I was growing up. I was surprised that I felt embarrassed, though. I thought I was over that. We learnt about the command verb, and how it applies in a sentence when addressing a male, a female, two males, two females, an un-gendered group of people and a group of females. I remember vaguely studying about that before, so catching up wasn’t as daunting as I thought it would be. All in all, a remarkable lesson. I can’t wait for next week.

Busy days are tiring, but so satisfying. As long as you keep to schedule, of course. Which I am not doing at the moment, am I. Off I go to dissect more Wordsworth.

Do you like busy days, or do you function better when your schedule has some gaps?