I was listening to Brendan O’Connor on the radio this morning. He was discussing women’s facial hair and how society has come to view all hair on women as ugly and unsightly. One woman rang in to say that she had had a moustache when she was about fifteen. However, her boyfriend at the time never even mentioned it. This reminded me of an incident that happened many years ago. I was moaning about…
I came across this Shakespeare quotation while scrolling through Facebook recently and immediately forwarded it to my husband; it described our little tiger so aptly. She is such a little thing but my goodness you wouldn’t want to cross her!
The other day my mother and I decided to bring her to the library. It started well enough as the tiny lady had all the chairs to herself around the ‘kiddies table’. Her favourite part of visiting the library is moving chairs and cushions around to various locations in the kid’s section. And should another child dare intervene and try and sit on one of them…well let’s just say we once had to leave a library…enough said really.
On this occasion a girl of about six (my tiny girl is only 21 months) ran over and went to grab a chair. Despite my daughter not being anywhere near the chair in question she, of course, believed it to be hers. She was up and moving immediately with a face on her I wouldn’t even want to tangle with. She pouted and huffed and circled the chair all the while eye-balling the poor child who only wanted to read a book. I went to play referee but it was too late the girl ran back to her mother. I glanced at my own mum and we hastily piled the tiny lady into her coat and hat and fairly ran to the exit.
‘Though she be but little, she is fierce!’ I couldn’t think of a better way to describe my toddler right now…and you know what I hope she keeps at least part of that fire as she grows up. It’s something that will keep her strong in a sometimes careless world. I only wish I could be as tough in certain situations. Granted right now it’s a little embarrassing and I have to break a leg to stop her engaging in a battle of wills with most other children we encounter. But if she can keep some of that ferocity I imagine it will serve her well in years to come.
So growl away tiny lady and keep that strength I am so proud of.
Today my very kind mother sent me off for a few precious hours of ‘me time’. Anyone who looks after their child full time will appreciate that this is like winning the fabled Golden Ticket, you feel like it’s Christmas morning and your birthday all rolled into one. Whenever I am home my mom always gives me as much breaks as she can so big thank you mum!
So there I was on my way to have a coffee in the local shopping centre. As I walked in the door my eye snagged on one of Those Machines. Parents will know what exactly what I am referring to. For those of you who have not had the luxury of losing half a day’s pay on one of these babies I will explain. You the parent insert money into the machine while your little monkey clambers aboard to drive beside Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam or God Forbid the infamous Peppa Pig. This ride will last barely a minute and before you know it said child will be pleading with you to part with more of the grocery money (they always have these devil machines just outside your local supermarket so you can’t avoid them when you desperately need nappies and milk). Like the mug that you have become since this child’s arrival you reach again for your wallet/purse. The sensible partner will then be forced to intervene leading to a major meltdown and one of those marital rows which make other couples more smug about their own relationship.
My husband and I recently discovered that by pretending these machines are ‘broken’ we can avoid all the extra drama of shopping with a toddler and little lady is quite happy to remain being wheeled around in the trolley – standing in with the groceries rather than in the appropriate seat but we will take what we can get.
Rant aside, I passed one of these machines this morning and found myself turning around to say ‘broken’. It was on the tip of my tongue when I noticed the very confused looking older gentleman beside me. I smiled weakly before fleeing the building, using the freezing wind to calm my red cheeks.
There are lots of perks to being the main person my tiny lady spends her days with but one of them isn’t appearing like a crazy lady in public shopping centres – neither is reaching for a hand that isn’t there when crossing the street or turning when someone else’s child screams out ‘mama’. Worst than all of these, however, is inexplicably missing her all of a sudden when you finally get some precious alone time. Typical.
Recently I have had cause to mourn the lost art of browsing. No longer, it seems, is it possible to meander peaceably through a store, stopping to look at whatever takes your fancy. Instead it’s now akin to an obstacle course ducking and diving each ‘helpful’ sales assistant until you are too worn out to enjoy the experience. Next is a favourite haunt of mine but a few months back I went to…
Regular readers will know I’m not the type to gush or coo over my tiny lady. The reason is I feel that parents, mothers in particular, are expected to gush and coo a lot rather than speak out about the sometimes messy reality of life in the childhood trenches.
But today I want to gush and coo just a little. Just enough so my tiny lady knows what she really means to me.
Her birth gave me freedom though I didn’t know it at the time. Once I’d escaped the mire of new mum nerves and new mum stress I realised I had come through the whole experience with a new attitude to life. I had changed. I was no longer willing to put up with stagnent situations or keep silent when I needed to speak. It took some months for this new, stronger me to emerge. But, bit by bit, I did like a butterfly cautiously making its way out of the cocoon and realising he can fly.
Her arrival has meant I have had to push myself and speak up and do
all sorts of things I wouldn’t have imagined doing before. Her very existence
has pushed away all the crap and insecurities, not completely of
course but she has made it to possible to try harder than I would have before. I want to make her proud of
me, I want her to think ‘Wow, my mum is awesome’.
She has made my life complete, to use a cliche and she has made me happier than I ever thought I could be, to use another. She has made me brave. She has made me strong. Without her I would not be writing this. I wouldn’t have taken the chance. I would have been too afraid to just stand out from the crowd.
This Easter in Ireland we celebrate those who fought for our freedom one hundred years ago but today I celebrate the tiny lady who gave me my freedom the moment she was born.
This morning I read yet another article cajoling us to be grateful with our lot as parents. I must admit that sometimes I get heartily tired of reading this claptrap. I’m sorry but to be brutally honest sometimes its bloody hard to be grateful…there are the moments when you have been awake since 3am and its now 6am and you know, you just know you aren’t going to get any sleep and if someone tells you be grateful for this time in life well you might just scream! Be grateful for sticky hands (thanks that was my new top), the sleepless nights (that no concealer can quite conceal) and the fact you don’t have five minutes to yourself.
Attached to this article was a poem that when I first read it (a few months ago) made me well up and hug my rugrat even tighter. Since then I’ve read it on numerous occasions in various moods. Today I read it and thought oh what utter crap! That was the mood I was in. It’s called ‘Once Last Time’ and it is basically about how children are only small for a very short time and that one day it will be the last time you rock them to sleep, the last time you hold their hand and the last time you wipe their s***** bottom (okay I made that last bit up). Essentially the perfect poem to read when you are close to tears and feel like a bad mother. Worry no more this poem will make you feel like one.
Just for the record I know my tiny lady won’t be tiny forever and I am so grateful for her and I would never want this time to just fly by me, unacknowledged and unappreciated. But I can’t pretend I am grateful for every moment or that in the midst of wiping wee off the carpet that I thank my lucky stars. Sometimes it sucks to be a parent. Yes it just sucks. It is like being tortured by a very small, very cute master villain who knows all your weak spots and can bring you to your knees in mere minutes. And sometimes you might want to run very, very far away.
You are not a bad parent for wishing this. You are not a bad parent to long for the day your child can wipe their own s***** bum! Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. In the midst of whatever our current situation of course you will look back (through rose-tinted glasses) and think oh how I wish I knew how lucky I was back then. This poem is nostalgia at its worst. You may well look back, as an older person, and wish for these days again. But that’s because you will have long forgotten the vomit-filled days and tear-stained nights.
Now if you should read this poem I suggest you mentally tear it up. Don’t attach it to your fridge or burn the words into your brain. Yes we will have lots of ‘one last times’ as parents but we will also have so may firsts. Aren’t these worth celebrating and focusing on instead? They also come with the positive addition of not making you feel guilty!
So give yourself a break, don’t feel guilty that you aren’t ms. or mr. grateful one hundred per cent of the time. None of us are.
This year I had the pleasure of being able to go and see my family on Good Friday and stay for the whole Easter break. Previous years I have had to work. This meant not leaving until late on Friday or early Saturday. Late on Good Friday means traffic – really, really bad traffic. The joys of being a writer is that I can write anywhere with Wifi and my laptop! So this year I awoke joyously on Good Friday. The sun was shining, a good day for a road trip!
My husband and I currently share a car so this means he has to drive me to Tipperary where I meet either my mom or dad. After a short break we continue on to Kerry. The tiny lady usually sleeps at least part of the journey…I stress the word usually!
The first part of the journey commenced. Everyone was in a good mood, the tiny lady was smiling and chatting. We shared a small packet of crisps. We pointed out cows and horses and – my daughter’s favourite – beep beeps! Then her eyes grew heavy. Great we thought, still an hour to go so she will get a decent enough nap. Five minutes passed. Then ten. Her eyes grew heavier. More time passed. She fought the good fight. No way was she missing out on a Family Road Trip. This meant I had to hear ‘mama’ at least every two seconds. I’m not even close to kidding. When I turned around she would look desperately around for something to say then point randomly and say ‘house’. This lasted quite a while. Five minutes before we reached our destination the sleep fairy hit. Too little, too late I thought furiously, mentally adding the sleep fairy to my top five list of Most Hated Fairies (naturally the teething fairy is still number one). But then I figured she would sleep on leg two of our journey.
No such luck. Again her eyes grew heavier and heavier but she kept waking herself up. My mum switched on the Beatles in an attempt to soothe her (music being ever used to tame the savage beast – not that I am implying that my gorgeous daughter is even close to being beastly). But this appeared to anger her and resulted in furious head tossing and shouts of ‘no’. There you go Paul and John, not everyone is a fan apparently.
A nappy change upon arrival revealed the reason behind her travelling blues. She had a giant poo! I felt so bad as she had told me and my mom that she had a ‘pooey’ during our tea break. She had already had her ‘poop of the day’ (and this child never poops more than once) so we both just shrugged it off. Next time just check, I scolded myself! Ah yes another dose of mammy guilt for me! But then isn’t that what a good Irish Easter is all about?!
It has been a hard week to live in this world. Up in Buncrana residents are in mourning for a family devastated by a freak car accident. In Brussels people are observing a three day mourning period for the victims of yet another terrorist attack. Two separate tragedies in two different countries yet linked through the common feelings of grief and shock felt both by those directly affected by…
So the manic toddler is in bed and you finally get to put your feet up. There you are with half an Easter egg consumed (you bought your own, you haven’t quite sunken to eating the tiny lady’s egg…yet) and you are mindlessly scrolling through your Facebook feed. It’s the usual mix of status updates, inspirational quotes and the odd cat or two…then a chunk of chocolate falls out of your mouth in horror (you’ll only notice the stain on the couch later). For there is a new mum holding her gorgeous baby. It’s a beautiful photo but it fills you with guilt. Why? Because clearly this woman has just given birth and still looks thinner than you! You quickly log out. But now your chocolate-stained face looks back at you through the blank computer screen, silent in its judgement.
You think back to how you were in the early days of motherhood. Driven by anxiety and lack of sleep you didn’t eat much and raced around the place like a monkey on speed. You had great plans then. You would walk with baby everyday. Maybe you would join a mother and baby exercise class. And you could stick on a workout DVD while she napped. At first the weight falls off effortlessly. You have lost your appetite in the overwhelming rush of stress that accompanies a newborn (well mine anyway) and in fairness you are dashing up and down the stairs a lot to ensure she is still breathing (you don’t trust that fancy monitor). Soon you find yourself in spitting distance of your pre-baby jeans, the gold medal of the post-birth olympics. And then it all changes. You hit the comfort zone. You find out you aren’t too bad at this motherhood business and baby is finding her groove. You are even sleeping the night through (mostly). When she goes down to bed for the night you find yourself reaching for a cup of tea and a snack or two.
Before you know it baby is one and you still haven’t entirely shifted the flab. Then the two year milestone comes creeping around the corner. You realise that your ‘baby weight’ may now just be called ‘weight’ and you can’t really blame the ‘baby’ anymore. She is now a walking, talking toddler and before you know it she will be in school and you will still be moaning about your ‘baby weight’.
So what’s the solution? Well don’t ask me. I have half an Easter egg to get through before my tiny lady wakes up again. But if you do think of a solution do please let me know…I promise to put down the chocolate long enough to at least listen.
Teething. Nobody ever tells you how bad it can really be. Sure you hear the odd story about a baby not able to sleep or suddenly morphing into a drool factory overnight but you really don’t worry about it too much. Until the magic teething fairy visits your house. She is the tooth fairy’s ugly stepsister and she is an utter b****! You may have put a sleeping angel to bed but thanks to the teething fairy a demon child will greet you in the morning. The teething fairy coats your lovely child in layers of drool and adds a nasty rash to her chin. Then she amps up the pain factor to ensure neither you or your child will enjoy the coming day. She smiles smugly to herself before flying away, giving you the finger as you sleep the sleep of the innocent, unsuspecting of the terror that will wake you in a few more hours (if you’re lucky).
My daughter has spent the last few days caked in drool with a temper as bad as any foul-mouthed sailor. If she knew how to curse I have no doubt that she would. For now she satisfies herself by screeching no at the top of her voice while we, her parents, cower in fear at the other end of the room. Nothing makes her happy. No I’m wrong TV and babybels make her happy. So as long as the TV is on or she is eating cheese she is…I won’t say fine but she is bearable. Is it wrong to allow your toddler to spend the day mindlessly watching TV? My mind says yes but my poor beaten spirit says no, you deserve a break. So honestly yes the TV has been on a little (a lot) more often than it usually would be. Yesterday was the longest day of my life as I counted down the hours until she could legitimately be put to bed.
My tiny lady isn’t the most gentle of souls anyway but she is usually a ball of fun in the middle of the tantrums, now there are just tantrums. I tell myself it’s just a phase, it’s just her teeth, it will pass…but part of me fears it will never pass, this endless stage of teething. So thank you teething fairy, thank you for the lovely gifts you have left us but I’m afraid next time you try to visit I will be waiting up to slam the window in your face!