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Morning Mayhem

It’s 6.45am. Hubby is just leaving for a breakfast meeting. I am trying to stealthily manoeuvre my way to the bathroom without waking Mishty. It’s too late, he is already stirring and before I make it, he sits upright and utters his first word of the day- “milk”. His eyes are closing again so I scoop him into my arms and bring him back to my bed for a snooze. I snuggle into his chest, his little hand pawing at my face. This is the best part of the day – his warm body tucked into me, the gentle breathing, punctuated by the sound of him sucking his thumb.

The spell breaks and he is fully awake, clamouring for the white stuff. I acquiesce and leave him to drink while I wash up. He walks in and looks at me with curiosity. “Mummy, are you getting your bogies out?” he asks innocently. I figure the best answer is to just agree.

He follows me out as I go to get dressed and is soon interested in removing the contents of the bedside drawer. He notices the tissue box is missing. I have hidden it to avoid the daily routine of Mishty emptying the box, handfuls at a time and then gleefully shredding all the tissues into a fluffy mess.

There is now a strong odour permeating the room. I try to cajole him into coming with me for a nappy change but he is busy being a blender and making cupcakes from random items he’s found in the drawer. I suggest putting it in the oven [drawer] and while it cooks, we change the nappy. He agrees and things are going well until he randomly demands to be changed on the floor midway through.

Nappy change done, getting dressed is the next challenge. Mishty wants to wear his favourite blue trousers, oblivious to the rather large stain that indicates the trousers ate more yogurt than he did yesterday. I offer a clean pair. Mishty bawls in my face. The socks are starting to come off as well. To quell a complete wardrobe meltdown, I let him choose his own tracker bottoms. Half dressed, I move to take his top off but the routine wail of “I wanna wear my pajamaaaaas WAAAAAHH…” puts me off.

The wail changes to a demand for breakfast at home which is odd, as normally he eats at nursery, but today he is almost in tears. I know it will take him ages but the guilt of depriving food to a baby is too great. As we sit together at the table, Mishty starts mushing up his cereal and decides to eat only tiny spoonfuls of milk. My hopes of a quick breakfast are disintegrating faster than the Weetabix. Then the delaying tactics begin:

“I don’t want the pink spoon, I want the purple one”

“There’s dirty bits in my bowl” [mushed up Weetabix]

“It’s too cold, I want hot milk now”

“I want Peppa Pig!”

“I don’t want anymore…”

I give up and haul him to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He is adamant that we must open a new toothpaste, and then sucks it off his brush instead of moving it up and down. He giggles and wants more toothpaste. Exasperated, I wipe his face and go to the kitchen.

I open the cupboard to take out a chocolate bar for work. He sees it instantly and knows exactly what it is [blame Hubby]. “Mummaaay, can I have some choc-ate pease?” Saying no doesn’t go down well so I make false promises to let him eat it later and distract him with his daily dose of multi-vitamins. This is not as appealing as the sweet syrupy flavour of Calpol and he cries like an addict for the strong stuff.

We are now almost ready to leave. All I need to do is put on his coat and shoes, and get him in the buggy. Simple. Except now he doesn’t want to go to nursery. And he doesn’t want to put his shoes on. Or get in the buggy. No, he wants to see a train driver.

More false promises of trains and some manhandling of footwear later and we are out the door. His howls are reverberating in the communal hallway as he declares in between sobs that he wants to walk. If I didn’t have a train to catch / wasn’t already late / had an extra half an hour to spare, letting him walk wouldn’t be such a bad idea. He wins as he is wriggling out of the buggy quicker than I can strap him in. As we walk painstakingly slowly, I resort to scare tactics with a van that is reversing and he finally agrees to get in the buggy.

We eventually make it to nursery, and with not so much as a backwards glance, he morphs into an angelic child and walks off obediently with his keyworker. I leg it to the station and turn up to work some time before midday, wondering when it’ll be my turn to have a breakfast meeting…

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The Second Coming

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The Second Coming

It’s 11.30pm on Easter Sunday and Mishty is wide awake yelling for gnocchi with pesto like a two foot middle-class tyrant. An ill-timed nap without dinner is the cause for tonight’s midnight snack. In fact, everything today has been ill-timed and there’s no one to blame but the Scots.

I have nothing against the Scots but having to change the clocks twice a year because a bunch of them chose to live in a land that hardly sees the light of day in winter is a pain in the proverbial*. Not only do I lose an hour of sleep, but there is absolutely no way of explaining this bizarre custom to a toddler. He will still wake up at exactly the same time and go to bed at the same time, only now there’s less time to fit everything in.  The consequences of which, can be disastrous…

Take today. As the clocks went forward, confusion arose over whether it was time for lunch or a snack. We opted for snack. This was the first of a long list of bad decisions that snowballed the day into a complete write-off.

Mishty fell asleep as if he were having his post-lunch nap except it wasn’t the real deal – the time change meant the nap was too early and he woke up ravenous after only half an hour.

Sleep deprived and hungry, he was at his worst. After lunch, we tried to keep him awake in the hope that he would have an early dinner and bedtime. Alarm bells were ringing but the time change clouded all judgement. Mishty was becoming more overtired by the minute and spontaneously crying like the winner of a Mariah Carey diva competition. So we bundled him into the car and drove around until he fell asleep. This would have been a great idea except that it was now 7pm. Bedtime for most kids, but without any dinner, it was just another nap for Mishty.

Half an hour later, he woke up. I would have fed him at this point had he not fallen asleep again on my shoulder during an episode of Gossip Girl, rendering me immobile. Eventually he woke again clamouring for milk, which perked him up enough to then want dinner. At 9pm he was half-heartedly attempting some food before getting bored and wondering off to play/destroy something. Inevitably, the “I’m hungeeeeeee” wails started sounding around 11pm, roughly the same time I’d lost the will to live. Epic fail.

At least this time it coincided with Easter – the holiday that represents the resurrection of Christ with chocolate eggs.  There’s no escaping the sweet treats. At nursery Mishty keeps coming home with things he’s made like Shreddies covered in chocolate, or Cornflakes covered in chocolate, or Rice Krispies covered in chocolate (sensing a theme here..?) with the occasional mini egg and marshmallow thrown in. Add this to the stash that relatives have bought him and he has amassed his own body weight in chocolate.

Smeagol My Precious Funny ShoesChocolate turns him into Gollum and he clutches them tightly, rightly suspicious of our motives when we say he can have them later, only for them to mysteriously disappear.  It’s a desperate attempt to avoid a sugar-induced hyperactive kid bouncing off the walls and refusing to go to bed because the new bedtime doesn’t work with his body cycle.

The best use for the eggs is to confiscate them as punishment. More effective than the ‘naughty corner’, Mishty’s whole face crumples- overwhelmed and uncomprehending as to how repeatedly kicking daddy in the head could justify this cruel torture.

Speaking of torture, it’s past midnight and there is silence coming from the bedroom. Hubby and Mishty are either asleep or lying there pretending to be which means I can write for the first time in over a year. In case you were wondering about my hiatus, it was due to a new job that actually required me to do some work and left me brain dead in my spare time.

You haven’t missed much. Since I last posted, Mishty has had another birthday, got more teeth, sort of sleeps in his own bed through the night, can hold a conversation with you, and can go from babbling baby to screaming monster in under 2 seconds. Now you’re all caught up there’s only one thing left to say…

Happy Easter!

*This is not based on any factual evidence and is highly likely to be incorrect but lets blame the Scots anyway.  

 

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Temper Tantrums

Mishty has now learnt how to say no. Over and over. I try to time these outbursts for some musical entertainment:

Me: “They try to make me go to rehab and I say…..”

Mishty: No, no, noooo!

Except my timing sucks and this has never happened. My dreams of recording a cute baby edited Amy Winehouse video that goes viral and creates infamy remain shattered – Mishty does not perform on demand.

I was told that tantrums happen when they are two. Mishty is only 15 months but already showing the full force of his rage. Either he is advanced or people have been lying to me.

I check with my other mum friends and theirs are doing the same. One child had a tantrum over an apple – it was being placed in the fruit bowl which caused tremendous distress for no obvious reason. Mishty had a similar episode over an apple – but of the Mac kind. Hubby had left his new shiny laptop on the sofa, just out of reach for Mishty. He stood on his tiptoes and stretched until he could just about tug it. I swooped in, pushed it away and handed him his own musical toy laptop. He impatiently shoved it away and tried again to reach the real laptop. I tried to firmly direct him back to his one only for him to throw it across the room in a rage, presumably thinking ‘THIS IS SHIT! There’s only six buttons here and it’s shaped like a cat. I can’t even Facetime on this piece of junk!’

Sometimes he cries when I don’t let him play with bleach or when I take the knife away from him. I shamefully have acquiesced to his demands for the toilet brush though. Sometimes I feel like I am being bullied by a two foot midget in my own home.

The most recent tantrum occurred last week when I picked Mishty up from nursery. He was so happy to see me but this quickly changed once he saw the buggy. He looked at me like, ‘Er… I don’t think so. I am tired from playing all day and I NEED to be carried ALL THE WAY HOME!’ I tried valiantly to get him in but he was resisting with all his might. Ten frustrating minutes of him screaming, wriggling, running off, standing up and slithering down and I had managed to forcibly strap him in. Still screaming, the only way I could get him to stop trying to burst through the harness like the Incredible Hulk, was to let him hold my finger. This instantly calmed him down but left me leaning awkwardly over the buggy or semi-crouching to the side as I didn’t have a parent facing seat and Mishty’s arms were too little. Not being able to maintain this position for long, I had to let go and just hoped that he would fall asleep on the way. No such luck. He screamed hysterically the whole way home. By the time we got in, he was so angry he stomped off to the kitchen to bang on the cupboards, lay down on the floor and even did a dramatic piece of headbanging against the wall which only made him cry harder as it hurt his head. Kill. Me. Now.

These are the times when you close your eyes, sigh and wish someone else would just take over. Instead, you have to muster enough energy to chase after him when he runs off and tries to hide in an impossibly small space and then gets even angrier when he can’t fit in there and starts throwing around expensive breakables like your phone or iPad.

When they are not having a tantrum, they are being exceedingly wilful. Here are some examples:

1. Mishty refuses to lie still when I try to change his nappy. He runs off mid change and lets loose a huge stream of wee all over the carpet. He does this three times in ONE WEEK.

2. Mishty never wants the fun to stop. At the end of bath time he splashes excessively if he sees me coming close with the towel and then refuses to budge even once I have drained the bath. Once scooped up, he pushes me away with all his strength until in danger of falling and smashing his skull on the tiles. Whoever said bath time was relaxing was clearly an idiot.

3. Mishty loves going outside. He brings you his coat and shoes to tell you he wants go out. If you don’t get the message, he bangs on the front door repeatedly. If this doesn’t work he cries and lies at the entrance and tries to put on my trainers. If we make it outside, a great time is had until it is time to go back inside. He then sits on the gravel refusing to budge until you hoist him up in an arm lock and drag him kicking and screaming back in.

4. Mishty has a strong grip. Unfortunately, this is usually for things he is not allowed. Even though you are stronger and can take it off him there is a strong chance that you will break their arm in the process so a gentle tug of war takes place instead and somehow when you finally win, there’s tears all round. This is particularly bad when it comes to the dustpan and brush. And cake.

Life can be unfair. You can’t always get what you want… but at least you can always have a tantrum about it!

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It Must Be Love

962574117fa1c83efc8c3377fff0af9fHaving a baby can often bring couples together but it can also place immense strain on the relationship. It’s not surprising really when you’re constantly tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with responsibilities to end up focussing solely on the baby rather than on each other. Back in the romantic, carefree pre-baby days we were nice to each other. Now we don’t seem to have the time, energy or inclination to. Here’s an example of how things have changed…

The combination of winter germs, being run down from a lack of sleep and Mishty coughing in your mouth makes it inevitable that we are never too far away from getting ill. Still nothing is more awful than when your partner declares he has Man Flu.

Previously you used to be sympathetic

“Oh honey, your poor thing! How are you feeling? Why don’t you lie down and have a rest?”

Now you go into a desperate denial…

“Maybe you’re not actually dizzy and we are just experiencing a minor earthquake?”

“Are you sure you feel achy and it’s not just the strain of picking up Lego scattered all over the flat? [Note: although this implies Hubby puts away toys, I regret to inform you that this is factually incorrect]

Then it dawns on you that he is actually ill and all traces of sympathy are overtaken by the sinking feeling you get from realising you will be looking after two babies by yourself. One is an actual baby and the other is a grown man who has become so feeble that he is as useful as a jellyfish in a library, and is making whimpering noises while huddled under the duvet. Annoyingly, this will coincide with the scheduled time that he was supposed to take over so you could get on with doing That Really Important Thing that now has to be done some other time, as in never.

Previously you used to be nice and make sweet gestures to make him feel better

“Honey, can I get you any hot drinks or make you soup? Would you like some medicine? Here, let me give you a head massage and rub Vicks on your back.”

Now you whisper sweet nothings like “Do it yourself, you puny weakling. Do I look like Florence Flipping Nightingale to you?!”

Previously you would leave it to him to get better

Now you’ve turned into the overzealous and impatient Nurse Nazi where you throw oranges at his face and overdose him on medicines in the hope of a miraculous overnight recovery because you can’t face the prospect of him being bedridden (aka useless) for a week.

“Here’s my credit card. Lets make some lines and see if you can snort the lemsip powder so it can go into your bloodstream quicker…”

Previously you would check in on how they were doing during the day with actual concern.

Now you check in because you are concerned about whether he’s managed to do anything productive while being at home.

“Hello, are you feeling better enough to do the laundry? If you’re able to stand up now, could you do the dishes? If you’re a bit bored of lying down maybe you could just do this… and this… and that… and ooh that also needs doing too… Wait, what do you mean you haven’t gotten out of bed yet?!”

Previously you would give soothing and uplifting pep talks

“There, there, it’ll be ok, poor you, aww honey” etc.

Now your version of a pep talk is to tell him to man up, stop being a wimp and mutter angrily about the time when you were off sick with real flu and still managed to do the nursery run, laundry, bins, vacuuming, tidying, cooking and washing up.

Previously you would still be affectionate without worrying about germs, saying loveydovey gumph like “sharing is caring”

Now you wear a facemask and make sure you’re not in the same room as each other. Even when he’s recovered.

Moral of the story, if you want to be loved, don’t get sick.

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Happy New Year!

resolutionsRejoice! We have entered the futuristic sounding year of 2015! January is upon us and bringing with it new resolutions that will be instantly broken, gym memberships that won’t ever be used, half-hearted attempts at dieting and sobriety, and the charitable growing of pubic hair in the name of “Fanuary”.

My Facebook newsfeed has been filled with people reflecting on the last year and vowing that a new year means a new you. I have posted no such statuses nor made any resolutions. This is mainly because I find it difficult to remember yesterday, let alone any of last year, and because I definitely do not feel like a new person. I just feel like a tired old person with my youth slowly sapping away from me. Depressing as this is, there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to give up just yet and somehow I managed to rouse myself enough to do something different…

On NYE instead of staying indoors and doing nothing (sadly we have no social life) we decided to go away to a romantic country estate for a night of rest and relaxation sans Mishty. We dropped him off with my parents and enjoyed a whole suite to ourselves, indulging in long showers, uninterrupted TV, and a stress free, scrumptious dining experience. The amazing king size bed made it difficult to keep awake in time for midnight and we nodded off to the sound of fireworks blasting overhead. It was so nice, despite a tiny bit of me wondering whether Mishty was ok and slightly missing him.

The next day was a crash landing back to reality. Mishty hadn’t napped long enough during the day and was now cranky so all our rejuvenated vibes were rapidly vanishing. An early night was a godsend… until he woke up at midnight and decided to stay awake until 2.30am. At 13 months I had expected Mishty to be sleeping through the night but since starting nursery and subsequently developing a never-ending runny nose / cough / cold, his sleeping patterns have been impossible to predict. He will go to bed late, wake several times either for a few minutes just for reassurance or for a long couple of hours, before deciding to start the day at 5am. These are not fun times.

If Mishty decided to embrace the whole ‘new year, new you’ concept here are some of the resolutions that I think would be on his list:

1. I will look forward to going to nursery and not cry every morning when Mama drops me off

2. Even though I am really sleepy I will not fight going to bed and will stop thinking the cot is the enemy

3. I will go to bed early instead of staying up until when most adults go to sleep

4. I will fall asleep easily instead of needing to be rocked, sung to or lain down ten times in the cot

5. I will sleep through the night. THE WHOLE ENTIRE NIGHT. Ok, maybe most of the night… at least once…

I am not convinced any of these will actually happen but lets see what the new year brings. Here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous and less sleep deprived 2015!

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Appraisal

what-have-you-done-with-your-life1When I came back to work a colleague of mine asked me what I had achieved during my year of maternity leave. This prompted a complete mind blank (but this happens often when you’re sleep-deprived). But she had a point, a whole year had gone by and what did I have to show for it?

Well, firstly there’s a baby who is happy, healthy and loves me – that’s a good start, right?

I finally finished my annoying-never-ending-pain-in-the-ass-bane-of-my-life dissertation and completed my Masters – impressive, I know.

I made it to central London using public transport on my own a few times which was incredibly liberating albeit hair-raising, and we both survived.

I discovered where my kitchen was and cooked new dishes for Mishty – some good, others spat out with venomous force.

I became faster at doing things like applying a full slap of make-up in under five minutes, eating an entire meal without chewing and cramming at least ten household chores during Mishty’s twenty minute power naps.

I finished reading a book [although one in a whole year isn’t a lot, it’s still one more than Hubby over the last five years].

I have learnt how to take Mishty swimming, give baby massages, recite at least fifty nursery rhymes, and multi-task with one hand.

I watched a film once without any interruptions… no actually that was just wishful thinking.

I lost enough baby weight to fool people into thinking I’d gone back to my normal size… just not enough to actually fit into many of my clothes.

I just about managed to keep up with this blog.

We survived a six hour drive to Cornwall and flying with Ryanair to Spain for our first family holidays and despite the initial stress, actually had some fun in the sun.

We impulsively joined the National Trust in order to force ourselves to be more ‘outdoorsy’ and be even more middle-class than we currently are.

And… that seems to be it.

I rack my brains for more ‘achievements’ and feel stumped. What was I supposed to achieve during maternity leave anyway? Non-parents / deluded expectant mothers assume that a year off work must mean that you can do things like learn a new language, take up a hobby or even start a business, all while the baby sleeps most of the day away in his Moses Basket. This could technically happen, but it usually doesn’t happen straightaway.

The massive shock to the system that is having a baby, takes time to get used to. So while you envision swanning off to play groups and coffee mornings with friends, the reality is that sometimes you’re so tired that getting dressed and making it out the door is your biggest achievement of the day. By the time you figure out when the best time to leave would be, you’ve already missed that window because it’s taken you ages to find something that fits and isn’t covered in snot or sick, and inevitably the baby’s nappy has leaked spectacularly and by now he doesn’t want to go to the baby sensory class because he just wants to sleep and somehow it’s got dark already.

Whilst I was no hermit, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t doing enough with Mishty. Knowing that you have a finite amount of time with your baby triggers a carpe diem vibe in you to make the most of every day. This can either be really motivating or really burdensome as it pressures you to be as outgoing as possible.

I knew people who attended baby classes/playgroups almost every day just to ensure they got out of the house and had something regular to look forward to. I trialled a few but didn’t commit to anything as I hated the forced cheeriness and constant singing, and they usually clashed with Mishty’s naptime. But no weekly routine meant I could spend the day doing whatever I liked and be spontaneous. Except I wasn’t very spontaneous, so outings usually consisted of a quick trip to Waitrose, the local park or visiting my parents for some respite – not very exciting. I wished I was one of those mothers who would plonk their baby in a sling and go anywhere, anytime, but I was too constrained by my own lack of self-confidence and laziness.

Until you’re on maternity leave, you won’t know what it’s going to be like. Every day is different. Some days are great and others are more… challenging. You may be able to travel the world, climb a mountain and found your own company during this period or do nothing more than waft around the house in your pjs. Either way, who cares, you’ve just had a baby. Ultimately, if you’re happy and the baby’s happy, that’s the biggest achievement of all.

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Don’t Leave Me!

Alg-crying-baby-jpgSending your child to nursery has many benefits. They develop their social skills by interacting with other children, they can play in a safe environment, and also learn new skills through fun activities. More importantly, someone else can deal with their poop, tantrums and mess.

Sounds wonderful. Except that before you can reach this utopia, you have to go through the hell that is known as the Settling In Period which can take weeks. This is where sending your child to nursery feels like sending them to Guantanamo Bay.

Rather than dumping Mishty in a new place with a bunch of strangers for nine hours, I tried to ease him in slowly with a few taster sessions beforehand. Unfortunately these kept clashing with naptime which was resisted with all might once he saw all the gleaming toys in front of him. Fighting sleep until it was too late, then realising I wasn’t there, led to meltdown. There was a lot of screaming and not much sleep.

Three semi-successful sessions later, it was time for a full day.

Day 1: Mishty wakes up for milk at 6am and then promptly falls asleep again. I get ready at lightning speed and then wonder how long to leave Mishty asleep for. Reluctantly I wake him up by taking his pyjamas off (time being of the essence here). He seems perky enough and we make it out of the flat in record time. Once we are at the nursery, I take him inside and as we approach the baby room, he senses what’s about to come and starts howling. Even me trying to distract him with food and cuddles do nothing. He clings to me and won’t get off. One of the staff takes him and he fights to break free to come to me. Every fibre of his being is saying to me, ‘NOOOOOOOOOO, DON’T LEAVE ME!! With a heavy heart, I walk away slowly. I feel like I have abandoned him. He feels like I have abandoned him. I cry most of the way on the train to work.

At work I log in to the high-tech online parent portal to check on his progress. To my relief, I see a picture of him playing! It seems he stopped crying long before I did. The portal doesn’t have enough updates for me so I resort to calling them to find out all the details. Predictably, he hasn’t slept or eaten much, but he’s doing ok otherwise. I decide to finish work early and go to pick him up. When he sees me, he cries and runs to me.

The rest of day is spent with Mishty impersonating a koala. Clingy is an understatement. He screams all the way home because he is in the pram and not being held. The screams are so intense that a concerned passer-by asks me if my child is ok. By 6pm he can’t hold off any longer and falls asleep. Unfortunately this turns out to be a nap and he wakes up at the time he should be going to sleep. Doh.

Day 2: This time I try to stay a little bit with Mishty but it has no effect. He is still wailing and I am told to leave. I linger in the hallway listening to his cries and feeling bereft. At work, the parent portal is not working properly. I am stabbing my phone repeatedly, clicking refresh and desperately resisting the urge to chuck it out of the window every time the egg-timer of doom comes on screen. I call up again and find out that he is eating well and sleeping a bit better. Hubby has a half day and collects him. This time, he is so tired we manage to get an early bedtime.

Day 3: I am an emotional wreck by now. Starting my day to a soundtrack of distressing cries is taking its toll, no matter how much I tell myself that he’ll be fine or see pictures of him playing and eating happily. My sister in law picks him up today as she has the day off. He is very clingy with her and refuses to come to me. I realise that he is now associating me as the bad guy for sending him away whereas Hubby and SIL are his saviours. This makes me feel even worse.

There is a five day gap until his next nursery session. In this time he goes from being scared and clingy, back to his normal, curious happy self again – only for the whole cycle to repeat once he goes again.

We are in his third week now. I dread the mornings. He dreads the mornings. It’s soul destroying but we live in hope that one day, the tears will stop and he will look forward to it. Here’s to that day, whenever it may be (just please be very, very soon).