A letter to the Terminator

Pregnancy Test - PositiveThe other day I read a lovely blog which contained a letter from a SAHM to working mothers and a letter from a working mum to the SAHM and it got me thinking about other people’s circumstances, where they are made to feel guilty and are judged on their decisions by society or even by themselves.

This is my letter to the Terminator, whoever they may be.

Dear Terminator,

Please don’t think that I judge you for deciding to terminate your pregnancy.  How can I for one second know what is going through your head during a time when emotions are  already running riot as your body starts a mammoth physical and mental change?

I do not know whether you already have a child with severe learning difficulties, who takes up the majority of your precious energy, love and time.

I do not know whether you suffered with serious PND the first time round.

I do not know whether you’re only 16 and are no way in a position to raise a child, as you are still a child yourself.

I do not know whether a previous birthing experience left you incontinent at both ends, gave you multiple stitches and left you in hospital for a week barely able to hold your firstborn.

I do not know whether your birth control failed and actually you weren’t being ‘irresponsible’.

I do not know whether you are in an abusive relationship.

I do not know whether you were forced into terminating this pregnancy by other family members.

I do not know whether you are about to finish your PhD that you have been working towards for the last 3 years.

I do not know whether you’re currently on anti-depressant medication because you’ve been going through a really low period in your already full life.

I do not know whether you have financial worries and can barely afford to feed yourself let alone another.

I do not know whether your family has a high risk of genetic abnormalities that you are too scared to pass onto offspring.

I do not know anything about you.

I do know however, that the decision you have made has probably caused weeks of angst, sadness and dilemma, and that you only want to make the best decision for everyone concerned.

Terminator, I salute you for making a decision and for accepting any emotional repercussions that may bring to yourself. I want you to know that it’s ok and that society doesn’t know your circumstances and so is wrong to judge.

Don’t ever let society make you feel guilty for trying to make the right decision for you at a particular point in time.

It takes a very strong person to make a decision like that.  You are strong and be proud of it.

Sending love and courage,

Mum of One.

 

 

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The Invasion of the Lifestyle Boxes

IMG_1012It started with Graze.

Little snacks? Four surprise boxes delivered every week?  Healthy-ish? This sounded like heaven from the postman.  I signed up.

It has been really…… nice.  When working full-time, getting something in the post that is for me and edible was just a pleasurable experience. The pretzels and peanut butter, chocolate cookies, flapjacks, it was such a novel thing and pretty reasonably priced. I loved it.

Now, 8 months on, I must admit I do get disappointed with another box of seeds, or heaven forbid more salt and pepper popcorn, but it’s my own fault for not going online to update my preferences. Graze – I don’t blame you. Note to self – go online and bin the popcorn.

Sometimes the boxes start seemingly multiplying on my desk.  The snacks that I don’t quite fancy just sit there, not eaten, but I can’t bring myself to cancel or postpone this piece of post that is a present for me and me alone.

I couldn’t stop there though.  After Graze came the ToucanBox.

This is more for my daughter than me, but it is our ‘thing’, the crafty thing that we do together once every couple of weeks.

As a non-crafty person, these little boxes of individual craft tasks such as making an African bowl, or a windsock, or, would you believe it, a pretend gingerbread house complete with windows is truly amazing.  The best part is that nearly all the materials required come in the box with the instructions and a bit of educational spiel too.  I think it is only scissors that you have to provide – understandable.IMG_1013

I love it when the ToucanBox arrives. On the whole there isn’t much mess and at the end, the craft item is pretty impressive and clever. Both my daughter and I feel accomplished after it has been done and the box can go in the recycling or refuse along with a small amount of surplus crepe paper and a few unused sequins.

For a parent who has limited time to engage in messy play activities and who thinks that a trip to the park is a proper outing, ToucanBox is the way forward.

So, now I’m a bit addicted.

This new rage of boxes containing items of foodstuffs, beauty items, crafts etc. is really taking off.

When you don’t have time to potter around shopping for yourself and online shopping isn’t quite as exciting as it used to be, getting a box through your front door full of surprises is enchanting.

I’ve now signed up to MyLittleBox.  I’m waiting patiently for my first one to be delivered.  Slightly more expensive that the other boxes, but it promises to take me back to my feminine side. I might get a lipstick.  I’m hoping for a mascara. I don’t really care as it is the element of surprise that I love the most.

In the words of Will Smith it is “a little escape from the monotony”.

If you’re short of time, or short of mental capacity, I’d highly recommend these boxes.  Food, Fun or Fashion – I’m sure there is a box suitable for everyone.

Lifestyle boxes are the new #lifestylehack.

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The Second Child Dilemma part 1

kids-1437472-640x480After the birth of our daughter at 34, we were adamant that we would have two children.  We had discussed the second child dilemma and had ideas about when we might consider trying for our second.

That was the first year.

During years 2 and 3, through a combination of struggling to juggle work and home life, family and friend bereavements, little local support and a rather aggressive and challenging toddler, all of a sudden, the idea of adding a second child into the mix became a sheer terrifying prospect.

The ‘one and done’ motto became a reality and actually, we went so far as to decide to pay for private education for our precious only child.  The reasoning was that, if I was to spend so much time working to earn money, it would be far more rewarding to spend that money on her education rather than just whittling it away on a nice car or nice holidays.  It’s a sensible decision, isn’t it?

This tact has helped to negate the guilt I felt for working full-time and not being the SAHM that my own Mother was. **I’m such a bad parent**

I had researched and researched having a second child. It remains firmly in my mind.  I have questioned myself, my partner, friends, relatives, colleagues, websites, anyone that will talk to me about it really.  I would ask questions such as:

  • What is the age gap between your children?
  • How did you cope with 2,3,4 children?
  • Do you think our daughter’s aggression is because she doesn’t see her Mummy as much as some of her other friends see theirs?
  • Is it selfish to not give her a sibling?
  • Do you get on with your siblings?
  • How did you feel growing up as an only child?
  • Is our daughter’s obsession with dolls because she doesn’t have a sibling?
  • How could we ever afford to have another?
  • How did you afford more than one child?
  • Is it easier the second time around?
  • How many of her friends have siblings?
  • Is her reluctance to play by herself at home due to the fact that she loves other people?
  • Is 38 too old to have a second?
  • Do people think she’s spoilt?
  • Will she fit in at a private school?
  • Shall we get rid of all the newborn and toddlers clothes and toys now?
  • Shall we just keep a few of the nice toys and clothes, just in case?

It has been relentless.

Of our reasonably small circle of good friends, we have several who are popping out children like rabbits, others that have desperately wanted more but are struggling, and some who, like us, think they could be content with just one.

There is no right answer.  There is also, no wrong answer.

For a long time, I felt very resentful of those that could have two children or more because of their support network.  Those whose parents lived round the corner and regularly helped with childcare, babysitting, being on-call for sudden nursery illness. Even just providing a nice local place to pop round for a Sunday lunch where the parents could relax a bit and the children would just run around happily, getting attention from their devoted in-laws.

In emergencies, like the dreaded pox, I did make a mercy call to my parents and funded their journey up for a couple of days to help out. However, those have been few and far between and actually when we’ve asked to be relieved of our parenting duties for a night or two, occasionally it has been met with disappointment. How could we actually want to forgo our precious weekend time with our daughter for a couples-only jolly?

The more I deliberated over things, the worse I felt and the worse our relationship became.  The clear path of parenthood from the first year had well and truly disappeared and all of a sudden we were on a different trajectory.  We worked to pay bills, we joined a wine club,  booked a holiday, bought cute school uniform and just accepted what we thought was the right thing to do for our family even though in the back of my mind, the question of having a second child still remained.

Part 2 of this blog post will be separate.  If you want to read it, be warned that it could be upsetting for you, but it is my honest account and may resonate with someone out there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When breast isn’t best – an honest tale

mother-and-child-sculpture-1527087-639x744I’m a paranoid working parent. One of the reasons for this was a very short, very sharp, shock to my confidence that was dealt on the 10th day of my new parenthood, by a very unlikely source.

The midwife.

Here is why, for me, breast wasn’t best.

The first few days I took in my stride as any strong, independent, career-woman  would do. Things were fine, I was exhausted, I was anaemic and I was still finding my feet, but….. I was ok.  Our little family was doing just dandy.

Then something happened.

On the 9th day I was particularly tired, we’d done a bit too much out and about and breastfeeding had been a chore in a couple of locations.  The following day was a weigh-in visit.

The midwife who turned up was not my usual one, I’d never met her before and she didn’t know me from Adam.  She weighed my little daughter (who at over 9lb at birth was no peanut), and announced that she had not put on much weight for the previous few days.  At this point it is pertinent to share that at the previous visit, my daughter had put on 2-3oz and was deemed to be progressing well.

Apparently, this minimum weight-gain issue was concerning.  Her face said it all. Cue feeding style evaluation where both of us were manipulated on the sofa into a ‘better’ feeding position.

Can you picture it? Arms adjusted, back hoiked up, breasts lifted and moved, cushion thrust somewhere between hip and breasts.

Unpleasant.

A few moments following said post-natal ‘support’, inevitably the floodgates opened. Tears flowed and my confidence flowed away with them. It was smashed, like a piece of fragile porcelain.

I was a bad parent.

I was useless.

I’d let my daughter down.

It’s taken me the best part of two and a half years to rebuild that confidence and I’m not even sure I’ve got it back completely now.  Anyway, I digress.

You see, once my confidence vanished, so too did my milk.

I tried. Heaven knows I tried. Once I managed to express 0.5oz. The tissue of one nipple was red, raw and swollen from my efforts. It’s never really recovered.

I fed all the time, expressed in the shower to promote the production, did everything advised of me, but still my daughter’s weight gain was limited and she never ever gained more in a week than she had in those initial few days before that fateful Day 10.

We had doctors appointments, various medications for reflux – gaviscon, omeprazole, you name it.  We got referred to a Consultant at the hospital  and I persevered with exclusive breastfeeding for 4 months.

I hated giving my daughter medication to stop her sicking up what precious milk I was giving her.  Especially as she never showed any pain.  She was just sick with quite transparent vomit that never looked like it contained any great nourishment.

No professional we saw suggested or encouraged the use of formula, none of my antenatal friends were using formula, and in my head, going down the formula route was a sure sign of poor mothering.

At the Consultancy appointment a few months later, they suggested upping the meds and including a few new ones into the mix.  It was then that I plucked up the courage to ask whether I could possibly try formula as a last resort before bombarding my child with yet more medicinal chemicals.  Reluctantly, the Consultant gave me a week to try it and said if nothing happened, I must get the prescription straight away.

I bought some formula and gave it a go. It was pretty easy if I’m honest.

Then, 5 days later the health visitor came with the dreaded scales.

My daughter had put on 9oz!………………..9oz!…………..yes, that’s right…….9oz!, in 5 days!

It was a miracle, a fantastic, brilliant achievement.  My daughter had put on proper weight! There was no need for the medication, I just did not have proper milk supplies.

That ship had sailed 4 months ago, but no one suggested it could be the cause and it wasn’t for me to trust my own judgement.  Oh no, even though I had felt like I wasn’t producing enough, I couldn’t openly admit to this ‘failure’ especially as none of the experts (who knew far more than me), had even subtly pointed me in that direction of thought.

Had I not been made to feel like I was doing it wrong on that day, by a health professional who should have been helping me, I may well have been able to continue breastfeeding.

I’ll admit, I’m not a natural mother earth type, it did always feel a little awkward, but I would have been ok. I would have grown in confidence over the days and weeks and I expect my milk production would have built up even more.

C’est la vie.

My daughter, now 3, hovers around the 75-85% for weight and height.  She is bright, bubbly, horrendously stubborn and gives the most amazing cuddles.  There has been no lasting damage to her.  Only to me.

To anyone struggling with their child’s weight gain, who are exclusively breastfeeding due to invisible peer-pressure, media-pressure or just your own strong desire to be in the breast-is-best crowd, please at least try formula, even just to supplement.  If you’re anything like me, it could change your life.

 

 

 

 

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How will I explain this mummy blog banter to my grown-up child?

the-thinker-by-rodin-1233081-639x852Last night, I got thinking.

When my daughter is older, I’m talking a teen, she may well become aware of my site, my tweets and my mummy blog. How am I going to justify this without her feeling like she was a ‘problem child’, one that caused her Mother hurt, anxiety, paranoia, exhaustion.  This could be a problem!

I read blogs and tweets that spend a lot of time complaining about parenthood (me included) and it is really, really, sodding hard.  For us parents, this whole social media and online activity is therapy.  It helps us get through the tough time, which undeniably has been caused by one or more children who we absolutely love with all our hearts.  We worry about them constantly and do everything we can to protect them from harm, but if they had the comprehension to read and understand what we write, how would they feel?

Maybe I’m worrying unnecessarily – I am the paranoid working parent after all.

However, in my day, the challenges of parenting were kept behind closed doors.  I’m sure my Mum only divulged her darkest days to either my Grandparents or very close friends, or even the doctor.  She certainly wasn’t tweeting publicly for all to read.

There isn’t really much in the way of an internet cemetery that means when my daughter turns 13 in 10 years time all trace of my honest, unadulterated views about her and my life will be deleted, cast away like a boat to a deserted island, never to be seen or heard of again.   I can still find stuff about me online from my University days almost 20 years ago – and it’s not pretty.

What will I do?

For now, I will keep this thought.  I will, as time goes on, conjure up a plan about how I will discuss with her my parenting experience and my reasons for going online and explain the difficulties I had, even if it is just to help gear her up for a time when she may want children herself.

We escape from our children will this blogging lark, but one day they will catch up with us, and probably overtake us.  You wait – Kidsnet, kidproblems, unkiddykid, selfishkid, sarcastickid – they’ll burst into view and chances are they’ll write some far more torrid and distressing stuff about us than we do about them!

 

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The one-word answer Dad perspective

dollhouse-family-portrait-daddy-1419160-639x852I don’t know about you, but my better half is not one to elaborate much, especially when it comes his parenting perspective.  With a penchant for cars, consoles and calorific treats, he certainly isn’t the ‘Daddy day-care’ type.

This is fine, but sometimes when I’m exhausted from over-analysing our family unit, how many hours I have actually spent with our daughter this week and whether we have all had our 5-a-day I do wish he’d analyse a bit more – if only to make me feel better!

So, the other evening, I decided to find out what he really thinks and in order to get him onboard with it, I offered the option of one-word answers.  Winner!

Here is what I got back:

Q. What did you feel when I gave birth to DD3?

A. Pain

Q. What has changed most about your life since becoming a Dad?

A. Insomnia

Q. What do you miss most about your life pre-parenting?

A. Sleep

Q. What do you love most about being a Dad?

A. Humour

Q. What parenting chore do you dislike the most?

A. Bottom-wiping

Q.  Would you like a beer? (listening-test question!)

A. Yes

Q.  How would you describe my parenting style?

A. Soft

Q. How would you describe your parenting style?

A. Strong

Q. What trait would you like DD3 to inherit from you?

A. Humour

Q. What trait would you like DD3 to inherit from me?

A. Intelligence

I guess I’ve learnt a little bit more about him.  What would your partner say? Let me know at sayhello@paranoidworkingparent.co.uk or tweet me @pwparent

 

 

 

 

 

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The accidental competitive Mummy

  • my-daughter-1440088-639x481When my other half told me that I was always comparing our daughter to other people’s children, I was mortified.  Said child was only a few months old and the only humans I was conversing with were those at the baby and toddler groups, my new found antenatal friends and on rare occasions, close family members (the ones who are judging you on every tentative step into parenthood you take).

Apparently, so it transpired, every time a fellow mummy would mention something about their reflux-suffering son, or sleeping-like-an-angel daughter, I would have to pipe up with something similar about my own daughter.

The thing is, when I was engaging in these conversations, I wasn’t trying to compete. At least, I don’t think I was.  I was merely trying to feel part of the group. I wanted to be the confident parent.

I most definitely cared about the trials and tribulations of my new friends and their new offspring.  Just listening to their joking about the latest poo-disaster or the fact little James vomited over the lady in the supermarket made me smile and made me want to join in.  If I had something to say in reply, I said it.  I got nods of agreement or amazement, a little titter of laugher or a concerned look.  If I could relate to what they were saying, I damn well made it known.

It made me feel good.

It made me feel accepted into the mummy clique that I so desperately wanted to be part of.

However, when I was accused of being a competitive parent, all my new found confidence suddenly drained.  Was I really being a bit over-confident, a bit bolshy?  Were those little nods from the others just politeness?  Were they really thinking to themselves “here she goes again”? Did we not fit in with the group?

For a few days I pondered this, I tried to recall (and occasionally cringed at) the things I had said in conversation, things like the fact that my little girl could also start the jumperoo on her own and I’m sure she also had just muttered the word ‘Mama’.  I didn’t always boast about her achievements, we had some horrid times too, but I needed to share my new life of parenting with other people.  I didn’t think my daughter was any better than anyone else’s child, but I needed to feel like she and I were just as ‘normal’ as everyone else in the group.

After a few weeks of trying to make a conscious effort to not ‘compare’, I slipped gracefully back into the old habit. I decided that actually, these new parents were becoming my friends, they still listened to me, I hadn’t felt ostracised and most importantly of all, we were all going through the new-parent stage together.

I’m a proud (and slightly paranoid) parent, and I’m a talker. That is all there is to it.  If I was comparing my daughter subconsciously then I apologise if it annoyed anyone.  She is now 3 and I can safely say that we are still good friends with all those parents from the early days. We still get party and play-date invites at weekends and we’ve even been on holiday together!

Pipe-down Daddy-o, I wasn’t comparing, I was just joining in!

 

 

 

Petite Pudding

 

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5 things to do in 5 minutes to recharge your Mummy brain

resting-1515847-640x480I’ve been there before, daydreaming about a spa day, a whole day at home alone to potter, a leisurely walk and maybe a spot of lunch to while away the weekend. Realistically, these aren’t possible for the majority of us working Mums (Moms) – maybe once a quarter if you’re lucky.

So, what can we do to just grab a few moments of ‘me time’?  Here are my top 5 things to do in 5 minutes to recharge your brain and your patience.  Some of these can be done when you’re at work, others are for when you are at home in the evening or the weekend.

  1.  Wash your hands – I’m not talking a quick swill at the kitchen sink, I mean a proper hand wash in a nice bathroom basin, using a hand scrub if you have it, along with a fancy soap and lashings of hand cream.  Just the scent of my favourite soap or handcream makes me breathe a huge, contented sigh before I open the door back into real life.
  2. Go for a quick walk – This could be at lunchtime to get out the office, or just to nip to the local store at the weekend to get a paper.  Just these few minutes to be walking without real purpose, or having to keep a watchful eye over your roaming toddler is bliss.
  3. Listen to a song – it could be something on your iPod, or just a song on the radio , but everyone knows that music is powerful stuff.  If you can switch off from the world around you and focus on the lyrics and melody of a tune, it really can transform your mood and reinvigorate you.  I like to listen to tracks from my youth that bring back some great memories and make me smile.
  4. Take 10-15 deep breaths – If I’m honest, I do this in the office toilets regularly especially if I’m feeling overwhelmed.  Close your eyes and take 10 breaths of 5 seconds each.  Focus on your body starting from your feet and slowly moving up towards your neck and head as if you are releasing the stress from your being. By focusing on parts of your body, it stops your mind thinking about everything else.  It does work, trust me. 🙂
  5. Garden – There is simply nothing more relaxing that wondering along past your flower beds that are beginning to bloom in the spring sunshine.  If it is quiet and you can hear birds twittering, or even a neighbour’s lawnmower, it is very therapeutic.  Catching sight of a beautiful butterfly or a bumble bee collecting nectar transports you into the natural environment and even if you just deadhead a few plants it temporarily releases you from the life treadmill.

What do you do to rebalance your mind during the hectic week?  Let me know at sayhello@paranoidworkingparent.co.uk, tweet me @pwparent or comment on my facebook page www.facebook.com/paranoidworkingparent.

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10 signs you are a paranoid working Mum (Mom)

Here are my top 10 signs that you deserve entry into the ‘paranoid working Mum’ club. antistress-1-1506008-639x852

  1. You doubt you actually know your own child and their interests
  2. You google and read any material you can about high-powered women that have children, which then upsets you as they seem to ‘have it all’.
  3. Every keyworker handover at nursery is a blur as you’re too busy hugging, cuddling, staring intently at your child to listen to what the adult (who has more than 100 words of vocabulary) is saying.
  4. You are far more intolerant and impatient at work that you were pre-children.
  5. Any idea or suggestion you provide at work that is seemingly disregarded becomes a beacon in your brain that is shouting ‘that’s because you aren’t that good at your job anymore’.
  6. Sending your child to nursery or school when they are a bit under the weather leads to random thoughts of serious illness at least 5 times during the working day and thoughts of impending social worker involvement.
  7. Your child’s tantrums are researched regularly as you fear they have serious behavioural problems because you are not a stay-at-home Mum.
  8. Seeing home-made birthday cards presented on the children’s tv channels physically pains you even though you are useless at crafts and probably wouldn’t make one even if you were at home.
  9. You become interested in political topics such as sexual inequality in the workplace and flexible working.
  10. Making a decision between getting home to your children and attending a work event causes a dilemma of mammoth proportions and by the time you’ve made the decision, it is too late to accept the event.

Oh, and I’ve thought of an 11.

Other women at work who have children always seem to cope far better than you.

If you resonate with all or some of these, it is ok.  You’re not alone.  If you have more to add, please drop me a line at sayhello@paranoidworkingparent.co.uk.  Welcome to PWP.

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