Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Tiger Mom

Probably the best piece of advice I got before becoming a parent was to ignore everything that the books tell you should be happening.  I studiously ignored all the books I was 'supposed' to buy, like The Baby Whisperer, or anything by Gina Ford.

To an extent I agree.  As a Guardian reading, lefty-type liberal (and as a teacher) I know that all children are individuals and have their own way of doing things and their own pace of development.  It's worked fine for me in terms of routine setting for the baby, because I'm quite happy to be led by Archie and what he needs.  I feel like I'm in tune with what he wants (most of the time) and that he seems to be settling into his own routine with no need for me to impose one on him.  I don't really care about whether or not the hoovering gets done, or what time I eat lunch, so the lack of structure in the day doesn't bother me.  I hope that this means I will have a child who doesn't have to work to a rigid structure, which will mean that eventually we'll be able to do different things on different days without panicking because his nap is supposed to be at such a time.

I allowed myself one book, which looked to be sensible; from the 'What to Expect' series.  And it's been fantastic, a very useful reference book.

And yet.

It has this one little section at the beginning of the chapter which talks about baby's development this month, what sort of things he 'might' be doing.  It comes with the usual disclaimer; all babies develop at their own pace, you shouldn't panic if baby isn't rolling over or computing complex quantum equations quite yet.

I'm a sensible human being.  Add to this the fact I have spent years telling parents who ask me at parents' evening 'how is my child doing compared to the rest of the class' that that is not a pertinent question and you'd think that I'd be able to blithely read these 'developmental milestones' and ignore them.  Still, here I am, reading the 'third month' milestones and worrying that Archie hasn't made a single attempt to roll over.  He hates being on his tummy if he's on the floor.  Still, it's a milestone, a box he should be checking, so here I am, lying him down 4 times a day and trying to teach him to roll over, in the hope he'll do it before he hits 12 weeks.

And so I find myself with a new 'to do' on my list (which still doesn't include washing up or household chores of any description).  Item 1: channel the me from 4 months ago who would have laughed at the idea of hitting targets at 3 months old. Item 2: Cut out the pages in my book which describe the milestones.  Item 3: Take the time to play with my baby with no agenda in mind, and enjoy it.

Because these precious early days won't last for much longer than the blink of an eye.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


Today, as my son goes through another growth spurt, I find myself wondering somewhat selfishly about me.

I knew being a mum would be a full time job, which is why I feel like I don't really have the right to wonder: when will I get some time to be me again?

I suppose what I'm saying is that while I realised being a mum would be a full time occupation, I'm not sure I realised just how full time it would be. Reading this back, that sounds very stupid indeed.

But here's the thing: I feel like Darling Dad still gets time to do the things that made him him before he became a dad. He gets to do his writing. He's off to London to his book launch at the end of the month. He gets to go to work.

I wake up with Archie every day and get to be Mum. And it doesn't stop, ever. On a day without Darling Dad, this is to the exclusion of everything including personal hygiene & food.

And here's the terrifying thing. I'm lucky, because every now and again Darling Dad will take Archie off my hands for half an hour. My stomach drops when I think of single parents who have to do it alone, every day.

And yet, despite knowing that I am in fact stupidly lucky to have a fantastic husband and a relatively easy baby, I have to ask the question: when do I get to do something entirely me again? Go to the pictures, read a book without a baby on my boob, drink an actual hot cup of tea.

I suppose I'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Snot and Sniffling

So in the last week I've had to deal with Archie's first cold.  I honestly didn't think it would be such a stressful affair!

He seems to have picked up a cold from Darling Dad, meaning he has a snuffly nose, sore throat and a horrible, hacking cough.

I remember in my previous life as a teacher, laughing with Darling Dad about the paranoid parents out there with their precious little darlings...sadly it would appear I've now become what I once mocked.

In the past week I have a) cried.  A lot.  b) taken the poor lad to the doctors.  Three times.  I'm considering going again.  Just in case.  c) Had by boob first coughed, then sneezed, then puked on in swift succession.  Go breastfeeding.  d) cried again when the clinic told me had lost an ounce in weight and therefore plummeted down the centiles (centiles meant bugger all to be pre-Archie, now they are my life). e) sprayed salt water up my sons nose in the hope it might somehow help him (hint - if salt water really helped a snuffly nose wouldn't grown ups use it like all the time?) and then been puked on again.

Archie, I'm happy to say, has improved greatly (though his cough, and therefore the threat of puking on my boob, remains).  And I have learned an important parenting lesson.  I love my son so much I want to be poorly for him.  Don't get me wrong, I love Darling Dad, and when he is poorly I want to help him get better but would I happily take on that sore throat and cough for him? Hells no.  On a more practical note, I have learned that as long as he eats, poos and wees, my son is probably fine. Which the doctor told me as I dragged Archie in there for the third time (while she drafted the restraining order, presumably).