I Like Daddy Best…

shutterstock_154057526My 5 year old casually uttered these four words to me while he was sat in the bath last week.  I can’t deny it, I was absolutely devastated.  Despite Mr C’s quick reprimand, L was completely oblivious to how heartbreaking I found his off hand statement and I (somewhat ridiculously) had to fight back my tears.

My sensible head knows that L loves me and as a 5 year old of course he likes Daddy best.  Mummy is the one who makes him eat his vegetables, stops him picking his nose, makes him get dressed for school, reminds him about homework and hounds him about his spellings.  (I’m desperately trying to avoid using the word ”nag” here!)  Daddy takes him swimming, reads Harry Potter at bed time and is teaching him all about the magical world of football.  I am responsible for the everyday, mundane tasks and discipline; Daddy is fun.

L has been a real Daddy’s boy for the last few months.  He hates Mr C leaving for work in the mornings, even blocking the front door to delay him going.  He gets tearful and grumpy if he doesn’t make it home before bed time and wants to go everywhere with him at the weekend – even the supermarket!  He much prefers to do things with his Daddy at the moment and it’s lovely to see them together.

Four Little Words

Still, when he told me that he liked Daddy best, I struggled to control my emotions.  All I could think was “Everything I do is for you, every single decision I make revolves around you and I love you more than anything… How could you like someone else more than me???”. My heart was broken.

My (nearly) 2 year old is the complete opposite and still wants his Mummy to do everything for him.  Of course that’s down to his age but I’m feeling particularly grateful for it right now; at least one of them still needs me!  Watching my boys growing up is so much harder than I expected and knowing that L can (and will) choose other people over me is something I’m going to have to learn to handle.  I guess it’s the first step in letting go, and I’m definitely not ready for that yet!

So, I’m making the most of the cuddles he gives me and relishing every unprompted ”I love you” I hear from him.  As difficult as those four words were to hear (I won’t be repeating them again) I know that he loves me, regardless of which one of us he likes best this week.

The Invisible Fairy

shutterstock_148510022Remember when you were younger and you played super heroes and dreamt of having super powers? I always thought it would be cool to be invisible, to be able to go wherever you wanted without anyone knowing and get up to all kinds of amazing adventures. Well, I recently realised that I have indeed morphed into a superhero – I am The Invisible Fairy.

The Invisible Fairy has many magical powers and abilities, yet you never notice her waving her magic wand.

  • She gets up before everybody else in the house. Feeds the cat, empties the dishwasher, makes breakfast, cleans up and gets the children ready for school.
  • She comes up with delicious healthy dinners, buys the ingredients and lovingly makes them for her (usually unappreciative) children.
  • She removes dirty clothes, towels and bedlinen and replaces them with lovely fresh ones.
  • She remembers what everybody’s favourite foods are and supplies them on a regular (and fairly rotated) basis.
  • She is a whizz at cleaning up toys from the floor, replacing jigsaw pieces and sorting Lego into the correct boxes.
  • She can magically produce and wrap amazing birthday presents at short notice.
  • She updates reading diaries, orders hot dinners, answers party invitations (not her own of course), books dentist/doctor appointments and fills in an endless amount of school forms.

These are just examples of some of the things The Invisible Fairy does. The list goes on and on, her fairy dust is everywhere.

The special magic of The Invisible Fairy lies in her name, she is of course invisible. Nobody ever sees her doing any of her jobs; they happen, as if by magic, when no one is looking. Many nights The Invisible Fairy goes to bed tired, without having had a thank you or acknowledgement of her work all day. She works long hours and rarely takes time off.

Since becoming The Invisible Fairy (I’m not sure when the transformation occurred) I’ve realised that invisibility isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, I would definitely prefer to be noticed for the things I do. However, I’m grateful for my superpowers, they help me get through every day. I also take solace from the fact that I’m pretty sure there are other Invisible Fairies out there. Obviously I’ve never seen one but I’ve heard whispers about them on the playground and rumours about them at playgroup. If I ever catch a glimpse of one then I’ll be sure to give her a big smile, she deserves it.

I Couldn’t Live Without…

shutterstock_164129012As my youngest son fast approaches 2, I’ve been thinking about the many things that were invaluable while my boys were babies and the many more that have been a complete waste of money for us and I wish we’d never bothered with. Here’s my (very subjective!) list of the things we couldn’t live without and the items that just didn’t cut it for us.

A Few of My Favourite Things

Black out blindWhen L was born we were living in the Middle East and spent a lot of time travelling. I bought 2 travel blackout blinds and have used them endless times. Some of the suckers are starting to fall off after so much use but I can’t fault them. I’ve used them everywhere: caravans; hotels; my inlaws. They are especially useful when trying to get the boys off to sleep in a new place or when E is refusing to nap because it’s too light outside.

Sleeping bagsMy children are ridiculously wriggly and as babies there is no way they would have slept under blankets. Even now I have to turn my 5 year old the right way round in bed every night and tuck him in. Without sleeping bags I would have been up even more times in the night, putting them back under the covers. Who needs another reason for their baby to wake up??

Baby monitorOurs isn’t fancy, it’s a basic Tomy listening baby monitor. We used it until L was 3 and then again for E when he was born. One of the buttons is broken on the top after being dropped but it still works. It was essential for L when we lived in a house with thick concrete walls and noisy air conditioning and it has always given me peace of mind that I’ll hear them if they wake.

Muslin clothsFirst time round I didn’t find much use for them but E had reflux up until he was 10 months old and I got through a LOT of muslins! A friend also bought me some extra large muslins that I used for covers while breastfeeding, as sunshades and for blankets… fabulous.

Travel systemThis one is a bit of a love/hate of mine. I absolutely loved being able to put the car seat onto the wheels. It made moving the boys really easy and not waking them if they were asleep. But by the time they moved into the big pushchair seat it felt heavy, cumbersome and was difficult to get in and out of the car. We quickly moved onto…

Light weight buggyThis was/still is easy to fold, takes up little space in the boot, whizzes around shops and is great for travelling.

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

So, here are some of the things we didn’t love quite so much:

DungareesChildren look cute in dungarees, right? However cute they look they were dreadful for L and E! The bib part would ride up and end up in their mouths and the crotch would then be so high it was uncomfortable for them. Not for us.

Clothes with buttons on the backUndoubtedly designed as gifts where the sight of buttons/poppers on the front would spoil the look of the outfit. Have you tried laying your baby face down to get him/her dressed. No.

Pushchair parasolWhen we lived in a hot sunny country I thought a parasol would be great for keeping L shaded from the sun. Truthfully I found it completely impractical! By the time I got it properly positioned we would walk round a corner and I’d have to change it again. Frustrating beyond belief.

Breast pumpThis one is definitely personal as I know many people manage to pump successfully. First time round I bought a simple handpump and actually only took it out of the box once. L was feeding every 3 hours, when exactly was I supposed to pump? Second time round I was determined that I would make time to pump so that Mr C could get up in the night and feed E sometimes. I bought an electric pump and was full of good intentions but it just never happened. Again, E was feeding every 3 hours and I couldn’t find time even though I wanted to!

Baby carrierI know so many people who love their baby carriers. I bought one for when L was born and he hated it, he screamed every time I put him in it! Seeing such love for these carriers I convinced myself we must have bought the wrong kind so when E was born we bought a more expensive one. (I also thought keeping him upright would help with his reflux). He was happy in it ONCE and every other time he howled until I took him out. Lesson learnt.

When you have your first baby I think you often buy too much stuff and don’t use half of it. By the time I had my second I thought I was wise enough not to make the same mistakes again… It seems not! As a result I have a big box of barely used baby items in the garage that I keep meaning to put on eBay. Although that means admitting our baby days are behind us… am I quite ready for that??

Love Is…

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“Love is… Listening to your children laughing together, that wild uncontrollable laughter that only children do, and realising that every sleepless night, exploding nappy, toddler tantrum and new wrinkle was totally, undoubtedly worth it.”

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Some Time for Me. Yes… Me!

shutterstock_148205279If you’ve read my blog before then you’ll know how excited I am to have recently become an Auntie. You’ll also know that my brother and his wife (and therefore obviously my new nephew!) live in France so unfortunately meeting the newest member of my family wasn’t as simple as popping in with a casserole.

Just before my nephew was due to arrive I told Mr C that I’d like to go and visit my family in the New Year. It would mean he needed to take a couple of days off work to look after the boys but I think he liked the idea of getting them to himself for a while! However, as my trip approached he started to worry about looking after both of them on his own for 4 days. The scariest part being that E (who is now nearly 2) is going through a clingy stage and will only go to sleep if I put him to bed. There was a real possibility that none of them would get much sleep while I was away.

As the trip got closer I also started to feel a bit strange about leaving them. My 5 year old has slept over at his grandparents just a handful of times and my 2 year old has never been apart from me. But hey, I was desperate to meet my new nephew and I knew that whatever happened while I was in France, they would all survive without me!

France, Here I Come!

My adventure started out with a very early morning drive to the airport. I was in the car alone so I turned the music up LOUD. There were no nursery rhymes playing, I didn’t have to answer the usual million questions posed by my 5 year old – it was just me and the early breakfast show . I arrived at the airport grabbed my bag (oh yes, I had just one bag of hand luggage) and headed for security. It’s been 6 years since I’ve flown by myself and not had to deal with the hassle of carrying liquids/milk, folding pushchairs with one hand while holding a wriggly toddler and rude airport staff who could not care less that you’re struggling with young children. I breezed through security in no time (who incidentally were very friendly) and headed for a peaceful breakfast.

As I sat drinking my coffee I realised I had become that lady in the airport that I’ve been looking at enviously for the last 6 years. You know, the well groomed woman leafing through a magazine and casually browsing the shops. I read my book, drank coffee and waited to board – there was no one to entertain but myself. I’ll admit there were a few moments when I felt a little lost. Let’s face it I’m so used to looking after other people that just taking care of me was odd at times.

Anyone For Coffee?

During the flight I read and ordered a cappuccino. I didn’t particularly want another coffee but I was determined to enjoy it. If you’ve ever flown with young children then you’ll know that hot drinks are a no, no. Small spaces, hot drinks and grabby hands are a recipe for disaster. I arrived in France with my hair brushed, make up touched up and not feeling the least bit hassled. Amazing.

The next couple of days were spent catching up with my brother and sister in law and having many, many cuddles with my gorgeous nephew. It was quite strange getting up and having time to shower and get myself ready without being rugby tackled by a toddler or without having to pester my 5 year old to get dressed. I got to spend some quality time with my family and it was so nice to have them to myself! On the Saturday evening my brother and I stayed up until 4am chatting and drinking wine… I honestly don’t remember the last time we did that.

For those few days in France I felt like the old me again. Of course, I am still me at home but it’s a different version of me. I’m L and E’s Mum first and then I’m me second. For that short time I had a little bit of freedom and it felt really good. It made me realise how important it is to make time for myself. I’ve never really done that and honestly, I’ve never really felt the need to before.

When you have children people tell you to make time for yourself but for me, and I suspect many others, that simply doesn’t happen. Not while your children are very young anyway, there is far too much going on.  This trip away was such a lovely little holiday and a definite reminder that time for me is important too.

Did You Miss Mummy?

However wonderful my trip was, I did miss my boys! Listening to their voices on the phone was so strange… Because I’m always with them I hardly ever talk to them on the phone and they sounded so different. Thankfully they had a lovely weekend all together. Everybody slept well and I came home to a clean house, happy boys and dinner being cooked. Maybe they could have missed me just a little bit! Mr C enjoyed spending so much time with the children and as a result E will now settle just as easily for him as he does for me. So after a successful weekend all round, I’m now wondering where I escape to next!

I Thought it Was Meant to Get Easier…

shutterstock_100115972I’m one of those parents who finds the whole baby thing really hard work and I’m much more comfortable once they reach the toddler stage. Perhaps it is because my first little boy always had trouble sleeping and I was permanently exhausted. My second son had reflux until he was ten months so the early days were spent covered in vomit while I constantly tried to find a position that was comfortable for him. I found them both so much easier once they reached six months and started responding and interacting with me; When I began to get smiles, giggles and hugs and when the boys learnt to move around. In fact, most people find it hard when their children start moving but for me it was a blessing. Both boys got extremely frustrated and would lie on their tummies waving their arms and shouting! Once they moved they were so much happier!

With my youngest now 20 months I definitely feel like I’m back in my comfort zone. Things are settling down nicely and the boys are beginning to play together and keep themselves a bit more entertained. I have more time to get things done, I even have more time to get myself ready in the mornings.

Wobble, Wobble

Now, just as everything seems to be running smoothly my 5 year old has what I can only call ‘a wobble’. He is a confident, popular boy who has been at school for 18 months and has always loved it. Suddenly he doesn’t want to go. I’ve spoken to his teacher who assures me he’s his normal happy self in the classroom and each night he comes home full of news and chatter about his day. However, getting him through the doors every morning is turning into a complete nightmare. He says the reason he doesn’t want to go is that he misses me. How can I argue with that? He just wants to stay home with me and his little brother. I suppose he’s going through a stage of emotional development but it’s so hard. I’ve had to explain that we have no choice, he has to go to school and he seems to understand that. But watching his sad little face as he waves to me every morning is breaking my heart. I feel like the Mummy from hell forcing him to do something he doesn’t want.

So, despite feeling safe in the knowledge that things are going well with my toddler, I’m experiencing new anxieties with my big boy. My confidence that things get easier as they get older has waned as I realise that the school years are introducing all kinds of issues that I don’t feel equipt for. It’s new ground and while all I want to do is give him a cuddle and let him stay home I know that we’re going to have to find a way to work through it. Parenting is a tough business and the hard work doesn’t stop once they’re weaned and out of nappies.

Whatever new challenges lie ahead, there is one thing that is for certain. As a parent you should never get too comfortable. Just when you think you’ve got everything sussed and things are going well, something always changes and bites you on the ass!

Merry Christmas

shutterstock_61666345It’s been a busy few weeks with school plays, Christmas fetes, my birthday and the arrival of my beautiful new nephew. Now, Christmas is upon us and I actually think I might just have things under control. Presents are bought, cards sent, Christmas menu planned… I just have some wrapping left to do. Very organised!

Christmas is a strange time of year for me now. Up until relatively recently I always loved it but after losing my Mum a couple of years ago, things just aren’t the same. My brother and Dad live in different countries which means unfortunately I don’t get see any of my family over the festive season and I find it really hard. Most of the traditions and lovely memories I have of Christmas when I was growing up are sadly gone and they’ve left behind an empty space.

What I do have, is my two gorgeous boys who are beyond excited this year. My five year old is like a coiled spring, winding tighter and tighter as December has progressed, and it’s rubbed off on his little brother. We’ve done the visit to Santa, been ice skating, made Christmas lists, decorated the tree and with everything going on at school he is exhausted. I’m really hoping that once he finishes school we can have a little bit of calm before the madness of the big day descends. I can’t wait to see their happy little faces on Christmas morning; we’re just trying to decide what is the earliest we’ll let them get up and open their presents!

On Boxing Day we’ve got my husband’s family coming round and are cooking for ten(ish) people, which I’m really looking forward to. I think it’s fair to say that there will be a significant amount of bubbly consumed!

Whatever you’re doing, have a fabulous Christmas and a very Happy New Year. Enjoy the time with your families and try not to get too stressed. Embrace the chaos! My New Year’s resolution is to try to find more time for my blog. The intent is certainly there but whether I’ll manage to squeeze it in is another matter entirely!

Merry Christmas from Mum’s The Word!