Wednesday 30 October 2013

I Didn't Enjoy It.


The other morning there was a slight fracas in the park.  Smallest boy has a bubble lawn mower, one he likes to take everywhere.

The struggle happened about a half hour before we left when Lovely Liam decided he “wanted a go” of the lawn mower.  

Smallest Boy wasn’t for turning.

My pathetic attempts at mediation were not working and the boys were getting louder.  So was I. 

I was doing that loud, hissy, growl whisper thing through gritted teeth.  The one that goes a little like this:  “Listen to me.  I sssssssaid, lisssssssten to meeeeee.  Give your brother a turn.  Do you hearrrrrrr meeeeeee?”  

Then I felt a hand on my upper arm and I turned at the touch to see a man smiling at me.  “You have your hands full there.” 

You don’t know the half of it, I thought as he kept walking and I continued to untie the dog leash from around my legs and snarl at the kids.

On the way home I remembered a conversation I had with my mother in law when Oldest Boy made it through his first year.  I was chatting about how hard it was “at times,” how relentless it could all be. 

Then I added “but I enjoyed it.”

I stuck it in there as an affirmation; to take the sting out of sounding like I was complaining.

It was a lie.

A big, stonking lie.

I didn’t enjoy it.

And I don’t think I really knew it at the time. 

I thought I was enjoying it.  Because all the damn magazines and all the books said I would. 

And of course I had nothing to compare it to.

When the next baby came along, whaddya know?  Nothing much changed.  It was still kind of boring, still relentless, still lonely and still exhausting.  With one exception, however.

This time there was double the work and the baby was a crap sleeper, had a horrible time with teeth and was a bad patient.

I still didn’t enjoy it.

Third baby later it was as if his predecessor had set the bar and this new baby just had to raise it. 

Three kids to look after now.  I’d had a crash section, a tricky start with breast feeding and it became obvious pretty early in the day this baby was another shite sleeper but with bad eczema thrown in for good measure.

I didn’t bloody enjoy it that time either.

In fact, I hated every minute of it.

I love, absolutely love the newborn squishy stage.  Not so keen on the wobbler months and once they hit their first birthday, the next year and a half can’t go quickly enough for me.

Maybe I’m crazy but I prefer the three plus age.  They’ve got words.  They’re more fun. They can feed themselves.  There’s no nappies, no buggies, no extras.  They can strap on their own belts in the car.  Even let themselves out.  With a bit of luck, they sleep for nine hours at night.       

This stage I enjoy.  I’m good at this stage.  I even enjoy the backchat.  (Sometimes)  This I can handle.  This is the future. This is when I can see with some clarity what they are going to be like in the next few years.   

This is the stage I plan to enjoy before it all goes horribly pear shaped during the teenage years.

But I did not enjoy the crazy that was sleep deprivation and those days of loneliness.

I can admit and acknowledge it now.  And move on to greater and better things. 

I have arrived.

In case you were wondering how I solved the lawn mower fracas, I got all three of them to the car, two kids and a dog, flung Smallest Boy and the dog in the back and as I was doing up seat belts, I told Lovely Liam to go for a little walk around the car park.  And to be quick about it.

Suddenly, all the fight went out of him and he declared he didn’t want to any more.

Didn’t want to because he was told he could, I suspected.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

A Mid-Week Treat. And a Hug.

Malted Double Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies

When oldest Boy was but a toddler, I despaired of him ever eating anything.  He lived on some yogurt and a litre of milk a day.

And cardboard.  Of any description.  Newspapers. Magazines and bits of tissue paper were also eaten with alarming enjoyment.

Of course, he “grew out of it” and even if his appetite isn’t amazing today, he eats most everything. 

Ok, not everything, he hates some things but so do we all.

Lots of people believe hunger is a good sauce.  I’ve even uttered those words myself whilst knowing in my heart of hearts, if I was keeling over with starvation, there is no way on this earth you could get me to eat certain things. 

Porridge.  Butter.  Milk.  To name but a few.

One day this week I made a batch of brownies because the boys saw some in the café.  It was a while since I made them and even as I added the chopped walnuts a little voice said “they’ll give out about those.”

I threw them in.  The bag was opened and I wanted to use them up. 

They wouldn’t eat them.  They gave out.  “I don’t like those nuts.”  “It would be gorgeous if there were no nuts.”  “That’s disgusting!”

Ho hum.  All the more for me.  Unfortunately.

So when I saw a bag of Princess marshmallows in Lidl for a song I snapped them up to use in a recipe I knew they would like. 

I also had a tub of Horlicks and this will not get used for anything else except the same recipe.

The first problem was trying to prevent Smallest Boy and Lovely Liam scoffing the marshmallows so I allowed them to “stud” the top of the mix when it was poured in the tin.

They were very generous with their studding.

The cake went into the oven. 

“When will it be ready?  Will it be ready now?”

“Not for a little while and then we have to let it cool right down before we cut it.”

I distracted them by taking them upstairs to “help me” change the beds.

“Is it ready now?  When will it be ready?  It’s been three days!”

Three beds maybe. 

The rule was (dontcha just hate rules?) dinner before dessert.  They swallowed down some roast chicken and veg and then launched at the goo-ey treat on the counter top.

Silence was heard.  Mixed in with the licking of fingers and the odd “mmmmmmnnnnn.”

Afterwards Lovely Liam ran at me and almost knocked me over with one of his rugby tackle hugs.  I “ooof-ed” as usual.

He looked up at me, chocolate and melty marshmallow all over his face.

“Know what I hug-ded you for?  Coz you made-ed that good!”

Link to the Malted Double Chocolate Marshmallow Brownies mix is here and you can thank for the deliciousness.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

It Worked!

Some things work and some things just don’t.  Absolutely everything looks great on paper and in theory but the practising of it can tell a very different story.  Like taking deep breaths.
Counting to 10 (or 100!) taking a step back and choosing our battles.

For me taking deep breaths does not work.  The opposite in fact.  It’s almost as if by inhaling deeply I am providing more oxygen for my already glowing fire to rage out of control.

Counting to 100 is out of the question.  That just allows them to continue to fight amongst themselves and buys them more get out of doing homework/changing their clothes time.

Sometimes taking a step back works.  I’ve often made a coffee, closed the kitchen door behind me and sat on the decking with Juno for company.  All in the time it would have taken me to count to the aforementioned 100.

I’m still working on choosing my battles. 

But something that does work, worked beautifully for me just this morning.

Lovely Liam seems to be having a bit of difficulty finding himself at the moment.  I jest he waited until he turned four to try the terrible two’s.

There have been a few power struggles since he started back in Montessori after summer break.  He loves it there so I know this is not the problem.

He has begun waking at night again and experimenting with a bit of sleep walking which makes me uneasy as I fear the stairs. 

This morning we were in the café where the boys love to go after the school run.  Ok, where I love to go.  The café where I love to go after the school run.

As you are all well aware, it was bucketing down rain and we were experiencing proper rain gear weather. 

Lovely Liam had a moment just as we were finishing up and firm words were exchanged.   

To no avail.

I was left with him and the ensuing struggle with his rain coat.  There was a bit of a walk back to the car and he would have been soaked through so there was no question of him not putting it on.

The dilemma was, how did I go about this without stoking his fire into a full on screaming fit in the café where I love to go after the school run.

“Can you put your coat on?”

“No!”  Had he been a serpent, he would have been swaying in front of me, exhibiting very strong stay away signals.

 “Look, I’ll help.”

“Don’t want it on!”

Looking back, I was automatically taking in deep breaths and beginning to count.

“Right, you have a choice.”  All the books say to do this; give them an option but make sure they pick the outcome you want them to pick.  Again, on paper it all sounds wonderfully feasible. 

“You don’t have to wear it but you will get soaked out there.  And I am not changing your clothes when we get home.”  I let that one sink in for a moment.  Lovely Liam cannot abide even one single droplet of water on his clothes when he is supposed to be dry.

“The choice is yours:  Wear your coat and keep dry or get wet and sit in uncomfortable clothes all morning.  What’s it to be?”

“Oh-KAY!”  Eyeballs to match the ‘tude.  But he put on the coat. And we walked back to the car.

Where there was a monumental struggle to stop him from splashing through every single large puddle on the way.

But I’d already picked my battle so I let him have his fun.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

You're Two and a Half

You’re two and a half.  You’re cute beyond words and you have many words.  Lots of them not so choice!  Overnight you went from “mama” to full on proper “mammy.”  Baby talk was gone and you went straight to pronouncing your brothers’ names and pointing out vegetables on your plate.

You’re two and a half.  I have no idea how much you weigh but already you’re tall.  You can reach up and stretch far across the counter to help yourself and get the step for when you cannot.

You’re two and a half.  You tell me when you need a nappy change but resist Big Boy Pants and the potty.

You’re two and a half.  Already you recognise people by their cars in the school yard.

You’re two and a half.  You carry around a pair of knotted tights for your comforter.  You share them with me in the morning and play tug o’war with the dog with them.

You’re two and a half.  You love carrots and chicken, yogurts and apples.  Marshmallows and slices of bread and jam.

You’re two and a half.  You make the same face when you are being affectionate and in a temper. 

You’re two and a half.  You love to swim, play in the dirt and draw.

You’re two and a half.  You have your oldest brother wrapped round your little finger.  Almost. 

You’re two and a half.  You love to wake me up by telling me to “open eyes” and when I do, you shout “boo!”

You’re two and a half.  You think your older brother’s Montessori friend is yours too, and talk about him incessantly.

You’re two and a half.  You refuse to allow your daddy to go to work without a “tiss” and a hug.

You’re two and a half.  You have red hair that tickles my nose when you’re in my arms. 

You’re two and a half.  You are always smiling and laughing.  You have a word for anyone who so much as glances your way but are not too fond of them approaching you first.

You’re two and a half.  You love to watch the video on my phone where the wind catches your empty crisp bag on the beach and you run after it. 

You’re two and a half.  You love tractors.  You prefer savoury to sweet.  You watch Dora and Blues Clues.   You tell me to “stop songin’” when I sing along to the radio.  You steal the cutlery from the drawer.  You eat raspberries like they’re sweets.  You love to flush the toilet.  You know to wait for the green man at traffic lights.  You like to sit in the laundry basket and be carried back to the house. You pronounce marshmallows as “mash-eye-oh’s” and now so do we. 

You’re two and a half.

You’re my heart.

Wednesday 2 October 2013


They hold.  They love.  They caress.
They have the power to hurt.

They feed.  They create.  They bond.

They need someone to hold them sometimes.

They clean.  They write.  They grasp.

They have broken things out of anger.

They tidy.  They drive.  They steer.

They hold bedtime story books.

They organise.  They open.  They clench.

They collate memories in albums and scrapbooks.

They fetch. They carry.  They hurt.

They rest a weary head on occasion.

They juggle.  They soothe.  They calm.

They brush away bad dreams and fears.

They heal. They work.  They beckon.

They push away and immediately pull near.

They foster.  They gather.  They play.

They have strength.  They have weakness. They have experience.

They are familiar.  They are home.  They are security.

They are my hands.