Dear Mama

These are the years, they say. The ones that are precious and special and will be gone too soon and they are right, they really are. They are also the years when you experience a tiredness like you have never known before and find yourself more overwhelmed with what seems so simple than you could ever have imagined.

I see you. Looking frazzled. Looking tired, you hands literally full of children. I see you and I know. I know how it feels. The joy and the grind all rolled into one very long day and I want you to know it’s ok for
it to be like this. It’s ok that you aren’t loving every minute, that some days you just want to walk away and have a day off. It’s fine that you’re doing your best and that sometimes your best is not everything that others may think it should be. In fact, it’s ok that your best isn’t even everything that you think it should be. It’s your best and it’s good enough. Some days, good enough is as much as you can expect. You don’t have to be superwoman every day. You actually don’t have to be superwoman at all. People will judge you, think you’re doing it wrong. You’re not. You’re doing it your way and your children won’t know there were other ways and they won’t judge. They will think you are superwoman.

Take a moment. Just every now and again to tell yourself, out loud even, that you’re doing your best. That you’re doing ok or even that it’s a bit rubbish today/this week/this moment, but make sure you take notice of it all. Take notice of the giggles, the mess, from what to them was an awesome game, the moment when your baby is asleep in your arms. Feel the weight of them, remember the sensation of your arms being full, if only for a moment, before chaos descends again. Remember it all, for what is a raw, indelible experience for you, will be a mere haze for them, a feeling of how life was, with those weird details that they remember scattered around.

Take care of yourself. Try to eat well, but go easy on yourself. Have that extra cup of coffee, enjoy some cake. Brush your hair, if it makes you
feel better or don’t, if you couldn’t care less. Smile at someone, strike up a conversation, or hunker down in your own bubble. We are all different.

People aren’t going to tell you how fabulous you are, or what a great job you’re doing. It doesn’t work like that. It seems like the easiest job in the world, so many have done it before you and will after you and yet it the hardest thing you will ever do and so I say this to you. Mama, you’re rocking this thing. Just keep going and breathe.

Love Mummylimited

I miss this space. I miss this place. I have many half started posts that languish in drafts. The moment passed and therefore likely never to see the light of day, but this one must. My baby is six months old. It should be marked. If I isn’t I will forget so much. I shudder when I think of how much I have already forgotten. How is it possible for something to be so all consuming and yet such a blur all at the same time?

Once again I am stunned by how each child is different, both in looks and temperament. She looks like both of her brothers and neither of them and is like them and yet entirely new. New quirks, new likes and dislikes and new challenges. I still find myself utterly flummoxed as to how to make her happy or what to do next. I thought, by now that my instincts would be stronger, that I would always know which way to go and mostly I do, but there are times when I am transported back five years, holding a crying or awake baby, with no idea where to turn.

She has pale, porcelain skin and blue eyes. Beautiful, round, deep blue eyes. Her hair is really starting to grow, not yet decided if it’s going to be blonde or red. When the sun shines on it, it looks like tiny strands of bronze.

She is incredibly alert and interested in everything. So much to see, something always going on in our house and she is completely entertained by it. Watching, learning, wanting to be involved, soaking it all in. She is the chattiest baby I’ve known and I have chatty children! I wake to chatting, not crying. Always making a noise. She loves to be upright, sitting or holding weight on her legs and as a result doesn’t spend much time on her tummy or lying down, except just before her bedtime feed when she is grouchy and tired, but we are busy. At this time she is guaranteed to be cheered up by some nappy free time, rolling around and putting her toes in her mouth. Her newest noise is the loudest shriek, used when she is excited and very happy. Lovely to hear, but dare I admit a tiny bit too loud and irritating, possibly only because it is a glimpse into the noise levels in my house, in the future.

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For each child you have people, and perhaps even yourself seem to expect you to let go earlier and easier, but babies don’t work like that, certainly not this one. She needs us, more specifically me, especially in the evenings. She has taken a bottle of painstakingly expressed milk, but reluctantly and has refused to on another occasion. She likes to be held in the evening and still feeds then a lot, although usually compensating me with only one wake up in the night. (Edit: this post is taking so long to write that that lovely one wake up is now two, maybe three. I hate colds, teeth and anything else that’s bothering her. Sleep has become an issue in our house. A all too common topic if discussion and dissection. I am longing for the state of acceptance that I know I’ll come to me soon) It can be frustrating, my hands itching to do, to create. I wish I were someone who could just watch TV, but there’s only so much I can watch without a crochet hook to hand. My brain now divides things into hands free and hands full activities. It is what it is, this time is short and she is my last. Our baby gazing days are numbered, acceptance is the key. It’s not always easy to remember that.

She wants to be held in the day too. Our woven wrap has been invaluable. As well as not liking being out down, she has many other dislikes. She doesn’t like her car seat, having the babygro poppers on her legs being done up, tummy time or having a toy removed. She loves a bath, she kicks and splashes, time without a nappy, chewing her feet, being tickled and the cat. She LOVES the cat.

Her brothers adore her. Nano sometimes a little roughly. He is three, a new sibling creates emotions he doesn’t really understand, but he tries. Mini Mck calls her “girlie”, he keeps her entertained and pretends they are at the fair or flying a plane. She lights up when either of them are near. It is quite a wonderful thing to make people and then watch them love each other.

As always time is going too fast. Six months (nearly seven now) gone in a blur. I look at her newborn photos and it seems only weeks ago and of course this time there’s the bittersweet knowledge that there will be no more tiny babies for us. Clothes that are outgrown need to be sold or donated and not put back in the loft. I can’t do it all yet. They have been sorted, donated and the bits to sell put to one side. I hope soon I can actually bring myself to offload them soon. To be able to see them for what they really are. Simply things. Their departure simply a signpost to a new and exciting stage of out life.

*It’s actually now seven months. That’s how long it has taken to write this, on my phone, at school. with two napping children.

Making the most of pre-school years has been on my mind a lot recently. Having your last baby, when your first is in their Reception year at school really brings home how quickly these years pass. I look at Lady Mck and am reminded so much of her eldest brother, who is now well and truly settled at school and no longer looks totally alien in his school uniform. I see friends sending their children to school for the first time this and it feels like yesterday that I was doing the same and the most scary thing of all, something I shall be doing again next year, as Nano starts in September 2015.

Days with small children and babies can be so, so long. So many tiny activities that they tire of easily, so many naps to make happen and feeds to do and tantrums to endure, but the years whizz by and before you even feel you’ve had time to breathe they are gone. At school, starting a new journey, that you are never quite as involved in as anything before. I never realised, before I had children, that so much of being a parent is about letting go in tiny increments, from the baby days onwards. I haven’t really come to terms with that and I am not sure I ever will.

I am already thinking of next September and how quickly my time with Nano has gone, even quicker than with Mini Mck. That’s the thing with second and third children, they have to fit around a family, not just a couple. Your attention is divided and so time passes even quicker. This seems particularly true of a middle child. Poor Nano was born when his brother was only just two, a whole year before pre-school and by the time we had Monday to Friday together, I was pregnant again and so basically in a bad mood for nine months.

And so, we have this year. Three days each week will still be ours to do what we choose and I am determined to make the most of it, to make sure he gets the best of me and that I enjoy the best of him. It’s not easy though. I remember saying much the same about Mini Mck and I’m not really sure I did make the most of those final pre-school days. I am not much for big days out, my purse doesn’t run to it and I find the thought of them quite exhausting, but I am going to make sure we do some things during the week that are just for him, have a little structure so that his needs and mine don’t get choked out by boring jobs, the school run and the demands of a baby. I’m only talking a gymnastics play session, or a morning spent at the park and the library. Just something where I can soak it in, try to bottle the memory before he’s all grown up and off to school.

We did some of that last week on our first day together since the end of the summer holidays. We made the most of the sunny weather and took a picnic to the “water park”, a local park that has a lovely play area, which includes water fountains for the children to run through, randomly squirting from the ground.  We stayed there so long that when it was time to collect MM from school, there were no complaints from Nano at all. We had spent a lovely afternoon playing, chatting, getting wet (him), cuddling in a towel to get dry (him with the towel, me doing the cuddling) and even a sneaky read of the kindle while Lady Mck slept (me). It was simple, inexpensive and relaxed. In fact a perfect start to our pre-school year.

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I  really recommend enjoying and embracing the mundane. Nano is at the age where he wants to be my shadow. He wants to help with shopping and baking and making the dinner and I love that older toddler stage, where they become proper company. Someone you can actually have a conversation with. So, we try to enjoy the boring bits. Cooking together, punctuating a morning of errands with a cafe stop or a visit to one of our favourite playgrounds. This is the stuff I need to remember, the things I will miss when these days are over.

The added bonus this year is that I will have a little time with just Lady Mck too, with Nano spending some time at pre-school, something he is hugely looking forward to. I can’t wait to be able to focus just on her, but I must make sure that for some of it I really do. It’s so tempting to use that time for cleaning and organising or even the odd sneaky afternoon of Nashville and crochet and I am sure that sometimes I will, but I know only too well how fast it all goes and so I am going to take Fairy’s advice and embrace every cuddle. Lady Mck and I will be doing some baby yoga and massage again, but I am mostly looking forward to having the time to just lie on the floor with her, listening to her babbling and giggling as she learns to move and communicate.

Fairy have produced a lovely video, that they have asked me to share, embracing the #powerofsoft and encouraging parents to enjoy those extra soft and special cuddles while they are so freely. I warn you, you may need some tissues for this video…..

Sponsored post. All words and views are, as usual, my own.

 

Every now and again you get approached by a company to do a review and you say yes on the strength of the company alone, even though the product doesn’t appear to be something you’ll find very useful. This was exactly the case when Muddy Puddles contacted me. I love Muddy Puddles, an online store selling wet weather and sun gear for babies and upwards. As regular and yet totally unorganised campers, they have come in handy when needing to order waterproof trousers in July.

The product they wanted to try for them was a lightweight Pac-a-Mac jacket and whilst I thought it *might* come in handy occasionally, it wasn’t something that was in my list of things we needed. Both boys wear lined waterproof coats as their winter coats and so I figured we were pretty covered in that area.

How wrong could I be?! I had failed to take account of a very showery spring/summer and the ‘curse of the school run’. The grey clouds start to gather around 2ish, prompting me to get the washing in. By 2:30 they are black and swirling. When we get in the car 20 mins later, a few drops of rain have started and this inevitably turned to proper rain once we pull up at school. You know the drill.

This jacket is perfect for days like these. In fact it’s perfect for summer. It’s light and folds away into it’s own pocket, with a handy clip attached, so MM was quite happy to carry it himself. We often take it school for those ‘just in case’ days and when I have been caught out and had to bring it for him, it fits nicely in the pocket of my own rain jacket. The pocket has a nice big name label attached and the zip is easy enough for the kids to do up themselves. Now, that we are back in baby days again, anything that I can do to lighten our load is a bonus and this jacket can easily be carried by either of the boys themselves. I and they like them taking responsibility for their own things.

PuddlePac Jacket_Red Steel Stripe Packed_WI

 

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Initially, I did raise my eyebrows at the price, coming in at £20, it’s more than I would usually pay for a rain jacket. However, considering how useful it’s been and what great quality it is, I would absolutely pay from my own pocket. In fact, you can currently order one for the reduced price of £15, so I will definitely be getting one for Nano, in preparation for summer days out and camping trips.

Which brings me on to my only criticism really. I would like to see a wider choice of colours and patterns. We ordered the red and grey stripe for MM, which looks really good with his school uniform and I will order a nice yellow with umbrellas for Nano, but the other choices are a bit underwhelming.  Although, I was delighted to see the absence of pink in the options.

All in all I would recommend the Muddy Puddles Pac-a-Mac. It’s all the little extras that set it apart from much of the stuff on the high street.

Muddy Puddles kindly sent me a complimentary jacket for the purposes of this review. All, opinions and words, as ever, are mine

Everything is unfinished and interrupted. Even the tiniest things. I never get from the beginning of something to the end. Blog posts gathering dust, in fact everything gathering dust. A quick tidy round here, a half emptied dishwasher there and my focus is always divided, so no-one gets the best of me. Everything interrupted. Naps, conversations, thoughts, usually by a small voice shouting or a cry from the monitor. It’s frustrating. Intensely frustrating. As the day goes on the unfinished accumulates, physically and mentally. The wet washing, now too late to hang out, the shopping being stepped over as dinner is prepared, the forgotten thoughts, the half finished conversations. It makes my head hurt.

Of course it’s normal and unavoidable, which means I feel guilty for feeling frustrated. Constantly fire fighting and not finishing anything is wearing though and it just isn’t me. I like a list, a task, even a small one. Something to mentally or actually cross through. Reaching the end of the day without accomplishing anything is infuriating, especially when you know that tomorrow will be the same.

Babies are so consuming and so whenever I am with her my focus is split between her and whatever else is going on. I long for some distance, but at the same time do not want to be too far away or for too long.

This is one of those time that needs grinding out. Not quite a newborn, bit still needing so much from me and only me. I feel, by now, there should be more order and I like order, but we are not there yet. We have very little routine, apart from the school run, which is forced on us and juggling two other little people, means I can’t always provide everything she needs at the moment she needs it. More guilt.

These early years mean accomplishing very little, whilst at the same time accomplishing a lot. It’s just that the thing I am accomplishing doesn’t ‘look’ like anything, it isn’t tangible, it cannot be crossed off a list. Unless of course the first thing on the list every day reads “raised children”

I feel I am lacking any kind of coherent point, which actually seems quite appropriate. I am unable to form one. My brain is a tired jumble of half thoughts.

I will end with this though. Yesterday I went for a run. 20 mins. I started a run and a I finished a run. Uninterrupted. My attention focused on one thing. My mind allowed to wander, without intrusion. I completed something. It felt good.

He is three. It’s gone by in the blink of an eye. That happens when you are in the middle. So much of his life has been slotted between an elder one potty training, starting nursery and school and a younger one growing and being born, that I hardly noticed him turning from my baby into a boy. As I look back at his early baby photos, I almost feel they are of someone else. His brother’s early days are seared into my mind. They were my first as a mother and were so hard, with a baby that resisted sleep. His sister’s are fresh and new and I feel I shall never forget them, although I probably will. He was squeezed in the middle, newborn days passed amongst the blur of raising a just turned two year old. He was just so good at being a newborn, a complete natural and so the days panned out with little incident. IMG_6873   Now it is his turn to have the boyhood rites of passage. We have left nappies and pushchairs behind and they have been replaced with teeny tiny pants and his first scooter. Pre-school is looming in the distance and his final year before school is here already. He weaved himself into the fabric of our family so quickly and easily and is only now stamping his wishes on it, which is both frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. The quiet baby has turned into a noisy, chatty boy with his own ideas and needs. I need to pay more attention or it will be gone too soon. He is polite and fearless. Stubborn and gorgeous. Still all about the eyes. Big blue pools of thoughtfulness, framed by the lushest eyelashes I have ever seen, that seem to grow even bigger when big toddler tears fall out of them. Wrenching his independence from us and still wanting to cuddle. Wanting to be a baby and big boy. A muddle of contradictions and extremes. In another year he will be utterly changed again. Blink and you miss it, they say and we roll our eyes as we wade through another pre-schooler day filled with tiny tasks and tantrums, but they’re right.  So don’t blink.

Sometimes there is time for being creative.

For making sure packed lunches have home baked goods in them and cooking dinner from scratch every day.

For decluttering and tidying. For planning and plotting.

For packing your toddler’s day with fun things to do.

For staying up too late and going out in the evening.

For going on a diet or reducing caffeine and sugar.

For housework

For finishing crochet projects, writing blog posts and getting the sewing machine out.

For being on top of it all.

There is also a time for realising that time isn’t now.

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Sometimes there is a time for early nights and getting as much sleep as possible.

For taking the easy option.

For doing the bare minimum.

For choosing the easy dinner.

For putting Cbeebies on more than you’d like.

For watching unchallenging, but oh so addictive and pleasurable, cooking programmes.

For not wearing make up

For putting your feet up for 10 minutes, even when chaos surrounds you.

For being pleased if you just achieve one thing in a day and not minding if you don’t even manage that.

For rarely being alone or having space

For cuddling the baby just a little longer

For not being as good as you’d like, but realising you’re still good enough.

For accepting that sometimes it’s ok to just want to put the baby down.

For appreciating even the smallest moments doing something that soothes the soul.

For realising it won’t be like this forever.

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