Tag Archives: love

“Do the goodies always win?”

Superheroes are featuring heavily in my life at the moment. Or rather, they are featuring heavily in my four-year-old son’s life, and so by default I am having to take an active interest.

I’ll be honest: when it comes to motherhood, I have found even the basics utterly bamboozling: How do you strap a screaming, angry toddler into a car seat when they have perfected planking? How do you persuade them to try a teeny tiny piece of carrot at dinner? Why does it take 17 minutes for them to put on one shoe? Where have their socks gone?

Continue reading

Advertisements

Alone time (with an audience)

A couple of times a week, while my husband is bathing the kids (i.e. getting them so hyped up with splashing and songs and bubbles it takes them about three hours to wind down), I retreat into my son’s bedroom with my yoga mat, and indulge in 15 minutes of yoga and stretching. In part, this is to ensure any post-run aches from the week get soothed, but I also do it because, well, it’s just bloody lovely, isn’t it?

Yoga. Alone. In my pants (if you can’t do yoga in your pants in the comfort of your own home, where can you?). Staring out of my son’s bedroom window, across the garden and up at the sky.

Bliss.

Except for one tiny detail.

I’ve been rumbled.

It didn’t take many sessions of my lovely alone-time routine for the little ones to figure out I was just next door. Just a few sessions before the shouts started:

‘Look, I’ve found Mummy! I don’t want my stories. I want to watch Mummy!’

So now, instead of having their bedtime stories curled up with Daddy in our bedroom, everyone sits on the sofa bed in my son’s room, listening to stories and watching me attempt sun salutations. Oh goody.

Nothing evokes ‘relaxation’ quite like listening to a three year old laughing hysterically at you while shouting, ‘Mummy, I can see your bum!’ (I might need to rethink the yoga-in-pants situation.)

And then, last night, just as I was about to yell, ‘OH MY GOD, GET OUT, ALL OF YOU! CAN’T I HAVE EVEN ONE MINUTE BY MYSELF THESE DAYS?’ (or something), a lovely thing happened.

It became audience participation.

My son performed a near-perfect downward-facing dog  while asking excitedly, ‘Mummy, am I doing it? Am I doing it, Mummy?!’ My baby girl clambered around my legs, babbling away. We stood like trees (OK, we swayed like trees). And it was fun.

Downward dog Tree pose

Yoga is about peace. But it is also about love.

I guess every now and then, my yoga time might be invaded. But that’s OK. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend some quality family time before bed.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

For my beautiful boy…

To my beautiful boy,

The other day, you asked if you could wear your Frozen dress to the supermarket.

Yes, you have a Princess Anna dress. We went shopping with your birthday money and the second you saw it, your eyes lit up. It was the ONLY thing you wanted; you were going to BE Princess Anna! You proudly brought it over to the till and it made me happy to see you so excited.

You’ve been Princess Anna a lot since that day.

But when you asked to wear it to the supermarket, I hesitated. And then I talked you out of it.

I’m sorry.

It wasn’t because I’m ashamed of you. Far from it. I will never stop being proud of you. It was because I was terrified that someone might say something nasty to upset you and quash the make-believe out of your soul.

Part of my role as your mummy is to protect you. Like any parent, I worry about the little things that might single you out for bullying, or name-calling, or ostracising. It pains me to think someone will hurt you one day.

But you know what? I’ve realised that alongside keeping you safe, it’s also vital for me to support you in your choices, rather than fear the consequences of them.

So if, while we’re picking up fish fingers from the frozen aisle, you want to pretend to be a feisty, fearless, kick-ass character who saves the day – and who happens to be female – then that’s fine with me. You are being a normal, playful three-year-old, who has a limitless imagination, and a wonderful sense of creativity and play. There are no boundaries in your world. You don’t realise you are breaking the mould.

Toys are toys. Clothes are clothes – that’s all.

So be yourself.

I will stand up for you. Because I am your mummy and I will have your back. Always.

Lego

2015: not a write-off

This time last year, as 2014 was drawing to a close, I did not have high hopes for 2015. In fact, I distinctly remember telling several people I had already written it off. The reason? I was expecting a baby.

I know, I know. I should have been brimming with excitement at the anticipation of such a wonderful, joyous occasion… but here’s the catch. I’d been there before. Two years and four months before. That first time around – expecting my son – I was so excited, so happy, so desperate to hold my baby in my arms… but once he was finally born, the reality of the post-birth healing, sleep deprivation, constant feeding and loss of my old life slammed me in the face and threatened to floor me. Then there was the crying. Oh God, the endless crying. My baby boy suffered so terribly from colic that he would scream for hours on end. It was draining; I felt like a bad mother – that I wasn’t good enough. I was to-the-bones tired and yet had to carry on – day and night – when all I wanted to do was curl up under a 10-tog duvet and close my eyes.

Don’t get me wrong – I was so very grateful and relieved my baby boy had been born safely and that he was healthy. But the actual parenting bit? It was so much harder than I’d expected.

Second time round? Well. I decided to expect the worst and if there were any rays of sunshine through the sleep-deprived fog, it would be a nice, balmy little bonus.

And a strange thing happened.

My daughter was born in March and my little family had the most wonderful year.

Newborn

Oh, hello!

Yes, it has been hard. Yes, I am tired. Yes, sometimes I feel like banging my head against the wall when I’ve had to say ‘Be gentle’ to my son for the 76th time that day. Yes, I am fed up of scraping bits of broccoli off the floor and discovering that I’ve knelt in a splatter of Weetabix/porridge/avocado again (bloody weaning). Yes, sometimes I’d love a weekend off.

But wow, the joy in our house. The love and the laughter and the noise. Just wow.

It helps that, as a second-time mum, I am so much more relaxed. I now have the confidence to raise my baby my way, as opposed to worrying I’m doing it wrong according to this or that book.

It also helps that my baby girl was a peaceful newborn and remains, for the most part, happy. Oh yes. She is smiley and calm and utterly chilled out with the world and her place in it.

But it is also down to someone else.

My funny, clever, sensitive little boy has simply shone in his role of Big Bro.

The baby cries? He hands over his favourite toy. She coughs? He pats her back. He has helped teach her to wave, clap and blow raspberries. I feared he would never stop bouncing up and down with excitement when she started to crawl. He has one-way conversations with her, and she smiles and laughs along with him as if she understands every word. He tells her he loves her. All the time.

Seesaw

Sibling love

OK, OK… so every now and then many times a day I’ll leave her happily playing with her toys and, on returning 20 seconds later, she will have been shoved over, a bewildered look on her face, with no toy in sight. But he’s only three. We’ll get there.

One other amazing thing has happened this year – so incredible it should technically class as a miracle: I have managed to carve out a little time for me.

Weird, yes?

I started running again. I started writing this blog. I have crossed the finish line of two 10K races in not-too-shabby times.

WR_Brock.PK_A_127low res

I’ve been beating myself up a bit recently for my lack of running, but you know what? I have realised I need to feel proud of everything I have achieved in my running shoes this year.

After all… 2015?

It was supposed to be a write-off.

ChristmasDay

Happy New Year!

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

Reasons not to run

My name is Claire and I’m a runner.

Except…

It’s been 31 days since my last run.

So I’m not sure I can legitimately class myself as a runner right now. In fact, I’m seriously considering changing the name of my blog to Keep Eating Chocolate Digestives Mummy. This would currently be more factually accurate.

There’s a catalogue of reasons for the lack of exercise (isn’t there always)…

The baby contracted gastroenteritis; my son had a bad cough; the baby had a bad cough; I had a bad cough. The baby still hasn’t quite grasped the all-important concept that night time is for sleeping. There is, instead, still a considerable amount of feeding going on. Which is fine – she’s only nine months old. In fact, this is very normal baby behaviour. But all things considered, it’s left me a tad exhausted.

Then there’s the latest development… the baby is on the move.

Yes, in an unprecedented development, my baby girl set off at a decent-paced crawl at the ripe old age of eight months. Considering my son didn’t make his move until almost 10 months, I thought I’d have more time to prepare for this.

I know what you’re thinking: how is she possibly blaming her lack of running on the baby’s crawling? But bear with me.

It comes down to that whole exhaustion thing again. These children of mine are pretty active little movers and shakers. But do they ever both move and shake in the same direction? Do they hell. Generally, it goes like this…

The baby heads into the kitchen, in an attempt to partake in her favourite activity (licking the bin), at exactly the same time my son shouts, ‘Mummy I’ve got my crayons, I don’t want paper’; I grab the baby under one arm and dash to rescue my walls; the baby decides to rearrange the DVDs (while casually popping a piece of crayon into her mouth) just as my son races upstairs to find a toy; he slides down the stairs on his stomach, hurtling at an alarming pace, at the exact moment the baby decides to attempt her first ascent; and just when I get a moment to try to engage my son in a puzzle, I hear the baby thundering off (she’s small, but she sounds like a medium-sized herd of wildebeest) towards the bathroom for her second-favourite activity (trying to wedge herself behind the toilet).

DVDs

Just finding her favourites

Honestly? It’s like I’ve been charged with caring for a couple of hyperactive lemmings.

The result: I don’t think I sit down. At all. For the whole day. Apart from perhaps lunchtime, when I momentarily park my arse on the sofa, in between requests for yogurts/new spoons/breadsticks/drinks.

This is motherhood. And it’s wonderful, and all-consuming, and vital, and rewarding, and frustrating, and awe-inspiring all rolled into one.

But it is tiring.

So something has had to give.

For the moment, that thing is running. Hopefully not for too long, or else my sanity might make a dash for it out the back door one day while I’m not looking. I’m hoping that over Christmas, while my husband is around a bit more to look after our little lemmings, I will get back into something of a running routine again. Slowly; steadily.

Despite all this, I’ve learned something very necessary over the past month: I need to give myself a break. Running used to be a top priority for me. And it’s still up there. But something else has taken its place.

Two little things, in fact.

Sofa cuddles

My whole world, snuggled on the sofa

And that’s just fine.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

A home away from home

Holidays.

Well.

They’re just not the same once you have young children, are they?

The words ‘relaxing’ and ‘restful’ just don’t come into it. Because whether you’re at home, or in a cottage in the countryside, or even (I imagine) at a luxury beach house in the Seychelles, your little ones will still need to eat, play, poop and sleep.

This means while you’re away, all the usual meal preparing, food throwing, face wiping, floor mopping, dish washing, nappy changing, bottom wiping, Lego playing, rocking, shushing and night waking will come along for the ride, too.

Except now you don’t know where the sodding saucepans are. And you can’t remember whether you packed the wipes.

But…

We have recently returned from a week’s holiday in the New Forest. And while I was still a tad exhausted on our return home (see above), it was wonderful, actually. I felt really bloody happy.

Woods2

We had zero phone reception and questionable WiFi where we were staying, so we felt fairly cut off. Which was great. It helped me see what was important.

Who was important.

We spent our time walking through the forest. We went cycling – my husband pulling the baby in a trailer; me with the toddler on a bike seat (this would have been pretty relaxing, had it not been for the fact that Buzz Lightyear came along for the ride and spent the duration jabbing me in the arse, while my son pressed every available button every three seconds for FOUR HOURS, informing me that Buzz Lightyear was coming to the rescue. Shut up Buzz. Just shut up).

Buzz

Buzz Bloody Lightyear. Oh, and my son

We found makeshift swings hanging from tree branches; we splashed in puddles; I got two hours to myself to go horse riding; we let the kids stay up late so we could go for dinner in the cosy local pub and, on our walks back to the house in the dark, wrapped up warm from the cold, we pointed out the Big Dipper in the sky, to a little boy who was astounded by the stars.

Swing

And yes, we made an obligatory visit to Peppa Pig World, after which my husband and I needed therapy, but the toddler loved it, so it was worth it. Just.

PPW2

All aboard Grandpa Pig’s boat!

In short? It was the type of holiday memories are made from.

It helped that the weather was kind – bright and sunny and crisp; and yes, we had extra family on hand, in the form of my father-in-law, sister-in-law and her fiancé (who provided the sort of loving, wonderful help that made me want to stick up a For Sale sign once we got back home and move in with them permanently).

And you know what? All the mealtime madness and nappies and mess? It kind of felt like small fry when set against the fact I got to spend so much precious time with the most important people in my world.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!

Not perfect? That’s perfectly fine…

The other evening, I sat down for dinner with my children. It looked like this: the two-year-old was eating a waffle and fish fingers. With lots of ketchup. The baby was being spoon fed straight from a jar of puree. We were sitting on the sofa in front of the telly. We weren’t even watching some sort of educational CBeebies offering… we were glued to Dragons: Riders Of Berk.

I’ll be honest – this wasn’t quite how I’d pictured mealtimes, back in the days when I was enthusiastically whizzing up a homemade puree out of an organic butternut squash.

A few years ago, I would have been mortified at the current scene (which admittedly is not every mealtime, but is regular enough that I couldn’t legitimately call it a ‘rare occurrence’). But you know what? Something has changed.

I’ve dropped the guilt.

This wasn’t even a conscious decision. It happened when my daughter was born. It happened because, frankly, running around after two children instead of just the one – and once more being on call during the night as well as the day – I simply don’t have time to worry any more. I don’t have time to worry whether the TV has been on for an hour more than it ‘should’ have been; whether all meals have been made from scratch; whether not taking my youngest to baby yoga/baby ballet/baby sign language/baby sensory classes is going to somehow stunt her development; and I certainly don’t have time to worry about how everyone else is raising their children – and how I compare. Ultimately, however parents get through the day, we are all doing the best we can for our children. And if that means a ‘from the freezer’ meal while glued to The Bedtime Hour to avoid meltdowns every so often most evenings, then that works for me. After all, tummies are getting filled and my children are happy. So now, rather than beating myself up about it, I’m happy, too.

There have also been a few actual parent fails this week…

I had 10 minutes to clean the house the other day and, on leaving the front room to locate a broom, returned to find the baby had discarded her toys in favour of the vacuum cleaner’s electrical cord and was cheerily using it as a teething toy.

Cable teether

‘Baby toys? No thanks Mummy, I’ve found this’

Then yesterday, while cleaning the splash mat after my daughter’s enthusiastic baby-led lunch, the toddler swiped the Dettol (which I’d left lying on the floor) and casually gave his little sister’s head a spritz.

BLW lunch

I’ll admit she needed a clean. Just not like that

In days gone by, both the above would have left me feeling like such a bad mother I’d have needed a 12-week course of therapy. These days? We simply rectify the situation and get on with things. Happily. No guilt.

It’s a revelation.

There’s been one other major change that has led to me feeling so much more relaxed and happy as a second-time-round parent: not only do I no longer have time to worry, but I have also not had a chance to open a single baby book.

Not one.

They have remained closed, on the shelf.

Which has resulted in all those ‘shoulds’ remaining on the shelf as well. Gathering dust. Where they belong.

Instead, I have been parenting by instinct. If it feels right to me, then it probably is. It’s liberating not to feel judged by a few hundred pages written by an author who does not know me, or my children. Not to be made to feel that I am somehow ‘spoiling’ my baby by cuddling her to sleep [check], bed-sharing [check] and baby wearing [check] (incidentally, I’m not saying any of this is the ‘right’ way to parent. It’s simply right for us).

Snuggles2

Sleepy cuddles to go. Nothing better

Ironically, this newfound ‘no-book’ attitude led me to an interaction on Twitter, which saw me recently attend a book launch. The Confident Mother by Sherry Bevan is a parenting book – but not as you know it. Comprising interviews with some truly inspiring mothers and experts, it doesn’t tell you how to parent: it simply helps you trust yourself. Its message is simple and brilliantly empowering – being good enough is good enough. Really.

I am not the perfect mother.

But I love my children with a love I never knew existed until they were here.

And that’s good enough for me.

Like what you’ve read? Follow me on Twitter or Like me on Facebook!