Mother’s Day Confession

Elliot: Mummy is it your birthday?

Me: no, it’s Mother’s Day. A day we have to be nice to our mummies.

Elliot: oh

(Silence)

Elliot: (quietly) I didn’t make you a flower

Me: did the other children make flowers at pre-school?

Elliot: yes. I did a card and a biscuit though!

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Parenting without the guilt?

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One of the things that new parents, particularly mums apparently, are often surprised by is the amount of guilt that comes with the parenting territory. It comes along right when you’re least expecting, and the accompanying physical feeling of having all the wind taken forcibly out of your lungs is really something to be feared. Experts tell us that guilt arises when we become aware of failing to be the best we could have been for our children (normally right when you’ve just yelled at them for no specific reason other than being the sole adult with them for 8 straight hours!)

On any given day, the following things can make me feel like my stomach is about to flip right over with guilt:

  1. Sending my toddler off to childcare. In our house, Elliot spends two days a week in pre-school, and a further day with each set of grandparents. This means I only look after both my children together on one day a week. Up to now this has worked really well. As I am currently on maternity leave from my four-day-a-week job, Alexander gets my full attention (when I’m not writing blog posts or cleaning the house) for the time that Elliot is away, which is what Elliot had at the same age. Elliot gets to spend time with other children and also with his grandparents – something I loved as a child, and an opportunity for them to spend time with him also. More often than not, I spend part of the day he’s at my parents with them all, so it’s only really three days that Elliot isn’t with me. Still the sight of a crying toddler who wants to “stay with mummy” being bundled into a car and probably arousing suspicion of kidnap among our neighbours on at least two mornings out of every week is tough.
  2. The variety (or more accurately the lack of variety) in my toddler’s diet. To get him to eat any sort of vegetable that isn’t hidden (thank you Annabel Karmel) in a sauce or pie is nigh on impossible and is normally accompanied by all sorts of excuses ranging from “I don’t like it” to “I’m too tired” or the standard “mummy, I’ll do it tomorrow” (by the way tomorrow, when it comes, is going to be an amazing day in our house!) The crazy child also turns his nose up at previous staples like bananas and blueberries. Weird! Despite knowing that it’s a phase, and my child will more than likely voluntarily eat some form of vegetable at some point in the future, I do look at other kids happily munching on carrot sticks/ cherry tomatoes/ broccoli trees and feel all sorts of guilt.
  3. Handing over parenting responsibilities to technology for anything over 20 minutes a day. I feel so proud if I can make it for a whole morning or afternoon without giving in to the demands of “can I have your phone/ipad?” And the truth is, as well as watching endless ridiculous videos of Thomas and his friends being covered with or built out of PlayDoh (something he is desperate to recreate at home, and that I’ve so far avoided!) he also spends time tracing letter forms, watching shows on iplayer like The Lingo ?Show, and drawing pictures on any number of art apps which isn’t too bad. The fact that he knows how to launch youtube, press search, and type in “Thomas” to find his programmes makes me feel pretty guilty. (Though I did have a moment of pride recently when he showed me that he was trying to search for Abney and Teal (yes, another TV programme) and he’d got as far as “abnet and tyal” – clever boy!)

Thankfully a quick google search reveals that all this guilt may not actually be such a bad thing.

For most of us a moderate amount of guilt is actually a sign of love, our strong attachment and commitment to do the best we can to raise healthy children. [Psychology Today “Are you a guilty parent?” Sept, 2011]

 
Well that’s a relief! Maybe the only thing we’re guilty of is loving our children and wanting to do the best for them. That’s no bad thing really!

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m off to buy more colours of PlayDoh so I can finally give in to those demands to build engines! Wish me luck!

To keep up to date with Letters to Elliot, why not follow me on Bloglovin and Twitter @elliotandme
BiB2014familyNom

A favour, please

The award season is here everyone, and I am going to be shameless in asking for your nomination in the BiBs (Brilliance in Blogging Awards)
Here are a couple of reasons why you should vote for me:

1. I don’t normally win things. I mean not since I was an Irish dancer when I was little and my sister and I used to bring home lots of medals and trophies (sorry mum and dad, we did take up quite a lot of room!) These days I feel like I’ve won a prize if I’ve managed to successfully change a dirty nappy without getting it on me/the floor/the furniture or the baby! A nice little award would look lovely on my mantlepiece, thank you very much.

2. I love writing this blog! I am doing this mainly for me, as I know I’ll love reading about my little boys when they’ve grown and flown the nest (though I’m desperately trying not to think about that too much as am finding it hard enough being on a different floor of my house from my babies. The thought of them ever being in another house/town/county or god-forbid country gives me palpitations!) Anyway, as much as I love writing, it really makes me smile when I get lovely comments – written and verbal – from people who are reading this. It makes it all worthwhile, as would a lovely shiny award!

Also, I know a couple of little people who would be very proud of their mama if I even got on the shortlist! Alexander even decided to don a silly hat to prove his devotion to the blogging-mama cause!

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So, if you fancy nominating me please head over to the BiB Awards site and enter Letters to Elliot in the category you find most appropriate (I’m suggesting the Family category as I short listed in this category last year, but if you fancied entering me for Writer also that would be fantastic and I’d love you forever!)

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BiB2014familyNom

On knowing when to stop

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When Elliot was a baby, I really enjoyed watching him grow and develop. I spent weeks anticipating and thinking about each new milestone – sleeping through the night, moving into his own room, packing up the bassinet and converting to a sit up buggy, beginning weaning, crawling etc.

I had expected to feel the same this time. After all I’ve done this all before haven’t I? I thought I’d be able to get even more excited about each new step this time around as I wouldn’t have the added anxiety that sometimes hindered me from fully embracing the steps with Elliot. With him, I had worried about converting the buggy to a sit up buggy, and I spent quite a while worrying about when to start weaning.

I know I’m not going to be really anxious about any of these milestones this time around. However, what I didn’t expect was to feel such an element of sadness at each stage.

I packed up the newborn baby clothes a couple of weeks ago and found it a lot harder than I had thought I would. Alexander is now pretty much filling his 0-3 clothes and so I think it won’t be long before they’re packed up too! Really not looking forward to that.

Alexander is also definitely outgrowing the Moses basket in our room, and so really should be moving into his own cot in his bedroom. Elliot was in his own room from about 10 weeks, and Alexander is now 14 weeks old and is bigger than Elliot was at this age. He has been sleeping in his own room during the early part of the night, and up to now we’ve been taking him up to our room when he woke for a feed.

I’ve managed to put off settling him back in his own room after this feed for this long by using the excuse that we are now up in the new attic room, so Alexander would be on a different floor entirely, and I’d have to spend time going up and down stairs in the night, and that could disturb Elliot. The truth is that I’ve just not wanted this stage to happen. I want to keep Alexander in our room, a tiny baby in a Moses basket, as in my head I know it’s probably the last time I’ll have that.

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We did think about using the travel cot in our room for a bit, but ultimately I felt that that would just be me putting off the inevitable, so last night I bit the bullet and left him in his own room the whole night (obviously going in to feed him!) He did really well, woke 3 or 4 times, but settled ok in his big cot. It was nice having a proper place to sit and feed him rather than perching on the side of our bed, but it was very odd not having him in our room when I woke this morning. I’m glad that for once Elliot didn’t come upstairs to find us, as I would have stupidly felt like I had to go and get Alexander so that he wouldn’t be “on his own” downstairs. This is, I know, plain ridiculous!

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What is going on in my brain? I’m hoping this is normal for mums when they think they’re going through these steps for the last time?

We haven’t “officially” decided that we won’t have any more children. I don’t think I could ever rule it out entirely, but common sense tells me that three children would certainly make life more complicated. We’d need a new car and a new house (probably). How would we ever afford a holiday let alone shoes for everyone? And what happens if any of them want to go to university? My parents helped me with so many things, and I want to be able to do that for my children. Three children would ultimately mean that each child gets less, so in some ways the best thing for Elliot and Alexander would be for us not to have any more. I’m just not sure how I feel about that right now.

Until I do get my head to see sense, I’m putting this all down to hormones, and will console myself with lots of cuddles with my growing-up-too-fast boys, and perhaps some chocolate cake!

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To keep up to date with Letters to Elliot, why not follow me on Bloglovin and Twitter @elliotandme

Reasons to be happy

Reasons to be happy

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Today is International Day of Happiness, so I’d like to list the many reasons that currently make me happy.

1. My husband regularly getting up at silly o’clock and sorting out Elliot so that Alexander and I get more sleep. Thanks love.

2. Elliot’s current love of giving everyone cuddles, we all got great big cuddles first thing this morning as “cuddles are very nice to do”

3. Alexander finding his thumb (and therefore sleeping longer at night!) Yippee!

4. Elliot being really adventurous at a soft play centre with me yesterday, when he’s normally quite cautious at these sort of places. (Yes, I single handedly took two children to a soft play area and not only did we survive to tell the tale, we actually all had a really good time. It was fab to spend some one on one time with Elliot while Alexander slept! It also made me feel like supermum!)

5. Hot cross buns with butter and a hot cup of tea!

6. Ignoring the forecast of more cold and wet weather to come, I’ve loved the bright sunny weather we’ve had over the past few days. Spring is here people!

8. Pink tulips against the green wall in our living room. Love love love.

9. Maternity leave – not having to think about work for another 6 months is brilliant 🙂

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To keep up to date with Letters to Elliot, why not follow me on Bloglovin and Twitter @elliotandme