Sunday, 29 November 2009

Life's not a competition (allegedly)

Let me start with a confession.  I only do things I'm good at and I only attempt things I think I might be good at.  Seriously.  Among the things I won't do are: play tennis, play Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit, karaoke  (except under extreme duress), speak in public, wear fancy dress, mountain climb (or abseil) or attempt to speak (not even one word) any foreign language other than French or Russian (and I've got a degree in those two).

There is only one reason for this. I'm rubbish (or I think I would be rubbish) at all of them. And somehow, somewhere, I've got into my head that life is a competition, and if I know I'm not in with a chance of winning, I just won't try.

So what about blogging?  Given just how technologically useless I am, I should have decided in advance that I'd be rubbish at blogging and never got started in the first place.  But I did, and I am, and I've realised that blogging (at least the mummy version of it) really isn't a competition.  People have all sorts of stories and all sorts of ways of expressing them and the only universal trait is the support out there.  It's not about who's better or worse or even different from whom. It's about saying what you need to say for the reasons you need to say it.

But I still want to know how I'm doing.  Perhaps especially because I'm still hoping that somewhere along the line the blog will help me find my plan b.    I get very excited by awards, comments, new followers and the British Mummy Blogger of the Week.  (This week's is awesome by the way).  And now I've been reading Sally at Who's the Mummy's posts about the Tots 100 list.  I realise I'm a way off that yet, but (is this an admission you'll all hate me for making?) I'm aiming for it.  I haven't put myself forward yet - as I said, I don't do things I might fail at - but I've done what Sally says, and put myself on Technorati.  I don't really know what it does, and I'm not sure I've done the right thing (I've "claimed" my blog but that might not be right at all).  Anyway they want me to put this code 82R87DV3BSVW into a blog post so they can check that I am who I say I am...

I realise that in the wonderfully supportive blogosphere in which I find myself, perhaps admitting to competitive thoughts is akin to admitting in an NCT class that you're having an elective cs and don't want to breastfeed, but it is, I'm afraid, just who I am. Forgive me?

If I really loved my babies....

....surely I wouldn't seriously be considering not buying them any birthday presents.  Would I?

This time 377 days ago, I had twelve days until I became a mum of three.  Now I have twelve days to organise a first birthday party for two babies.

I've also got ten days to organise a birthday present for my mum, thirteen days to organise a Christening, fourteen days to organise a birthday present for my brother, nineteen days to organise Christmas (that's when we fly to Canada and if it's not done by then....) and a house that is stuffed to the gunwales with toys.

So I'm thinking - Do S & A really need presents? Or at least do they need presents from us? They're getting not one, but two, parties and will doubtless get spoiled rotten at those.  They're only (nearly) one and have no idea what presents, or indeed birthdays, are, so they're not going to care, and anyway, anything that I would want to buy them, someone probably bought L for her first birthday nineteen short months ago.

So why do I feel like a bad mother for even considering it? And what am I going to say when they ask me, in years to come, what I bought them for their birthdays?

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Today's top tip

Don't give a toddler couscous for supper the day your cleaner's been...

Monday, 23 November 2009

A cup of coffee, a panic, an ambulance and the advice that saved my baby.

Yesterday morning wasn't good.  Yesterday afternoon was worse.

We had promised L that we would go and buy her some new knickers and a new potty. So off we went, bundled into the car, for a couple of hours of joy at the retail park.  While there we seized the opportunity also to buy L some new shoes.  She is clearly a changeling because she doesn't appear to enjoy buying shoes (am also wondering if she's really female) so was bribed into it with the promise of cake (more good parenting there).

So off we went to M&S (this being the only retail park in the Western Hemisphere with no Starbucks) for a reviving coffee and cake. 

Picture the scene.  B doing the hunter-gathery stuff at the counter. Me and L sitting on the bench on one side of the table, S and A in highchairs on the other side, all waving to each other and showing each other how clever we are because we can clap.  I wanted to bottle the scene and take it out in years (or hours) to come to remind me of how perfect my girls can be and how lucky I am.

Until B came back with the food and drinks, unloaded them onto the table and went to put the tray away. And A grabbed the full cup of coffee and tipped it all over herself.

It probably didn't happen in slow motion, but it felt like it did.

And in my head was the voice of my lovely friend SVS, saying to me not four weeks ago "I remember when G (her youngest) tipped a pot of tea all over herself. Fortunately I knew exactly what to do.  I ripped her clothes off and charged through the cafe into the ladies and stuck her in the sink and kept her there until the ambulance came.  She's fine now".

I didn't know exactly what to do. I had no idea what to do.  But somehow I heard SVS.  And though I was shaking and crying and yelling for B, together we ripped (literally - we have lost several buttons) her clothes off and B grabbed her and got her in the sink. 

The staff called the ambulance and between us we managed to keep the other two entertained, and A's tummy and chest covered with cold compresses until they got there.  They took us off to the hospital where the doctor told me that due to our prompt action in doing exactly the right thing, she has suffered no serious damage.  Had we not done so it could have been a very different story.  We were home again later on the same day.  A is now clearly feeling a bit sore at times, but she is (and will be) fine.

So anyway, the point of this post is threefold:

First; to thank SVS for her incredibly timely advice (even though she had no idea she was giving advice at the time) and to thank the amazing staff at M&S in Kew.  They were utterly utterly brilliant.  We walked away with new clothes for A, a jigsaw to keep L happy, a towel to wrap A in and they even (bizarrely) refunded all the drinks. They also kept a very stressed and worried pair of parents calm with their sensible and friendly advice and approach.  I've written to them and to their head office, but I also wanted to say it on here.

Second; because this is what I seem to use my blog for a lot of the time, to revisit that panic and fear and to remind myself, in writing, that it is all ok and she (and we) are all fine.

And, most importantly, third; in the hope that others will read this, and if and when (and sadly it's more likely to be when rather than if where babies are concerned), someone else's child grabs something hot, maybe they too will be lucky enough to have a little voice in their head telling them what to do.  And hopefully they too will be fine.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

How to lose friends and alienate an entire Boeing 747

First a word of warning: If you are flying to Vancouver this Christmas and are planning on sitting in economy on the daytime flight on 19 December with BA you might want to change your flights.

(voice of doom)

Because we are going to be on it.

And when I say "we", let's not forget that that includes two just-one-year-olds and a partially potty trained toddler.

By way of background, and before you think I'm insane or ridiculously extravagant to be even thinking of doing such a thing, my brother and his wife now live on Vancouver Island.  We haven't seen them (obviously) since they went in August and I'm missing them.  Plus (and here's where the not ridiculously extravagant bit comes in) if we go now, when S and A are under 2, we don't have to pay for them.  This is a big deal, so with trepidation and gritted teeth, we've booked.

It's going to be amazing.  Be prepared to be jealous, because my lovely parents have booked a chalet in Whistler for the first week and then we've got a few more days with S'n'T (brother and sister-in-law) in their house.

But first we've got to get there.  I think that I've done everything right so far.  I've pre-booked the seats, so that B, L, I and my very long-suffering sister are in a block of four, with S&A on the drop down bassinet/bouncy chair things in front of us (my parents, wisely, are flying business). I've checked whether I can take "proper" milk through security (I can't, so I think I'm going to have to come up with some scheme involving empty water bottles and a rather odd request at Pret). I've got L excited about the flight and being able to watch lots of telly (all normal rules clearly out of the window). My friend KH is going to lend me her flying bag of goodies (she's South African and has done this lots with her 2-year-old).  I've got a shopping list of stickers and new books and colouring pens...

So that's L sorted.  But what about S&A?  They'll be just one.  Very active, very mobile (though not walking) and very likely to get very bored very quickly.

I've already decided I'm going to have to

a) dress them identically in the hope we can play on the cuteidenticaltwins thing and
b) apologise in advance to the entire plane in the hope that that draws their fire.

But what else? How on earth do you entertain two one year olds for ten hours....?

How to un-potty-train a toddler and make an entire family miserable in under three hours.

Today (so far) has not been my proudest day of parenting.

I've written before about how L was (and is) half potty trained.  She wees on the loo, but she poos (deliberately and in a totally in control of her bowels manner) in her nappy.  No nappy, no poo.

I've had lots of good advice about this, both through the blog and otherwise, and the general gist was: don't stress about it; she'll do it when she's good and ready.  Did I take this good and wise advice? Did I hell...  It's a bit like waiting for nail polish to dry, or a scab to heal - you know you should leave it alone and let it do its own thing but somehow you always end up with smeared nail polish, oozing scabs and an un-potty-trained toddler.

So anyway, this morning we took some of the more practical advice:

Us:  Ok L, where do big girls do their poos?
L: On the loo.
Us: and where do babies do their poos?
L: In a nappy
Us: and where do you do your poos?
L: In a nappy
Us:  So you're a baby then are you?
L: No
Us: Well if you do your poos in a nappy you must be a baby.  Do you want to wear a nappy the whole time? (Tee hee, of course she won't, we've won! Hooray!)
L: Yes.


So anyway we put her in a nappy (good parents are always consistent), and spent the next three hours telling her that she still could do wees on the loo ("I don't want a wee") and not letting her do what she wanted because:

Babies don't get to choose their own socks ("Do you want to put your knickers on?" "No")
Babies don't get to walk to the swings ("Do you want to put your knickers on?" "No No")
Babies don't knock on the knocker when we get home ("Do you want to put your knickers on? "NONONO")
Babies aren't allowed to play with playdough ("Do you want to put your knickers on?" "NO!!!!!")
Babies don't get stories read to them ("Nononononononononononononononononononononononononn")

Of course we (like the good parents we are) remained calm and good natured throughout.  So calm and good natured in fact that the morning culminated in her being marched upstairs, forced into her pyjamas (still in the (weed in by this time, naturally) nappy, and shut into her bedroom (babies have their door shut) without any lunch.  S and A decided to join in with the wailing. I considered doing likewise.

The story ends (or perhaps middles) happily though.  She is now in bed (with no nappy on* - like I said, consistency, that's the secret of good parenting), chatting happily to her "friends", with the promise of a trip to Mothercare world to choose a new potty specially for poos and some new knickers when she wakes up.

Wish us luck.

*Actually, after all the above, the no nappy is her choice because "Molly doesn't wear a nappy in bed".  Molly is four.  I think we may be seeing a lot more of Molly in the weeks to come.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Gah! Post! Rubbish! Grrr!

Until about 10.15 this morning I was broadly supportive of the Royal Mail strike action.  I mean, clearly I don't actually know anything about this:  we buy the papers at the weekend but I can't say that I tend to spend the ten minutes I (on average) have actually to read them studying the ins and outs of postal industrial action. I'm more of a skim through the political stuff, read the family section, cut out the recipe sort of girl.  Don't bother with the fashion any more either, but that's probably another story.

Anyway, as I say, from a position of very little knowledge I kind of felt sorry for your average postie. I'd read a couple of articles (see? I do know something about it!) by posties putting their point of view (significantly more articulately than our personal postie would have done mind) and I could see where the grievances came from.  I sympathised with the "last mile" predicament, and I'd huffed and puffed about the inaccurate techniques for measuring the weight they're carrying. I even felt strongly enough in support of them to have a mild disagreement with my friend EB about it.  She won; but then she normally does.

Well not any more.

I came downstairs at 10.10 this morning to find one of those little red cards on the doormat:

"Sorry, you were out. We called at 10.15".

Well, sorry too, but we weren't and you didn't. We were here, all five of us.  Admittedly upstairs, but the house isn't so big you don't hear the thunderous battering ram knock of your average postman wherever you are. And there was no knock.

And, quite frankly, nor did you call at 10.15.  Unless that little red van is also a time machine.  Because it's not actually 10.15 yet, sunshine, and I've been standing here for at least a minute swearing at the thought of having to take three small children up to the "conveniently located" delivery office a 45 minute walk away on Monday morning.

So I thought I'd stick my head out to see, if, perchance, the chronologically-challenged one was still there.  He was, idling away in his red time machine just outside our door.  I shrieked and waved (in a ladylike manner naturally).  Only to watch him drive away.  Taking my parcel with him.

Or not. If you believe, which I am rapidly learning to, that they never have the parcels with them anyway.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Plan B - moving house

This morning I posted about how we weren't going to buy the house we wanted to buy.

This afternoon I accepted an offer on our house.

Now we really need to find somewhere to live.

Revenge is a dish best eaten innocently

Once upon a time there was a house.  It was a beautiful house, in a little village just on the outskirts of Middle-of-Nowhere.  It had been built many years ago in a time when, maybe, houses were a little more elegant than they are these days, and it wore its age with grace.  It was a white house, with roses growing over the door and it had lots of rooms inside for guests to come and stay in , for Middle-of-Nowhere was not the sort of place that people tended to pass through, and just drop in.  If they came, they came to stay.  Children loved the house, and especially its garden; full of flowers and vegetables and secret hidey-holes.

There was a man who lived in the house.  He lived there all alone; but the house didn't want to be lived in by just one man, so it spoke to him and told him to find a family to live in it.  So the man went and talked to another man, whose name was Malcolm, and asked him to find a family who could live in his house.

But Malcolm didn't do very well and so the man got cross with him and told him to go away, and decided that he would find a family to live in his house himself.  This was a good thing because anyway, if Malcolm had found the family, the man would have had to pay him lots of money and he didn't really want to do this.

As if by magic, in the height of Summer, a family appeared.  There were five of them and they loved the house but they weren't sure that they could buy it because there weren't any jobs for the Mummy in Middle-of-Nowhere and she wasn't yet ready to decide to leave the job she already had in Big Smoke.  They said that they would make a decision in the Winter, and the man was happy with this, because if he sold the house before the snow came he would still have to pay Malcolm, and he really didn't want to do this.

Summer passed, and Autumn came, and the Mummy and Daddy decided that they did want to move to Middle-of-Nowhere.  So they talked to the man and he said he would still sell them his house but that there were some people from across the sea who might want to buy it.  Now the Mummy and Daddy wanted to go and see the house again before they decided to buy it, but Middle-of-Nowhere is not easy to get to so they couldn't go straight away.  And the man said that that was fine, and he promised not to sell the house to the people from across the sea (we will call them the Van Hoobie Doobies) in the meantime.

So the Mummy and Daddy went to look at the house, and the man was very kind to them and very keen that they should live in the house.  And the house was just as beautiful as they remembered. So they said to the man that they wanted to buy it.  And he went all weird on them and wouldn't say anything.

So the Mummy and Daddy went back to Big Smoke, very sad and confused, and did everything they could think of that might make the man stop being weird and sell them his house.  They rang their bank, and they talked to their work, and they found a friend for Malcolm who could sell their little house in Big Smoke, and they telephoned the man and said all this and he still wouldn't say anything.

So they found a lawyer, and asked him to find out what was going on.  And he spoke to another lawyer, who spoke to another lawyer, who said "Oh, well he's sold it to the Van Hoobie Doobies already".  So the Mummy and Daddy spoke to the man and asked him why he had let them come all the way to Middle-of-Nowhere if he had already sold the house to someone else and he said that he didn't realise he had.  The Mummy and Daddy weren't entirely convinced by this but they had to accept it and go sadly on with their lives in Big Smoke.   They wondered about telling Malcolm that the man had sold the house before the snow came but didn't.  Instead they consoled themselves with strolling on a nearby hill, Moral High Ground, telling each other that it would all turn out for the best.

But... the Mummy and Daddy had liked Middle-of-Nowhere, with its beautiful scenery, its good schools and its big houses very much so they decided that they would telephone all of Malcolm's friends in and around Middle-of-Nowhere, to see if there were any other houses.  And so, eventually, they talked to Malcolm himself. And they said to themselves that they wouldn't mention the house to Malcolm, but Malcolm mentioned the house to them and said that he would call the man and see if he might still want to sell the house to the Mummy and Daddy.

And the Mummy and Daddy thought about lying to Malcolm, and not telling him that they already knew the house, and already loved it.  But Malcolm is, despite his profession, a nice man, and they decided that this wasn't fair.  So they told Malcolm the whole story.  And the thing is, Malcolm knew the Van Hoobie Doobies too. In fact, he had introduced the Van Hoobie Doobies to the house, and to the man.  And in fact the man had agreed to sell his house to the Van Hoobie Doobies in the Spring, long before the Mummy and Daddy had even heard of the house, but he hadn't told Malcolm, and he hadn't told the Mummy and Daddy. He had just lied to them all throughout, and told them all that the house had not been sold, and was still looking for a family, and that Malcolm was a nasty man, because he didn't want to pay Malcolm his money.

But now Malcolm knows. 

So the house is still sold, and the Mummy and Daddy will have to find somewhere else to live, but the man will have to pay Malcolm his money which will make him very cross.  And in the meantime the Mummy and Daddy will continue to stroll on the (lower slopes perhaps) of Moral High Ground.

Oh, and if the twee fairy tale version irritates, believe me, it's much better than the expletive laden one I wrote first...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

An update and an (well two really) award

I mentioned, a while back, that S and A had had their first day apart.  But I never wrote anything about how it went.  That's mostly because, as I probably could have guessed, it was a bit of an anti-climax.  A and I had a lovely day and I think she loved spending time with just me.  S? Well...  Actually, S also had a lovely day and according to the people at nursery didn't seem to notice A wasn't there at all.  When we went to pick her up she was much more excited to see me than she was to see A.  Hey ho.  That twin bond. It's a very special thing.

While I'm doing the update, I thought I'd revisit the smack .  I thought people might have strong opinions on this one and it turns out I was right.  Well, day five of not smacking and, funnily enough, I haven't done it again.  L, incidentally, didn't even realise I had smacked her.

Before I leave that subject altogether though, I must say a specific thanks to Grit who wrote a very long and thoughtful comment, which seemed to me to hit (deliberate choice of words there!) right to the heart of the whole issue. She makes the point that we can't define the relationship with the children we love so much by isolated incidents, because it, and we, and they are so much more than that.  So thank you.

Oh, and on the job front, I'm going down to two days a week in January.  Wish me luck.  I may be clamouring to get back to work after the first week...

All that aside, this week I've had my first blogging award.  It's the not entirely flattering Honest Scrap award and I have been given it twice, by the lovely Babyrambles and MuddynoSugar.

Here are the rules:

1. ‘The Honest Scrap Blogger Award’ must be shared.

(Babyrambles shared with 10 people, but I'm going with MuddynoSugar's rules here), so the lucky five are:

Baby Baby
Not wrong, Just different
Today I think I want
Carrot in Mum's hair
Potty Mummy

And if they've already been the lucky recipients well then, like me, they're twice the honest scrap!

2. The recipient has to tell 10 (true) things about themselves that no one else knows.

Ten things you didn't know about me (I'm assuming when we say "you" we don't include people I'm married to, because there's not much he doesn't know. Never sure whether that's a good thing or not).

1. I used to be a Samaritan
2. But I stopped because I found myself wanting to tell them to SHUT UP, PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER AND STOP WHINGING
3. I once got detained by the KGB (or FSB, modern inheritor thereof).  I hadn't done anything wrong. Honest.
4. On the blogging front, I have no idea what a meme is.
5. I was the person who always broke the chain letter, or the chain email, or the chain post a pair of knickers back to the first person on the list (and yes, that really existed), so it's a miracle that I'm doing this.
6.  I've made a resolution not to break any blogging award "chains".
7.  None of my suits really fit round the waist but I'm too stingy to buy any new ones.  Because after all, it's only work.
8. I don't really like coffee. I just drink it because I'm a grown up and I feel it's the sort of thing grown ups like.
9. I own every mystery Agatha Christie wrote.
10. I sort of want another baby

Friday, 13 November 2009

I just smacked my daughter.

There.  I've said it.  I've put it out in the world.  I honestly don't know whether I'm expecting vitriol, empathy or the "knock, knock" on the door of the socialservicesautomaticallygoingtotakeallyourchildrenawaypolice that I torture myself with every time I'm a bad parent.

I never thought I'd be writing this.  I never thought I'd need to.  And anyway so much other stuff has gone on this week I thought I'd be writing about that.

But I'm not.  I'm writing about how I hit my daughter.  And left a big red hand print, with white bits between the marks of my fingers, on her perfect, naked, 2 and a half year old bottom.

She bit me, you see. B has gone out for a  pre-stag dinner (he can't go to the actual stag which is tomorrow) and so he was getting ready while I was in charge of the bath. I was trying to carry S into the bathroom and L wanted to be carried too. I can't really manage them both at once any more, and I told her that.  So she bit me.  Hard. On the shoulder.  There's a red mark there too, and the white imprint of twenty tiny teeth.

Years ago, I taught for a while in a school in Nepal.  Corporal punishment was the norm there and I was horrified.  I swore to myself I'd never hit a child.  But I did. Because they expected it, and when they discovered that I wouldn't hit them, they acted up. So I did.  But it escalates.  You start off doing it lightly and then they realise it doesn't hurt, so they do whatever it is they were doing again, and then you get angry and before you know it you've hit a child hard in anger.  And they're still misbehaving.  So I learned, quite quickly, that it doesn't work to hit a child.

Yet I have. And I did it consciously.  She bit me, I yelled in shock and pain, I paused, and then I smacked her.  I don't know that I thought it through, but in that pause I could have stopped myself and I didn't.  I think, if I try and analyse it now, I wanted her to feel as shocked as I was.

And the really frightening thing? It worked.  She cried, but B came downstairs and picked her up and she said she wanted to say sorry to Mummy.  So she came into the bathroom where I was bathing A and S and she apologised.  We talked about how biting was a naughty thing to do, and then she was lovely.  We had the best bath- and bedtime we've had in weeks. No complaining, no whinging; lovely stories, lovely cuddles; lots of giggling and very proudly putting her own pjs on; "I love you Mummy".

I realise that the reason it worked, if indeed it did work and wasn't just a coincidence, was the shock:  I suspect that she doesn't actually understand what happened.  So there's no point in doing it again, even if I wanted to. Which I don't. I'm hoping and planning that in twenty years time I'll be able to say "I only hit you once, you were two and a half and you bit me."

But then I never hoped or planned to hit her in the first place.  And yet, I don't feel that guilty about it either.

Friday, 6 November 2009

What a waste?

My parents came to stay last night.  This happens quite frequently because my mum, who is a saint in human form*, comes up once a week to help me take A&S swimming and my dad, who isn't very well, prefers to be where she is (bless!).

So anyway, last night, my dad had some dinner for his old cricket team (he hasn't played cricket since about 1975 but still), so we had the pleasure of my mum's company for the evening.

We were talking about my current dilemmas, options and choices when she said "funny really; after all that expensive education you're going to throw it all away to make hats. Ha ha."

That was a joke by the way.

Except I didn't find it terribly amusing.  Because, guess what, that's occurred to me too.  I am ridiculously expensively- and well-educated. My dad worked long hours in a stressful job to pay for this and my siblings and I did what we were "supposed" to do by going on to good universities, getting good degrees, and good jobs. Now here I am; with (allegedly) potential to go "all the way" in my Proper Job, and I'm talking about walking away from it to look after my children.  Is that a waste of my education?  Apparently my father thinks so.  And although it was a "joke", I suspect my mother's not far away.

Now I don't want to go through this all again because even I'm bored of it and I've come to the conclusion that I've got to do what feels right for me and my family, even if I don't yet know what that is.  But what worries me is that if even my own parents don't understand that what hope have I got that anyone else will?

* and, like, I imagine, most saints, she makes mere mortals (including yours truly) feel guilty and irritable much of the time...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

In it for the money

I, (like many others it seems) have noticed recently a lot of blogs out there asking if mummy blogging has become too commercialised and whether we're all just in it for the money.  For two great examples have a look at Iota's post here and Susanna's at A Modern Mother here.  So, for what it's worth, as a newbie to the blogging scene.  I thought I'd throw in my twopence hap'orth (sorry, just a phrase I've always wanted to use).

So here's a confession.  I started this blog for the money.  I've mentioned before that I'd never read a blog before my friend AK encouraged me to start one. Her advice, when I said I was looking for a Plan B, was to start a blog because:

"All you need is a good hook, some knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO), and basic design skills and you're off to the races. Mommy blogs are all the rage here and the mommies behind the most popular blogs can make thousands of dollars a week in ad revenue, plus they get lots of free products to "test.""

AK is, in case you hadn't guessed, American.  I replied with words along the lines of "I don't know what a blog is, I don't imagine anyone would want to read my witterings anyway,  and really, honestly, who's going to pay for them?  If I'd thought I could write well enough to get paid for it I'd have become a journalist.  And I lack any knowledge of any of the stuff you mention to boot".

But, nonetheless, I did it.  I started a blog.  Because why not? And to my amazement there are a small and select number of people out there who do want to read it.  They don't pay for it, and I can't imagine they ever will. But that's ok, because I've realised, in the space of a few short weeks, that maybe I'm not in it for the money after all.  Because I get so much more out of it than money.

For the first week or so I really was doing it for me.  No-one else was reading it.  But that in itself was good.  I hadn't realised how much writing down what I was feeling would help.  And just settling down, in my own space, for ten minutes every couple of days gave me a sense of being my own person and doing something just for me that I don't think I've felt in about 2 1/2 years. 

The first time a miracle occurred and someone I hadn't met commented on my blog, I got a huge glow of pride and and a boost of confidence.  I'm not alone!  There are people out there who are interested in me!  They care about what I'm writing! They think I write well!  For a woman who was questioning her ability to do anything well that was, and is, a huge support.

Then there's the advice.  People have said all sorts of sensible things in response to my idiocies, and some of them we have acted upon. Some of them have worked too.  And those that are still a work in progress.... well, we'll see...

And then I outed myself.  Nominally this blog is still anonymous though I don't imagine it would be too difficult for someone who really wanted to to work out who I am.  Nonetheless I hadn't told any of my friends I was doing it because I was embarrassed.  But then, (back to the pride and the confidence) Potty Mummy chose me as the blogger of the week.  Now I know, out there in the real world, that's maybe not a very big thing. But it was to me.  So I put it on my facebook status

Lots of people said lovely things.  But the two that have meant most to me are from the two Susannas.  I've known both of them for years.    But I've sort of lost touch with them both recently.  Now they've both read my blog and they've taken the time to send me messages of support and love, with some wise advice thrown in.  And as a result I feel as though I am better friends with them both.  And that has a value that can't be counted.

Blogging has given me an outlet for my stresses and dithers, confidence, time for me,  new friends and even old friends.  Yes, a book deal would be great.  But while I'm waiting I'll settle for what I've got.

Madeleine McCann

As I'm sure you all know, Madeleine vanished in May 2007.  She will now be 6 years old. A new appeal is being launched, including age-enhanced pictures of how she might look now.  Social networkers and bloggers are being asked to spread the video below in the hope that someone, somewhere knows something that will help Madeleine's family find her.

Please watch it and pass it on.

Separation anxiety

I said yesterday that work were very understanding about this whole beingamother thing.  Well, second test today.  A is ill.

So this means two things:

1.  I am at home (again) on a day when I should be working; and (more importantly)
2.  A and S are spending a day apart.  For the first time ever.

They are nearly 11 months old and they've never spent more than half an hour apart in their lives.  B left with S and L about ten minutes ago and so far so fine.  A is pulling herself up on the DVD player (favourite trick) and babbling away to herself (she's not very ill, clearly); she doesn't seem to have noticed, or maybe doesn't care, that her sister isn't here.

But I do.  I feel like I've done something simultaneously unimportant and momentous.  One of them is ill, the other isn't so clearly one should go to nursery and the other should stay at home. I didn't even think about keeping L at home because A is poorly, so why should it be any different for S?  What's the fuss all about?

At the same time, this is a very important moment in their lives and as a result I am feeling very wobbly about it.  I try to avoid parenting books, but one of the twin mantras I've absorbed over the last 18 or so months since I discovered I was having identical twins is the importance of giving each of them their own identity.  And a  big part of that must be allowing them to realise that they can, and should, be able to spend time apart from each other.  This is the first hurdle on the road to independence from each other and, dare I say it, from me.

So it feels like a big deal.  It could go one of two ways.  They (or one of them) will be fine. Or they won't.  Watch this space...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Too much choice!

In one of my earliest posts (she says as though she's been blogging for years; when in fact she means "about four weeks ago") I commented on how maybe having all the choices the modern woman has (to work, to look after the children, to do a bit of both in whatever fashion that works for you) isn't all it's cracked up to be.  And maybe it would be easier just to be told what to do and have done with it.

Well, having thought I had two, maybe three choices, I now discover they are (or feel as though they are) infinite.  The problem is I now have to decide what I want.

I had an awful day at work on Friday.  I ended up in tears of mixed rage and frustration on a colleague which is never the most professional of looks, and only narrowly avoided throwing my letter of resignation at anyone who'd catch it and marching out (probably to Scotland, but then that's another story), never to return.  I thought I'd calmed down, but I got wound up enough last night about having to go to work today that, in a manner reminiscent of my elder daughter, I refused to go to bed because then I'd have to get up in the morning and I picked a huge fight with an innocent bystander (aka husband) about (of all things) karaoke.

I woke up this morning thinking "this is it. I've got to do something before I drive my marriage into the ground and myself into the local psychiatric ward".

I've done very little work today because I've mostly been in meetings with much-maligned, but if today's experience is anything to go by, utterly sympathetic and wonderful HR people.  And it turns out that having felt unloved, unwanted and unsupported, I am anything but.  It transpires that I'm good at my Proper Job.  Good enough that they will do anything they can to keep me.  I can go one day a week, or two, or do a totally different job within the same organisation, or be a consultant and only work when I want to and they want me to, or stop altogether and work out as much or as little notice as I like.

I cried.  Again.  Still not very professional but they seemed to understand.

So now I have to decide what I want.  I can stay, or I can go.  And I feel very lucky and privileged that (unlike, I imagine, most women in my shoes) whatever I decide, the people for whom I have worked for the last nine years will support me.

Doesn't make the choice any easier though.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Moved to tears...

... by two things, one in the mummyblogosphere and one tangentially so.

I'm not sure if there's a copyright (or etiquette) related issue why I shouldn't do this, so apologies if so, but I have to highlight Gaby Hinsliff's article in yesterday's Observer.  Gaby is, or used to be, the political editor of the paper and she has just given up to be with her son.  She writes wonderfully, movingly, well about her emotions, motivations and doubts.

We buy a paper every week, just so we can look as though we still have interests outside the four walls of our home, the tube and the office, but this is the first time in weeks I've actually read it.  And even then, I was interrupted by two calls from work and one poo from L - which I think says it all about this working mum thing.  I am so glad I did.  Gaby has articulated so many of the thoughts that have been hurtling round this thing I have that used to be a brain, and if I do eventually decide to hand in my notice, a copy of her article will be attached to my resignation letter...

If you haven't read it, do, and then have a look at Gaby's blog, but if you haven't time, here is the bit that did it for me:

"I don't honestly believe that either [work/childcare] suffered from the other.  But what got lost in the rush was a life, if a life means having time for the people you love, engaging with the world around you, making a home rather than just running a household."

When someone else is putting it as wonderfully as that, I wonder why I am scratching away at my keyboard, failing to put into words the same thoughts.

But, just as I was about to lose faith in my blog, I saw this and was moved to tears again (possibly I may be a little hormonal at the moment)  I am officially the British Mummy Blogger of the week!  Is it pathetic to be this proud and delighted?  Thank you very much to Potty Mummy for giving me the confidence to keep going.  I am loving blogging, and if I do ever decide to show my copy of Gaby's article to my boss, at least I will have my blog to keep those little grey cells (or lack thereof) ticking over.