Out Out

Incredibly, I have been able to have 2 nights out in the last month or so. But… Just to be clear, that is the first time I’ve had 2 nights out in a month for the last 6 years. When I finally experienced it, I was bogged down with an internal debate of if I’d changed vs. if the youth had changed… or both.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it was fucking awesome. Seriously. But there were lots of small aspects to it that I just couldn’t get on board with, which actually made me glad a night out generally only comes round once every 6 months or so.

My first night “out out” was a gig in Manchester… I know, who do I think I am right?! I took my amazingly glorious sister-in-law (honestly not enough superlatives for that woman) to see Richard Ashcroft, who has been my favourite artist for about 15 years.

I was so excited, and the gig was unbelievable, the best I’ve ever been to. The music was awesome, the location was perfect and the company exceptional (told you, proper girl crush).

However… We arrived at the venue, got a drink and found our spot. It was heaving, with a group of rowdy lads next to us, but we miraculously did manage to find a space we liked. It had a good view, good access to bars and toilets (turns out that’s more important when you’re old). We sat down on a Poundland poncho, (obvs well prepared) and within about 30 seconds we had a pint of overpriced lager chucked all over us in a playful coincidence. So much for the pre-arranged ‘getting ready’ time in the schedule. Ruined so very soon.

This is just a small part of the intolerance for drunken youths (this being defined as people 2 years younger than me, who weren’t unintentionally and suddenly parents before planned). It is honestly a shock initially to see this behaviour, which is essentially what I looked like a few short years ago, but fatter and in worse clothes.

I managed to get my mate kind of OK after that horrendous start, but then the unthinkable happened… we needed a wee. And a mere 50 minutes later, we were actually allowed to have one. I mean, these environments kind of stand in your way between you and your basic human right to urinate. We queued and queued, just to have the door brayed in by some fucking drunken moron just for taking an extra 30 seconds to touch up our lipstick.

My other night “out out” was in a local city centre on the last day of the school year with teachers. You couldn’t ask for a better atmosphere to be honest. And my teacher-girl-date (another Wonder Woman) was wonderfully sympathetic to the fact that I wasn’t a teacher and therefore wasn’t familiar with the many, many acronyms used in education. She went to such an effort to ensure I was happy and having a great time. It was so fun, but again, not all wine and giggles…

In addition to having a wee, we all know that another basic human need (isn’t it?) is to get a drink. Turns out this isn’t so easy on a Friday night in Leeds. Why must it be so difficult? When you finally work your way to the front of the bar (while realising that revealing your not so perky cleavage doesn’t do the trick anymore), you are faced with the dilemma of how much you’re willing to pay, versus how much you’re willing to carry, all while considering how long you can hang on until you accept ownership of having to return to that hell hole.

After a traditional Wetherspoons start, we found an amazing bar, which was such a laugh. All was going so well then all of a sudden the place just seemed to get very creepy very fast, but to be fair, it was about 2am. We decided it was probably time to leave when a stranger came over to us with 2 drinks and said, “I’ve got you these, I haven’t put drugs in them”. Now, to open an interaction with that, is… well it’s fucking odd, let’s face it. It’s like being introduced to someone and feeling the need to say, “Hi, I’m not a murderer”.

My least favourite thing about a night out out is that the need for food no longer waits to rear its ugly head at 4am when waiting for a taxi. I will literally eat anything greasy put in front of my gob after a couple of glasses of white wine and I will turn fucking ugly without it. In fact, I have been known to send someone out for crisps, just to manage my raging hanger on a night out.

I love a night out. I love that my awesome husband actively encourages it so he gets some quality boy time. I love spending quality time with the girls and having something to look forward to. It’s wonderful because it’s a rare treat, so I appreciate it so much.

But my favourite thing of all has become what was a punishment as a kid. My favourite days are now staying in my PJs under a duvet on the couch, watching kids films with my family and going to bed at 9. Suppose that’s parenthood for you… awesome isn’t it?

School Mum’s Guide

As a newly qualified school Mum, allow me to share my wide spread expertise on the first year of Primary School… Not for the child; there’s enough booklets, pointless information evenings and transition visits for that, This is for you… the totally unprepared Parent.

Firstly, let’s start with preparations you can make in the summer. I seriously underestimated the amount of uniform that one child would need. People always moan about the sheer volume of washing when you have a baby, but I never really got that, so was shocked and appalled at how kids can go through a jumper a day… that’s what happens when you have fucking baked beans for lunch every day. Also, socks. You’ll never have enough bloody socks.

The school playground is the best place for one of my favourite activities- People Watching. Mainly because most of the other parents are arseholes. This will become apparent early on and your hatred will only deepen as the year goes on. They really are tossers… but my God, they are fun to watch. At our school, we have ‘Bumbag Mum’, ‘Mrs Thinks-She’s Poppins’ and ‘Self-Obsessed Gym Mum’. OK, the last two are a bit wordy but to be fair I don’t care enough to find out their real names so I have to make them up. You will find yourself going all Katie Hopkins and making horrendous assumptions about the children (and secretly hoping your little darling will not want to mix with the offspring of your blissfully unaware enemy).

One of the most difficult aspects to school is that 4 years old is not too young for love it seems. When my son told me he loved Lilly (this ended up being 4 separate girls in total by the end of the school year) and had kissed her, I was slightly upset that I wasn’t the only woman in his life anymore. But Christ, that slight knowing-it’s-not-quite-real disappointment turned out to be nothing compared to when he got dumped. I swear to Pinot Grigio, I was hell bent on hunting down that little trollop and giving her what for. I’ve since been told, that’s not really the done thing. I still pushed in front of her at the Fair though… fucking showed her.

Next, there’s Parents Evenings. Shockingly, it turns out that not everyone understands just how intelligent, well behaved, and generally perfect your child is. In fact, it feels like you’ve been punched in the face every time their teacher offers the tiniest bit of ‘constructive feedback’. When I was told that my son is so eager to please that he often puts up his hand despite having nothing to say, I found it difficult to hold back what was brewing inside… “OH I’M SO SORRY THAT HE ADORES YOU SO MUCH HE WANTS TO HAVE YOUR ATTENTION AND CAUSE YOU A MILD IRRITATION”.

Possibly the biggest frustration of all is that kids remember NOTHING. When they first trot off to school, you feel a bit lonely anda bit like your arm is missing while they’re at school. You find yourself constantly wondering how they are, if they’ve made friends, does the teacher like them… but don’t worry, that passes by week two. The most irritating thing is that by the time 3pm comes and you’re desperately awaiting news of all of the above plus a full breakdown of lunch including portion sizes, it’s incredibly frustrating to repeatedly hear, “I can’t remember”. The truth is; kids are far more resilient than us and we’re far more bothered by the whole experience than they are.

When it was all over on the last day of his first school year, this became all the more apparent. I basically cried at everything. I cried at a beautiful note from his teacher, cried at how proud I was of how well he adapted to school life, cried that he made so many friends, cried that he learned to read and write, and cried that he did it all with a huge smile on his face. He had no idea what the big deal was.

Being a Mumless Mum on Mother’s Day

As soon as I hear the pathetic adverts trying to flog anything a woman may ever be interested in, with the tag line, “The Perfect Gift for Mother’s Day” usually over the dulcet tones of ‘You Raise Me Up’ by Westlife, I know it will start.

Friends complain about the burden of being commercially forced into buying a cheap card and supermarket flowers to give to their Mum. Blissfully unaware of how much that makes me hate them. How I’d give anything to suffer that inconvenience. How I wish my boy could take his Grandma a card and some hurriedly hand-picked daffodils.

I’ll subtly leave the room when colleagues discuss what they’re buying for their Mums and where they’re taking them for a seasonally overpriced Afternoon tea. I find any excuse to escape before someone asks me and I have to give the room-silencing response of, “Actually, my Mum died… But it’s OK, I’ll take some flowers to her grave.”

My beautiful Mum died nearly 6 years ago from a brain haemorrhage. Because of that, this time of year instantly makes me feel heartbroken, but, although I wish it was so easy, it shouldn’t.

Being a Mumless Mum means that Mother’s Day is unbearably sad. But it will always be a little bit more special too.

Experiencing the excruciating loss of a Mother puts me in an exclusive position to understand exactly what a massive role that is in life. And to be that person to someone, to be their absolute everything, is the most precious thing in this world. The conflicted feelings are agonising… Being distraught about missing your own Mum, while ecstatic and thankful about being a Mum is something extraordinarily unique.

I will shed a tear over her every year, she will be the first thing I think of when I wake up on the day. And so she should be. I’m proud of my tears because she is worth it.

Above all, I have to allow myself to feel lucky. Because I know that the indescribable love I feel for her, is felt for me too.

My Wildest Dreams Vs. The Harsh Reality

Just like most people who do this ‘Momblogging’ thing, I started because I was inspired so much by those who do it the best.

I was inspired because I got so much comfort (more than I can possibly begin to express actually), from knowing that I wasn’t the only parent who regularly found my kid annoying, who hated far too many aspects of motherhood, and who missed the pre-Mum life so very much. The thought that I could, just maybe, provoke the same overwhelmingly tear-jerking emotions of relief, happiness and reinstated self-worth is incredible. If I only had one person read my blog, but that one person had the same reaction I did as a result of my crazy thoughts, I would have a bigger sense of achievement than I’ve ever had in my current 11 year career.

At least one person in my life had told me I’m ‘sometimes a bit funny’, I am a real fan of grammar and I’m not afraid to share far too much personal information… so I thought, why not?!

I wrote my first post and instantly fell in love.

The excitement of buying lovely stationery, making endless lists, setting up brand new social media accounts and my very own website was a mere perk for a nerd like me. The best thing… it was like bloody therapy! I loved being able to express everything I’d ever thought as a parent without fear of judgement as I had made the decision to use an alias… (seriously, who do I think I am?). But I wanted it to be a secret so I could be honest in my writing, and also because I knew from the beginning, deep down, that it would amount to nothing and I was just setting myself up for a lifetime of piss-taking such as, “Do you remember that time you tried to be a blogger?!” to endless pointing and laughing.

I wrote a few more posts, steadily building my Twitter following to the dizzy heights of a few hundred thanks to the wonder that is hashtags and the odd retweet. Every time I wrote something new, I allowed myself to believe that it could be ‘it’… my big break.

After a month or two, I read about a competition for new bloggers, where you submit a recent post and 5 successful bloggers would choose a winner each to write a paid piece for a website. So I entered on the off chance and my favourite woman in the whole world (to whom I have no physical or personal connection whatsoever) chose me as her winner. I literally cried (once I saw my name as a winner on the website and knew it wasn’t a scam), and I cannot say how important that was for me. The first thing I did was tell my closest friends and family because I didn’t need to feel embarrassed anymore. This time, it really was ‘it’. This was going to change everything. I’d get a call the next day from 10 publishers who would offer me big money to write a book, plus several cool cult movie directors would obviously want me to write and star in a film of my ordinary life.

Somewhat shockingly, that wasn’t the case.

A couple of friends called me and congratulated me. They said they were surprised by what I had done (in a good way, I think) and told me they loved it. Don’t get me wrong, that was nice… but it didn’t feel enough. My best friend called and asked the question I pretended I hadn’t thought about… “What would you do if it came to a decision between writing and your job?”. I brushed it off as ridiculous. I said it would never come to that. But really, I had already had the conversation in my head with my boss a thousand times about having to leave work to do what I loved because I just had to try.

I admire the lives of the successful bloggers. I know a couple of people who have had the guts to give up the safety net of a secure job that your heart isn’t really in to pursue a real dream… something creative, something they have a real passion for, something risky… One of those ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ type careers.

But I’m not there… I don’t believe I really love my job, in fact I still wake up in the morning and get that ‘Urgh’ feeling. But it isn’t a dead end, it’s an actual career, with very real and massive prospects. I’ve worked incredibly hard to take it as far as I possibly can, from teenage trainee to the boss with pretty much all the qualifications going. I do get a sense of achievement from it and without question, it is the most sensible thing in which to progress and give my all.

I have accepted that blogging will never be my career. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will sadly never be invited to Waterstones for my book signing or hold auditions for who will play me in a film. I can’t give this thing the attention it needs, nor am I not clever, funny or talented enough to make it a real thing. I still don’t fully understand what a linky is, or how people actually manage to make a living from it. And that’s OK…

I love that I have something just for me that I’m not totally horrible at. I love that I finally have a hobby other than housework. And I love that for the most part, it’s still my little secret.

I know now that I’m doing this for the right reasons… for my sanity, for my indoor social life, for the off chance that I might make someone laugh or cry, and for my pride.

But I’m not hurting anyone by holding on to my wildest dreams though, right?

The Supermarket Tantrum

This week, I heard of a glorious interview with Kristen Bell (or Anna off Frozen, as most parents will know her). In a conversation about parenting, she said “If my child is acting a fool in the grocery store, the embarrassment is on her. In truth, that shouldn’t make me feel a certain way”.

I bloody love that. It really got me thinking though. Firstly, about how awesome she is to have such a relaxed and shockingly reasonable attitude to the infamous supermarket tantrum. But also how in that scenario, it is unjustifiably the parent who is automatically made to feel an arse rather than the little bastard throwing potatoes down the veg aisle. I’m ashamed to say that I have in fact been guilty of such judging. But that all changed when it was my turn…

I am very fortunate in that I’ve only ever been subject to one supermarket tantrum at the hands of my low maintenance son. On that fateful day, he’d been a little shit from the second he got up, and due to a lack of other options, I had no choice but to take him with me to Tesco. We were wandering round aimlessly, then to my horror, right in front of us I clocked a stand rammed with a brand new super spanking range of Paw Patrol toys. Of course he’d spied it too.

He wanted Marshall’s Fire Fightin’ Truck and wasn’t going to take No for an answer.

So he screamed, he shouted, he cried, he kicked and he threw things. I immediately opted for my go-to response… blackmail. “If you don’t pack it in, no party at the weekend”, “No ice cream at the park if you keep this up” etc. Still he continued. I tried again reasoning with him, but to no avail. I tried ignoring him and walking away, but still no success.

At this point, I started to panic. The crowd was growing and I just needed him to shut the fuck up and calm down. So I shouted at him, which obviously just made the screaming louder and more intense. So as a last resort I dragged him away by his arm, chucked him in the car and drove home in tears.

I was so upset… humiliated at his behaviour and at my response. But most of all, I was embarrassed by the tuts, the shakes of the head and the smug glances with an overwhelming air of ‘I’d never allow my child to behave like that’.

Well the truth is that you can be the best parent in the world, but sometimes kids will just be arseholes… because they’re kids and that’s what they do, and there is bugger all you can do to stop them (apart from buying the fucking truck).

Now, I’m not saying that the correct course of action is to verbally abuse the kid kicking up a stink, but just bear a thought for the unfortunate Tantrumee, who clearly hasn’t instructed or encouraged this behaviour in any way. Don’t be a twat and judge. Because we have no idea what goes on. No one knew that my son had already made me cry twice on the day of his public meltdown. They didn’t know that I had already tried reasonably and calmly pacifying him before forcibly removing him from public view.

What I wouldn’t have given for a fist bump from a fellow parent, for a nod, for a sympathetic ‘don’t worry, we’ve all been there’.

We’re all just doing our best with our little bastards and an act of kindness would have made my day. In fact, to quote the hosts of our showdown, every little helps. So next time you see a kid having a public tantrum and an exhausted looking parent despairingly trying to sort it out, I urge you to leave the twatiness behind, for all our sakes.

Dear Pregzilla…

Dearest Facearse,

As we get older, the natural progression is to get married and have kids, meaning that friends become a slightly smaller aspect of our lives. I think about my friends now and of course I love them, I really do. I make a real effort to see them and spend time with them… we catch up and laugh over shared stories, but I feel like we don’t really know what happens in each other’s lives. There’s a thing with adults where there’s always a bit of a facade.

It makes me think of when we were young. I don’t think I so much as had a shit without telling you about it. We shared everything, often in Egg Language, whether the other person wanted to hear it or not. And now I am beyond excited that my gorgeous friend will soon become an amazing Mummy (and I desperately hope that your love will eventually manifest itself in the form of grey leather elbow patches).

So here are my pearls of wisdom, all the things I think you should be warned of before you embark on this amazing experience. It’s just for you, based on my extensive 4 and a half year’s experience of rearing 1 low maintenance child… You’re welcome. Love you lots like Jelly Tots (IDST). xxx

 

  1. I’m sure you have been told that labour hurts, which is true. So don’t listen to those weirdos who say it’s a life-changingly euphoric experience. It isn’t, it’s fucking awful. HAVE AN EPIDURAL. Anyway, the pain is one thing. But then there’s the complete lack of dignity too. You may recall from an earlier blog post that not only was I essentially fisted by a friend’s Mum, but also a Doctor actually sniffed the gusset of my knickers. A few hours in and you will be totally accustomed to flinging your legs akimbo for any Tom, Dick or Harry who opens your curtains (if you’ll pardon the pun). In hindsight, that’s kind of really not OK.
  2. Once you’re home after pushing a human from your fadge, things aren’t actually much rosier. Your foof hurts (and bleeds) for ages afterwards. Oh, and about 3 days after you give birth, your ‘milk comes in’. That basically means that your tits look and feel like a breeze block. They’re heavy, uncomfortable and mean that you won’t get comfy enough to sleep… although baby’s probably doing a good job of preventing rest anyway. Then, once all that’s over, for the rest of your life, you’ll be fighting your bladder. You’ll wee when you sneeze. And laugh. And go trampolining. But I’ve noticed that when I’m about to sneeze, I automatically clench my pelvic floor now so I’m sure you’ll learn to do the same. Finally, you might always be a bit fat, assuming you don’t have a squillion pounds to spend on a Personal Trainer and dietician. Even if you manage to lose weight, you’ll always have the ‘Mum paunch’. Clearly as a chubber, I’m no expert… So if running, spin class and Zumba work for you, that’s brilliant! If you find time, you’re a fucking genius.
  3. Nothing will prepare you for how bat-shit crazy you’ll be. You’ll watch your baby sleep for well over an hour without realising it, just making sure their chest is moving up and down. You will constantly envisage horrendous accidents when you carry your baby downstairs or get in the car, you won’t be able to cope with any sad news stories about children, and you will find yourself consulting Dr. Google 17 times a day and making excessive unnecessary trips to A&E. You’ll feel guilty about every decision you make. And not just the big stuff like going back to work, I mean the tiny irrelevant stuff too, like what time she goes to bed and what she eats. And you can’t win (against you). You’ll always hate yourself. Sorry.
  4. You’re never on your own. Even when you poo. For some reason, my little Delight will gladly walk in on me on the toilet, in the shower, anywhere. But when Daddy’s enjoying a dump, he’s allowed to do so in peace. It gets a bit much at times. Especially when you’re trying to do a load of washing with a tiny person clutching your cankle. The shittiest time to have your offspring as a noisy shadow is when you’re hungover. There are no words to describe the pain… You’re sitting on the bathroom floor in nothing but yesterday’s knickers, hugging the toilet, wretching away… and an irritatingly loud voice shouts “What are you doing Mummy?”. And there’s no sleeping it off, unless you can nap while someone shoots you with a Nerf gun and turns your face into a train track. The most ridiculous thing about never being alone though, is that if you do manage to steal just a few precious moments to yourself… you bloody miss them. It’s pathetic.
  5. You will never be patient enough. There will always be a stupid, tiny, ridiculous thing they do to piss you off beyond belief. Whether it’s crying, taking too long to put on their shoes, talking too much, or generally just being there. It sounds awful, and it feels awful. You scream something completely non-sensical like, “FOR THE LAST TIME, GET YOUR FINGERS OUT OF YOUR BUMHOLE!”, then look at their devastated little face and feel horrendous for not letting them just do whatever they want whenever they want.  Then in 2 minutes you’ll lose your rag again. Hence the term… Mum Guilt.
  6. Most importantly, it’s the BEST thing in the world. Never forget how lucky you are, and what a fantastic job you do.

 

Confessions of a Non-Maternal Mum

Every inch of me is non-maternal. Although I always imagined that by the age of 25, I’d magically transform into a Marge Simpson/ Kirstie Alsopp hybrid creation of motherly awesomeness, that sadly didn’t happen. Even when I fell pregnant, I found myself weighing up the few pros of parenthood versus the numerous huge inconveniences.

Selfish as that sounds, that doesn’t mean that I am incompetent and unloving as a parent. Not having the skill to bake individual fruit pies and handcraft mantelpiece ornaments does not mean that I don’t absolutely derangedly adore my son. I’ve been utterly besotted and obsessed with him since the second he was born- despite him initially being a bit weird-looking and me being distinctly pissed off about my blindingly painful nether regions… (26 stitches, in case you were wondering).

My son is now 4 and has just started school. I have a full-time job that I love and in which I want to progress as far as I possibly can. Because of my career aspirations, my son spends the equivalent of a whole day per week with child minders. He eats more chicken nuggets and biscuits than a lot of parents would deem to be appropriate and in fact because of his fussiness, he rarely has the same evening meal as us. He has a tablet as well as books and toys, and sometimes he’s allowed to stay up way past his bedtime so we can watch a film or build a train set. Our Christmas decorations were bought from the supermarket, not crafted at home as a family activity while we all wear festive knitwear.

But why does any of that matter when he is happy, healthy and has a Mummy and Daddy who love him?

Women like me are so lucky to live in a time when it’s not socially compulsory to give up your aspirations and change your character to fit a stereotype just because you also want to bear children. No longer does a woman need to spend her days in a floral pinny, gliding around the family home with a duster while a homemade loaf of bread bakes in the oven.

It’s OK to have dreams that are only for you. It’s OK to not comment on every photo on Facebook of strange-looking kids on their first day of school. It’s OK to not attend every crap event hosted by the Parent Association. Because none of that is really important.

What is important is to ensure that you are happy being you. A happy parent is a happy child. So if, like me, you are a Non-Maternal Mother, play The Parenting Game your way and take advantage of the new normal.

Non-Maternal Mums unite and be proud!

Anxiety- Part of the Parental Package?

I often ponder if it’s possible that I may have an actual diagnosable mental condition. Or if the utterly ridiculous feelings and anxieties I experience every day are actually normal parental behaviour.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, my ‘worst case scenario’ head was firmly screwed on, and unfortunately it’s still not loosened even a tiny bit 5 years later. As a hormonal Pregzilla, I was always in a panic. “It’s snowing… What if I fall and hurt the baby?”. “What if a small glass of champagne on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee (the only alcoholic drink which passed my lips as an expectant Mum) causes some horrific birth defect?” I obsessed over statistics. Reading that 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage meant that we were too scared to tell anyone we were having a baby. A 1 in 4 chance that our little peanut wouldn’t make it- and we couldn’t risk putting more people through that than necessary. 1 in 160 chance of a stillborn child, 1 in 33 chance of a birth defect… I decided that if I constantly contemplated the worst, I couldn’t possibly be disappointed, a mantra which I struggle to shake off.

I remember going on maternity leave, before the baby came. I would be home alone, sitting on the nursery floor cradling my bump, sobbing my heart out, terrified at the thought that my precious boy wouldn’t make it. And then when it came to his time to make an appearance, a traumatic labour didn’t help much… The poor thing had his cord wrapped round his neck. But once he was born and the hoard of medical staff had attended to him on a resuscitation table, they passed him to me. And in that moment I felt overwhelmingly that everything was OK, because he was OK. I felt calm, still, and like I wanted to sleep, because for the first time in 8 months, I could sleep without worrying.

That gloriously euphoric feeling lasted for about 12 seconds, then came a whole new level of panic.

Everything changes when your baby is born. As a single non-parent, I used to watch fundraisers like Children In Need and while I comprehended that it was sad, I didn’t really feel anything. Fast forward a few years, and I had to go to bed in the middle of Stand Up To Cancer because I couldn’t bear watching the stories. I was beyond normal crying and into the headache-inducing, snotty wailing. I then couldn’t sleep for worrying about the fact that 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime, and I prayed (as a strict atheist that was a big deal) that it would be me and not my husband or my son. After an hour or so, I think I finally drifted off thanks to Googling symptoms of cancer in children and deciding that I probably didn’t have to worry quite so much just yet.

I see now how my general insanity has affected my boy. If I’m honest, he’s a bit of a pansy. But can I really be surprised? The poor lad can’t even break into a run without me telling him he’ll fracture all his limbs. He’s ended up in an ambulance or at least at A&E every time he has a cold. Now he’s 4, I finally reluctantly agreed to take down the baby gates, but still refuse to allow him in water for fear he’ll sink and drown.

I can’t fathom the reasoning of the easygoing parents who say things like, “boys will be boys” and who think that falling in the park is good for them, rather than screaming bloody murder and dramatically sprinting to their rescue as if they had been hit by an artic lorry.

Unfortunately for my little one, I can’t change. I wish that I didn’t get a heart-wrenching feeling of dread every time I see a missed call from school. And I wish that on a lazy Sunday morning, I didn’t have to run to his bedroom to make sure his chest is moving up and down, just because he’s not awake by 8.00am. Sadly though, that’s just me. I will always be ridiculously over-protective.

So to my lovely son, I can only apologise for the wussiness. I accept full responsibility.

The Second Child Debate

As a recently married happy couple with one gorgeous four year old son who we love more than anything, we are constantly asked, “When’s the next one coming then?”

I hate that question.

In this oh-so familiar scenario, I normally shrug uncomfortably and say I’m not sure we’ll bother. Then once I’m alone with my husband and wine-soaked, I yell, “I WANT ANOTHER BABY!” But in truth, I don’t know if I do.

I loved being pregnant. And I love the idea of another baby. I reeeally love the thought of a year off work. But in reality? I’m not so sure.

 

In honesty, I think we have probably waited too long now. We’re over the dirty nappies and the sleepless nights. We even have ornaments in the house again. The thought of going back to being an exhausted grumpy mess with greasy hair makes me want to immediately run upstairs for an uninterrupted shower, which I can now enjoy every day thanks to Thomas and Friends on Series Link.

And what about our careers? Both of us have big things coming up work-wise and, while I’m aware that it is ever so slightly illegal to discriminate against a pregnant lady, I do believe it still happens, although probably without poor intention. I have only within the last year reverted to full time work and although I have hated myself every day for it, my career has flourished in that time. Would another baby have a negative impact on that? Also, we’re more financially stable than we’ve ever been (which is still not very), but we don’t earn anywhere near enough to save anything by the end of the month. Do we really want to go back to scrimping and saving every day and having frozen pizza for our evening meal?

We have also been incredibly lucky when it comes to childcare. I feel it would be unreasonable and unfair of us to assume that we would get the same help again, allowing us to still earn a decent amount at zero expense to us. As everyone knows, looking after children, especially someone else’s, is not easy at the best of times, and several friends have told us that although you can’t get rid of people when your first-born arrives, no one really gives a crap with the second.

As well as the practicalities, I also worry about my emotional capacity. I love my son an absolutely indescribable amount- but would I feel so strongly again? Would every single kick, gurgle and tooth be so special the second time around? I always recall my mother-in-law telling me about her three sons. The eldest had a detailed baby book, completed in its entirety including photos, essays documenting every second from conception to school, lost teeth and locks of hair stuck down with sellotape, bloody everything. The second child’s baby book was, by her own admission, a bit half-arsed. The main bits like significant dates were filled in, but there were far fewer photos and no lost body parts. The youngest son had no baby book. I obviously understand that a mother’s love isn’t measured in completed pages of baby book, but it seems kind of unfair and is the exact kind of thing I worry about.

And how would Baby no. 2 affect Baby no. 1? Sure, at times I think he’d benefit from a younger sibling. It could help with the tantrums when he loses a game or is, heaven forbid, asked to actually share something. But what if he didn’t bond with the baby, what if he wanted a boy and it was a girl, what if he got jealous of me spending time with the baby while he was at school? I don’t want to do anything to make him feel anything other than cherished.

The reason I hate the ‘next baby’ question is the assumption that there’s something missing from our family, that we’re somehow incomplete. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of our friends and family have said that the second child is the best thing they ever did- and that’s great for them. But if it never happens for us, that’s OK. That’s OK because we are already so happy- we are already complete. I’m sure another child would be amazing, but so would our perfect family staying just as it is.