Reblog: It turns out I have more to say.

It turns out I have more to say.

It turns out I have more to say.
— Read on iambeggingmymothernottoreadthisblog.com/2018/09/26/it-turns-out-i-have-more-to-say/

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Taming the inner parental tiger

We are on holiday. It’s B’s first ever summer holiday, at 20 months. He had seen a beach before, but it was in Wales and it was freezing so I don’t think it counts.

Of course for our first week (thankfully, I guess, only half a week) we had some pretty bad weather. It’s a total first world problem but was a bit frustrating when we have waited the whole year almost to have a proper holiday! We did go to see my best friend but this is our first one as a family. But the place we are staying is very child friendly – we found it after it was marketed as a child friendly holiday. It could be worse.

One thing I found funny is how I spotted a mixed race couple early on. I suppose we always identify with others. I clocked them early on and they’re the same races we are. Although she is totally skinny and doesn’t look like she could have had a baby, and their baby is younger than our toddler! I also realised this holiday how I need to lose a bit of chub, but half board food isn’t conducive to that!

Anyway I noticed they are always out without the baby! And I just thought that seemed a bit sad. She’s posing by the pool in her bikini and it just struck me as odd because I’ve seen them more times without the baby than with the baby. As it’s a child friendly resort there’s a crèche and lots of kid activities, but their kid isn’t even a toddler yet from what I can see. Each to their own but I can’t imagine why you’d come on holiday with the baby and then not spend time with the baby, but maybe some people just don’t really want or like spending time with their kids.

It got me to thinking also because there is a friend of a friend who lives where we do. Our mutual friends introduced us but I just didn’t get a good feeling about them and I didn’t really try and befriend them or anything. It turns out they spend every night in the pub getting drunk and their kid just has to sit in the pushchair (and he’s old enough to walk, older than B) and they shout at him to shut up if he ever wants to get out. I saw her dragging him along the road the other morning and it just seems like she hates being a parent. She told our mutual friend he wasn’t planned and she’s depressed being a mother and they didn’t want a kid. It makes me sad and it makes me wonder how bad something has to be or appear before someone intervenes.

And then we are on holiday and to make up for the bad weather they put on a kids disco. And it’s just so cute – B was shy the first time but he got into it and then when we went back again he was straight in there, dancing his little heart out.

B is tiny for his age. I’m kind of short so maybe it’s me. For a while he was first percentile and then last time we went to the doctor I asked if he was okay and the doctor said he was absolutely fine, just small overall (though the child has a monster sized head!). He’s 20 months now and wears size 9-12 months a lot of the time.

So during the dancing all the little kids and B are following the dancers at the front, and it’s just really cute. But there’s this one kid who’s been there every time. I am not a good judge of age but I think he’s maybe 7 or 8. The kids dancing are mainly 1-5 or 6 I’d say. He’s like double the size of them and much larger than B.

The little sh*t (as I took to referring to him as) was running around at high speed weaving in and out of the toddlers dancing. It was just so annoying and disrespectful especially as the guides (grown ups who work in the crèche I think) were showing them the moves at the front. He just kept running at high speed in and out of them and right by all the toddlers.

His parents didn’t give a toss. They were too busy fussing over his little sister. And I thought, wow. This event has been put on specifically to entertain kids and this little idiot is running in and out and then ended up recruiting other bigger boys to do the same, so there’s a little disco of toddlers with big boys running in and out of it in a dangerous (in my opinion) way. And the parents do nothing to stop it.

This all makes me realise that there are such different types of parents. Maybe we are overly attentive. (But then he is our one and only after infertility/loss and he’s still a tiny toddler.) Some parents just take it for granted and I guess if you haven’t been through a struggle to have kids maybe you do. Some, like our local mum, seem to hate having kids. And some, like the parents of the little sh*t, don’t care what their kids are doing. Some, like the bikini poser, come on holiday to NOT spend time with their baby.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. Maybe I just think it’s sad that some kids aren’t cherished like I believe all kids should be. I am definitely not perfect and I’m not trying to be judgy but I guess I am. It’s hard when you struggled to have a child to see people who don’t seem to show their child love, who neglect their kids or who raise them to be inconsiderate little sh*ts.

Of course the little sh*t on our third visit to the disco actually ran directly into B and knocked him over. Cue two fierce looking adults bearing down on the boy (who is really just a little boy… I get that, which is why I didn’t push him over myself). T asked him if he realised he had knocked over the baby and that he should apologise. And I said to him to please not run near the babies. He looked scared, and stopped for a bit, and then resumed.

His mother didn’t even look up. (T and I debated whether you can even say something to other parents and we decided you can’t.)

On the plus side, B absolutely loved the kids disco. We got some decent weather this week and we’ve had a busy week of swimming, beach, even mountain biking. It’s been fun. And in infertility and baby loss awareness month, I’m aware of how lucky we are. Just need to work on making sure B always knows how much he is loved, and raise him not to be a little sh*t!

To all the Childless Mums

Let's talk

We don’t know each other, but I expect I know more about the inner workings of your mind than your closest family and friends.

I know about the times you have quietly cried yourself to sleep, when you’ve sobbed in the supermarket buying sanitary products because your period’s arrived again or the time you feigned illness because you just couldn’t face the world.

More than anything I know about the loneliness you carry in your heart.

And I wanted to say that I am sorry.

I am sorry that something that is so easy for most, is so hard for you.

I am sorry that your sex life has turned into a military operation with scheduled appointments. That something so intimate and private between you and your partner has turned into a clinical process with medical professionals dictating what you can and can’t do, invading your body and criticising you.

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Zumba!

Don’t worry, I haven’t turned into an exercise nut. My local friend was a member and we realised if we went in on a joint membership we could save a bunch of money. So I joined the local club which is pretty much the only one I’m ever likely to go to, because it’s right by my house (well, like five minutes walk).

As far as I can tell, Zumba is like aerobics but with more Latin American music… and some slightly sexier dance moves (none of which I can actually do).

The thing is, it’s really quite fun! I’m terrible at it. I used to do some dancing as a kid and I was bad at it then. Turns out I’m just as bad at it now. But the fun thing is, nobody cares! You just keep moving and laugh a bit and sweat a lot. It’s all good.

I feel like it helps my friend, who’s the one recovering from cancer, because she put on a lot of weight during treatment and she has to try and lose it before they’ll operate further. (She needs a double mastectomy – pretty gruelling surgery.) It motivates me to go with someone else. And she’s a good friend so we laugh at each other.

The ongoing joke is about ACTIVEWEAR. If you haven’t seen this video you should take a watch.

It makes us a bit hysterical and is a long running joke between the local ladies I’m friends with. I feel lucky I’m finally in a position where I have a bunch of lovely local friends to joke around with! I used to feel really lonely and now somehow it’s worked out that I have mates who live nearby. It’s pretty cool.

I haven’t lost any weight but it does make me feel like I’m doing something at least! Maybe I need to stop eating so much cake! But that would be sad.

I actually have unlimited classes through my membership so that’s really cool. However they fall at 7 or 8 in the evening and that is nursery pickup / childcare time. I’ve always done way more of the pickups and historically B wanted me as we were still breastfeeding. We still are, but he’s now 20 months and he is less bothered about having it instantly (he’s still a boob monster though) so I’m thinking I could probably delay it a bit. It’s more whether T can get back from work on time. And also I still feel like I want to spend every part of my day that’s not at work, with B! But I think it’s good for mums to have something they do and it’s not for very long. With walking there and back plus a little bit of chat, it’s only just over an hour, which doesn’t seem that bad.

Anyway to demonstrate my commitment to activewear here’s a photo I took the other night of my Zumba outfit…

I think that pretty much sums up my attitude to exercise! 😂

Oh and here’s what I ate afterwards:

Maybe that’s where I’m going wrong?

Oh well, life’s too short!

We are off on holiday next week. Greece! A five star resort. I’m very excited. Don’t think I’ve been to Greece or a five star resort in like forever. We usually do more self catering or city breaks so it’s very exciting. I can’t wait to be off work for a while. We will have just over a week and it feels GREAT.

At least if I’m gonna be chubby, I may as well be brown and chubby, amirite?!

Post natal weight gain

Firstly, may I offer the usual apologies for not blogging and being A Very Bad Person At Keeping In Touch. I just seem not to get round to it lately. And sometimes I just think I have nothing to say. I’m happy. I’m leading my own happy little mediocre life. Nothing too exciting or blogworthy.

Here’s something I’ve been wondering a while: Have any of you breastfeeding mothers actually put on weight whilst breastfeeding?

Everyone goes on about how it burns All The Calories and “the weight just dropped off!”

See, that happened to me when I first gave birth. (I had a lot of fluid and an entire human I got rid of, weight wise.)

But now, 20 months on I find myself thinking I feel a bit stodgy. I didn’t weigh myself for ages – like I stopped with the obsessive weighing whilst pregnant and then I only restarted through curiosity a few months or so ago.

And I am feeling not my fighting weight.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy. Maybe it’s happy weight. But honestly I feel like I’d like to drop some and then I’d be totally happy, rather than happy and fat.

I’m a whole 20kg+ from my low weight. And maybe 15ish from my ideal weight. I could even cope with losing 10-12 kg. Right now I just feel a bit blubbery. I would rather not feel the overhang (though I guess the c section may leave a perma-shelf) and I would just feel better in myself if I could drop a dress size. I don’t need to be skinny. I’d just like to be more myself and less “chubby mum”.

Right now I’m about a UK dress size 12, which isn’t awful – which is why I don’t spend my time hiding away and I still enjoy eating. But I’m short (160cm / 5’2″ and a bit) so really that’s a bit chubby for a shorty. Yes a lot of it is boobage which will maybe go when B weans (20 months and counting) but a fair amount is stomach and I used to have a waist. I used to have arms I didn’t mind getting out!

Another thing I’ve been wondering is that I was told to take an asthma inhaler every day. It’s steroids – Fostair – a preventer as I had really bad hayfever and kept wheezing. I feel fine now, but they want me to take it. I finally connected the dots when I read about Jameela Jamil saying how she put on 20 pounds with asthma meds. And I realised I took steroids for immune therapy and put on a load of weight too.

The internet is kind of in disagreement about whether steroids actually make you put on weight. And I’ve found breastfeeding gives me a bigger appetite anyway. And… I’m happy and haven’t been watching my weight or doing a lot of exercise. And my recent vegetarianism maybe hasn’t helped, as I probably had some high protein low carb meals when I ate meat. (I wasn’t a particularly healthy meat eater anyway – I only liked processed meat you couldn’t tell was meat.)

So I did a few things. I took up Zumba. (It’s ridiculous but one of my very good friends, the one recovering from cancer, is a fan and we go together). I have tried (and probably failed) not to give myself such a free pass on eating. And I stopped taking the steroid inhaler, which I’ll probably get in trouble for but I know I’ve actually put on like 2 kg since I was told to take it every day a couple of months ago. And I haven’t had any asthma symptoms after hayfever season.

I won’t do any crash dieting at least until B weans. Right now we don’t have any immediate plans. We’d like to go until 2, and fortunately T is super supportive of bf and cosleeping, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have any sleep!

Anyway, I know my worth isn’t measured in kg. I feel generally fine about myself, and very happy and grateful for the life I have, and the chance to be a mother. I’d do it all over again even if you told me I could never be thin again. It’s more of a musing really. I hope I can lose a bit of the chub, but if it doesn’t happen I’m not going to hate myself for it. That would only drive me to chocolate, anyway!

A cow I met recently. Confirmed my decision not to eat them!

On motherhood and happiness

Had one of my decompression nights last night – dinner with a few girlfriends. Three of us have one child; one has two, and the other two with one are trying for another. So naturally on mum’s night out the kids were a topic of conversation. (And bikini waxes, but that’s another story!)

We got onto the subject of “onlies” and the conversation didn’t go the way I expected…

It started the way I expected with the whole, “We want another so he won’t be on his own when we die.” (We all agreed that this probably wouldn’t happen!)

Then our friend with two said: It’s actually very hard with two. (She’s a single parent who co-parents with her ex.)

Then our friend with one said: We are actually really happy with our one, and if it doesn’t happen then we won’t be upset.

I said, we are happy and we don’t want another because we feel so very lucky with the one we have, and because I thought I’d never be a mother.

Then our friend who lost her first baby (tragically stillborn) said: We’d love to have another but we will just see what happens. It’s not the same as when we were trying to have our baby after our first died. We are happy.

Then she said something else: She said, “You know, I’ve never seen you become frustrated with him. You are so patient! I don’t think you’ve ever even raised your voice to him.”

And the funny thing is, I don’t think of myself as a patient person. I’m a hothead. But I think she’s right.

I’ve never had to shout at him. I don’t think I feel frustrated with him because – well, he’s a baby, and he can’t fully express himself and that must be frustrating for him, but also – I can’t tell you how much I wanted this.

Ten years. More than ten, depending on how you count it. A decade of barrenness. Operations, IVF, miscarriage, immune therapy. Thinking of a life where I would have to learn to be happily childfree. (And I think we would have been, but we needed to know we had tried everything first.)

I genuinely don’t feel that frustration because I think he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. And I’m lucky because a lot of good things have happened, and it almost fades the lonely and sad years of infertility and despair out of existence.

But not quite. I remember what it was like to be always the aunt, always the “fun childless friend”. I don’t take this – motherhood – for granted. I will relish all the days.

So – yes – I can be patient. But I’m not a saint. I’m just someone who knows how bloody lucky I am.

running

Can working mothers have it all?

My friend sent me this article in the Times about how working mothers can’t seem to have it all. You can read it here. (You have to register but you don’t have to pay anything.)

So I’m torn between: Yes, it’s hard being a working parent and – Seriously women, get a f&*$ing grip!!!!! I think most of these women having meltdowns seem like they are probably the kind of women who get stressed at having more than one project on at work. And I think those who struggled to have a much-wanted child ultimately have a different take on parenthood than those who take it for granted.

I think the key things are:

  1. Have one child, not multiple children, if you think you can’t cope with more than one thing at once, or will have difficulty affording it, or it will compromise your time management. (We have one because it would be extremely difficult to have another and I never wanted more than one, precisely because I don’t want to have to divide my time between multiples!)
  2. Set boundaries with your work and make sure that you aren’t working late / at home every night. I used to do a lot of out of hours work and now I don’t. And I started doing that way before I had a baby. I just stopped allowing people to expect I would be online at all times. If it’s out of hours and urgent then people have to call me. I do work late / out of hours on occasion but day to day I don’t. In my old job I’d answer emails on holiday. Two jobs ago I stopped doing that. I put an out of office on and I say unless you SMS me then it’s not urgent and I’ll respond when I return, and you can expect a delayed response because I’m literally not going to check my work phone more than once a day when I’m on holiday.

I agree that school hours and working hours don’t really seem to coincide. We’ve not reached that stage yet but I imagine you have to sort out some sort of wrap around care. Also I think it makes sense for one partner (doesn’t have to be the mother) to be slightly less driven in their career. I guess women are used to being that one. But there needs to be someone who can leave work if the kid gets sick etc. I think actually men can be more penalised than women for leaving at contracted times. I think women overall have a tougher time in the workplace but they are actually expected to be the caregivers etc. Swings and roundabouts.

Since becoming a mother I’ve definitely noticed that there seem to be different “types”… A lot of the women aren’t at a particularly senior level when they leave to have kids, and they take a lot of time off, and they aren’t that into the job when they come back. It’s annoying when people make assumptions about you when you have kids – that you won’t be interested in progression – but also it’s true for a lot of women, so I dunno what the answer is.

Really I think what would be most sensible would be to reset everyone’s expectations around what constitutes a normal working day. Corporations have gotten used to workers doing about 20% – 200% of their contracted hours for the same amount of pay. That’s what needs to stop. You need to be able to work your contracted hours: 9-5 or 9-6 with a full one hour lunchbreak and for that not to be considered slacking.

I went to a talk a while back by the European VP for Twitter, who wrote a new manifesto for work. I think it’s really good (and realised I already ascribed to most of it, hurrah!).

Source: Eat Sleep Work Repeat

We all – whether mothers or not – need to stop putting up with being treated like $%£& for work, and start being happier! Easier said than done maybe, but just turning off your work phone at the weekends is a start…

Eek! We did it!

After my previous post about liking B’s long hair, I caved to the pressure (and the fact that it’s so hot here and the hair at the back was bugging him) and we got B’s hair cut for the first time!

We went to our local kids’ salon which is really quite cute and totally set up for kids. However this does mean that the kids scream the place down if they don’t like it. We arrived and some kid was already doing that… We decamped to the cafe before being called back.

B was fine. He’s a generally chilled kid. He enjoyed sitting in the little car and pretending to drive it whilst an annoying lady fiddled with his hair.

The other kid on the other hand SCREAMED the place down! Was sort of funny and sort of OMG YOU ARE RUINING MY SON’S FIRST HAIRCUT! (Jk)

We did the first haircut thing where you get a certificate and a lock of hair. There wasn’t much as she didn’t cut much off! We basically just trimmed the back bit that annoys him. (We can tell as he scratches at it and has scratch marks from his nails!) And a little bit round the sides by his ears. Left the top long so he still has a side parting and can have a top knot. She wanted to trim it more but I said no!

Not sure what made me cave when I do actually like his long hair. It’s mainly that it’s really hot here right now and impractical. I have long hair and I wear it up when I’m at home (messy bun I wouldn’t go out of the house wearing it!) so I can imagine he gets hot, although his hair is just light and fluffy.

Anyway, as T said – hair grows back.

Overall he’s had a positive reaction and it isn’t too drastic so hopefully we did the right thing! I know it’s not a big deal but it seemed like quite a big thing to have his first haircut. Now it’s out of the way I can be less sentimental about it!

Saying goodbye

(This refers to my previous post, entitled Today.)

It’s taken me a few days thinking and processing M’s passing and her funeral that I went to last week.

And honestly, it’s just too hard and I wouldn’t do it justice, so here are some messages I sent to friends about it.

Went to the funeral of my university flatmate today. She was our age. Died of lung cancer – she never smoked. Two little kids; happily married. It puts things into perspective, that’s for sure.

I’m fine, just very sad for her family. Seeing her little girl walk out was heartbreaking. (She’s 8 – her son is 5 so maybe doesn’t understand as much.) She just looked so much like her mother and so sad. 😔

She was a total character and at least the funeral reflected that and it was a lovely celebration of her life. She always liked to wear red so lots of us wore red or red accessories so it looked really nice as a tribute to her.

We did have a bit of drama – I arranged to meet my friend who knew M at the railway station to get the train to where the funeral was. I was super early. Then we got on the train.

We found out when the ticket inspector checked our tickets that we’d mistakenly boarded the 09:00 to [D—–] rather than the 09:03 to [D——-], which confusingly went from the same platform – they have two trains on one platform!

So the next station we could get off at was [K——-], an hour away from the funeral! You couldn’t make it up! We got off and I was like a total Londoner saying TAKE MY MONEY!!!! to the local bemused taxi driver.

Of course we then got stuck behind a tractor… and then a disabled bus… and made it to the church just in time for the eulogy. Thankfully we didn’t miss much of it.

It was a lovely service. Lots of red! M would have loved it. It didn’t seem real – we kept expecting her to pop up and do a speech. It was heartbreaking seeing her little kids, especially her daughter who looks just like her.

But they said something really beautiful during the speeches – that the depth of our sorrow reflected the depth of our love for M, and the love that she had to give – it was a very apt summary of her. She would have loved it and told everyone to be happy. It was just a very bittersweet day.

I still feel strange and sad about it. The thing is, M and I weren’t close any more – we lived in different countries so we kept up on Facebook. I kind of feel strange accepting condolences on my loss. It feels like maybe I’m claiming something that others feel more keenly – of course they do – our mutual friend was her best friend and she’s in pieces. I know we felt fondly about each other and we spoke periodically but she wasn’t a part of my daily life although I still considered her a friend. I would make the effort to see her if we were in the same city, but that hadn’t been for a few years.

I guess it’s affected me because it reminds me of the fragility of life, that anything could happen. And I feel a deep sense of grief not for myself but for her family, for those sweet children who have to grow up without their mother, and for her poor lost husband who has to carry on without his soulmate. The look on her little girl’s face as they exited the church – it will haunt me forever. The image of her mother combined with a grief no eight year old should ever have to feel.

I felt I had to go to honour her although she was no longer there. I am not religious. I felt she was gone. But funerals are for the living. And oh my goodness, it was well attended for a small town church on a Friday morning nowhere near a big city. People came to show up for M, to rail against the injustice of cancer and to support the living. Her husband gave the most loving eulogy and her mother a wonderful, grace filled tribute. Both of their love for M and M’s love for people. Reminding us all why we were her friends.

Another friend stepped up and sang, softly, delicately, because she sang at their wedding and M had asked her to sing this at her funeral, and how could she refuse?

I get no kick from champagne

Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all…

But I get a kick out of you

M! Typical M! You had to laugh. You had to cry. Our friend the singer was just about holding it together thinking of the last time she sang it at their wedding, when they were both happy and in love and alive and maybe it was my imagination but she was looking at M’s coffin as she sang it, because bloody hell M, we got a kick out of you.

She really did spend 99% of her time laughing. Sometimes infuriatingly so. She was talented at so many things. An artist, an actress, musical, everything. I used to joke about her “crazy theatrical music people” whilst I stomped around in DMs listening to grunge, whilst they wrote and performed their own plays. Everywhere she went, there would be little doodles of horses. You knew where she’d been!

Once she sent me a painting of our cat who died, that she’d painted from a picture and had framed. God! Why did I take her for granted? I thought we had the rest of our lives to reminisce about the times we were crazy kids at uni. We didn’t.

She wasn’t a saint. As a flatmate she could be kind of annoying at times! Aren’t we all. She wasn’t the best at doing the dishes and sometimes she’d use my food from the fridge! But we shared our lives and laughs and frustrations and we came through it and we grew up and still counted each other as friends. I felt like a part of her family for a while. Countless afternoons and evenings chatting to her and her mother round the kitchen table. And of all my uni flatmates there were only a few I stayed in touch with and she was one of them.

I’m sad she’s gone.

Long hair, don’t care…

So there’s a lot of things I didn’t think I’d do as a mother: extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, vegetarianism and whatnot.

What I didn’t think was that I’d be the mother of a long haired little boy.

I guess I always thought it was a bit… hippy… and I don’t really see myself as the natural earth mother sort. I actually was probably a little bit <whispers> judgy about the long haired boys…

And somehow I’ve ended up with one!

It’s not really a statement about anything but more the fact that I haven’t gotten around to getting his first haircut. (He’s 18 months.) And I don’t trust his dad to do it as he’s likely to end up with a pudding bowl!

I don’t think I’d want it particularly short anyway, but I think it looks cute how it is. He tends to have it in a little topknot or “man bun” because of the hot weather. I kind of think he can get away with it because he’s “ethnic”… and mainly because he’s cute!

But a part of me thinks it’s a bit hokey and at some point I’ll get it cut. His dad wants to get it cut but also doesn’t mind the ponytails… The nursery workers tend to put it into a braid and that looks cute as well, but is out of my ability range!

The more people tell me I “must” get it cut, the more I think – why?

Why do boys have to have short hair and girls long hair?

(I have long hair but it’s less through design than the fact that I hate having my hair cut.)

I’m not one of those gender neutral dressers of kids… (Not that there’s anything wrong with it; I just find it cute and comfortable for him to wear boys’ clothes. I’m happy for him to wear what he wants when he’s of an age to choose.) I’m not trying to make him look gender neutral or like a girl.

I just think there’s nothing wrong with his hair as it is.