Fast cars

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This boy is one of three who happen to make my world go round. After counting down the days until I would be completely off work and available to play, it wasn’t long after I stumbled out of bed that first morning that I was handed a car and told to play.

My kids hate that I work full time. And I get it. (As well as all the guilt that comes with loving my full time job). So despite the fact that stopping and just enjoying the moment is incredibly difficult for this chronic multi-tasking, plate spinner…I’ve been trying my hardest to say “yes,” and get down on the floor to brumm fast cars as often as possible over the past fortnight.

It’s too easy to say “no” – there’s dish s to be done; washing to hang out; and just sitting down to do. But I don’t want them (or me) to remember their childhood as me sitting on the couch or being too busy all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as big believer in good old fashion benign neglect…it’s the route of all creativity, surely! It’s the all the time element I am concerned with.

So my last fortnight has been filled with fast cars, stick ball, camping, running, picnics, bike rides and trips to the park. Tomorrow is my last day and although I’m ready to be insanely busy again, I’ve enjoyed being available to say yes.

And let’s not talk about my little boy being big enough to start school next week!

Into the woods & back again

Today we went to the woods.

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Although we did not stay long, my non-outdoorsy child spent every second building, dreaming , and enjoying. All because the rangers had enough foresight to leave offcuttings & a few examples.

I don’t think we could give him anything more valuable than possibility.

Today we went to the woods.

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Although we did not stay long, my non-outdoorsy child spent every second building, dreaming , and enjoying. All because the rangers had enough foresight to leave offcuttings & a few examples.

I don’t think we could give him anything more valuable than possibility.

There you have it.

My eldest son, E, is intelligent.
I know, all mums think their little boys are the cat’s miaow, but he is.

In fact, I have learned that is difficult to discuss a gifted child without trying to simultaneously highlight any faults you can think of. Otherwise it puts people off; makes the conversation seem competitive; or just makes you feel like that mother.

And believe me, I’m not her.

But he’s intelligent and things at school are easy for him. At 2 E would comment that his pineapple pieces were trapeziums. At the start of year 1 he passed an end of year 2 maths test (but, when he couldn’t explain why the answers were right they held him “back” to do year 2 maths). He reads novels in a day, while many of his friends still struggle with picture books.

The trouble is, he’s my boy. So like me before him, he doesn’t know how to deal with things that are hard. He is unfamiliar with hard work and struggle makes him question his understanding of himself. But he’s 6. And what I can personally guarantee him is that there will be hard things. He won’t win every race and he won’t be the best at every task.

How do I teach him that is ok? How do you breed resilience in a child? How do I lead him to defining himself as more than his abilities?

And how do I have the conversation with other parents without making it sound like I think my child is a prodigy?

breathless

(photo by phil)

The little boy in that photo makes my world go round. Lately he has taken to throwing his chubby arms around me possessively when sleepy and I love it. Even his tantrums entertain me. Much more his new words and excitement to use them. His latest things are “dromedary” (obviously?) and trying to figure out how to use pronouns right. I get “Carry you?” a lot when really I don’t think he’s offering to give me a ride up the stairs.

And the bird. (who doesn’t look as birdlike in this photo as he generally does, but I love it) My funny little 2nd born. He has taken us to hell and back. Today was the day for switching him to prescribed (and disgusting smelling) formula, to see if he’ll eat, gain weight and be better without the dairy. Oh my I hope so. But I find myself overwhelmed with emotion over it all. I know that formula isn’t the enemy, and I don’t feel like I’ve failed… more like I’m missing out. Because he wasn’t take a bottle from me, my mother-in-law did all the feeds today. By tea time I missed him, so I tried (and he took it!). I already miss his smell, because all he smells like now is regurgitated “hypoallergenic” formula (and this is worse than your bog standard Cow and Gate, believe me!).

Breastfeeding is so weird. I’m sorry if I’m letting all my “breastfeeding warrior” friends down, but it’s weird. And amazing. Amazing that my body can create a baby and then provide all he needs. Sadly he simply wouldn’t take it and wasn’t thriving. Carrying on would have been selfish (and yet I feel selfish for stopping). Tonight as I put him to bed, he took the bottle I offered, but kept turning his head just in case a boob was around. That made me break a little.

He is only 12 weeks old and I already feel as though I have missed so much through the trauma. When he is feeling ok (like today, when for once he had a full tummy!!!) he is the most cheerful funny little guy. He chatters on like it’s a competition and freely gives out his “kermit” smiles to anyone who’ll stop and look at him. He was born with a whole heap of opinions – just to fit in I think.

We’re moving on and it looks like (fingers crossed) the hell is on it’s way out… so why am I grieving?

the division of two

“Mummy Guilt”, despite its slightly sickly name, is a powerful force. It reaches all the way into your gut and doesn’t let go. At the height of its grip, there is nothing to be said that can release you, but you will do anything in its name.

 

And before I became pregnant with Caleb, whom we affectionately refer to as The Bird (whilst Eden remains “The Beast”), I was not intimately acquainted with the phenomenon of “MG” … We’d had such brief encounters, so far between. Encounters that could be overcome with a new toy purchased and extra treats allowed.

 

And then there were two. In fact, and then there was just the knowledge that there would be two and Mummy Guilt and I started to hang out. Regularly. Guilt about the timing of “the next one”, guilt that I was too tired, too sick to properly play, etc, etc. The last few weeks before Caleb was born, Eden became very needy. And I started feeling sick with guilt because we were beginning to expect him to grow up, because we needed him to. (he started preschool and having a grandma day)

 

With two here, each making his demand known, Mummy Guilt is in all its glory. Caleb is left to cry at times that would have had me desperately upset with Eden and it barely phases me. Just admitting it brings that sickening squeeze. I can’t let it phase me though, as I constantly try to justify to people, because I can’t physically see to both their needs at the same time. Not generally, at least. I can’t hold Caleb as he struggles to get to sleep whilst changing eden’s nappy. And yes, Eden probably should be out of nappies but he’s not.

 

The guilt of how much different Calebs infancy is/will be, compared to eden’s, is suffocating. Today I’ve held him whilst he sleeps because this is eden’s naptime and this is his chance. This is his chance to come first. What a thing to say, and to mean.

 

 

I won’t even begin to explain the guilt about the “not yet”….

I have started so many posts in the past week.

About Comfort. About Need. About This and about That.

The first one, my iPod deleted. The rest have been left intentionally unsaved by me.
Sometimes it’s the writing that is important, rather than the sharing.

I had the arrogance to forget that being a new mum (even though it’s the 2nd time) would change everything. I have this tiny little creature slung onto me, snoring away and despite my previous confidence of how it easy it would be ‘this time round’ I think I forgot that Caleb is his own person, right from the word go… and that how he would be, and how he would respond was not to be predicted.

And then there’s the Big Beast (Eden) who is currently asleep upstairs. I tried not to think about how he would deal. For that I am glad, because worrying would not have made this last week any easier.

But there have been such *great* moments already. Eden’s pre-nap story was cut short because I was alone and Caleb wouldn’t stop crying. Eden sat up and gave Caleb a cuddle (The First) and a kiss. Because he wanted to.

And we’ve sat on our couch, a child on each lap, reading great stories, with both of them happy.
Those are the moments I want to remember from this week.

 

Once again I have learned a lot about myself. About my needs. About my buttons. About my insecurities. And about my strengths.

I have missed Eden so much whilst he has clung to Phil in this insecure time. But today, with Phil simply not there, he clung to me. And I remembered first, how good it feels, and second, that he reacts somewhat how we allow him to react.

 

Christmas is a few days away. I’m not ready. There are presents unmade. There are key items for making the presents which haven’t even been purchased. There are presents that are still ideas in my head and items in a shop. But I’m not stressed. I refuse to allow Christmas, particularly this Christmas, be about the Things. So a stocking is slightly un-filled. A tradition un-kept (ok that one sort of bothers me…if only I drove!!!) … This Christmas will be my first with my parents in 7 years, our first as a family of 4 and our first with both sets of grandparents in one place.

This is a Christmas to remember and not for that Prada Bag. (ha as if that’s on anyone’s list…but you know what I mean.)

our days

Our days are a blend of repetition and new experiences. I have found that the repetition is what builds his confidence – there are certain things he can rely on. In that confidence he can search out new things. The deer farm is a very regular part of our lives. We’ve been walking there several times a week (at least) since I was pregnant with him, and now as soon as we get to the private road, he scampers off ahead…searching for puddles, stones (to climb on) and whatever animals may be living in the fields that day. He knows the road, he knows the basics (where the stone pig is that he kisses every time, where the biggest puddle will be, etc) and he is bold. But he also always sees new things. Yesterday it was buttercups (who taught him what buttercups were?) . . .he ran excitedly through the grass, pointing them out, saying bye to them and looking for more.

Also yesterday the chair that lives outside our house was knocked over (probably by him if we’re honest) and suddenly it was the greatest toy ever. He climbed under it for more than 20 minutes before he decided that climbing on top was equally as fun.

This age is so fun. There is so much wonder. So much to learn. So much to touch and taste and try out. I have so much to learn from this little bundle of exploring energy.

free range children and sacrifice

I’ve been watching Season 7 of Project Runway lately… and when the final designers were making their collections, 2 of them were talking about how they came from immigrant families and the sizeable sacrifices their parents made so that they would have ‘a better life.’ It has kickstarted some serious thoughts in my wee little brain.

This isn’t a novel concept – I’ve been hearing reference to parents working long hours and numerous jobs, going without and living a life to a lesser quality than necessary for the sake of their children’s future. But these days I hear a lot more about making the children’s childhood important and special and ‘right’. Ensuring they have the right experiences, the right amount of attention and tuition and love.

I guess what my thoughts boil down to is that by staying home, I am not only reducing our current quality of life (in material terms) but also I am not putting any money towards my children’s future. And this doesn’t really bother me, except occasional moments of panic. (but i have occasional moments of panic surrounding most topics!).

But it does make me think. Because my mother’s choices as mum and my choices differ greatly. She probably thinks I pander to eden and I’m too soft (which again,  i may well be). I read books about not passing babies around too much because of personal space issues. I refused to leave him to cry (until he was old enough to be tantruming at me) because I didn’t want him to be insecure. When he developed separation anxiety at 10 months, I let him stay with me instead of leaving him in a different room. At the same time, I don’t want to wrap him in cotton wool.

I came across this article recently (good old BLW). I want to raise free range children. I want children who are independent and are able to be children. At a village meeting about the park they’re planning on building, the architect described a park that isn’t completely safe, and that it isn’t on purpose. I believe in that kind of thing. I let eden run around on the tarmac outside, even when I know that he’ll probably fall. And when he does I don’t react, unless he really is hurt. But sometimes it takes conscious effort to let him do things for himself.

But then my mum’s reaction to the article filled me with all sorts of conflicting emotions. She reminded me that a week after my 17th birthday, I boarded a plane to return to Canada, to move to university and left them in their new home in Costa Rica. In that, she reminded me that I did EVERYTHING young.. and believed myself to be fully capable and fully independent. The truth, however, was that I wasn’t. But I don’t know how to reconcile that with the fact that I had a brilliant time at uni and was very happy with my life. They didn’t make the wrong decision in letting me go but I do wonder if there were factors that could of been changed. I was very convincing at being capable. It’s now that I am fully-fledged adult that my incapabilities shine through. There are things missing in my development and I think it’s because I was working so hard to prove that I could manage, I didn’t even realise there were things I couldn’t do and that those things mattered.

So what age will I let eden (and his sibling of unknown gender) board a plane to visit his grandparents on his own? I don’t know. Will I let him walk to school on his own? What age? The world is different than it was when I was a kid, but it remains different because of fear. I believe many of the dangers are worse because we stop ourselves from doing things that used to be safe.

raining and pouring, proverbially speaking.

(the weather is gorgeous though)

It seems that I am either extremely busy or extremely idle. These days we’re moving into a ‘fast-paced’ zone. Well, for us. I have 2 work projects on (apparently what I do is ‘art-working’ rather than graphic design), have just sold a necklace & earring set to a dear friend:

my curtains are on the table, all cut, and partially pinned… phil’s photography stuff is getting busy…etc. Oh and obviously there’s life with eden. Which always keeps me on my toes.

Now that I’ve written it, it doesn’t sound too busy… but it feels it. Naptimes and bedtimes are filled with activity. And obviously we have to carry on obsessively watching old series of 24!

It feels good to feel ‘of worth’ again. I know that looking after Eden is important & I’m extremely lucky to have a husband who is also willing to make massive financial sacrifices for me to do it, but without other focus in my life I feel drained. Now i feel like I have a reason to feel so exhausted (besides, obviously, the child who is growing inside me and stealing my brain to grow its own).

For awhile I’m going to start saying what my ‘favourite thing of the day’ is… today it is watching eden run. My gosh I’ve never seen something so cute & funny. I don’t understand how he’s not permanently falling over. And he doesn’t seem to see the point in walking, he just runs. I love it.