An honest account of being a first time mum

2

It’s been a while because whilst my blogs used to be full of emotional sharing and the chores and triumphs of going through the motions as a first time mother, baby2011 turned into a toddler. He also turned 2. Therefore, I haven’t sat down or finished a task for 6 months.

So, I get it now, parents of older children and more than one child were probably laughing their asses off at my newborn to 18 month old journey. Babies stay in one place. If they’re hungry they have milk. And they snooze ALOT!

Toddlerdom is not like this.

For baby2011, toddlerdom so far can be summed us as follows:

• Consistent use of the phrases; “what you doin’ mummy?”, “no mummy, me do it”, “no don’t help me”, “don’t like it”, “disgusting”, “don’t want to go home”, “ice cream, chocolate, don’t want strawberries…”, “i’m not tired” and just when I’m going to let the gypsies have him “love you mummy”, nice dress mummy”.

• After a carton of Ribena being able to run faster than any adult – cleverly in random directions. Whilst laughing manically as mum has a heart attack that you are going to somehow leap 10 meters and end up in the road.

• Demanding a meal from adult slave immediately and then sitting for approximately 12 seconds to pick at it, spit it out and then throw a lot on the floor. “I will not be sea monster easting pasta boats, and I know for a fact my muscles are unlikely to get bigger if I eat 2 more pieces of carrot – do one, I want to play with the hose in the garden and soak your washing that was nearly dry.”

• Absolute refusal to sit in car seat or buggy. Absolute. This is not going to happen. Not with reverse psychology, not with lies and bribery. “If you want me to get in the seat you’ll have to catch me, pin me down and I will hit you and scream at you for 20 minutes. I don’t even care if Father Christmas is watching.”

• The ability to make a clean car look like utter shit within 4.2 seconds given a breadstick and a short car journey.

• 100% refusal to wear a nappy. And then being extremely proud of pooing and weeing on the floor within feet of the shiny new potty and moments of old nappy being removed.

• “Oh and also, even though I am pretending not to hear you, I will hear and retain every swear word you use and repeat this loudly (in context) in front of people you would really really really wish I didn’t.”

I caught myself saying sternly in a shop just last week “that lady is looking at you and she will tell you off for your bad behaviour” – yep I have turned into a proper mother. And I have no doubt that I am only in the adolescence of my motherhood, so much more to learn and so many ways to grow *thoughtful sigh* and so many more bribes to think up!!!

And so in 9 weeks time, baby2011 is getting a little brother or sister. More chaos. More fun. And much, much less sleep. I think dad2011 and I are going to need to meet up with our old friend Mr Jack Daniels…

Bloody hell, I think I just finished a task!?????

All change

Baby 2011’s vocabulary is really coming along and like the pushy parent I’ve always tried not to be I’m encouraging him to say anything and everything – “tractor”, “park”, “slide”, “swing”… “garlic” and “egg” are particularly hilarious. He also mastered, during a manic day in and out of the car – “dick head” and shouts “go go go” when we pull up at red lights like we’ve just raided a bank.

It’s all change again.

Nothing with baby2011 or our lives since having him has been revolutionary in terms of change (apart from that day we left the hospital with a tiny wrapped up newborn in a very expensive car seat wearing a hat with ears!) We’ve never had any epiphany moments that have meant baby2011 sleeping all night because we changed his tea time/bed time or because we made him run up and down the garden 100 times in the promise of a biscuit to just “please god wear him out!”

But things have slipped back into (dare I say) some kind of normality. Dad2011 has played a few rounds of golf and met friends for a few beers on the odd occasion and I have not screamed “you inconsiderate bastard, he’s screamed all day – do you know how many times I’ve cleared up the high chair today? – do you event comprehend what watching 5 episodes of something special does to a woman? – you have it so easy going off to work – I haven’t even had a f*cking shower!” Nope, not one obscenity has passed my lips. I have smiled, wished him a great time and meant it.

Things for me have changed a bit too these last few weeks I’ve started a kettlebell class and it’s in the evening (past my bedtime) but I haven’t turned into a pumpkin yet. And, I’ve been to bed later than 9pm. I’ve even been looking in shops for clothes and actually seen some things that I could perhaps pull off.

So swearing apart, I thought I’d blog a few changes I’ve noticed in baby2011. If for no other reason than to give a few parents out there who are in the up all night, rocking to sleep, food throwing, up at 4.30am stage (who don’t want to or who can’t do this controlled crying twaddle) a bit of hope that baby maturity and parental instinct do gradually mean change…

In the last few weeks (since we took the side off his cot and made it into a bed) baby2011 will lay in his bed with his nightlight on and with me pretending to be asleep next to him and after about 15 minutes of wriggling, sitting up, hitting me on the head, shouting “see saw marjory daw!?” he’ll lie down and go to sleep. This is the boy who I used to have to rock in my arms for up to an hour (despite a bed time routine that would put any army corporal to shame!) and then place gingerly in his cot for him to wake up 100 times before 10pm. He still wakes and he still rises early but now when he wakes up he’s happy to be chucked in our bed and he’ll go back to sleep until about 6am (after a year of 4.30/5am up and raring to go – this is heaven!).

So, I’m not in the kitchen at 5.05am every morning making “hot tea mummy” whilst he rams with his scuttlebug and my back is no longer twisted to oblivion sitting in that damn rocking chair listening to baby Einstein lullabies for 45 minutes after a day at work and a commute with Southern Trains that WILL turn me grey or see me on GBH charges.

He’ll also eat a cold lunch. Now this might seem ridiculous, but after a year of making hot lunches AND dinners for my little angel the fact that he will eat and is satisfied with a ham and cheese sandwich and some cucumber means a lot less washing up, a lot less prep and waiting time and it’s cheaper!

I also have given google a bit of a break. I don’t sit on the ipad all evening googling “when should I turn the cot into a cot bed?”, “when should you stop giving baby a bottle?”, what time should a 22 month old go to bed?”, “ How long and at what time should a 22month old nap?”. Nope – I no longer read the forums where parents all give their opinions, criticisms and shout about what worked for them (smug) and how their kids ONLY sleep 7pm-6.30am (grrrr). And it’s liberating.

When the going gets tough, as it inevitably does during the snot season, I have a very sympathetic French friend. Ms Sauvignon Blanc. We’ll why the hell not!? Cheers to change x

Christmas

Baby2011 is making me pasta, custard and tea. Then I expect he’ll pull up his tiny stool, sit down at the keys and serenade me on his piano (microphone included!) whilst I pick the Weetabix off his high chair and persuade the cat to get down off the top of the fridge. He plays a bit on his own now. As much as I’ve longed for this freedom I feel a but redundant.

Anyone would think it had been Christmas. My conservatory (posh eh!?) is like a toy shop. Flashing lights, joyful songs, and a bit chaotic – bit like dad2011 on Christmas day (boom boom). Baby2011 running excitedly from fireman Sam toys to Thomas the tank engine and he looks so thrilled.

In the run up to Christmas baby2011 and I hit the Toddler Group Christmas party. We survived. 50 under 5s making Christmas crowns (baby2011 insisting on wearing one he didn’t make upside down the whole time!) dancing and singing with Jo jingles and a few ounces of sugar made father christmas’ reception – well, Interesting.

Poor bloke probably wished he was in the pub opposite or at home in an arm chair watching deal or no deal with a cup of tea rather than absolutely terrifying each child there. He was a lovely chap but it was hilarious as each child was called they clung to their parents knees looking as terrified as a turkey at Christmas. They were sh*tting themselves. Parents of more than one child in hysterics or rolling eyes and first time mum’s trying to jolly up screaming child and explain the magic to them (no one wants the screamer do they!?).

Thank god a warm bottle of milk sent baby2011 to sleep that afternoon and me and a friend thought it would be best if we checked the mulled wine stock was ok for our husbands.

On Christmas eve baby2011 had been washed, fed and watered and put in a nice cosy bed. He’d put a carrot out for the reindeer and a triple jack Daniels for father crimbo and he was asleep. Bliss…my mind began to wander. Romantic notions of opening our stockings in bed on Christmas morning, laughing and excited filled my head.

The reality was that we we were woken in the night by the puke monster. Baby2011 and his spectacular vom made for a night of washing machine loads, carpet scrubbing and half sleeping, waiting for round 2.

The moral of this Christmas tale. You’re not the boss, you’re not in control, but with friends, family, children and wine…you’re definitely winning.

(I think I’ll need a hip flask once he hits nativity play age)

Phases

So there was the phase when I couldn’t have a 2 minute shower without shouting down the stairs “is he ok?”. Oh yes and even before that (how could I forget) the phase where I felt like dolly Parton and was walking like John Wayne…girls you know what I’m saying!?

Then there was the phase when breast feeding baby out and about filled me with dread as he was so nosey the whole of Surrey had seen what they weren’t supposed to by the time he was 3 months.

Then there was the “wouldn’t take a bottle” phase, then there was the dummy falling out a million times a minute phase. Oh yes and the pack 20 lunch boxes of weening food and beakers and milk for a quick trip to asda-all which was thrown on floor or refused phase. Particularly challenging and time consuming. I won’t bother next time around.

Then there was the crawling backwards phase, stuck under sofa phase, eating sweetcorn from under the sideboard phase.

Then there was the rotovirus phase, then the hacking cough phase. Then there was standing up phase, the walking phase, the running phase and now the talking phase. I use the word “talking” loosely however he has mastered the work “potato” just this morning and this confirms to me that he’s a genius.

So the wont sleep day or night phase and up at 4.55am phase persists but it’s definitely much more rewarding and fun looking after a toddler. A walking, talking, nutty toddler.

A toddler who waves at people from the window and cracks up as though they’re losers for waving back. A toddler who thinks its very funny to see mummy get wound up when he refuses to call a dog a dog and insists its a cat. A toddler who when I can smell him from 20 paces insists that he has NOT done a poo.

A toddler that wants to push the trolley round the supermarket and then hides amongst the cat litter shelf giving me a heart attack.

Baby2011 will always be my baby, but his sense of humour, his stubbornness and his overall personality makes everyday so fun and yes, I’ve plucked up the courage to call him a toddler. Cheers!

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Guilty pleasures

Baby2011 is 18 months old now. My dishwasher is his favourite toy (tray pulls out and is sat in like a go cart). He can out run me when it comes to nappy change time or tooth brushing time and squeeze himself into the smallest space , wedging himself between our bed and the wall.

Baby2011 can also out shout me now, (a real feat if you know me!) This scares a lot of old biddies in Asda but stops him from grabbing hold of the odd toilet brush or pepperami. And I leave the place with a scrap of dignity in place.

baby2011 finds pleasure in every situation (yes at the cost of my nervous system but this is good for him!). So as a parent what pleasures do we have?

Of course the bundle of joy we being into our lives, changing things forever is of course a pleasure (sense a sprinkle of sarcasm here folks!)

But I’m thinking of other stuff. Stuff that is like secret patent stuff. Things you wouldn’t have done in life before children. Guilty pleasures if you like.

And surprisingly with a child that evades sleep like Victoria Beckham evades carbs I have quite a few guilty pleasures. Or things and time I feel I’m owed…

Here goes with the list of mummy guilty pleasures:

1. Eating left over fish fingers/cheesy pasta/mash/sausages/fromage frais from child’s plate
2. Letting child fall asleep on sofa cuddling you. Then kicking back to watch this morning, made in Chelsea, nigelissima!
3. Picking up jokes from Justin’s house
4. Hating Sarah Jane on Tikkabilla
5. Secretly fancying mr bloom on Cbeebies
6. Tuning in to watch the lingo show because you want to
7. Looking out the window, seeing rain and deciding that this means having to stay in doors, eat bread and butter and absolutely not get dressed
8. Macdonalds happy meals
9. Child screaming when charity rep knocks on door at 7pm
10. Child grabbing chocolate bar/pair of socks/nice top/ deepest sympathy card from the shops and not realising until you get back to the car…
11. Jumping on the bed and wrestling for 20 minutes each morning
12. Making a cup of tea whilst child is bellowing on naughty step

You know your a parent when…

Baby2011 has been amazing entertainment the last few days. More so than ever as he’s started saying a few words. I’ve always known what he was trying to say and ask for (he’s actually very bossy without saying a word-a skill he must have learnt from his mother!) but now he’s actually saying proper words.

Ok, so he sounds Liverpudlian and Jamaican at times, but I can let that slide for his amazing range of vocabulary (!)

Words so far include; kick, balloon, car and bus…so all those hours spent saying “say cat, say dog, say mummy, say toast” have really paid off!

Anyway, I digress. Of course immensely proud of my tiny newborn (17 month old-what!?) being able to talk, but as I was filling out his first words in his baby’s first book I started reading through lots of his firsts.

This made me think of all the firsts you go through as a parent. And I’ve cobbled together a list of just a few things that you’d never do or would never happen if you didn’t have a little one. You know you’re a parent when…

Getting up at 7am is a lie in

You get poo on your finger and you shrug like its no big deal

Bogey picking becomes an obsessive game that you have to win

You entertain your little one by singing happy and you know it whilst you’re on the loo (with the door open)

You know all the words to the cbeebies bedtime song, and the theme tunes to Show Me Show Me and Small Potatoes

You start a count down to the end of your day from 4pm as this is when you get to do baby’s tea, bath and bed

You don’t leave the house without little pots of cut up fruit, bread sticks , bright orange organic carrot flavoured corn puffs and raisins

Your washing machine is on 24 hours a day 7 days a week and your laundry basket is still over flowing

You cannot put a definitive number on the amount of fish fingers you have finished off plates

Bottoms up mummies and daddies!

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Organised

It’s taken me 16 months, but I’ve cracked it.

I’ve relinquished control of my life.

I organise nothing, I no longer write 100 lists of packing for a quick weekend away. I buy birthday cards on the day of birthdays and I decide what to wear to a wedding on the morning of said wedding.

Sometimes there is no milk left in the fridge or nothing for dinner. We are all still alive I hasten to add.

I have tried for 16 months to be a good wife, friend, sister, daughter and mother. I have failed spectacularly at all of these because I am no longer organised and this change has probably been noted by mum2011 stakeholders. It’s not because I don’t care, I care lots but my capacity for remembering things and my energy for executing things has been ruined by a year and a half of minimal sleep and feeling like cook, cleaner and laundry woman.

I have decided that my newly established disorganised ways are not because of the pressures of modern life or being a working mother.

They’re because I’m chubby.

I suppose it’s also because my hair is always a mess and my nail varnish is always chipped.

I don’t have the same level of confidence post baby birth. Therefore to plan and fail is upsetting. Whereas not planning and failing means I can shrug and say, I’m disorganised (because of the pressures of modern life and because I’m a working mum).

It’s easier to have messy hair than to wrestle red hot hair straighteners from a 16 month old boy who and it’s easier to have chipped nail polish than risk having hot pink metallic splurges up the white walls of the front room.

In fact whilst writing this I’ve realised, it’s not bad organisation that’s giving me low self esteem and the lack of “me time” everyone says you should enjoy as a mum (how!?).

No, in fact it’s risk management…

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