Archive of ‘Marriage & Motherhood’ category
I tend to start my day checking my social media on my phone before I’ve barely drawn two breaths or gone for a pee.
What can I say? Blogger. A couple of weeks ago I saw something in my Facebook feed that caught my attention…and not in a good way. This:
Yep my day had started with me feeling a bit riled.
I shared it on my Facebook page (link) and filed it away in my brain in the ‘pending’ compartment rather than shoving it right to the back of my mind as I had a funny feeling I’d end up writing about it. Fast forward to this morning: cursory check of social media and I see something in my feed about some sort of World Day and almost ignore it as every day marks something or other (well with 365 days in the year, every day marks more than one thing). I don’t know what caught my eye and made me hover instead of just scrolling past but I’m glad I lingered as it was a World Day that I could actually appreciate. International Day of the Girl to be precise. You may have seen the frames you could place temporarily on your Facebook profile picture in honour of it and to show your support for girls. ‘Support for girls’…I can’t help wondering if this is a sad regrettable turn of phrase to have to use…
It’s accurate to say I’m usually late to the party, always the last to know etc so I’d never even heard of this day until today. (Incidentally, blogger extraordinaire Motherhood the Real Deal who had heard of this day published a fantastic article with regards to raising girls; I really do think it’s a must read.) I actually wasn’t going to write anything as I’d sort of ‘missed the boat’ with timing and I’m not a fan of hurriedly bashing posts for publication the same day as I usually regret it. And I would love to write something positive and uplifting. Instead I’m giving you this!
Something happened. My eldest said something that was so very telling that I knew I had to write something.
I had asked her about her day – as you do while chopping the onions for dinner, answering questions from the other two at the same time and trying to drink that cold cup of tea – and she mentioned a learning assistant who is fairly new amongst the teaching staff. She gushed about how lovely she is and I asked what she liked about her. The first thing she mentioned? Not the assistant’s teaching ability/professionalism/friendliness/nationality or even which class she assists. No. It was her looks. I nearly cut my finger. This is becoming more frequent; her talking about people…females…firstly from a physical perspective.
Image courtesy of Loryn Brantz Books
It’s not unknown for her to meet someone for five minutes and decide they are the nicest human she’s ever met being purely because she thought were physically attractive.
But who can blame her? The media and entertainment industries endlessly pushes its version of the perfect female and what girls are ‘good for’ at us so you can’t blame past, current and future generations of females to buy into it and believe they are meant to be that version. Hell, hardly any of us have been able to avoid the self-doubt, the desire to be thinner, taller, have perfect hair and skin and so on. I honestly can’t blame my 12 year old daughter for judging other females first and foremost by their looks, hate it as I might, because she really is just a product of the society she’s growing up in. The thing is, we’ve all done it and it’s a vicious circle. How can we hope to be taken seriously by males when actually we ourselves judge one another on entirely the wrong criteria?
Our everyday language referring to females is full of references to beauty, princesses, booty, finding Mr Right (as if that’s the ideal). Shouldn’t it Be More About Ambition Achievement, Humanity and Intelligence?
I think of those magazine covers that had annoyed me so much and the many magazines that have been published over the decades with nothing but beauty and fashion for girls, those damned tabloid newspapers that only manage to describe women in terms of hair colour and relationship status, beauty pageants, porn sites and those bloody Kardsashians who’ve done such a great job of making intelligence old fashioned.
Ultimately, however, I know no matter how well I teach my girls, no matter how many opportunities my husband and I try to give them in life, they are living in a society that still has far to go in improving its attitudes towards females…
Are our girls’ very own attitudes part of the problem, especially if they are growing up in environments that don’t empower females or recognise they can do pretty much anything they set their mind to?
I’m not suggesting those brave suffragettes at the turn of the last century and the feminists of later decades suffered and struggled and raised hell in vain. Not at all. Women are better educated, wealthier, healthier, more independent and more accomplished than those suffragettes could ever have hoped for. We have amazing athletes, people of science, artists, entertainers, heads of government, revered academics and so on. But we also know there is still that glass ceiling. We know that negative body obsession and failing mental health is on the increase. We also know there are far too many countries where females receive no education, too many cultures that have horrendously little respect for females and too many incidents of physical torture and sexual assault and then right here on our Western doorstep…those damned magazine covers! Let’s face it, you don’t have to go East to India or the Middle East or down to Africa to encounter disparaging attitudes towards women designed to keep them down.
Thanks to the toupéed one who goes by the name of Donald, we know that the West will also never be rid of men with an ingrained disrespect for females…monsters who are making sure the ‘female struggle’ continues.
As a mother I can’t help worry about this. The obvious question of what world I brought my kids into comes to mind and I do feel that the struggle to raise females is real (don’t forget to read that post by Talya mentioned above once you’ve finished this).
I guess that’s where i’m going with this. When it comes down to it, I have to ask how far have we actually come raising our daughters? We want so much for them…
Will we ever get there?
DO YOU HAVE GIRLS? DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THESE VIEWS?
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Dear Musical M, you’re 12.
I know it never really means anything to others when they see their social media feeds flooded with pictures of kids growing up and the customary ‘I can’t believe s/he is x yrs old!’ from the parents.
But…fact is, I simply can’t believe you’re 12. Frankly, I spent so long grappling with you turning 10, in denial and wondering where it had all gone, that 11 came along almost unnoticed but now that 12 is here…I’m in shock all over again. 12 is different, perhaps because it is the last year before the teenage years start.
So I sat down to write something for your 12th birthday. After all I wrote something for your 10th. That was hard enough; the more I wrote, the more I had to face how I’d just let those years slip through my fingers. I could hardly blame not spending proper time with you on being a working mum whose job took me away from you. I’d been there the whole time as a SAHM…yet one who very often wasn’t (isn’t?) mentally or emotionally there for you. (I don’t know what makes me that way.) And writing Ten Candles just killed me. I know you laugh and say “Oh mummy!” when I admit I still can’t read that poem without dissolving in tears at the final verse. I tried not to cry as I read it again the other day, for the first time in a while, when it was featured on another site. Hopeless.
I am not sure there will ever be any explanation or justification for why I have simply failed to be the mother that you always deserved.
I sometimes wonder if I need to see someone about it (actually I know I ought to see someone about it…). That is one hard thing to admit here, on a blog that quite a few people read. Why expose such bitter inexcusable failings? Who does that?! Who fails their child over and over and then writes about it publicly?!
I think it is this: when I go to my resting place, I really do think it will be the single biggest thing in my life that will stop me from being in peace, when they lay me down or scatter my ashes.
I’m such a walking cliché but I really genuinely thought I’d just be…well…better at it. The thing is, people will read this and probably do an inward eye roll and mentally tune out. A mother talking about how she’s not a great mother? A mother attributing her own parenting behaviour to events and emotions from her childhood. Oh purleese. Must we really watch this film/hear the song/read the book again? Seen it. Heard it. Read it. No, we don’t wanna buy the bloody t-shirt thanks, Prabs.
Repetitive, tiresome, obvious, cringey and predictable. #Snore.
I’m repetitive with my rants about you not listening to me (although if you just listened…?), I have become tiresome with my promises to be a more patient less shouty mother. I have become obvious in the way I speak to you in an unforgiveably sarcastic snarling manner. It’s almost cringey how I half-heartedly try to make up for the day’s failings at bedtime asking you about your favourite part of the day. I am predictable with the way I fly off the handle too easily. Honestly I hear myself starting off on you and I just think Shut up, just stop bloody talking Prabs, I’m that bored of my own voice. But then you snap at your siblings, and I go mad again…wondering where you get it from! If I can’t control my own short temper and lack of patience, how can I expect you to be any better towards your siblings? You’re only 12 for heaven’s sake! That’s the thing…on the one hand I can’t believe you’re ‘already 12′ but on the other hand, I know you’re still really just a child. Yet day after day I trot out the cliché “You’re old enough to know better’ and “Just grow up” when some aspect of your behaviour irks me.
And as you know, your poor sweet girl, so much of your behaviour irks me.
I guess you’re not the only 12 year old who leaves the house without thinking about the same vital things they need every day (and who then complains the whole time while they’re out). I’m sure there must be other 12 year olds who don’t listen to the words anyone says and then asks what they said four times (forgetting what they said immediately afterwards anyway). There have been other 12 year olds before you and plenty to come I’m sure, who wreck a computer or phone the minute they touch it. In fact the world is probably full of preteens who will try to lie their way out of a situation rather own up to a wrongdoing.
So I guess it’s not fair that I get so annoyed. Especially because…
When I’m pissed off that you start searching for face paint just one hour before we need to leave for a school play, it’s not your fault, it’s mine. I’m the one paying for a class gift or RSVP’ing to a party invite or filling in a school trip form on the day they’re due.
When I’m mad that you’ve not tidied your room AGAIN, it’s not your fault, it’s mine. We don’t exactly live in the tidiest of houses do we…?
When you leave a bag or lose an item of clothing at a cafe or somewhere at school, it’s not your fault, it’s mine. I’ve managed to lose a pushchair for heaven’s sake.
When you argue with me about every little thing until you’ve got barely any breath left, it’s (sort of) not your fault. It’s mine. A man whom we both know says I always need to have the last word…
You see, here’s the thing. it’s not you I’m having a go at M. It’s actually me….
I’ve known it for years. I first realised when you were just two. As I watched your facial expressions, noticed your mannerisms, listened to your voice, heard your intonation…I realised, with dismay…I was in fact raising myself. As if the world needed another Prabs, here I was raising another one. A mirror image of myself, my carbon copy in every way. It’s just too much. In fact, everyone uses those terms to describe you don’t they? We can hardly go anywhere or see anyone without hearing “Oh you look just like your mother?” with reference to you. Who’d have thought it would be such a major issue, that it would in fact define my parenting of you?
I can barely get through a day with myself…how do I get through a life with myself and a mini me?!
And over the last two or three years, it has come to a head a few times. You’ve dissolved in tears… A sentence I can’t bring myself to elaborate on or complete…too many ugly blanks to fill in. We stood on that street corner in Sliema during the Christmas holidays and you just crumbled and said I’m too hard on you. Other things were said. About my parenting. True things. Things I simply could not deny. Things I’ve tried to type here but…honest as I am on this blog…I just can’t bring myself to admit them. I typed some of them and deleted them. Shameful.
You know you’ve messed up with your child when you say (yet again…) that you will try to change how you treat them to be met with the response “I think it’s a little late for that.” History repeats itself. And how…
How can a mother bristle with irritation the second her older daughter opens her mouth to speak, yet melt when her youngest one speaks. Yep I admit it. The ugly truth. Unforgivable.
How can I call your father out when I feel he’s unfairly reprimanding you, then swing round and do the same myself?
How can I roll my eyes when you ask me something, yet answer the very same question without hesitation when your brother asks it?
How can I feel my heart harden when you don’t lay the table, or wipe your crumbs off the counter, or sweep up that little mess or fluff up the cushions you left in disarray when the fact is I hated doing all that at your age too?
How can I get so annoyed when I hear you making judgemental comments about someone when maybe (just maybe), you may have heard me unwittingly do that once upon a time (or a few)?
There are definitely things you could do to make things smoother between us, such as not pretending that you have numerous phobias or deciding you can’t do something without even trying first (so the opposite of your father and me) or relying on me to do things that you are more than capable of doing at your age (and we’re talking the most basic of stuff here…) And the thing is M, it’s all very well saying I’m hard on you but you also have to meet me halfway on the road to change.
I CAN’T make the journey all on my own whilst you stand at one end carrying on with the same behaviour.
When all is said and done however, Musical M, you’re just great.
Fact is you are actually so aware and in tune with certain things. I mean you heard the Chili Peppers for the first time the other day and loved them and John Mayer is one of your favourite artists. You think Julie Andrews is beautiful and inspirational even though most kids would think she’s uncool and as ancient as the very hills in the Sound of Music and say Carly Simon is amazing every time I play her. You watched Julie and Julia which is not a kids’ film, aged just 8, and fell in love with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I honestly love that despite me butting heads with you on so many things, we have this shared passion for music and film (and by the way I’m the one doing most of the head butting anyway).
And your laugh…there’s no laugh like it!
You love your brother and sister to bits (when you’re not moaning about them) and have a good heart. You are loyal to your friends which became really evident to me on your birthday when your friends gave you that amazing card describing your character. It blew me away and made me feel ashamed that I have a tendency to forget what a lovely spirit you have. Anyone who meets you loves you. You say the nicest things to your mum (heaven only knows why) and while my friends are lamenting that their preteen daughters no longer want to be seen with them, I have a 12 yo who can’t get enough hugs and still wants mummy’s kisses. What a shame that somewhere along the way, I stopped giving them. No wonder you adore your father. Thank goodness you do.
My shameful admission may not be much of a birthday gift.
But anyway, the bottom line in all of this is…
It was never you. It was always me.
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I sat down to write something for my wedding anniversary thinking I’d be writing a testament to the amazing relationship and strong marriage I think Hubster and I have. As the words poured out of me, I found myself writing a very different sort of post, one that actually shocked and unsettled me with the brutality of the pain I was clearly feeling as I wrote it so much so, I had to put it to one side. I then had no choice but to come back to it when one of my blogging besties Modern Dad Pages asked me to write something about relationships.
The things is, most people will read this and think What on earth is she going on about? This guy is amazing! (And yes my husband is amazing in so many ways.) But as you know, our problems (perceived or real) and our truths are personal to us and we never know what goes on behind closed doors.
My husband knows I’ve written this post and gave me his blessing to be as honest as I wanted (which again shows what a great human being he actually is!). There are things I’ve not mentioned because there is only so much dirty laundry I’m willing to wash in public but this is still the hardest thing I’ve written to date and I can’t say that I’m that comfortable doing it. And I probably wouldn’t have written it if that Rod hadn’t asked me! So here is:
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you have such an easygoing manner towards anyone who meets you and you were always so laid back…but when one of our kids just drops some food at mealtime or a spills a drink at a restaurant, you literally freak and you have become angry and serious enough for the both of us (when I thought I already was).
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are so chatty and open with your friends…but when I try to make conversation, I’m met with disinterest from a man who’s mentally left the building before I’ve even finished (started?) my sentence.
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because your cuddles are the best…but how do I cuddle a man who looks inconvenienced at having to budge up on the sofa when I sit next to him and who doesn’t think to just slip an arm round me when I’m washing the dishes?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you were my buddy who was always interested in what I had to say and with whom I’d close down the restaurants in Paris and London chatting til the early hours. We’d look over at the middle aged couples tired of life, tired of each other and we promised one another we’d never be like them and we’d keep the conversation going year after year.…but I’m honestly drained after years of silent evenings on the sofa or being cut off when I speak.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you were the eager lover who couldn’t get enough of me no matter what time of day it was, no matter where we were or whether we needed to be somewhere…but now, even though you say you still find me sexy and hot, when I give you the bedroom eyes, your brain fast forwards to how much you have to do and you suggest we ‘schedule it for later’. And later hardly ever comes…
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I want to share my thoughts and experiences and interests with you…but when you snapped at your 5 year old who was just trying to show you a picture she’d drawn, what hope is there for me?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I chose you as my life partner…but how do you get through a life with someone when sometimes it’s just hard to get through a day without arguing about the stupidest things?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are the man who goes to four different card shops to find a Valentine (and anniversary) card with the exact message he wanted to say…but who has so much difficulty just finding the romance in the simplest of daily transactions as man and wife even when the opportunity is staring him in the face!
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because I love you…but there are days when I ask myself if I actually do or whether love is even enough to see us through.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because we made three amazing kids together and I know you love them like mad and see little point in even being home if your wife and kids aren’t around…but you never show any interest when I tell you about something they’ve done or said and I hurt waiting for you to show interest in teaching them a sport or spending individual time with them.
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because you are so wonderfully different from anyone I’ve ever met…but we’re both so very different it can be hard to just get on.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are the most domesticated hands-on partner anyone could hope for…but maybe in between stacking the dishwasher, emptying the bins and doing the school run, the old you and me disappeared?
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you used to make me laugh endlessly…but now you rarely find my jokes funny and I don’t get yours anymore on the rare occasion you clown around.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I thought you’d be the most gentle warm laid back father…but your yelling, lack of patience, inability to understand when they need sympathy or terms of endearment kills me.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because I have NO bloody right to complain about a man who does the kids’ packed lunches every morning, gets bedding and floors clean and has food in the fridge for when I return from a trip abroad with the kids (and checks us in online without being asked)…but I just wish that man could show his wife and kids some emotion instead of always being so practical.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you have told me so much that you love me and you’re trying to take on board how I feel…but you and I both know there’ll be another blow out, I’ll retreat inside my shell and cry endlessly in private, you’ll apologise and on and on it will go.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because mere words cannot describe the appreciation and respect I have for how hard you work to give your family a home and a life (never pressuring me to go back to work after I had the babies)…but you can’t run an entire marriage on that alone and I need to respect you as a friend and lover too and I can’t rebuild that on my own Baby.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because that’s what friends do
..but so much of the time I feel like we’re just housemates who raise three kids together.
Dear Hubster, I want to grow old with you because you are the wonderful man who insists we go out to celebrate our anniversary...but don’t you wonder what we’d be celebrating? I am feeling depressed and terrified at the thought of an evening of awkward silence or desperately trying to find things to talk about with you apart from bloody work.
Dear Hubster I want to grow old with you because you are gentleman. Thank you for being that gentleman and listening.
I have a hubby who goes above and beyond in so many ways, a hubby who isn’t possessive, who doesn’t ‘expect’ things from me and who gives me space to be me. I also have a hubby who gives me THE most wonderful anniversary and Valentines cards with heartfelt messages he has really given thought to writing when half the time, I don’t get round to getting him one or I find crappy ones! It takes two people in a relationship, I have plenty of faults and frankly marriage takes constant work and care. The Disney straight forward happy-ever-after fairytale does not exist. I think, in the end, each couple has to create their own fairytale. My hubby is aware of and really wants to address his emotional attentiveness and other shortcomings. In the meantime, I’ll be having a good think about addressing my own…
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I’m honoured to have been tagged by two of my newest blogger friends – Tayla of Motherhood The Real Deal who is super funny and the lovely Laura of Life With Baby Kicks (who listens to me moan about blog tech glitches on an alarmingly regular basis and who I’m dragging out for a Mojito-fest when we meet one day ‘outside’ of the blog) – in the wonderful “I’m a Mum Who” series. I’ve been really enjoying reading the at-a-glance descriptions of various bloggers regarding their parenting experiences and themselves. It’s wonderful finding out more about them.
So here is mine.
Could write a book called ‘Being The Not Now Mummy’. #TooBusyForYourKidsIsTheWrongBusy
Is rubbish at crafts. Cannot. Will. Not. Do. crafts. But finally learned to bake aged 38 and has made all her kids’ birthday cakes since the eldest was 3 (and yes you’ll have to work out my current age yourself) #NotBraggingJustSayinWeDoWhatWeCanDo
Is never happier than when she’s snuggled up for weekend movie night with her babies…or sipping a Rosé by the beach while they play. #HappyMemories
Is hellbent on raising healthy eaters but will never deprive her kids of home made chocolate cake dammit! #LovinFromTheOven
Finally understood so much of what her parents had said/done raising her the very minute her firstborn was handed to her in hospital. #ThatsWhyOurParentsWantGrandchildren
Somehow conceived all her kids on the first try after the age of 35 but who has known the heartache of miscarriage. #MixedBlessings
Literally hates it in a toe-curling stomach-churning tear-inducing way when her hubby yells at the kids but then yells at them herself a few minutes later #ParentingTruths
Conquered her lifelong crippling fear of water to jump into a pool aged 39 knowing there was no other option after her 4yo said “Go on mummy you must”. #AboutTimeToo
Was never an outdoors gal but has got into hiking with her equally “can we just stay home Mama?” kids. #GetOffTheSofaNOW
Is a super strict parent yet still receives compliments, hugs and “you’re amazing mummy” praise from her children #GoFigureAgain
Misses that golden time of the ‘afternoon sit down’ with a cuppa, Murder She Wrote on TV and a cheeky sleep while the kids had their nap. #ThoseWereTheDaysMyFriend
Has found her identity again and ‘met’ awesome talented people through blogging but is so busy running a blog about being a mother that she hardly has time to be a mother! #BlogMammaBlog?
Loves Sunday mornings, pottering about, baking to the soundtrack of kids playing and listening to chillout/retro 70’s/old soul tunes. #EasyLikeSundayMorning
Didn’t leave the suburbs of London from 1975 to 1988 but now has the crazy privilege of stopping off on the way home from school to go to her local beach #LifeHasPlentyOfSurprises
Nags her eldest on a weekly basis to tidy her room yet hasn’t sorted this out since January. #Hyprocrisy
Clowns around and loves laughing with friends but has never been the ‘fun mum’ with her own kids. #SortThatOut
Tries to undo some of the mental conditioning of a very Indian upbringing swearing blind she wouldn’t turn into her parents. But…guess what…yep. #FacePalm
Honestly doesn’t know what she did in her past life to deserve three little monkeys like this #WhenYourHeartBursts
Gets it wrong each day but still has kids who know they are loved. #MummyDoesntTryEnoughButSheTries
I now tag:
Yes Peas Mumma
Coffee Kids Ice Cream
The Holly Hockdoor
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Dad Blog UK
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I may sometimes joke about not being a real woman as I don’t know what it’s like to have a contraction or go into labour but it is exactly that: a joke, a big Prabulous joke. I have never felt guilt or shame over my c-sections. Why talk about this? Well, it turns out April was caesarean awareness month. It’s also when I came across blogger Next Life No Kids who is spearheading the Mommitment movement, aimed at stamping out Mum-shaming (sorry I’m a Brit). Ha, the coincidence! Because what’s one of the biggest mum-shaming obsessions perpetuated by society (i.e. mothers)? Yep, the passive-aggressive view that women who wind up having c-sections somehow failed at childbirth. Purleeese.
Here’s the thing. Whether a woman has a home birth/hospital birth/gas and air/no gas and air/epidural/no epidural/a scheduled caesarean/an emergency caesarean/a super quick labour/days of hell in labour/a doula/a state midwife/a private doctor/a water birth/a squat on the side of the road and just get it out birth, the ONLY thing that matters is if that child is born healthy. If it is, that’s one lucky child and one lucky mother. I don’t think we truly realise how incredible the female body is or how miraculous pregnancy and childbirth is until we actually go through it. Whichever options we choose or have thrust upon us by circumstances, that baby is a miracle however it came out.
Yes, natural birth is best. It just isn’t always the best option…as I found out:
In a nutshell, Musical M wasn’t thriving as my placenta was no longer viable and she was too underweight to stand much chance of making it out of the birth canal alive, VBAC was apparently too risky with Dreamy D and by the time it came to Cheeky K, my fate was sealed. All three were breach and had the cord around the neck several times.
But a walk in the park those c-sections were not! Spinal block, ice cold operating room, conditions, catheters, needles, stitches, trying to move…everything hurt like holy hell. Granted, my c-sections just involved uncomfortable tugging rather than the searing pain of pushing but everything else…oh God. Trying not to shiver and shake while the anaesthetist inserted that needle. Being lifted and rolled onto my bed as I couldn’t feel my lower half. Trying to feed baby without placing baby anywhere near my sore tummy. Trying to sleep with a catheter and needles in me. The blindsiding tear-inducing pain of trying to walk once the feeling returned in my legs…just the most bloody painful, humbling experience of my life. Up till then. Of course, much later, kneeling on the floor wiping up food and begging a toddler to eat just one frickin’ mouthful would become the most bloody painful, humbling experience of my life. Oh and laughing, sneezing, coughing and just plain breathing? They felt like extreme sports due to the air that got trapped while I was open on the operating table, causing shocking stomach pains once it was stitched back up (as if that poor sucker hadn’t been through enough).
I begged the doctors, nurses, cleaners, the woman in the next bed’s visitors, heck anyone who walked past me for pain relief. Yep, Alternative-Medicine Prabs was replaced by Desperately-Seeking-Any-Fucking-Drugs Prabs. What can I say? Morphine, Voltaren, Co-dydramol, Anythingamol and I became friends. (I think this mum just shamed herself.)
So, wondering how or why I could possibly be glad I didn’t give birth naturally? Here are:
1. Who doesn’t want a four day break from dishes, laundry?
Most of my friends were desperate to get home the same day they give birth. I couldn’t think of anything worse. Just think about it: I got a break from domestic drudgery. Then once I got to my second birth, much as I missed toddler Musical M like crazy and dissolved in tears when I finally saw her, those four days in a quiet room with her brother were heaven. What’s not to like about not having to deal with this for a few days?
By the time it came to Cheeky K, the easiest roomie who just slept all day and didn’t yell Mama, mum, mummy, MAMAAAA!! every few minutes…I’m telling you it was a mini holiday. The only thing missing was the minibar. I asked for a fifth day.
2. Being unable to drive or lift heavy things for several weeks was almost liberating.
I had the ‘luxury’ of cocooning at home with a newborn (if you can call surviving on next to no sleep cocooning) as I couldn’t go far without a car and my driver (aka ‘he who got me pregnant’) was at work. I could wear pyjamas all day (ironic considering the lack of sleep) as I wasn’t going anywhere and could watch trash TV (albeit with a baby clamped to my breast) because hoovering the floor or unloading the dishwasher involved lifting. And I wasn’t meant to lift, right?
3. My biggest fear in life was the agony of childbirth so I wont lie: I WAS relieved when the docs decided I had a date with Edward Scissorhands.
I can’t deny I played at wanting a natural birth. You are expected to want it…because it’s natural… People have different fears: spiders, flying, heights, whatever. Honestly? I didn’t view the act of pushing a rather large thing out of a rather small hole as natural. Nope. Not. At. All. Of course the irony is that despite my pathetically low pain threshold, I was nevertheless able to tolerate being cut open three times.
4. My stomach may be shot to pieces but I now have a shelf to rest my coffee mug.
Visible scars aside, I sprang back into shape super quickly after my first two c-sections. But that third child. Mercy me, that third… I now have the delightful ‘too many c-sections shelf’. Let’s just say when I lie on my side…well…I just shouldn’t. When I lie on my back, I can’t say it’s that much better. Ah, the beauty of the post-caesarean ‘overhang’. The only way to avoid it: big girl panties. But what’s the point of that when I need that shelf for my coffee mug?
5. I may be lazy with kegel exercises but I don’t wet myself every time I cough or laugh or run, thanks to my lady region not being destroyed by pushing three humans out.
Major props to my natural birth sisters but sorry, that is definitely something to be thankful for. I didn’t say it doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen every time…
Seriously though, I know c-sections are no laughing matter. Mine were carried out based on medical decisions made by the doctors. Each successive operation can be more tricky and of course I would have conquered my fears and given birth naturally if circumstances allowed. But that’s not the way things worked out. I spent a millisecond feeling like less of a woman for not achieving the trophy-worthy natural birth before snapping out of it and realising I had still very much given birth and was crazy lucky to have each of my little bundles of joy. (Anyway, undergoing major surgery three times is deserving of a trophy in my book.)
Oh and that not being a ‘real woman’ thing. It isn’t because I had c-sections. It’s because I never got my boobs.
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Oh my goodness, Musical M, how is it possible that you’re now ten?!
I remember lying on my hospital bed, staring with wonder at your tiny head.
So many thoughts and so many feelings ran through me as I stared at the ceiling,
Still numb from that needle before it hit me, I now had life’s greatest responsibility.
Baby blues but also tears of joy…that scan was wrong and you weren’t a boy!
You were underweight, not properly responding; oh the struggle to feed you and worry over bonding.
The following months are wonderful memories; the wishes, the gifts, the flowers, the ceremonies,
Proud grandparents and siblings, smiles and affection…but let’s not forget the shock of a c-section.
Endless visitors with their congratulations. The first child earns rock star adulation!
One thing that was no surprise? My loving husband became a loving dad before my eyes.
Many great moments. One of the best: Daddy Cool saying “I love her so much it hurts!” as you slept on his chest.
I remember tidying your crib changing the bedding while you smiled as he sang tunes by Otis Redding.
Summer 2004 was an unforgettable time; the exhaustion of new motherhood…yet it was sublime.
It’s clichéd but it seems like only yesterday when I’d be up all night with you crying and then
Spend the entire day holding you in my pyjamas, trying to eat something myself – a daily drama.
I’d hold you and rock you and feed you for hours, praying you’d sleep so I could just grab a shower.
Endless baby and mama pics but don’t zoom in; my priorities had changed and I’d no time for grooming.
Parenting books, car signs with Baby on Board, mums’ coffee mornings…just don’t mention Gina Ford.
Sterilisers, muslins, bibs and high chairs, pushchairs and car seats and gates for the stairs,
Portable equipment from changing mats to potties; just leaving the house became seriously dotty.
Then we said goodbye to the UK and moved to the sun. Hello villa with pool: life in Malta looked fun!
Your first steps, the daycare years and I got pregnant with number two…failing to toilet train you before he arrived so I was up to my eyes in poo.
You were such a cute toddler, you made everyone drool. Then bam, just like that, you started school.
We realised quickly that you’re more arty…and we discovered playdates, sleepovers and endless parties.
Now I can’t believe we sent you, aged only three. But you seemed ready…your brother was so little…I needed the break, you see.
The years have rolled by and we’ve moved into a new phase. Teletubbies, Pooh Bear…long gone are those days.
Goodbye frilly frocks and Hello Kitty toys. Hello One Direction, tennis matches and talk of boys.
YouTube, Wii, Monster High and Rihanna; the tweenie stage…too old for Disney Princess but don’t ask for Hannah Montana.
Pierced ears, hair styles, cool threads and nail varnish. Can’t we just hang on before your childhood we tarnish?
I know I mustn’t control you but please don’t worship Miley Cyrus. And don’t stop reading, playing and creating or you’ll catch the ‘too-much-screen-time-virus’.
You’ll have to bear with me as I try to find my feet, parenting your changing character is hard but I know you’re still sweet.
It should get easier as kids get older but your STUFF is all over the place. And the forgetting to brush your hair or even wash your face!
The number of things you break or lose, it simply drives me crazy. The homework you ‘forget’…are you just too young or just too lazy?
I know the eldest usually has it rough. So I should go easier on you but I do find it tough.
I guess you could say we have a clash of personality but hey it’s not your fault; you’re just a mini me.
An impatient mum, it’s almost outrageous. Why get mad at an angel whose laugh is so contagious?
Ten candles later, should I have played more? Should I have been more fun and cared less about chores?
I know regrets are pointless yet those are my wishes…but I was so busy having babies and washing the dishes.
So ten candles later, here we are. You’re Musical M with a voice that could carry you far.
I love that we share a passion for music and words. Keep dreaming. Keep singing. Make sure you are heard.
Ten candles later, your life is a ball. With your great spirit and big heart, you deserve to have it all.
Making your cake, I think of each year symbolised by these ten candles. Now fetch your dress, do your face and hair and grab your party sandals.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUSICAL M. HERE’S TO THE NEXT TEN!
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It’s only Monday and I’m thinking “Oh heavens” (actually anyone who follows this blog knows I’m not that polite and the word that follows “oh” is not “heavens”), “So much coming up, where do I start?”
Gifts, GIFTS! Buying gifts, wrapping gifts, contributing to gift collections: teachers’ end of year gifts, M’s birthday gifts and goodness how many other gifts. Birthdays…soooo many birthdays: my niece’s 1st and Musical M’s 10th; the sheer amount of bloody baking for the latter…a cake for school, a cake for home, something else for her sleepover. Elementary end of year school play and costumes (thank you Hubster for your artistic skills doing Dreamy D’s musical notes tshirt). Osteopath and physio sessions to try to fix me. End of year class parties, leaving dos (it’s Malta – I swear there’s a leaving do for someone almost every other month), 40th parties, 50th parties! and God-knows-what-else-th parties. Summer activities info-gathering, decision-making and registration. Trying to book a summer holiday. Dreeeeammmming of going back to running. Getting the house ready for Summer guests. The BLOG! Oh and the small matter of managing a house with no cleaner and all the dust flying around from the roadworks 1 minute from us not to mention the laundry nightmare plus winter/summer clothing changeover that continues to engulf the upper part of the house. Getting rid of remaining baby equipment. Emptying out and reorganising the storage room and the shoe room and the everything-else-room…still not done since I posted Make Yourself At Home: Tidy My House.
I’d list everything else but it would tire me out even more.
Yep, it’s only Monday and I already need a drink.
Or a nap.
I’ll go with the latter.
Crap. Just realised it’s Father’s Day soon. Better add that to the blooming list then.
I didn’t do a speech for my husband’s 50th birthday party. Don’t judge me. He hardly prepared one for our wedding (ha, I’ve waited a long time to get that one in). But if I had, it would have gone something like this:
So Hubster has turned 50. Yep, 50. Oh my Gawd, FIFTY!! Thank you, I’m holding up okay. Your concern is touching. If you wish to buy me a Mojito or two (or fifty…bloody hell that number again) to help me drown my sorrows, I shan’t stop you.
I can’t deny, I woke up on his birthday, looked at the man next to me, thought “Holy Crap, I’m married to a 50 year old” and then immediately blurted it out on Facebook. What can I say? The sharing was therapeutic. He might be the one who’s turned 50 but I’m the one having the damned mid-life crisis. Why am I having a mid-life crisis? BECAUSE I’M MARRIED TO A 50 YEAR-OLD. Please keep up! But enough about me.
It was also our kids’ Sports Day that day and erm, I suggested that he take part in the Fathers’ 50m Sprint. Again, what can I say? I thought it was a cool idea for him to run 50m on his 50th. Um…about that…poor guy…running and sprinting are not the same, especially when you haven’t done any exercise in months…or more importantly haven’t sprinted in about 25 years…or even more importantly you’re 50! I didn’t fare much better, despite being a runner (of sorts). There I was thinking “50m sprint? I’ve got two half marathons and a race trophy to my name people. I’ll nail this.” Um…about that….poor misguided woman…running and sprinting are not the same…my thighs still bloody hurt. But there I go making it about me again.
So let me talk about birthday boy instead. To this amazing man whom I call hubster, I say:
YOU’RE A TYPICAL BLOKE. (I love it.)
You have this amazing ability to zone everything out and concentrate, to the point of deafness, when working or watching a football match. BUT when two women kiss on Greys Anatomy, you suddenly sit bolt upright and swivel your head a full 360 like the kid in Exorcist. See? Typical bloke.
YOU DON’T GO IN FOR DRAMA OR OVER-REACTING.
Of course, it would be nice if you raised an eyebrow in excitement occasionally and please don’t say “I do when Man U score” or “you react enough for the both of us babe”.
YOU’RE A RELIABLE SELF-EFFACING TOWER OF STRENGTH.
When friends or family need you, you’re there. Enough said.
YOU STILL MAKE ME LAUGH ALL THESE YEARS LATER.
– “Man, I’m absolutely stuffed. I couldn’t possibly eat another thing…for at least another 10 minutes…where are those biscuits you bought by the way?
– “Actually, why is it called the menopause if only women get it?”
– “Well it’s lamb, Babe. Of course it’s going to take M bloody ages to eat a bit of meat. This is the kid who chews soup.”
are just a few of the (publishable) hubster classics over the years.
However, when M was moaning that she was bored and didn’t know what to play, you probably took things a bit too far with: “Why don’t you just go and sit on your bed and stare at the ceiling?” .
YOU’RE THE HARDEST WORKER I’VE EVER MET.
(Mind you, my mum and my sister M.E. are close contenders). I have never met anyone with the resilience under pressure, the mental strength and the sheer mind-boggling drive with which you are blessed. Maybe you were not naturally blessed with it? Maybe you worked at developing all that? Even more impressive in my book.
YOU’RE A MAN’S MAN. Hallelujah!
You need your male buddy time occasionally and you jolly well deserve it…and yet you know how to talk to women. My female friends love you. Again, LOVE it.
YOU’RE NOT WIRED THE SAME WAY AS MOST PEOPLE I KNOW.
This is a cool thing (mainly):
– You don’t expect anything of others (apart from me laundering your tidy whities and putting them back in the drawer) so you waste very little time being disappointed; I wish I could master this. (The downer is that because you expect so little of others, you don’t think that they may/should expect something of you.)
– You’re forgiving and non judgemental. HOW do you do that?!
– You don’t let yourself get weighed down by the kind of crap that bothers most of us. You just don’t give it energy.
– You don’t follow conventional norms (which can be a real pisser but I’ve learned to live with it).
– You don’t ‘get’ that kids are just kids. I’m guilty of it too. Let’s not have a contest about which one of us is worse. Let’s just let them be kids ok?
– You don’t feel wonder or curiosity in the world around you the same way as me…shall we change that?
Well, I said this bit was mainly cool baby.
YOU ARE FLEXIBLE, UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORTIVE IN SOOOO MANY WAYS.
There is nothing you won’t do.
Apart from DIY.
But it’s your birthday party and I don’t want to start a fight.
YOU’RE A GENTLEMAN. A REAL FIRST CLASS INDISPUTABLE GENTLEMAN.
I knew it from really early on. I also knew that (luckily for me) you know when not to be 😉
YOU’RE JUST A REALLY GOOD MAN.
Last but not least:
YOU ARE SO LUCKY TO BE MARRIED TO A YOUNGER MODEL.
I didn’t say I was young. I said I’m younger.
Oh come on, you didn’t honestly think I would make it all about you, did you?
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