Girls and boys

People ask me if I have noticed a difference between BUB.3, a girl, and BUBs 1 and 2, boys. Nope, I say, they’re exactly the same.

Hmmmm. Today she (purposefully) dropped an entire packet of dried spaghetti all over the kitchen floor, shattering it into small pieces. I tried to make soup, sausages and a stir fry as she proceeded to hand me pasta fragments one by one. Piece by piece, each one announced with a ‘Mu, Mu” which is “Mum”.

It’s raisins too. And baked beans. And pencils. And straws. And peas. And Lego. Each scattering of items is met with a sombre “uh oh” and then one by one, Mum by Mum, she hands me them, getting frustrated and cross if I don’t accept each one promptly and with smiles.

It’s really the only time she uses the word  ‘Mum’. So I smile each time and say thank you. And I stuff whatever she has given me in my back pocket, or on a shelf, in the bin or in the front pocket of my bag, which is at the best of times a place of deep confusion and biscuit dust.

I am used to items of all descriptions being dispersed around the house willy nilly. I am not used to this being viewed as a problem or an annoyance by anyone else but myself.

I don’t want to be sexist but I’m hoping this will extend to wet towels and toothpaste lids further down the line.

Advertisements

Roll with it

Listening to Oasis’s What’s the Story Morning Glory in the car on the way to the cinema, we all sang along to Wonderwall and She’s Electric but when Champagne Supernova came on we all fell silent, driving through the rain, until I asked them if they knew what a supernova was. They said no, so I told them it’s the end of a star’s life.  “How long do stars live for? asked BUB.2. “Millions and sometimes billions of years,” I said. “Longer than us then?” “Yes.” “I wish I was a star then,” he said sadly, staring out at the rain, when just seconds ago he was doing Minions impressions. “But you are,” I said, before changing the subject to popcorn and sticking “Roll with it” on. Rainy, grey days are sh*t in the holidays but sometimes there’s just a flash of magic.

Pigeons and rainbows

Adorable. CHILD: “Where does rice come from?” ME: “A field called a rice paddy. It’s a crop.” CHILD: “It doesn’t grow on daisies then?” Mix up: CHILD: “How do caterpillars make raccoons?”

The questions have begun from BUB.3. I hope she comes up with some on a par with her older brothers….if so, here’s some of what I can look forward to.

Infuriating: CHILD: “Why is the sponge?”. ME: “Why is it what?” BUB.1: “Yeah! Why?” (I’ve gone into this strain of questioning before in this post “What was that?”…)

Adorable. CHILD: “Where does rice come from?” ME: “A field called a rice paddy. It’s a crop.” CHILD: “It doesn’t grow on daisies then?”

Mix up: CHILD: “How do caterpillars make raccoons?”

Two-pronged cuteness: CHILD: “What are rainbows made out of?” CHILD 2: “Glitter.”

Odd. CHILD: “Why doesn’t your nose have eyes?”.

Romantic: CHILD: “How does the moon go up?”

Physics: CHILD: “Where has my holiday gone?”

And the BEST question ever: CHILD (looking up at a phone wire in the street):  “Mummy, why is that pigeon not holding on?”

Cracking up

One thing I didn’t expect to worry about as a parent was whether my three-year-old would address strangers as “you stupid bum crack.” But that did actually happen when BUB.2 was three. It was around about the same time he and his older brother invented an imaginary horse bum crack flavour ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s have missed a trick, surely.

One thing I didn’t expect to worry about as a parent was whether my three-year-old would address strangers as “you stupid bum crack.” But that did actually happen when BUB.2 was three. It was around about the same time he and his older brother invented an imaginary horse bum crack flavour ice cream. Ben & Jerry’s have missed a trick, surely?

He also used to run around shouting “Shit hot!” for ages before I realised he’d been watching a video on my iPhone of a sheep being sheared. Sheep hot. Sheep. Another of my farmyard loving son’s cries in public was “Mummy whore!” which he used to sing repeatedly at the top of his voice when he wanted to go and see some horses in our local woods.

But my absolute favourite BUB.2 howler was when WW was going to take them off to his parents’ house a few months ago for a whole weekend so I could get some precious uninterrupted hours to actually bloody work in peace.

BUB.2 When’s Dad going to bugger us? ME: WHAT?? BUB.2: When is he going to bugger us? When are we going to bugger off? To Grandma’s?”

Whoops, language. I missed them terribly, of course.

 

The Wife of Bath: the sequel.

Four years ago I wrote a blog called The Wife of Bath in which I explained why I get in the bath with my small kids. BUB.3 was still a twinkle, the first two were 1 and 3. Today they are 3, 5 and 7. Looking through my list of 8 reasons that I used to swill about in the muck of my children, it’s clear why this no longer happens.
1) I don’t always require a complete change of clothes at bath time. Now only my socks get wet.
2) I’m not so dirty anymore. They, on the other hand, just get filthier with each year that passes. Mostly exploded yogurt and marker pen.
3) Bath time without me just sounds a bit sad. It’s still my favourite time with them. Weird, I know.
4) They still love it. But they’re bigger. And sometimes they try to drown each other. Or they’re pretending to smoke.
5) I’ve invested in a Lifeproof iPhone cover. From someone who has dropped previous phones in pineapple juice, prune juice, down several toilets, through a 90 degree washing machine cycle and into a bowl of chicken soup, I’m the ultimate test for this thing and this thing lives on where others have not been so lucky.
6) They would hate me to get into the bath with them now. I would be insulted like the time BUB.1 told me I looked like a gorilla who had lost all of its hair apart from its armpits.
7) I never care about what I’m wearing anymore. I’ve accepted my uniform of shrunken long-sleeved stretchy black top and bulging jeans. I’m OK with it.
8) I no longer have to worry about them weeing in my bath because I tend to now sneak in before them. Invariably the moment my shoulders hit the hot water one of them wants an immediate poo. I don’t know which is worse. The kid who immediately wants me to leave the bathroom (and therefore extract myself from a lovely hot bath I have been in for 5 seconds) or the kid who wants me to stay. THIS is just one of the infinite philosophical “caught between a rock and a hard place” questions that dominate parenthood. You can never really win with kids. There’s always a trade off.
But one thing never changes from the time I wrote this blog post. The last line. That is and always will be so very, very true.

Parenting in a nutshell

When I lean in to kiss their little sleeping cheeks, I still get that surge of disbelief. That strange and ridiculous juxtaposition that parenthood slams us into and from which we can never escape.

2014-10-16 15.37.25There aren’t many pieces of parenting advice from my antenatal classes that have stuck with me, but there is one thing that our tutor said that has come back to me time and time again over the last seven years.

She told us that around eight weeks after the birth of your first child you will suddenly be hit with the crashing realisation that THIS IS NOT GOING TO STOP.

You’ll get up every morning and you’ll do the same things you did yesterday. These tasks will change over time, but there will always be tasks. She told us that it would suddenly hit us that this child is here to stay.

“And that is both a wonderful and a difficult thing,” she said, knowingly.

She nailed it. I remember holding that growing little boy as he started to smile and gurgle and thinking incredulously: “You’re mine. And tomorrow when I wake up you’ll still be mine.”

I don’t think a day has gone by since then when I haven’t heard myself thinking: “I can’t believe I am doing this again.” Tasks feel the same, they look the same, they are the same. It is the ultimate Groundhog day.

Between the hours of 7am and 9pm every day I’ll do everything to keep these children alive and the house still standing. This involves a series of mundane tasks that have to be done but from which little joy is gleaned. In amongst this are an endless list of random requests and relentless questions that I must deliver a response to, whether physically or verbally. There are sudden tears, howls of laughter and many, many catastrophic food spillages. Every day someone will lose a shoe. Or a cup. Or their mind. It’s like gravity. You can rely on it.

And whatever has happened, however tired, drained, hoarse, tearful, frustrated or numb I might feel, whether someone has done a shit on the rug, thrown juice on the sofa, lost their welly, killed my spirit, told me I look like a man with long hair, stabbed me in the eye with a toy sword, asked me why I’m not as kind as their teacher, made me crawl from room to room looking for a lost bottle of milk under every surface, felt-tipped all over my new diary, even if I have spent the day longing to be able to do even one single thing for myself, even when I can’t believe I will have to do it ALL again the very next day when I don’t think I have an ounce of me left to give, when I lean in to kiss their little sleeping cheeks, I still get that surge of disbelief. That strange and ridiculous juxtaposition that parenthood slams us into and from which we can never escape.

“I can’t believe I get to keep you.”

 

3 Little Buttons

We're all picking up the same sh*t

Parents who stay at home aren’t a blubbery, economically-useless void. A parent at home undertakes a series of daily tasks THAT SOMEONE HAS TO DO.

image

Why do we keep talking about non-working mothers? They are like unicorns, they do not exist. If there was such a thing as a non-working mother, “working” mothers wouldn’t have to pay someone to do their (non) job in order for them to go to work. They’d just leave the kids on the shelf at home.

This (non) job in question has an economic value which you can find out by typing the word “childcare” into Google, followed by your local area. This job only has an economic value if the person doing the job is a relative stranger to the child. That’s not to say it’s a highly-regarded career choice, when of course it should be. But the point is, it’s the SAME job, no matter who is doing it. The only difference is, one person gets a detailed job description, a salary and holidays. The other doesn’t.

image

Parents who stay at home aren’t a blubbery, economically useless void. A parent at home undertakes a series of daily tasks THAT SOMEONE HAS TO DO. That parent can either go to work and get paid to do something else while they pay someone to look after their child or they can look after their child themselves. Often this depends on their individual financial and personal needs and desires, as it should. We are all different.

One of the daily tasks in childcare happens to be love. The rest, the stuff that takes up 99% of their waking time, are routine, sometimes laborious, often sticky tasks that keep a child alive and healthy. Yes, I check Facebook. Occasionally I get half an hour to write or pay my bills online or eat my lunch sitting down. Every now and then I meet some friends for lunch, which we spend cajoling, feeding, cleaning and running after our children that we can’t just leave at home to do their own beans on toast.

image

Every minute of the day is spent working, whether it’s with a smile on my face or sitting rocking in a corner. This day starts at 6.30am (on a good day) and ends around 9pm (on a good day) giving me approximately an hour to myself before I need to go to bed.

Small children don’t cook their own meals, fetch their own things, go to the toilet alone, shop for food and clothes, amuse themselves, clean themselves, wash themselves, fetch their own toys, put their toys away, clean spaghetti from the walls, take themselves out and about, socialise with other humans, take themselves to bed or learn to do ANY of those things by themselves. They don’t get it instantly. They learn with the intensive help of one or more able adults over the course of a few years. Not just by watching, but by having it done for them, day in day out, and then by being shown how to do it themselves. This is a full time job, for a parent or for a childcare professional. It is truly exhausting. But all that really matters is that it’s done with care and love and that can happen at home or in a childcare setting.

image

What lucky, lucky children they are in our part of the world, having food, water, warmth, toys and love. So why do I keep reading articles bickering over who is doing it? We’re all picking up the same sh*t here. Someone is doing it and, by and large, we get a generation of functioning human beings at the end of it. That’s all that matters.

Why is it only considered a job if these tasks are performed by a stranger rather than a parent, or more specifically, a mother? You don’t hear many stay-at-home-Dads referred to as non-working fathers. They are demi-gods who have sacrificed much and are rushed off their feet.

Which is what I consider every non-working AND working mother I know to be.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com