Big Girls DO cry

Sometimes, life is just a bit too much. Sometimes things are a bit crap. I’m not going to define what crap is. It might be catastrophically crap; it might be an everyday, yet relentless sort of crap. But it happens to all of us.

My current sort of crap is the type that is little things piled on top big things that all conspire to crush me.

The big one, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, is that my grandmother is dying. She brought me up when I was little and is one of the people I love most in the world. She has been unresponsive for months now and we’re finally moving her into hospice care. It has been difficult: missing her already but not feeling I’m allowed to grieve until she’s truly all-the-way gone. And I have yet before me the task of learning how to exist in a world without her in it.

The second biggest one is that I keep having these weird episodes in which my heart pounds and races. The other day one of the episodes lasted a full 10 minutes and my Fitbit said my heart rate was 194 bpm. I ended up spending that night in A&E, but they didn’t find anything wrong beyond a slight arrhythmia – which is apparently pretty common. So I’ve been worried about my health. Do I have a heart problem or is a stress/anxiety thing? I don’t know yet.

And then there are lots of other little/big things. Getting called in by the headteacher at school to meet about my son’s “behavioural issues”. The mum that snubbed me at the school gates. Running behind with work deadlines. Feeling emotional at work and fighting back tears at ridiculously inappropriate moments. Feeling fed up with blogging and yet not truly wanting to quit.

I’m sure all of you can relate to some of this. Big problems, little problems, 1st world problems – whatever. There is no hierarchy of problems. The fact is: if they are upsetting you, affecting you, making it difficult for you to function as you would wish, then they are significant.

Ignoring these things, downplaying them and telling yourself to get over it is not going to help. You need to confront these feelings head on. To say, “this is the way I’m feeling, and that’s okay”.

But at the same time, we all have a lot on our plates. I know there have been days when all I wanted to do was curl up on the floor and wallow in my grief. But I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. I’ve got small people to look after. And if I lay down on the floor they are going to jump on top of me and demand to be flown around in the air.

I have a job that needs doing because I have a mortgage that needs paying. I have other friends and family that need me to be there for them. As much as I’d like to, I just can’t give up. I can’t mentally check out and take a holiday from all of my responsibilities.

And so the pressure of all of my troubles weigh on me and are compounded by my need to keep on going even when I want to quit.

But the other day, after I’d spent the night in A&E – when I felt tired and lost and lonely and sad and fed up – I had a revelation. My husband was at work. My kids were at school and nursery. I’d called in sick to work because I’d been awake all night in hospital. And when my grief pricked me in the eye, I let it. There was no one there to see.

So I cried.

But I didn’t cry like a grownup. I didn’t cry the way you cry at a sad movie, with tears running down your face quietly and the odd little hiccup. I didn’t cry the way you do in front of other people, when you are desperately trying to stop – trying to hide it – apologising for your crass display of emotion.

I cried like a child. I screamed. I moaned and groaned and probably sounded much like a cow giving birth. Nobody could hear me. So I let every messy feeling pour out in tears and great wracking sobs.

And when my tears dried up and I was tired of railing against the universe, I simply stopped. And it was like a great weight had been lifted.

I’ve since been doing a bit of googling about crying and apparently there is scientific evidence that crying releases stress. Tears actually contain stress hormones that are leaving your body when you let them go.

Ever since my big cry, everything has seemed easier. I’m not crying at work anymore. I’m not feeling as tense around my family. I’m able to keep doing what I need to do while I weather my personal storms. I had thought if I didn’t cry, I was being strong. But really I was stifling all of the emotions that scared me, instead of facing them. When I didn’t let them out, they festered.

So I’m not going to start making crying one of my big hobbies. But it’s comforting to know that I can – and should – cry when I need to.

Crying is okay AND it helps. So the next time it’s all a bit (or more than a bit) crap, send the family out of the house, close the curtains, put the kettle on, and let the tears flow.

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Am I rocking motherhood?

I’ve been tagged by the lovely Angela at Life, Motherhood and Everything to participate in White Camellia’s #RockingMotherhood tag. The concept of it is that us busy mums are so focussed on just taking care of business that we forget how great we really are. It’s easy to spend lots of time criticising ourselves or trying to improve, but sometimes it’s good to just take a minute to remind ourselves what we’re doing right. So for this, I’m meant to list 10 ways that I’m “rocking” motherhood.

I have to say that this is not something I would have volunteered for! It is definitely a difficult exercise, but I can see the value in it. You may not agree that the things I do to “rock it” are actually good things! But oh well, here we go…

1. I read a ridiculous amount of stories

Every night, me or their dad read a total of 7 stories. Four for the 4yo and 3 for the slightly more restless 2yo. I’m given to understand that reading so many stories before bed is slightly unusual. But they love it. They love the stories and the attention. And I can see it’s paid off for my 4yo, who is really doing well at learning to read on his own now he’s started school.

2. I also sing a lot of songs

Each boy gets around 3 songs after their story bonanza every night. The 4yo prefers pop music, jazz standards and musical theatre soundtracks. The 2yo always has the same three: Twinkle Star, Black Sheep and Row Your Boat. Like with the reading, I think it’s really benefiting them to learn different songs that constitute part of our culture and to begin taking an interest in music generally.

3. My kids love fruit and vegetables

I don’t know how I did it, but I’m going to go ahead and take the credit. They love their fruit and veg. Both of them will eat broccoli until the cows come home (weird expression – do cows really take a long time to get home?). The eldest often prefers to eat cucumbers and tomatoes to a burger, and will always, always eat fruit. He still thinks it counts as a pudding!

4. The lounge belongs to them

While I can totally understand that some parents prefer to keep the lounge as an adult space, I take the opposite strategy. My lounge is completely covered in toys, and I think that’s a good thing. It is only a very short time that my kids will have loads of toys that they will want to play with in the same room as me. There will be many years when they prefer to hide away in their rooms. So for now, we will all be together in the lounge.

5. I always have time to explain things

It’s a stereotypical story that kids will ask endless questions and parents might just say “I don’t know, leave me alone”. You know, questions like “Why is the sky blue”. I never fob off my kids when they have questions about how the world works. I try to explain what I know, and if I have no idea, we google it together. It’s a great way to spend time together.

6. I try to give them choices when I can

This is something I’m working on and I don’t always excel at. Instead of just dictating things to them, I try to give them viable choices so they can feel like they exert some control over their lives. I’m hoping this is the root to teaching them some autonomy and independence and to making them into confident people.

7. I spend a lot of time teaching them life skills

This is sort of connected to the previous point. I spend loads of time teaching them things like swimming, riding scooters/bikes, cooking, turn taking, climbing. These are things I think they need to know to be well-rounded individuals.

8. I teach them about culture

Be it high or low, I like exposing my kids to things that will expand their horizons. This includes watching lots of different films and TV, listening to pop music, as well as days out to museums, stately homes, etc.

9. I spend time away from them

I am a big believer that absence makes the heart grow fonder. This is as true for parenting as it is for other relationships. A bit of me-time (even if that so-called me time is actually working) makes me a happier, more patient parent when I’m with them.

10. I am honest with them

Okay – mostly honest. When it’s important, I always try to explain the truth to them in a way they will understand. And I try to never make promises that I’m not sure I can keep. I may, however, be guilty of telling minor porkie pies about whether or not there are any biscuits left in the tin.

I’m tagging the following lovely bloggers to join in with this tag next, if they want to:

http://sparklymummy.com/
https://meyoubabytoo.wordpress.com/
http://adventuresofmummyandme.com/
http://www.belledubrighton.co.uk/

Petite Pudding
Tammymum

Does your bedtime routine actually work?

The bedtime routine has taken on a sort of magical status in our house in that I dare not depart from it in fear that the kids would not go to sleep. However, I’m starting to wonder if it is as effective as I imagine. Herewith, a dramatisation of a typical evening in our house.

18:00 BST

Mum: It’s bathtime!

4yo: Nooooooo! You need to have a picnic with me and then I need to tidy the picnic away!

Mum: Fine. Drinks imaginary drinks and pretends to eat plastic food. Finished! Now it’s bathtime.

4yo: I just need to tidy up the picnic. Very carefully proceeds to put all the plastic food in the plastic picnic basket. Then very … slowly … folds the tiny picnic blanket in a tiny square shape.

Mum: Ok NOW it’s bathtime.

4yo: But but but…

Mum: I will remove pasta from your reward jar! 4yo begins running up the stairs. Hey you, 1yo, it’s bathtime.

1yo: In manner of Churchill Dog Oh no no no no.

Mum picks up 1yo old and carries up stairs as 1yo arches back and impersonates a piece of timber.

18:15 BST

Mum: 4yo, please sit on the toilet.

4yo: I’m too tired.

Mum: The sooner you go to the toilet, the sooner you can go to sleep. Pulls down 4yo pants and places him on toilet. Removes the rest of his clothes in anticipation of bathtime. Hey, 1yo, let’s get you ready for bathtime!

1yo: Oh no no no! 1yo runs away and hides in a corner. Mum picks him up and takes him to his changing mat while he once again impersonates a piece of wood. Removes clothes from 1yo and places him on his potty.

Mum: Hey, 4yo, are you done on the toilet?

4yo: singing whilst remaining on toilet Tomblibooooo Tombli Tombli boooooooo!

Mum: Runs bath. If you’re done on the toilet, you should get off the toilet!

1yo: cackles as he pushes toilet seat aggressively onto 4yo.

4yo: Oooow! Brother hurt my back!

Mum: THEN GET OFF THE TOILET. 4yo gets off the toilet. Now brush your teeth. 4yo brushes teeth and fed up mum wordlessly lifts him up and deposits him into the bath. Ok 1yo, now it’s your turn to brush your teeth.

1yo: Oh no no no no.

Mum picks up 1yo and places him on the stool by the sink. 4yo impersonates jelly and melts down onto the floor. Mum tries to pick up 1yo. 1yo returns to wood impersonation. Mum lays 1yo down on lap and forcibly brushes teeth, then places 1yo in the bath.

4yo: My brother is stealing all the bubbles! Aggressively moves all the bubbles to his side of the bath.

1yo: Screams because he has no f*cking bubbles

Mum: Pours water over both children’s heads. Washes hair and body whilst ignoring screams and protestations.

18:45 BST

Mum: Time to get out of the bath!

1yo: Oh no no no no!

Mum: forcibly removes wood-like toddler from bath, dresses him and leaves him in his bedroom. Ok 4yo, it’s time for you to get out too.

4yo: But I just need to finish making this volcano. Mum watches while 4yo fills a cup with water and then covers it with a flannel.

Mum: Ok, now let’s get out. I’m going to count to three. 1 … 2 …

4yo: In mortal fear of reaching three, opens the drain of the bath and gets out. Runs into bedroom with towel and hides underneath it. I need to be a pillow!

Mum: Pretends to use towel-wrapped 4yo as a pillow (like every night) Wow, this pillow is sooo comfy. Ok now put on your pajamas.

No response. Mum picks up 4yo and applies his pajamas while he ignores her and attempts to build a bus stop out of Duplo bricks.

Right, now play in your room while I get your brother to sleep.

19:00 BST

Mum reads stories to 1yo and actually enjoys this bit, with cuddles and giggles. Then she lets him drink a large quantity of water. Then she sings Twinkle Star and places him into bed with appropriate toys and dummy. Turns musical projection mobile on. Does secret prayer that this bedtime ritual will work tonight.

Mum: Night night, sleep tight, Mummy loves you, see you in the morning. Magical phrase must be repeated exactly the same each night.

19:10 BST

Mum reads no less than 4 stories with 4yo while he offers continual non-stop explanation of all the illustrations. 4yo gets in bed and mum turns the Gro Clock on (VERY IMPORTANT).

Mum: Would you like a song tonight?

4yo: Yes but it has to be a NEW song that you haven’t sung before.

Mum: But I have already sung you all the songs I’ve ever known.

4yo: Fine, then just sing “Summer of ’69” again.

Mum: I got my first real six-string, bought it at the five and dime, played it ’til my fingers bled, was the summer of ’69! Mum continues to do her best Bryan Adams impersonation while 1yo starts crying in the other room. Okay, big boy, time for sleep. Kisses 4yo.

4yo: 4yo kisses Mum precisely 5 times on the cheek in return and then shouts, Weird!!!

Mum: Night night, sleep tight, mummy loves you, see you when your sun comes up. Runs next door and puts 1yo back in bed.

19:30 BST

Mum goes downstairs, cleans up toys, does the washing up, puts a load of washing on, pours a drink and sits down to watch telly and/or blog. She hears a squeaking doorknob and crying. She runs upstairs and puts 1yo back in bed. Goes back downstairs, takes a drink.

19:40 BST

4yo: shouting from his bed I NEED A POO!!

Mum: Shouting back from downstairs THEN JUST GO!!

19:55 BST

4yo: Still on the toilet, singing Tomblibooo, tombli tombli boooooo!

1yo: Waaaaaa! Mummy mummy mummy!

Mum: runs upstairs. 4yo, please get off the toilet. Puts 1yo back in bed. 4yo is still on the toilet. Mum has to physically remove him from the toilet and assist with wiping and hand washing. Puts 4yo back into bed. Then puts 1yo back into bed again.

20:05 BST

Mum goes downstairs and gets in a solid 10 minutes of blogging. 

20:15 BST

CRASH BANG! Mum runs upstairs. Toddler has removed all the clothes from his wardrobe and wedged a toy lightsaber behind the radiator. Mum tidies up, puts toddler back in bed, and goes downstairs. 

20:30 BST

4yo:  Shouting from his bed again Mummmmyyyyy! My covers are all messed up.

Mum: runs upstairs, fixes 4yo’s slightly disarrayed covers. You know, you could fix these yourself.

4yo: I love you mummy.

Mum: I love you too now please please please go to sleep!

1yo: Waaaaaaa! Mum puts 1yo back into bed again.

21:00 BST

All is finally quiet. At last, mum can do some writing, maybe watch Bake Off. She finishes her glass of wine and falls asleep drooling on the sofa.

What’s bedtime like in your house?

bedtime-pinterest

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Petite Pudding
Two Tiny Hands

Blog Toast Tuesday: 13 September 2016

It’s time for my weekly feature, #blogtoast Tuesday, where I toast other blogs I’ve discovered and enjoyed in the previous week. I’m actually running a little late today. I like to queue up my #blogtoast post on Monday night and publish on my Tuesday morning commute. But last night I got my nails done instead. You gotta’ live a little, right?

So here I am blogging on my lunch break. I’m going to have to make it fast!

The Adventures of Beta Mummy: Doodlings and ramblings on what a f*cking disaster parenthood can be

Her blog’s subtitle just makes me feel safe. Yes, parenting can be a f*cking disaster. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks so!

I’m also glad I’m not the only one who thinks an asterisk is the perfect way to write the f-word online. It’s like a swear, but not a swear. Nobody’s sure if it really counts as swearing. It’s Schrodinger’s swear.

Anyway, I love the concept of Beta Mummy, who just doesn’t look as polished and sorted as Alpha Mummy. Alpha Mummy attends all the playgroups perfectly coiffed and dressed, with no sick on her shoulder, and engages in sparklingly witty conversation with other Alpha Mummies. Beta Mummy comes rolling in late, with no money for the playgroup “fee” and some cheerios stuck in her hair. Beta Mummy illustrates these sorts of scenes with hilarious drawings.

But Beta Mummy knows that not all is as it appears – I love her post, ‘Even Alpha Mummies Struggle’.

She is also one of the hosts of the fab Chucklemums linky, where you can link up your funny posts. I’ve only linked up one that I thought was worthy, but someday I might write something vaguely funny again!

Little Paper Swans: A food + mama blog

A very different sort of blog – Little Paper Swans has beautiful photography and great lifestyle posts.

My favourite feature on her blog is her Weekly Meal Plans for under £30. I’m always struggling to come up with new ideas of things to cook without buying loads of ingredients or making loads of effort! She packages it up for you nicely so you can pick and choose what you might like to cook. You can get further inspiration from her great selection of recipes.

She also has a great series featuring other people’s birth stories. I really enjoy hearing about other people’s experiences.

Please do join me in toasting the best blogs by tweeting your favourite this week with the hashtag: #blogtoast (and if you @themumreviews I will retweet you – it’s win/win!) – or let me know just what you think of me in the comments!