Mum’s the word

It has been a long day, and it was an even longer night. Poor Fredders is hot and bothered and incredibly snotty. I stayed home from work today as Momma’s instinct told me that my little boy needed snuggles and plenty of rest. We might not have been out enjoying the glorious sunshine, but we managed a 2hr afternoon nap which is unheard of in this house [I mean flat, don’t I] … of course the downside of a 2hr afternoon nap when one is not accustomed to such lengthy siestas, is waking up feeling groggy and jet lagged, and having to then cook tea … I hope the rest has done my poorly boy good, and I dearly hope tonight is more restful … I think I started praying a Memorare last night at 3.40am – the nuns would be proud. Maybe I’m still a closet Catholic after all …


I needed to Blog this evening, and those of you who are Facebook friends will know why! Yesterday was quite monumental; finally after nearly 3 years, I was able to wear contact lenses again. Long story, gammy corneal ulcer in 2013, quite horrific … yadayada. Anyway, I was quite excited to get the lenses in and take a selfie. I happened to take this selfie whilst sitting in my parked car on the drive, letting Fredders sleep for a bit longer [and giving me the opportunity to catch up on emails and Radio 4 simultaneously] I tagged the photo with the comment What do you see (aside from a teething sleeping Fred in the back!) – contact lenses after nearly 3 years!!!! Woohoo! – By the time I checked social media at 5am this morning, there was a comment from an acquaintance informing me that Freddie’s chest straps on his car seat were “seriously loose” and that rear facing car seats are recommended up until 15months. There was also a reminder of the “two finger rule” for chest straps thrown in [I can think of my own two finger rule]. Bearing in mind my three hours of incredibly broken sleep, I read this comment and was incandescent – for many reasons – and reasons which I intend to hilight here, now I’ve calmed down and reflected …

Firstly, I hope I don’t need to declare that I wasn’t driving around with Freddie’s straps so loosely fitted. When we arrived home, I went to get him out of the car seat, loosened his straps [as I often do in this situation] and decided against moving him. I live on the first floor with no lift; so it is a mission to transfer a sleeping babe from car to cot without waking him. In fact, I can count the number of times I’ve managed it on one hand, and they have nearly always been rewarded with a glass of wine.

Secondly, I drive a very economical and lovely bright red C1 called Ludmila. She is wonderful, but rather small. Fred had no option but to go forward facing for safety when he progressed from his baby car seat. This is totally legal, and should not, in my opinion, provoke any comment …

You may think this explanation is long winded and unnecessary; several friends told me that I didn’t have anything to justify, and I know this is true. However, it DID rattle me. Every mother worries they aren’t doing a good job, that they are somehow failing their offspring; it is the classic mother’s guilt. Did someone think so little of my ability as a mother that they thought I would put my son in danger by driving around with him lolling about everywhere in his car seat? Is that the kind of mother people think I am? All these things were consuming my sleep deprived head … IT WAS A PHOTO ILLUSTRATING MY FUCKING CONTACT LENSES; which were a treat to myself, to Verity, who isn’t just Mummy. As others pointed out, they saw a selfie with beautiful sleeping baby in the back; nothing more.

The prevalence of social media [and hell yes, I love it] does create armchair experts in everything … and of course if you put things out there, you can expect feedback. However, would we say these things face to face, in the street to friends or strangers? I wholeheartedly agree that it “takes a village to raise a child“, and I do not consider myself overly sensitive or rejecting of criticism. However, it’s the implied stupidity which riled me. Perhaps said person was being helpful, perhaps this comment came from a good place, as another friend suggested. Perhaps some people do drive around with their children not strapped in, with badly fitting car seats and maybe there are a few who even take selfies whilst driving along … but I would err on the side of caution when putting such comments in the public domain to people we don’t know. There is a classical [cheesy?] Plato quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” – timeless, and true. It is so much harder with the written word to understand the sentiment behind the typing. It is impossible to know whether that person is exhausted and struggling when they read your words … so maybe we all need to be a little kinder. I include myself in this, as many months ago I lost a friend over a Blog I wrote detailing her response when Fred started playing with her baby’s keys. I didn’t name her, but she knew I was referring to her – and it upset her … mea maxima culpa.

We are all, most of us, ordinary mums, juggling a lot of balls in the air, worrying the same universal worries, loving our children, wanting the best for them, worrying we’re not good enough for the job. My message to you all this evening, is quite simple – if you love your children and they are going to bed with full tummys and clean pyjamas, then you have no need to worry. We are stronger than we think.





58 Weeks

12974378_1910905475802548_9094253456671692305_nIn the middle of a storm, whilst nursing an excitable and smiley little boy to sleep, I worked out that it is exactly 58 weeks since Fredders splashed his way into the birthing pool. I know, I know – he’s ONE I hear you all say …. Note to self; must not become one of those Mums who answers the “how old is he?” question with “62 and a half weeks”. Seriously, my eyes would’ve rolled at this a couple of years ago … how motherhood changes you …. !

Last time I blogged I was exhausted. I’m still exhausted, but not debilitatingly so. Sleep is still hit and miss [“Last night was better” I said at work the other morning, “he only woke 4 times”] – but there have been some sunny days and plenty of outings in the fresh air. There was a first pony ride on a miniature Shetland called Samson, an afternoon with new baby lambs, and a holiday booked to Woolacombe in June with Auntie Cat. The weeks seem to be whizzing by faster than ever, and although I still hanker for time to slow down a little, I’m enjoying the current developments – the very nearly walking phase [come on Fred, you can do it!], and the brilliant toddler babble which Fredders enunciates so sweetly – babaggagamammadizzydoo. He gives kisses and cuddles, as well as sinking his gnashers into me and chuckling when I squeal. His current pastimes include removing his shoes and socks, taking momma’s books off the bottom shelf of the bookcase and showing off his new enthusiastic waving skills. Current dislikes include having his teeth cleaned, lying still for a nappy change, and Momma reclaiming her iPhone. He has character, and I fully approve of his cheekiness.

Going it alone is a tough one, but so rewarding … ours is a happy home; a happy chaotic home, with sticky fingerprints and copious amounts of hanging laundry. My lounge is akin to Toys R Us, and yes – he still sleeps in my bed. We have little in the way of a routine – but this life works for us … his smile tells me it works. What on earth would I do without him?

And now it must be time for Horlicks …

Somebody’s not in bed … and it’s not Iggle Piggle

6393-200I remember having a conversation about sleepless nights when I was pregnant. “Oh, I won’t mind the early starts” I said enthusiastically to a colleague with two small children [sorry Julia, mea maxima culpa] – “I’m used to getting up early“. Graciously she smiled; the smile I now smile when anyone complains of being tired. This, ladies and gentleman, is a Blog about sleep deprivation … and it won’t be long because I have a sleeping baby beside me, and I fully intend to join him once I’ve aired my yawns …

I’ll start off by saying that today hasn’t been the best. Never mind what seems like ISIS waging a brutal attack in my uterus [come on hormones, get over it], or the motherfuckingmolars which are giving Fred grief [why can’t babies be born with a full set of cut gnashers? Why? Why?] – last night was the worst in a long time. Freddie has never been a good sleeper. I think the most he has ever slept in a row is 5hours, and that was a long time ago. We co sleep because it is easier to whack a boob out in a haze of tiredness, than it is to get out of bed and walk to another room. I am so tired by 7pm that I have no energy to fight the “sleeping in the cot” battle. In many ways I love co sleeping; I think it’s a very natural way to nurture a child – and it’s not like I’ve got anyone else sharing my bed at the moment. The usual routine is, after In the Night Garden, we go to bed, and F is always asleep by 7.30pm. If I can manage it, I set 9pm as my bedtime … domestic chores and energy willing. Rock n Roll eh. For the past week, the first wake up has been around 11pm. I dread looking at the clock in the early hours – yet nearly always do – I mentally count how many hours until my alarm, and dread how many more disruptions there will be. The real killer is the long 1am wake up, when I often actually wake up and find I need the loo or a glass of milk/piece of toast, by which time I’m wide awake and counting sheep – or mulling over pointless dilemmas which always seem so much worse at that hour. Sometimes I find myself pleading with F to go to sleep … please darling, please go back to sleep … please …. Sometimes I swear.

My darling little boy doesn’t seem to need much sleep. He chuckles and thrashes around at 3am; frustrated with a boring momma who is intent on making him return to the land of nod … by 5.30am I have usually given up and am awaiting the beginning of CBeebies with a cup of decaf coffee and wondering how I will make it through the day. The joke this morning was my facebook status [remember, it’s April 1st] proclaiming that Fredders had slept from 7pm until 8am. Some otherwise intelligent souls actually believed it!

The irony is, I’ve never needed huge amounts of sleep – and I’ve never lay in beyond 8am. All I ask is a few hours unbroken kip … please little boy, please …. this persistent lack of sleep is slowly killing me, never mind the huge circles under my eyes. Torture indeed. I can do so much on just 4hours unbroken sleep …. I can be a positive person … I can be productive and hold coherent conversations.

Is there a paron saint of sleep? Anyone?

And please … if your fucking child slept 12 hours straight from 2 weeks old, have the decency and common sense NOT to tell me!