Safe danger, bobble hats, and other Small Things

We’re in the midst of Christmas mania in our house. The tree has been dragged from the loft (with caution, because of spiders). There is glitter on every surface. I am enjoying a small piece of low-quality chocolate every day after dinner.

Autumn came and went. The leaves that remain on the ground are turning into sludge. Sometimes, when we go out in the mornings, Jellybean shouts ‘IT’S A FROSTY DAY!’ and the journey to pre-school becomes a bit more exciting (for her anyway.) She likes seeing her breath.

I used to really love the winter. I loved the sharp coldness and the bare branches of the tree against a blank sky. I liked the frosty mornings. I liked seeing my breath. Now I have TN there’s a whole world of issues surrounding cold weather that have tainted it a bit.

I like autumn more now, for those last moments of warmth before the cold kicks in.

Time mostly slides by, but sometimes I catch myself in a moment and I think quick, take it in! and so I do; I just really look at things. I try to trust myself to file it away in my brain (but most times I cheat and write it down). There are little moments in life that you want to preserve in your memory forever, not because of their significance, more because of their present normality.

Like bonfire night.

We went for a walk with the kids (because tradition trumps pain-triggered-by-cold). Around the block a few times. And I had that moment. Quick, take it in!

I don’t want to forget the leaves backlit by a streetlight, rustling, casting shadows on us as we walked.

I don’t want to forget my baby boy in his bobble hat and coat. I don’t want to forget his little red nose and his pouty lips and his wide eyes and his chubby cheeks, still tiny in Chris’s arms.

I don’t want to forget my daughter skipping and fizzing with excitement at the sight of the moon and the stars, punctuated with the occasional surprise of a firework. I don’t want to forget her face as she enjoyed that thing that most kids enjoy: safe danger, the kind of exhilarating thrill that comes from being slightly closer to the edge of your comfort zone than normal, but at the same time comforted by the safe presence of your parents. I don’t want to forget her occasionally glancing in my direction, sometimes sidling slightly closer when a loud rocket made her jump.

I don’t want to forget getting them inside and taking off coats and shoes and scarves and hats and bundling them into bed, not because it was peaceful (because let’s face it, a rushed bedtime is not usually a peaceful bedtime), more for the happiness we felt when they finally conked out, snoring, undone by the thrill of a walk in the night.

Small things.

Sometimes the changing of the season reminds you.

Have you got any small moments from the last season that you want to remember? Share them with me … the writing of it helps to cement it in your brain anyway 😉

Further reading:

Adventuring, and other things we lose when we grow up

September: one year left before school

Linking up with:

I want to be an octopus

Apparently, octopuses (octopi?) don’t actually have tentacles, technically. Tentacles only have suckers on the ends. Octopuses have arms. Lots of arms.

I could do with some extra arms.

When we had Baby Boy last December, I wasn’t worried that I wouldn’t have enough love for both the kids. I had a feeling that my heart would expand to encompass them both, and it did.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the feeling of not being quite enough for both of them.

Baby Boy has never known any different, of course. He’s always had to share me. Always had to cry a little bit longer, to be put down sometimes when all he wanted was to be in my arms. That’s just the deal, really, with second kids.

Jellybean was the one who had to adjust to my loyalties being divided. She was the one who had to put up with me being unavailable at times, stuck on the sofa with an ever-hungry baby attached to me. And as hard as I tried, it was a big change for her to deal with.

Now she’s used to it, of course.

It’s just me.

Some days I have this feeling that I am just not enough for them both. Physically, mentally, or emotionally. At any given moment, they both need different things from me: one needs help on the toilet while the other one needs me to stop him from eating something he shouldn’t. One needs cuddles because he is feeling overtired and sad, and the other needs me to roleplay preschool because it helps her to feel more confident. One needs me to explain what the difference between our heart (the organ) and our ‘heart’ (as in the core of who we are), whilst the other needs to shout in my face so that I understand how much his teeth hurt.

Some days it feels like a logic puzzle, a game of arranging tasks into order depending on their immediate importance, but also taking into account the long-term impact of neglecting certain areas. It is about deciding what is vital and what wouldn’t matter if we didn’t get round to doing it today. It is about balancing both their needs and splitting myself fairly between them, but then some days, for example if one of them is ill or upset, the balance gets tipped slightly one way or the other. Of course, I have to take into account all the things that need to be done outside of them as well.

I am competent at it: I can do it (mostly) without feeling like my head is going to explode from stress and anxiety. In fact, I thrive on it some days. Some days I go to bed feeling like I’ve just, I don’t know, learnt to juggle five bowling pins whilst riding a unicycle. That was really hard today and I did it. Yes!

Other days, though.

Other days I go to bed feeling like I’ve been spread too thin.

Other days I go to bed feeling emotionally battered.

Other days I go to bed feeling like I’ve let them both down, and the day has been a long, torturous example of how much they both needed me and, despite my physical presence, I was unable to be there in the way that they needed.

And it sucks.

I add an extra layer of guilt and pressure onto myself (because that’s a useful thing to do) because I am a stay at home Mum. This is literally my job, and I am this close from getting sacked. Or at least a severe disciplinary.

If you’re reading this thinking I’m being hyperbolic, well, I am. That’s what I do. But I’m also not. Because no-one tells you this: when you imagine a stay at home parent, you imagine baking and long walks with puddle jumping and educational activities and the odd (or, you know, frequent) pyjama-and-film days. If you’re being really realistic, you might imagine dealing with the odd tantrum or occasional colds and you think: meh! I can deal with that.

I mean, I can deal with a preschooler’s stomach bug and a teething, miserable baby and horrific PMT and stomach cramps at the same time. I can do that stuff, and I can do it well. I just hate going to bed at night feeling like I’ve let them down because there’s just not enough of me to go around. I hate looking back on all the moments where Jellybean has begged me to play with her and I haven’t been able to. Or all the moments where she’s wanted to have a deep conversation and I’ve been too tired to think straight. I hate looking back on all the moments I’ve just left the baby to his own devices because I had to to other things.  Or the moments where I’ve not been enjoying them, but just longing for bedtime, because I am so tired from months (years!) of no sleep.

And I say this after a relatively calm day with my husband at home, with plenty of time for both of them. I say this as a mother to two happy, charming, and lovely little kids whom I adore and adore me in return, and whom I thank God for every single day. I say this as a person who is generally quite confident in her parenting abilities most of the time and is genuinely loving being a Mum:

Some day I go to bed and I feel so utterly wrung out, emotionally, physically, and mentally, that I’m too exhausted to even cry about it.

That’s it. I wish there was some kind of happy lesson to learn from this, but there isn’t. But I suppose if you’re feeling this way too, you’re definitely not alone. And tomorrow can be better. And you’re enough for your kids. They don’t always show it, and you might not always feel like it, but you mean everything to them.

And if you’re a parent of three or four or five or even SIX kids (the thought of which makes me feel a bit faint): I salute you.

And I think God should have designed humans with a few extra pair of limbs that you can use when you become a parent. And also extra brain power. And the ability to gain double the amount of rest from half the amount of sleep. Just saying.

Keep reading:

He loves me

September: one more year before school

Linking up with:

My Random Musings


He loves me

Our baby boy is seriously in love with me.

There’s a few theories we’ve got about this: one is that it’s a ‘boy thing’, one is that he can’t have my full attention all the time and therefore wants me more often, another is that it’s because I’m breastfeeding and he associates me with food, and therefore, ultimate happiness.

Whatever the reason, I have a tiny little shadow that follows me around all day. Sometimes he bursts into tears if I walk away from him. If he’s sad, he calls for me. (‘Mama! MAMAAAA!’) If I’m playing on the floor with Jellybean he tries to climb on my back like a little baby monkey. If he hasn’t seen me for a little while, he burrows his face into my neck and sighs with happiness.

Sometimes he lays on my belly and just gazes into my eyes and gives me a totally goofy, open-mouthed, four-toothed grin. (Often a bit of dribble plops out of his mouth onto my face, which is nice for me.)

I don’t know how to cope with these feelings.

On the one hand, of course, it’s totally exhausting. Jellybean was different as a baby: out and about, she would cling tightly onto me, never letting me out of her sight. But at home, she was quite independent. I used to love sitting back with a coffee and watching her play. And yes, she would happily snuggle up with me for hours (literally) reading books together, but she didn’t need me to carry her constantly.

Baby Boy is different. Baby boy is happy and confident and cheeky and likes to explore when we’re out and about. At home, I need to be in his line of sight at all times, at the very least. He stopped his brief stint of sleeping in his own bed for six or seven hours at a time. Night times are now a constant battle of him wanting to come into our bed and snuggle up next to me, and me wanting not to get cramps from laying in the same position all night long.

But I love it.

It’s ridiculous but I love it so much that it actually hurts a little bit. Because one day he will be a grown man and at that point, gazing into my eyes will be a little bit weird. So I’m trying to make the most of it.

I’ve used the phrase ‘second child syndrome’ quite a lot. Because frankly, in comparison to Jellybean, he gets ignored often. I’m also far more relaxed about things, which is why I find him emptying our tissue box and crawling under our table to reach the books and pulling CD’s from the shelves and instead of thinking ‘uh oh!’ I just think ‘… meh.’ If a few crumpled pages in a book buys me a moment’s quiet, I’m all for it.

But although he doesn’t get the Royal First Baby Treatment, he does get a lot of love from all of us.

Which is really the main thing babies need, right?

Read More:

September: one year left before school