Miss Normal

You know the drill, your three year old has a tantrum, he lashes out at you, you sit him out, several attempts are needed, and you count to ten whilst feeling the glares of people standing by or walking past. Their judgemental glances, and eye rolls burn deep into your heart, and you feel like the worst mummy ever, but they also burn into your little ball of rage you bury deep inside. This rage is fanned into flame by staring imbeciles who you want to fly kick across the park, or is this just me? Just kidding.

Sometimes another mum will give you a little smile, as if to say ‘don’t worry we are all in this together’, but sometimes an annoying perfect mother will dish out a sentence that you want to fling right back at her. A sentence such as ‘I feel sorry for you!’. I’m all like ‘What? Who? Me?!” She feels sorry for me? Who on earth would even think that’s ok to even say? Sympathy because my child misbehaved and I’m lovingly disciplining him? No thanks.

Mums what are we doing?! Don’t feel sorry for one another, build one another up. What I actually need to hear mid discipline is “Keep going, you’re doing great, you obviously love your child!” Not patronising sympathy.

And while we are at it let’s address a few more people I run into mid tantrum, mid discipline.

Mrs White-skinny-jeans-burberryhandbag-inappropriatedailyfootwear-backcombedhair-wehaveananny, I do not appreciate your glares over the top of your Raybans. Your shiny lips do not make you a better mother. I discipline my children publicly out of love, and I want them to grow up as respectable human beings, not run around being spiteful and rude like your designer children. How about a friendly smile? Being a momma is hard enough.

Mr Iwanttodrinkmycoffeeinpeace, I hope one day you get to drink your coffee in peace and quiet without any ‘noisy’ children around. I will never apologise for my children being just that; children. I suggest the best place is either your own home or a library.

Mr & Mrs We-have-forgotten-what-children-are-like, you annoy me the most. Do not stand and gawp. Do not look me in the eye and show no emotion whatsoever, because unfortunately, or not, my brain will be too slow in stopping my mouth opening and my protective momma bear instinct will kick in. Go roll your eyes at a real problem.

Mr Shopkeeper, my children are only small, they like to explore. They do not understand the concept of ‘buy before you try’. They don’t mean to pick things up and carry them around just to put them back in the wrong aisle, they’re just inquisitive. I assume you don’t have toddlers, but if you do then go take a long hard look in the mirror, and take your pettiness elsewhere. Your shop is not Harrods. My munchkins are not grownups.

Mrs I-park-in-parentandchild-spaces-when-I-dont-have-children, you frustrate me, you make my blood boil. Parent and child spaces do what the label says. Us parents need the extra room to manoeuvre little rascals out of huge clumpy seats, and get out car seats, and the four hundred items us mommas have to carry to ensure a calmish shopping trip. I wish shops would put parent and child spaces at the back of the carpark, we would still use them, because believe it or not it’s not about the convenience of how near it is to the shop. Next time go find another space, a normal one, there’s hundreds.

Mrs Advicecentral, I don’t need or even want your advice mid-tantrum thank you. Believe it or not it’s taking all my energy and patience to not throw my child across the car park (joke!), so hearing you’re opinion will only further my agitation. I may smile politely, but carry on and watch me go full-on hulk. Keep your advice for the people you know.

And then there’s Miss Normal, the lifesaver of the downcast momma. Miss Normal has her own little darlings, her hairs in a messy top knot, her face flushed, her shopping bags heavy, and her children are happy and loved. She gives a knowing nod, a smile, and strikes up a conversation about the tantrums she’s experienced that day. Miss Normal repairs your momma self esteem, she empathises, she knows! Miss Normal revitalises your patience, she encourages you to keep going, she saves the day. I like Miss Normal.

I want to be Miss Normal. She changes people’s lives. She helps people back up. She holds out her hand and pulls you back into reality.

Be Miss Normal next time you come across a momma having a hard time.

A Typical Day With Two Under Three

I love my children beyond comprehension, they also drain 99% of the life out of me at the same time. How about yours? I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. My children are generally well-behaved, but they’re children. Gorgeous, world changing, life sucking children.

Do you ever wonder what it is like to have two under three years of age? Well, wonder no more! I’m glad they’re now school age!

4:55am – One child needs a wee. He wakes up half the street on his two metre journey to the bathroom.

4:58am – One child jumps back into bed so loud that the other awakens and shouts “I scared!”

5am – They both drift back off to sleep. Daddy continues snoring. Mummy lies awake dreaming of sleep and winning the lottery. Mummy eventually slips into a half-asleep half-awake state.

5:50am – One child cries because he’s hungry and needs a ham sandwich. Mummy convinces him to watch a movie in bed. Mummy’s eyes hurt. The other still snores. Daddy still snores.

6:15am – The awake child is starving and needs food now before Hanger becomes an issue. Mummy fetches a pre- breakfast. The other child still snores. The awake child doesn’t want to eat anymore, he flails. Hanger reigns. We cuddle. We find a TV show. He now eats. Mummy’s fully awake. Daddy snores.

7am – Alarm is snoozed by daddy. Alarm wakes the sleeping child. He gets into bed with mummy, daddy, and his brother. Daddy snores. Daddy gets jumped on and wrestled by the two boys. Daddy is not a morning person.

7:15am – Alarm snoozed again. Both boys are now in full Wreck it Ralph mode. We go downstairs to play. Daddy snores.

7:30am – Breakfast, milk, blanket & movie time. One child doesn’t share. The other child pulls the blanket. My floor is full of butter side down toast and blueberries. One of them stands on the blueberries. We clean up. We play.

8:45 – Daddy leaves for work. The boys play Duplo. My eldest doesn’t want to share the Duplo, he whacks it off his brthers face. His brother slamdunks him. Both boys get sat out. It takes six attempts for them to sit out. This sharing / wrestling goes on until snack time. Mummy is referee. Mummy plays. Mummy tidies. Mummy puts the kettle on to boil.

9:15 – Bath time. One child agrees. One runs naked around the landing. Mummy ignores him. The complient child gets in the bath. He pours half of the water over my floor. He is in trouble. He laughs. I get annoyed. I drag a screaming other child into the bath. I plonk him in. He cries. He moans. He eventually plays. Shampoo time. They scream to have it on, they scream to have it washed off. One cries about the plug dragon getting his toes. One pretends he is the plug dragon. Mummy is soaked. We get dry, all of us, after two games of naked chasing. Mummy gets washed and dressed with an audience.

10:15am – Snack time. Mummy reboils kettle to have that first drink. One child needs a poop. One child wants snack. Poop then snack. Now the other poops. Poop then snack. Boys sit on sofa and eat snack. One child needs a bath from snack. He gets a baby wipe bath.

10:45am – We draw some pictures. One child draws a storm cloud, which he scrunches up and throws off his brothers head, apparently it’s raining on him. Luckily he ignores him and doodles away. One draws around his own hand. The other copies. My youngest tattoos his whole body with a Crayola marker before I can reach him.

11:15 – We build a fort. We watch a few minutes of a movie on the tablet in the fort. We have a tea party in the fort. One child is a dragon and breaks down the fort. The other child breaks down about the dragon. We rebuild the fort which is now a pirate ship. One child becomes a crocodile. He bites his brother on the foot. He cries. My eldest is still a crocodile.

11:45 – Mummy prepares lunch. One wants six ham and six jam sandwiches, the other wants cheese and ice cream. The boys eat a ham sandwich and a salad in their fort. Mummy reboils the kettle for that first drink.

12:30pm – One child makes a Duplo stadium. The other breaks it. He pushes him over. Both boys are warned. They repeat this. One cries for fifty minutes and the other goes on a rampage with the Duplo. Mummy counts to ten.

1pm – We bake cakes. One child sneezes into the mixture. One eats a tablespoon of butter straight out the packet. One cries his cakes aren’t cool enough to decorate yet. We decorate warm cakes. They eat 75% of the cakes. One needs a poop. Mummy reboils the kettle and grabs a biscuit to eat.

1:45pm – Snack time. One wants raisins. One wants chicken. We have yoghurt. Then raisins. No chicken. My youngest now wears a yoghurt face mask and so does my fireplace.

2pm – One drums. One sings Summer in the style of Olaf. One sneezes, it goes everywhere. The other cries because he has bogies on his arm from brother. We use more wipes.

2:10pm – Mummy reboils kettle, throws in some washing, and eats half a banana. One cries for half a banana. One poops.

2:30pm – Playdoh time. One child makes a ship. One eats a playdoh snake. We cut. We roll. We make a whole playdoh happy land village. He still eats the snake.

2:55pm – Mummy boils the kettle for that first drink.

3pm – One wants to play shops. He gets his cash register and trolley. His brother steals his trolley. He screams and throws the cash register. He apologises. His brother wants a kiss. He doesn’t.

3:15pm – Mummy boils the kettle, and makes a drink.

3:30pm – Mummy prepares dinner. Mummy drinks a cold cup of tea. One child cries for carrots and chicken. Dinner cooks away. They have a 15 minute technology chill. One wants the game that his brother is playing. He snatches the tablet and throws it over the sofa. One cries. One gets sat out. He cries. Mummy wants to cry.

4pm – Dinner time. One refuses to eat. The other eats his in one go and tries to steal his brothers. One knocks over his milkshake. Mummy cleans up. Pudding time. One child needs to be hosed down.

4:45pm – Mummy tries to clean up after dinner. Both kids throw the sofa cushions into a heap and shout “soft play!”. Mummy says otherwise. Mummy says otherwise again. Nobody listens. Mummy now doesn’t care less about her sofa. We have a soft play session. They wrestle. There are tears.

5:30pm – Chill out and pyjama time. Nobody chills. Nobody wants pyjamas on. Daddy is home. More wrestling, now with three children.

6pm – Bedtime. Nobody wants milk. One child has to be held down again for his teeth to be brushed. There’s bed jumping, screaming, wrestling, dribbling, sweaty boys, and tears. We persevere. Two boys snore.

6:30pm – Mummy sometimes falls asleep until morning. Daddy plays his Xbox.

Then cue getting up at 30 minute intervals until morning.

How does yours compare? Are we normal? I doubt it!

 

The Silent Struggle Of Depression

This post is one of the hardest things I will ever write, not because I don’t have the words, but because I am not sure I have the courage. Chances are, if you’re reading this then I braved it!

For years I have struggled with my emotions; up until age 13 I’m not really sure I had any to be quite honest, my heart was locked away. Life had not been ideal to say the least. I was a very broken girl, desperate to feel good enough. (This will be a blog post one day in the future when I’m feeling mightily courageous.)

When I look back now I think the cloud I call depression set in very early on in my childhood. I just didn’t know it. It crept up very slowly, and as more and more baggage got hurled onto my shoulders I let the cloud consume my every breath. I was ashamed of how I felt. I was confused by how I felt. Feeling everything all at once yet being so numb and feeling nothing is a very bizarre, limbo-type state of mind.

As the years went by I learnt how to deal with my cloud in various ways. Self-harm was one of the routes I frequented daily, sometimes it was a quick hello, other times it was more, way more. I won’t go into detail here, as I have already said I’m sure my life will be a blog post one day, but just to give you the jist.

My childhood meant I didn’t know how to deal with emotions or problems. I only knew secrets, shame, and aggression. This has made life so difficult, sometimes unbearable, but I am through the other side now, there is a light, you just got to keep on walking, or crawling!

To cut a very, very long story short, my cloud and it’s friends followed me through my every waking moment all the way into my late twenties, when one day a little miracle awoke my sad, self destructive soul; I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were over the moon. On that day, 27th February 2010, I vowed to never self harm again. This was over four years ago – I’ve never broken that promise. It’s been four long years but I did it! I am not saying I haven’t been tempted because I have. I can go months without giving it a second thought, then along comes a speed bump and bam, it’s all I can think about for days. I have cried in desperation sometimes for the few seconds of relief it will give me, but I have remained steadfast. Some days are hard, some are not, but ALL are doable!

This post, though, isn’t meant to be about my struggle with destructive behaviours, it’s about the silent struggle so many people face; depression.

When I became pregnant, and instantaneously gave up self harm, ( I’d tried since the age of nine, so it was definitely miraculous 16 years later) I assumed my cloud would be going too, how wrong I was. It’s taken me a long time, 28 years in fact, to admit out loud that I suffer with depression. It’s hard to grasp that depression is a chemistry flaw NOT a character flaw. There is so much stigma attached to mental illness. You’re told to pull your socks up, that it will pass, and made to feel weak, when in fact this is so far from the actual reality of this illness. Depression is an illness, a decaying, nasty, debilitating one, I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.

Some days are good, some months are good, and then sure enough the big black cloud rears it’s ugly, unwanted head and lands on your shoulders. Sometimes it takes you out, total wipeout, other times you have to just plod on through the cloud and cling on to the hope that it will pass.

Since having my children my cloud has reached new heights, some due to sleep deprivation, some due to a post-natal cloud. I’ve experienced enough, and researched enough over the last 21 years to self-diagnose my cloud. I believe medication for mental illnesses is a marvellous thing, and advise anyone suffering to go and seek medical advice, however I have chosen to take a non-medicinal route at this time. There are lots of reasons for this, both sensible and not so sensible, but I’m a very stubborn girl, ask my husband!

Sometimes the cloud is away for months; life’s peaceful, enjoyable, I savour every moment. Sometimes the cloud arrives for a week; I wake up wishing I hadn’t, I cry, I feel numb, nothing is enjoyable, I hate myself, I feel a terrible mother, I can’t sleep, I don’t want to eat, I push my husband away. When the cloud arrives you feel so alone, ashamed even, but do you know what? – that’s far from the truth! So many people will relate to you. Depression doesn’t make you any less of a person, it’s taken me a long time to grasp this, and I’m all for smashing the stigmas of mental health! Don’t fight your battle alone. People will not think you’re crazy, your children would not be better off somewhere else, and your friends won’t dessert you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Self-stigma is the worst! Go chat to someone, they won’t have a cure, but the weight of your secret struggle will be lightened. Being a momma is hard enough without a secret battle.

I personally have had a very good five months cloud wise, but only because I’ve learnt the art of plodding on. Of course there’s been bad days, horrendous days in fact (the kind where you hope you don’t wake up tomorrow etc), but I’ve chatted them through with my husband, and the secret shame is lifted, then I’ve put my head down and focussed on getting through the day; plodding on regardless. Yes it’s hard. Life is.

I could go on for days about my own experiences and feelings, but I won’t bore you. I just want people to know they’re not alone. You’re not hopeless, and you’re most definitely not crazy!

Here’s to cloudless days!

Do You Encourage Your Children Enough?

Do you encourage your children enough?

Being a momma can be such a tiring job. Don’t get me wrong, I am besotted with my babies, and I’d sacrifice my life for them, but it is an exhausting role being a momma, and it’s ok to feel like that. It’s ok to mentally pack your suitcase, it’s ok to dream of walking out the door, it’s ok to cry into your pillow every once in a while, and it’s ok to have regrets; you’re only human! What’s not ok is venting our own hang-ups, disappointments, annoyances, tiredness, anger, hurts, and negativity onto our precious babies.

We all have those moments, those outbursts we’d rather forget – the moments we turn into a Momster; you woke late, the kids woke grumpy, the iron blew up, the milk was off, the kids wiped a bogey on your clean clothes, milk got spilt, you have a headache, there’s tears over an unsticky sticker, there’s throwing, kicking, screaming, pushing, Cheerios are all over the sofa, nobody wants to get dressed, poopy nappies, and stress levels rocket. In those moments I try to stay cool and calm, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I yell, my frustration and tiredness take over, but one thing I never do is belittle my children. I never want to chisel away any of their confidence or self esteem. A good self esteem is one of the most important things you can nurture in your children.

Helping your child understand they’re not a failure, just because something they did failed, will give them a solid foundation to base their future upon. When they cry and yell because they’re frustrated they’ve failed at their favourite game, try offering your help and reassure them in trying again, instead of getting annoyed at the whining and the tears. Show them how to handle difficult emotions.

When your child sees you looking in the mirror, never criticise yourself, affirm who you are, they will then learn to affirm themselves. This is a key ingredient in leading a happy life.

I tell my children countless times a day that I love them, and this will always be the case. I snuggle them, I hold them, I high-five them, I tell them they’re the best things since sliced bread. They love being loved; it melts stubbornness, it heals hurts, it wipes away tears.

I get tired of hearing the way some parents talk to their children, and I have to bite my lip. My biggest peeve is hearing a toddler being scolded with “Who the hell do you think you are?!” I mean what kind of stupidity is this? Who do they think they are? Chances are with comments like this they think they’re a nobody. This corrodes self worth, even that of a toddler.

Our words bring life and death. We even have to discipline with love. Disciplining your child isn’t about making sure they know who’s boss and making them feel like a nobody and unimportant. Discipline is about showing them which behavioural path they need to choose, and the best teacher is Mr Example; they watch everything you do and hear everything you say so be very selective.

Our little rascals need affirmation constantly. They need praise; good listening, tidying, being thoughtful, good manners, artwork, trying something new. Praise goes a long way in raising a child who believes in themselves. It’s much easier to build self worth into a child than it is in an adult. I make a conscious effort all day long to praise my children for both big and little things. They’re little faces beam with pride when they know mummy noticed how particularly good they were. I want them to know they’re good enough just as they are, and always will be.

Take the extra few minutes for that second book they are nagging you to read, let them lick the spoon then dip it proudly back into the cake mixture, let them have a water fight in the garden, let them paint each other then throw them in the bath, just let them be. Live a life full of more yes’ than no’s. Live a life of love, lots and lots of love, it conquers all things.

In the beginning

May 2014…

Once upon a time I had a blog, or two, and then life got in the way.

Almost four years into motherhood, and here’s to a fresh writing start; the highs, the lows, the joys, the tears, the worries, the fun, the happy memories, and the heartaches.

I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you all.

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