Power Cut Chaos

Power Cut Chaos

Last night we were sat playing and reading before bedtime when everything went pitch black and silent. After a shocked couple of seconds, the sirens began. Nope, not the air raid sirens of a blitzkrieg but the deafening screams of our toddlers. “Mummy, why is it dark? Daddy, put the TV back on! Mummy, why I can’t see?!”  Power cut chaos ensued…

Moments before we were all applauding Girly no2 for climbing on to her Scuttlebug all by herself (big achievement when you’re one!). She did not appreciate being plunged into darkness on her own on the other side of the room. Girly no1 was snuggled into Daddy reading a book but still had an absolute meltdown. Her little three-year-old mind could not get her head around it. Understandable. We’d never given her a lesson on electricity and we’re not very basic campers (our tent has a disco ball in it) as you may remember from a previous post. I peeked through our shutters at the house I normally hate at the bottom of our garden, and for once was comforted by its’ presence. That and the fact it was all dark-windowed. It was just a good old-fashioned power cut.

Torched

We snapped into practical mode. “Grab the power cut kit!” I shouted. In my head, as I grabbed said kit from my imagination. Rummaging through boxes, I found torches in the garage and candles from the…oh no, I threw those away in a fit of annoyance when they kept falling out the cupboard and all over the floor. Torches would be fine. Luckily I have a battery fetish (nope, not that kind gutter mind) so we have packs of them in the garage. No2 rescued, everyone armed with a light of some description, we started to answer the onslaught of questions from Girly no1. “Why is it dark? Who turned the TV off? What is electricity? Has Nana stolen our lights? Will my night clock work? How will we find our teeth?” Most answerable, some less so. Ever tried explaining electricity to a 3-year-old? I think I’m going to have to do some sort of teaching qualification. I totally nailed the teeth question though. We strategically placed torches in the bedrooms and bathroom making the rooms look lit up from the hall. Lifting no1 up to check the other houses at 5-minute intervals made bedtime last rather longer than normal.  But we cosily put our pj’s on all in the same room and then put both Girlies into bed, promising that Shimmer and Shine would be back to life by the time they woke up.

Netflix and Chill

We made our way downstairs, having left little camping lights in place of the usual night lights. “So what shall we do with our evening?” Husband asked, having established from Twitter that this power cut would last for at least a couple of hours.  “Well I need to finish the washing….oh, no….I need to carry on working on the holding pages for That Works For Me….oh, no….” I answered. “Haha!” he laughed, “you can’t do any of those things! You’re going to have to sit and cuddle me and talk to me! Gutted! Let’s snuggle up and watch Netflix on the laptop!” I glanced at him waiting for the penny to drop. “We can tether to a phone!” he declared triumphantly.

“With your 15% of battery phone or my phone with no service?” I asked. “We need to keep at least one phone working in case the power doesn’t come back on and we freeze. In which case, we’ll drive to my Mums.”  I pictured us shuffling up to my Mum’s house in the snow with rags for clothes, no shoes and our hands out-stretched in an Oliver Twist-esque manner. Then I remembered it’s 2018, we’re not homeless and we drive a 4×4 that isn’t dependent on electricity. I did ponder over just how much we rely on all things electric though. Phones, TV’s, heating…we can’t even boil water in our house without electricity. Then there is how we spend our time. How do you operate in today’s world without the internet, Sky, Netflix and EE? Can a marriage survive?!

Balsamic chicken

Bizarrely that morning I had made dinner (balsamic chicken) in the slow cooker – something I haven’t done more than three times in the last year. At least we wouldn’t starve. We were down to two rubbish torches but managed to scoop some dark food into our dark bowls and we ate at our dark table. It was actually one of the most romantic meals we have had at home, often opting to eat on our laps in front of the TV at the end of our respectively exhausting days. We talked over our (for once) nice-tasting dinner, and did what any couple would do in these circumstances. Realised how totally unprepared we are for any disaster that would leave us without access to mobiles, supermarkets and takeaways.

We spent the rest of the meal making a plan for what we would in the event of disease outbreak or zombie apocalypse (Husband was nervous about missing the first Walking Dead episode of the season). We decided our safe haven would be Dad’s boat or our friends’ farm (who will thank us later when we arrive armed with Baked Beans and toilet rolls) and decided that we should probably buy a camping stove and some ‘tinned food’ (mmm! Ravioli!). We made each other laugh and remembered why we loved each other, as we often do left alone without children and devices. It was certainly more romantic than our valentines day dinner at the local curry house a week before, which had been prickly, for reasons we still don’t understand. It just happens that way sometimes.

Ping! 

“You know, they say this is why so many babies were born during wartime…the power cuts…” I said glancing at Husband (I would like to use the word ‘seductively’ here but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just not very seductive). Even in the near darkness I could see that his eyebrows had lifted. He looked at me hopefully and I smiled back at him. Then, as if by magic, all of the lights pinged back on and everything whirred and beeped back to life. “You best go finish those emails!” I laughed, heading towards the washing machine.

Thanks for stopping by dear reader. If my ramblings continue to make you smile, or you would like to offer me lessons in the art of seduction, then please do comment, like and share. Until next time I bid you adieu! 

Friends That Poo

Friends That Poo

It’s not often in your life that you buy a house, have a baby and quit your job in the space of 12 months. All this change has left me feeling reflective and I’m drawing some strange parallels. For example, friendships, if you think about it, are just like poo…

Girly no2 is having digestive issues. At 14 months, she’s really struggling with her poo. I think it’s quite common as the nurse wasn’t at all surprised when I told her that Husband and I had spent the weekend pulling poo from her bum. Nor did the girls at nursery, though they did at least pull a slightly disgusted face, much like the one on your face now. We spoke to the doctors after two gruelling days of grunting and sweating from her, and us. It culminated in us pinning her clammy little body to the floor, bicycling her legs and grabbing hold of the big brown log peeking in and out like a tortoise head, eventually pulling it out. Yuck.

It’s just not the relaxing family Sunday you picture when you imagine what life will be like. After cleaning the carpets, towels and bath mats and scooping up nappy sacks full of skid-marked nappies, we flopped onto the bed exhausted staring at the wall and wondering what had just happened. As we laid there, not speaking just touching little fingers, my mind wondered to the three pictures we have hanging above our bed.

WEDDING DANCING IN THE MAZE

 

Then, Then and Now

The first picture is of us at our wedding dancing happily around a grassy maze (you have to see it to understand) posed, but real at the same time. The second picture is us with Girly no1 when she is about 6 months old looking baffled by life. We all were. We (I) look pretty good in this picture, mainly due to all the fake tan, bleached hair, whitened teeth and, ahem, Photoshop-ing I demanded. I needed it, I didn’t know what was going on. The third picture is of the four of us as we are now, taken on my birthday last year looking happy, if not slightly tired and chubby (again, me). It was right before we dropped the babies off with Mum-In-Law to go out with friends for my birthday. A completely different set of friends to the ones that watched us dance in the maze at our wedding. Which I think is kind of sad.

We had a small wedding in Italy attended by just 34 people. I think there are at least 10 of those people that aren’t in our lives any more. Isn’t that really sad? I voiced this to Husband and he looked up and said “they’re all pricks, it’s not our fault” then immediately went back to making lion noises with the Girlies. I later voiced it to my besty, The Northerner, who is not known for her delicacy with words – “yeah that is bad, what you doin’ wrong?”.

FAMILY OF THREE

 

It’s poo

More interested in analysing it with me than Husband, who prefers to deal in facts, figures and Twitterati, we went through the list. There were some obvious reasons for some of them, the ones that sued my Dad after our UK reception (yep, that happened), one family member that hasn’t spoken to me since our connecting family member died (obviously waiting for a reason to never have to talk to me again) and a couple of people from work who should never have been there in the first place and have since placed career over friendship (enjoy that in your old age, suckers!). Then there are the less obvious people, the ones from whom we just seem to have drifted apart.

We talked about how dynamics just change over time. Partners change, people move, babies come out. I nodded, pensively. “It’s a bit like poo really” I declared, having thought long and hard about it. Met with her blank face, I explained. “You know, sometimes a poo is really hard and difficult to get out, and you need someone else to intervene and tell you what to do. These are like those friends that are just a pain. They’re a drama. They need blood sweat and tears while they’re there, and then you’re left feeling violated afterwards.” She arched an eyebrow which I took to mean she wanted me to go on. “You need a fine white powder to fix these poos (meaning Movicol). With the friend, a fine white powder would result in a sweaty, self-obsessed fidgeting figure with verbal diarrhoea but maybe that’s what they were all along.” As my analogy drifted away from me, she laughed and urged me to go on. “The other end of the spectrum,” I continued, “are the wet, sloppy ones who just get all over the place. They come with a bit of a pain at the time and a bit more afterwards but they’re explosive. They’re your fun-time friends. Great on a Saturday night, but leave you with a hangover so you need a bit of a gap before you see them again!” By this point I couldn’t even keep a straight face but I carried on anyway. “Then there are the really good poos that slip out effortlessly. There’s no cleaning up afterwards. They’re easy. They might have some funny colours and indentations but they’re your funny bits so it’s OK. These are the Holy Grail of friends. The Perfect Turds!”

FAMILY OF FOUR SURROUNDED BY GOOD POO

Perfect Poo

We fell about laughing and I didn’t say it at the time, but I thought about how she is my perfect poo of a friend. I wish I had recognised it at the time and made her my bridesmaid. I know she’ll be around forever. As will some of the other incredible new friends we have made in the last few years since having our Girlies. People who are so close to us it’s hard to imagine a time when they weren’t in our lives. If we were to have our wedding again now, our ‘now’ 34 would look very different to the ‘then’ 34. Life has changed a lot. But we’re a bigger unit than we used to be, and we know who we are now and what really matters. So maybe it’s OK that friends change. Poo changes too.

As per usual, please share on Facebook or Twitter if you have enjoyed! Thanks for your ongoing support. 

Tired? Busy? You Don’t Know The Meaning of Those Words

Tired? Busy? You Don’t Know The Meaning of Those Words

 

Every so often my little brother tells me he’s “really busy” and “tired”. As far as he is aware, he probably is. But you and I know, he’s not. He doesn’t even know the meaning of these words and, sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I want to knee him in the wotsits and push him to the floor…(sorry Baby G!). I am tired. 

Sick and Tired

Girly No2, who is 1 this week (happy birthday bubbubs), has just started nursery and we’re in the being-constantly-sick-forever phase. You know the one I mean, that 6-week period of constant colds, all the viruses, chicken pox and hand, foot and mouth (neither of which are anything to do with chickens, which I’ve always found strange). I am buying so much Calpol and Nurofen I’m having to alternate my chemists lest the staff think I am drugging my children for my own amusement. The receptionist at the doctors and I pretty much high five as I pass by. And my daily battle with the Amoxicillin is causing me more rage than the tourists that stand on the wrong side of the escalator in London.

Before I move on to my theme – I must take a moment to rant about infant antibiotics. What f****g idiot made them lemon flavoured? (I have to star out now, Facebook recently blocked me for profanity and overtly sexual content – I resisted the urge to write and tell them how very not sexual my butchered vagina is. Luckily for them, medicines were due). Why would you choose lemons? Kids hate lemons – look! Where’s the banana gone? The flavour of my childhood! Still now the smell of bananas takes me back to being a sweaty, snotty mess wrapped in blankets and nestled in my Mum’s lap! If I ever come across the decision-makers on this one then I really will be profane. Facebook will expel me forever. Anyway. I digress.

Zzzzzzzzz

We are all very tired at the minute as we are all ill, covering up to three different illnesses at various stages between us. Night times are hell. Normally I am very lucky – my girlies sleep very well, 12 hours a night, and I am like any other parent, just a regular level of tiredness that accompanies the role of playing Mum (or Dad). At the moment though, we are in zombie mode. It’s like having a newborn. Girly no1, now 3, wakes up coughing at least once a night hacking her tiny little guts up. She’s fairly easy to pacify with medicine, water and cuddles…then she kicks you out and tells you to close the door on the way out. Girly no2 though is a different story. She’s the wailing banshee, the shouter, the 40-minute-bursts-of-sleep-er. You put her down, get back into bed and just as you get to that lovely bit where your body gives in to the heavenly feeling of sleep….she wails again. Last night this happened 4 times. I slept from 1 til 3 and 5.30 til 7. I’m bloody tired.

TIRED TIREDNESS SCALE

You Don’t Know Tired

So when I stare into the youthful face of Baby G, my 21-year-old brother, and he tells me he’s tired, you see why I briefly want to hurt him. When I’m feeling more rational, I don’t judge him at all. He’s in his twenties. He is a normal level of tired. BC (Before Children), I was the Queen of Being Tired. I used to sleep from 2am to 2pm every weekend and still be tired. I have blocked out instances when I might have dared uttered the words “I’m so tired” in front of any parents, the shame would be too much to recall. Because a strange thing happens when you become a parent; you enter a world of tiredness that you never knew existed. You do crazy things like a friend of mine did the other day and google “Chronic Exhaustion” genuinely comparing your own levels of tiredness with those of a refugee that has clung to the bottom of a lorry driving through the Eurotunnel for 4 days. You think you probably have the edge because for you, there is no end in sight. That is not to say child-free people don’t get tired, they do of course. But they don’t have the same hopelessness as a parent, because the parent knows that their windows of opportunity for sleep are controlled by the little people in their lives. They cannot take a sleeping tablet, or free up a weekend to just sleep, they just have to carry on. So deeply entrenched the lack of sleep becomes that even when the children leave home, the parents still wake up stupidly early. I never understood this about the oldies but now I totally get it. The innocent ability to sleep whenever and wherever is rarely fully regained. An appreciation is learned, but the ability never reacquired.

Or Busy

The other thing that makes my jaw twitch is Baby G telling me he is busy. I understand that there are busier people than me in the world. I would not, for example, sit in front of Theresa May and tell her I am busy. Alan Sugar either. My cousin, mother to eight and running her family business. There are just some people you know that, although you feel busy, you know you’re not quite as busy as them.  Baby G has three things in his life – his job (engineer for a well known gas company), his car (?!) and seeing his friends. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is great. He is 21, he shouldn’t have other things to be worrying about. But I do find it irksome when he tells me that no, he hasn’t given any thought to Dad’s birthday in two days time because he has been too busy and is soooo tired. “Busy?! DOING WHAT?!” I want to shout! What things could you possibly have in your life besides how to have the most fun at your mate’s this weekend? Smoking is not an activity! Perusing the internet for new hub caps, also not an activity. Teaching yourself how to play your new decks? How lovely to have the time to learn something new! But also – not an activity.

As he tells me the 5 things he’s done in the last week that meant he forgot to pop next door to pick up the only copy of the rare book we want to buy Dad, my to do list for the day will flip through my head. Today’s: breakfast (we all know that feeding a one-year old and a three-year old at the same time is a beast of a task); both girls to school for 9am; run 5k; let cleaners in (who has time to clean?!); get showered and changed (must look as least gross as possible as sitting in hair dressers in front of a mirror for two hours); do 2-hours work to prove commitment to new business partner; plan no2’s birthday party in 3 days time; order food and drink (online shop obvs); shop for Christmas shoebox donations and make up boxes; buy and make dinner; go for hair cut (write blog whilst highlights develop); write and send thank you cards for no1’s birthday (now 6 weeks ago – too late? Is it OK to combine thank you cards from both Girlies?!); return clothes that made you look like Gemma Collins before it’s too late for a refund; message friend with whom it took you six attempts to make a date confessing that you’ve totally screwed up and send her list of dates you can actually do; submit claim for lost watch in Amsterdam; and shave your legs because it’s been two weeks since you last touched your husband (unlikely I’ll make it this far but shows I am at least thinking about him). These are the things that just have to be done in order to keep life ticking over. They sound small and quick but they are interspersed with the bear-wrestling-doses of antibiotics to be administered, at least 4 or 5 little sicks on our new carpet to be cleaned up, 3 watery bitty pooey nappies to be changed, 4332 questions from No1 to be answered, regular “Quick Mummy! The wee wee is coming now!” toilet trips and then the usual dithering and dallying of trying to leave anywhere. It’s just a different level of busy-ness.

But I made my bed

Anyone without children may well be feeling a prickle of annoyance. I’m not saying that your things are any more or less important than mine. Not that I am busier or more tired. These things are relative and we all make our own paths. I know I made my bed…it would just be nice to lie in it from time to time. I can, however, listen to my darling brother, whose nappy I changed when I was 14 (putting me off having babies until my early 30’s), and have a 3-second facial fit that looks like one of my wires has come loose when he tells me about his busy and exhausting life. When I recover, I smile and pat him on the arm and say “don’t worry, I’ll sort dads birthday” whilst secretly imagining I’m giving him a Chinese burn. One day I will share with him the truth and remind him of these times. I fantasise that I will do it when his first baby is about 4 weeks old and he’s so tired he’s nearly in tears. Then I’ll feel bad so I’ll hug him and tell him he will come out the other side….eventually….just give me your baby and go back to bed! 

 

If you have enjoyed this very mean post directed at my poor innocent brother, please like (more likes means more visibility for me) and share on Facebook or Twitter. If it’s shared enough even he might see it. Though he’ll probably be too busy to read it! If you think I am a horrible bitch who should stop complaining and get on with life then tell me on a day when I have had more than 3 hours sleep so I don’t poke you in the eye. Thanks for stopping by!
Life Love and Dirty Dishes

 

Things I Hate About Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig is crack to my toddler. I don’t know how it is possible or what makes it so special but I do know that she can’t see or hear me when it’s on. I try my best to not let her watch it too often but I am a far from perfect mother and it’s amazing what can be achieved in 5 minutes (cleaning up a poonami being my current favourite passtime). However I hate Peppa Pig. She pisses me off. Here’s why…

  • Peppa is a dick. A precocious opinionated superior arsehole. If she were a real girl I would not let my Girlies hang out with her.
  • When will George learn some new words? Why don’t cartoon babies don’t age (Maggie Simpson, Stuie, the Rugrats)? Come on George, “dine-saw grrr” just isn’t cutting it anymore. I think you have more to offer.
  • Miss Rabbit and all her jobs. Logistical ridiculousness. To man the lake, the picnic area, the ice cream stand as well as the supermarket is just silly. People would be renting boats, eating ice cream and buying ice and beer at the same time on a sunny day. Picture Hyde Park on a summers’ Saturday. You just can’t be in all places at once, Miss Rabbit. And you’re rude.
  • Someone really needs to be honest with Suzy Sheep. I don’t think she’s going to make it as a nurse, her bedside manner is shocking.
  • The Rainbow song. That’s not the colours of the rainbow and that’s not how the rainbow song goes. Pipe down Peppa.
  • Grandad Pig. Chauvinist bastard. Never let’s anyone else drive his boat.
  • Why are all the islands so small? Who can even fit on them? Even the ducks are too big.
  • Daddy Pig and his beer gut. Mummy Pig is blatantly a milf. Where’s our eye candy?! Dr Brown Bear has potential but we just don’t see enough of him.
  • The theme tune. It stresses me out. It makes me panic and feel like I have to do everything NOW! Do-do do doo do, do-do-do-do-do-doo. Powch (that was me holding a gun to my head and making that shooting noise that I don’t know how to write).
  • The merchandise. The picture of me in my hot PJs needs no words.

So there you have it.  A list of reasons why I hate Peppa Pig and why Girly no2 will not be watching it.

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Having two: It’s Twice Everything, My Friend

My darling friend, the Paramedic, is pregnant with her second child. Our first two were born within three weeks of one another. I’ve seen her a few times recently and each time she looks at me with her beautiful longing eyes and asks the question “how bad is it?”. If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you will realise I’m not one to shy away from the truth. I know she wants me to tell her that it’s not that bad (it is) and that it’s easy (it’s not) but I just can’t do it to her because in a matter of months she will look as I do now. 

I’m only 3 months in and fully aware of the fact it is early days. The first 12 weeks aren’t called the fourth trimester for nothing. The issue is that this time around I thought I would be cool with having a newborn. Our mantra was going to be “babies cry”, said in a flippant, nonchalant I’m-cool kind of way. We wondered how we let ourselves get so freaked out the first time round. We wondered why we were late for everything (“it’s just a baby and a bag?”) and we wondered how we made such a meal out of it all. And then she was here. Girly no2. Being all angry and red and crying loudly all the time. Ragey May we call her. She wriggles constantly and she scratches and she doesn’t sleep. And she is demanding. So demanding! Her cries are like a pneumatic drill in my temple. Her scratches like a fistful of needles scraped down my chest. Her sleeplessness has reduced me to tears on multiple occasions. She has a little dry patch of skin from her eye to her ear where her salty tears run down her face (saddest thing ever, it makes me never want to put her down). 

The thing is, none of these things should be a surprise. It has been just two years since I did this last time, how could I have forgotten? But I have. I guess it’s that thing your brain does in its’ efforts to make you reproduce again. Having a newborn is so bloody hard! I had forgotten about that biological thing that means when your baby makes a noise you can’t hear anything else. I forgot that I could be mid-conversation about something really fascinating and yet when hearing that noise, I become possessed. I only hear every third word that is being said to me and my shoulders rise up to my ears with tension. I want to rock back and forth chanting “make it stop” over and over again. Husband reminds me that it was the same last time. But I don’t remember. I had forgotten that you can’t always console them. Sometimes they just carry on screaming regardless of what you do. I think it’s worse this time because whilst under-going this water-board grade torture (apologies for my melodrama if ever you have actually suffered this), I’m also desperately trying to keep my little green-eyed Hulk happy. When they both cry, it is like a jack hammer in each ear. I bristle and I growl. Fortunately for me, I have a good Husband. A great Husband in fact. He has maintained many of the lessons from our first time round including a calming pace that has now pacified both of our daughters in a way I cannot. I tell myself it’s because I smell of milk but I think it is just his resilience is greater than mine. When he is not there, it becomes something of a trial in endurance, far worse than my GCSE bleep test. A trial that I’m not yet very good at, and it often ends in tears or me screaming “Fuuuuuuuuuuuck” into a pillow. Sometimes I go into my cold damp utility room at the back of the garage to “sort the washing out”. I hate doing washing. When they are both eventually at peace I analyse what happened and spend hours berating myself for not stopping them cry quickly enough, or for snapping at no1 when she had done nothing wrong. This part is the hardest. 

Getting out of the house has become more difficult than it ever was before. It had become so easy. I was at the point where we whipped out the door. I took one spare nappy, some wipes and a packet of raisins to get me through a day. If I forgot them it was no biggy. Girly no1 was even starting to put her own shoes and coat on. We have regressed. Somehow, we are ready to go, and yet I find 45 minutes has passed until we are driving off our drive. This Bermuda Triangle simply requires shoes, coats and getting in the car. My logical mind tells me this is a 10-minute activity except it’s not. I know I often add 30 seconds at the end because I am doing the weewee dance where I haven’t pee’d all day, but not 30 minutes. Where do they go? Then there is all the stuff. I am permanently laden with bags. As well as all the newborn stuff, let’s not forget the sheer volume of this, I take a spare change of clothes, 4 nappies and 10 snacks for Girly no1 because if I don’t, she’ll throw herself into a muddy puddle (thanks Peppa) face down and the only way I can get her out is by bribing her with food. On the plus side, I have great guns. 

Other things are generally more difficult, and I haven’t yet perfected them. The main ones that fox me on a daily basis are:

  • Getting them both into the car. I ask this as a serious question – how? How do you get your baby into the car while your toddler is loose? Do you put the baby down in the middle of the grey car park in their grey camouflage car seats while you pin the toddler in? Or do you wrestle the baby into their seat whilst pinning the toddler to the muddy tyre with one knee? I opt for the latter and accept that I have to wash her coat almost daily even though this pisses me off (I obviously don’t wash her coat that often, who could be arsed)
  • What do you do when you’re breast feeding your baby and your toddler is pouring a cup of milk all over the seat of a chair with non-removable cushions? You just watch. Some days you attempt to stop it. Other days you sigh and look the other way. There’s no point shouting because by the time they’ve stared you out and stamped their feet it’s soaking anyway. 
  • My baby cries every day from 4 til bedtime. During which time Girly no1 wants dinner. I can’t always give her ham and cheese because she needs some vegetables in her diet. These are hidden in the depths of Spag Bol we keep in the freezer. We make it in huge batches and all I need to do is defrost it and boil some pasta. Therein lies the difficulty – making pasta with a crying baby on your hip. I have to stand sideways to the hob pushing her as far away as possible and then use my foot to keep Girly no1 away from the boiling splashing water. It’s not my favourite. 
  • Going to the toilet. When? I can count on one hand the times they have been asleep at the same time. I used this to pick up nappies from around the house. Or throw a washload on. Or once, as a special treat, I ate some food! Wild!
  • My final, and least favourite battle, is bedtime. The few times I have done this on my own has felt like a war. That I’ve lost. No2 cries constantly. No1 runs around naked and shouting, her naughtiness directly correlated to how tired she is. Every time no2 is on the brink of dozing off, no1 storms in shouting and throwing toys in her face. I have no wisdom on this time of day. I just have to get through it knowing that prosecco and vape await me. 

So, to my darling Paramedic friend, whose baby will be here in a few months, here are all the things I couldn’t say out loud and probably shouldn’t be saying to you now. I sit here in the baby haze, amid the smell of milky sick looking through bloodshot eyes from under an over-grown fringe and I say to you, “honestly? It’s really fucking hard”. However. A BIG however. If you ask me how good it is rather than how bad, an unstoppable smile spreads across my face, my body becomes warm from the inside out and my tummy gets something close to butterflies. Because despite the fact I’ve gone back to cold tea, I don’t fit any of my clothes, will never read a magazine again and can no longer apply eyeliner; having two is twice as much of everything. Love, smiles, giggles, cuddles (sick, poo, tears!), all the things that make little people so wonderful. My little Hulk gets funnier every single day and is starting to demonstrate something that might be tenderness towards Girly no2. It could just be wind of course. And my baby girl is the 3rd love of my life. She is beautiful. I spend hours staring at her. She wakes up in the morning smiling and when she’s finished feeding, she looks up and me and laughs. She literally fills me with love. I adore her. I am blessed in that we have time to bond when Girly no1 is at school and in the mornings when she doesn’t cry as much. We go to yoga and we go swimming. And we lie next to each other staring at one another’s’ eyes. I am besotted (don’t tell no1!). They are both beautiful girls of course and along with Husband, we are a family. We sing stupid songs, we make each other laugh and we love nothing more than to cosy up in front of whatever Pixar film is currently in favour with Girly no1. When we are all snuggled up and I have one little person nestled into each side, I am my happiest. I even, on occasion, find myself wondering where on earth a third one goes!

Parenting sisters 2ndchild

Twice the yum

The Pramshed

Having Two: One baby, one Hulk

I feel awful admitting this but it’s taken me a little longer to fall for Girly no2. Not because she isn’t utterly adorable, not because she doesn’t sleep, and not because she sharts (definition: shits and farts at the same time, a projectile poo if you like that better) on me daily, but because I feel like I’m cheating on my firstborn. No2’s arrival has been wonderful for Husband and I, the problems are less scary and you can enjoy the good bits more. But it has been less pleasurable for no1 whose world is in disarray. She moves around the house like a lion stalking its prey. Sometimes she pounces. Most of the time I sweep no2 out of the way in time, but occasionally I’m not quite fast enough and she receives an over-sized head to the tummy and a mouthful of fluffy blonde curls sending her into blinking over-drive. No1 is doing her best but she’s struggling to really like no2. She likes the thought of her and she likes to always know where she is. But she’s only really happy when no2 is in her bouncy chair or tucked up in bed. Then her world is as it was BG2 (before Girly no2) and she has full control of her audience once more. 

We talked a lot to Girly no1 while I was pregnant about the new baby. Sometimes she patted my tummy and said baby, other times she looked at me under her brow with a facial expression matching Daddys when I over fill the rubbish bag. As with any toddler, she didn’t really get it and we tried not to get her over-excited about her new non-playmate. When the joyous, by which I mean stab me in the heart with a rusty screwdriver, time came for the birth of no2, my Mum picked Girly no1 up and I barely saw her for 3 days. It was heart-breaking and one of the hardest things about no2 being born (yep, that’s despite the gooch ripping). She went on Sunday lunchtime and we didn’t come home until Wednesday afternoon. It might not have been such an issue had we not returned with the limelight thief. No1 came to the hospital on the Tuesday when we were hoping to be released and was deeply distressed by the cannula in my hand continually demanding I take it out. She looked at the new baby and did her best fake smile then as Husband picked no2 up, she shouted at him to “put it back in its’ cot”. This did not bode well, but it was early days. The next day Husband collected her and they came to take us home. Girly no1 brought with her a new facial expression, one I have since become quite familiar with. She tilts her head to one side and looks sideways, bringing her hands up to just below her chin and wiggling her fingers. She makes a little “do-do-do-dooo” noise in a high pitched squeaky voice, not dissimilar to Homer Simpson, or my Husband when he’s stealing food or looking at boobies. It was her new naughty indicator, hearing that sound now makes me drop whatever I’m doing and run! That day, she was the naughtiest I’ve ever known her. She ran in and out of the other cubicles shaking new mums’ curtains making their terrified faces tremble as they saw into their future. I tried to reassure them in a pathetic voice that even I didn’t believe. She heard nothing I said. Her body lost all form whenever I touched her. She ran towards roads and cars refusing to be held. I was devastated, who was this child? I briefly wondered if my mum had filled her with E numbers for breakfast, but deep down I knew what was going on. She was green eyed and furious. I had my very own little Hulk to contend with. We arrived home and as I sat on my ring cushion, Husband and I debated whether this was the same child from the previous Saturday. How much could one child change in such a short space of time? Husband announced he was going out for emergency supplies and I begged him not to. There was no way I could cope with the Hulk and a baby – she might smother her, or throw rocks at her head. He wasn’t going anywhere, we would use coconut milk in our tea. It would be delicious! As the days went on, she got worse. She shouted and screamed and stamped her feet, usual toddler shit but very out of character for Girly no1 who had always been more of a thinker and a watcher. We tried not to shout or tell her off too much even though she was being a pain. It wasn’t her fault she had all these new feelings she didn’t understand. Her eyes were full of hurt and she wanted her mummy and daddy back. It was horrible and I felt bad but also really hard work. I began to dread the next 12 months, I even looked into whether you could change your length of maternity leave and what our childcare options would be. There was no way that Hulk and a baby would be fun for the next 12 months. I scrapped that idea when I remembered I would actually have to go back to work and also it wouldn’t help me avoid night times, which always seemed to be worse because she was tired. One day I was running a bath and had Girly no2 in a seat on the floor. I was sat on the toilet – lid down, not poo-ing, though it’s not unusual for me to have to poo with an audience of at least one. Girly no1 was swinging between my knees. I bent down to check the temperature of the water and when I turned around, no2 had a chubby foot on the baby’s head saying “I stand on baby now” in that do-do-doo singsong voice she had adopted for her jealous moments. I wonder now whether my baby’s head would still be round if I hadn’t looked up at that moment. Whenever I was feeding no2 before bed, no1 would do whatever she could for attention, often throwing herself across my chest declaring how much she loved me, suffocating no2 against my over-full breast. BG2, this had been our quiet time of the day where we cuddled up for milk and the Night Garden. We were still trying to maintain it but one particular evening I was on the receiving end of two flying head butts, the second of which nearly cracked my cheekbone. It was a bit of a wake up call. I was fine, but it was only a matter of time til our baby or I were hurt by this little MMA fighter who was now in our presence. So far Girly no2 had got off lightly with a few white knuckled hand holds and some overly aggressive pats, but their heads had missed by millimetres on this occasion and I worried about the softness of my newborns’ skull when up against my toddlers bucket-of-concrete head. We needed to do something about her behaviour. Enough was enough. 

The next few days were tough with what seemed like lots of telling off. I’d become that mum who continuously shouted her child’s name. We tried lots of things. We tried counting to three in an attempt to get her to listen; “one…two…” was met with “three’s next Daddy!” and a proud face. That didn’t work. We confiscated bedtime stories; until one night the whole book case was removed. We looked into rewards charts but she just got obsessed with the stickers and gave them to everyone with a big smile and a “well done!”. I did some reading and watched a few episodes of Supernanny, and we made some basic changes:

  • Lots of face to face conversations at eye level. Our knees are now shot but on the plus side my bum is starting to firm up from the squatting!
  • We worked on our stern mum and dad voices so she knows when we’re being serious. Official parent voices. 
  • We tried to deliver short concise instructions no1 can understand and repeat back. This is a little hit and miss. Imagine trying to explain in 3 words why you shouldn’t shake the bouncy chair to the point the baby lifts out of it, when the baby is giggling her little head off. 
  • We got her and baby into a routine so we have specific time to focus on no1. We make sure we do fun things in that time so she appreciates it – play doh, painting, crafts – things that make my house twice as messy (I give up)
  • We introduced the concept of the toy-free, mummy and daddy-free, no talking naughty step, the threat of which so far has been enough that she hasn’t been on there 
  • We mixed up the bedtime routine so she still means she gets one-on-one cuddle time with Mummy or Daddy. 

These changes have definitely made things better. I found that once life went back to normal with school and naps and it was just the three of us at home, this also helped. The thing that made me feel better about the situation was other mums telling me that their firstborns had turned into angry little Rottweilers too. I gave myself the benefit of the doubt once or twice, maybe it wasn’t all my fault and maybe her life wasn’t completely ruined forever. 

Consistency is key with our first Girly. We still have flare ups of the Hulk. Too much coo-ing over no2 results in tickles that are more like scratches, a lean on no2s tummy that makes her sick or kisses that come with a small head butt. But we focus on the positives and tell her when she’s being a good big sister and try to share our attention around. At the beginning I had to sneak kisses to Girly no2 when her big sister wasn’t looking and I could only talk to her when no1 left the room, but now my affair is out in the open and I can love them both openly. I’m still laden with guilt but every day gets better. I hope it won’t be long until no1 can’t remember a time without no2 here and I live in hope that she will start to enjoy her baby sister. Just this morning we were all snuggled in bed and she declared “we’re all togeffer Mummy!”. And as she snuggled in next to me, she put no2’s feet in her lap and sat gently patting them. Progress!

#2ndchild #parening #mblogger

Do do dooo