I am Starting Pre-School Mum

back to school

Tonight, I’m a little bit more emotional than usual.

Tomorrow, my little Mini Me will be taking her first steps into the big bad world without Mammy or Daddy.

Now I am fully aware that starting Pre-school is not quite the same as starting School School, but for the first time ever, I can empathise with all of the “Starting school” parents.  I can’t even begin to fathom how I’m going to feel this time next year when I’m packing her school bag for Baby infants.

It’s a typical last Sunday night in August.  For 30 years, it’s been a dreaded Sunday night because it marks the first day back at school for this Teacher Mum.  I never actually left the education system, so it’s routine by now.   Every year, I insist on going out somewhere for the day. I refuse to cook dinner.  I try to get an early night.  But this year, it’s not about me.  It’s about Mini-Me.

Her new outfit is perfectly pressed and hanging in the bedroom.  I have everything that she needs laid out for the morning. The table is already set for breakfast. She’s been read a special storybook that Daddy found online about her first day at pre-school and has been tucked in to dream of fairies and muddy puddles.

And I’m trying not to think about the fact that tomorrow is yet another first in my baby’s life.

I’m leaving her to the same childcare place that she usually goes to, but she’s going into her Big Girl classroom.  And she’s going to be going 5 days a week, instead of 2. It’s really no big change.  She’s more than ready for it and she’s so excited about starting Naoínra that it’s quite contagious.  It’s all good.  She could be terrified and refusing to go, but she isn’t.

And I wonder if that is helping Mammy or making me feel worse.

As parents, we have to let our babies grow up.  We mark every milestone.  We remember every achievement. We let them go into the world, little by little, and just hope that what they receive from us at home is enough to arm them for what the world holds for them.  Every little step is essential, and indeed we are very aware of how blessed we are that our mini-Me’s are healthy and able to step into the world.  But it doesn’t mean we have to be absolutely happy about it, all the time!

As parents, we also have to trust…To trust the people who will be responsible for looking after our little darlings.  We have to trust that their teachers will care for them; that they will be kind to them; that they will give their all to make them who they can be.

teaching

So while I feel that I need at least an hour with her new teacher tomorrow morning to go through a crash course, with power point presentation if I could, on what my Little Darling likes, what she’s afraid of, her habits, what upsets her, how she needs help with some things, how brilliant she is at other things and basically, everything about her, I know that I’ll drop her at the door with a smile, tell her to be a good girl and to have fun, and get into the car.

Then I’ll probably bawl my way to work.

But it’ll be fine, because I’ve realised that while I’m entrusting a teacher with the single most important thing in my world, I get to return the favour to other Starting-School Mums.  Because for the first time, I truly understand the angst and terror of the Mammies and Daddies who drop their kiddies off at our school’s big blue door every September.  I finally understand that I’m not just there to teach them English.  I’m there to care for them; to be kind to them; and to give my all to help mould them into who they can be.  And it’s the second best job in the world.

And while tomorrow she is only starting Pre-school, it is indeed a big deal for our little family and for my little Princess.  Yes, it might be just another day, but it’s one that we’ll remember forever.  Yes, it’s going to be emotional, but it’s good emotion.

And to all of the Mammies and Daddies whose little Darlings are taking their first steps into Pre-school, School School, Secondary School or indeed third level,  I send all of my S-mum love and good wishes, because tomorrow is most likely going to be harder on you than it is on our kids.

So we’ll put on our big girl (or boy) pants and we’ll suck it up.

Because we are Starting School Mums (and Dads).  🙂

PS.  This has been going around in my head all day.

Wee Hughie  
Author: Elizabeth Shane

He’s gone to school, wee Hughie,
An’ him not four,
Sure I saw the fright was in him
When he left the door.

But he took a hand o’ Denny,
An’ a hand o’ Dan,
Wi’ Joe’s owld coat upon him –
Och the poor wee man!

He cut the quarest figure,
More stout not thin:
An’ trotting right and steady
Wi’ his toes turned in.

I watched him to the corner
O’ the big turf stack,
An’ the more his feet went forrit,
Still his head turned back.

I followed to the turnin’
When they passed it by,
God help him he was cryin’,
An’, maybe, so was I.

Follow S-Mum on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/Secretsofsmum?ref=bookmarks

I am Section Mum

“Are you hoping to do it properly this time?”

I kid you not.  This is what I was asked recently by another Soon-to-be Mum with whom I was having the “When are you due?”conversation.

She’d asked if this was my first.  I’d answered that it was number two.

“Me too” she smiled.  Then she asked if I’d had a tough time last time.  I replied that I’d had to have a planned section.  Her next line floored me.

“Aw, so are you planning to do it properly this time?”

cesarean

Now in her defense, she was an absolute stranger, who probably didn’t intend any harm whatsoever.  I don’t think she even realised that she’d said it…but she had.

I smiled politely and said Goodbye.  As I walked away, my smile remained on my face, somewhat forced… I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to laugh or to cry.

Smug I-push-mine-out-Mum carried on, oblivious to the fact that she could have just offended or upset the other very pregnant lady.  I carried on about my day, and it was only when I was telling my friend about the conversation that evening that I realised that her comment was lingering in my mind.

The word “properly” has been bothering me since.

Because not only did it dismiss my first childbirth, it suggested that I did something wrong; that my first birth was improper.

childbirth

Did she automatically assume that I was “too posh to push”?  Did she think that I asked to have my stomach sliced open and my baby lifted out by surgeons? Did she really class a c-section as a sub standard, improper way of delivering a child?  If she’s told that she needs to have one this time, is she going to say No because it’s not the proper way to do it?

What is the proper way?  I listen to conversations all the time about childbirth and babies.  There seem to be so many proper ways to do things.

Without medication.  With just gas and air.  With classical music on in the background.  Without bright lights and alarm.  Mammas who breathe through the pain are fantastic.  Those who refuse drugs are wonderful.  Those who have 60 hour labours are phenomenal. But those who take as much pain relief as we can have are equally as brilliant.
I don’t know of any new Mother who had Andy Peters standing waiting at the bottom of the bed to pin a Blue Peter Badge onto their properly born child afterwards.

I applaud and congratulate these warrior women, in the exact same way as I applaud and congratulate the woman who, for whatever reason, may it be medical, personal or indeed emergency, has to undergo the trauma of childbirth on an operating table.

A caesarean section is not what any woman anticipates when thinking of how their baby will be born. It’s terrifying.  It’s painful.  Your body goes through all of the same physical and indeed hormonal reactions to having just given birth as the body of a woman who has been lucky enough to give birth naturally.
There are stitches.  There is afterbirth.  There is pain…by God is there pain.
There is recovery time.  There are hormones.
But most importantly, with the help of some higher power and whatever wonderful staff that are on hand in the hospital, there is a baby.  

And that is what childbirth, in any form, is about.

It’s about getting your precious little darling out of your big swollen tummy as quickly and safely as possible.  It’s about causing as little trauma as possible to your newborn, regardless of what your own body must go through.  It’s about love.

And there is absolutely nothing proper about any of it.

Every woman dreams of a quick, pain free labour and uneventful delivery.  How many do you know that have achieved that?  I’d love to meet them.

Of course I’d love to have experienced childbirth like most women do.  But do I feel like I have missed out on anything?
Erm, no.

Do I feel that my darling daughter is any less born than her friends or cousins?  Nope.

If my next child is born by VBAC, will that be more proper than Mini-me’s birth?  Eh…no!?

But If I do manage proper childbirth this time, does that mean I’m finally a real mum and that I can finally be admitted into the proper mum club? Well I think you know where I’m going with this!

I’m already a real mum.   I’ve already had a proper baby.  I’ve already been through the horrors of childbirth, perhaps just a little differently to others.

In the same way as some women judge others for not breast feeding, or for taking whatever drugs are safely available to them from the doctors, or for giving their baby a dodo/soother/pacifier, that lady judged me for having to have a c-section to bring my baby to me safely.

And of course she didn’t intend to offend, but when we so flippantly share our own opinions on bump and baby matters, (and we do!), we sometimes dismiss experiences that we have never had ourselves.
And we should consider that before we speak.
 My experiences of pregnancy, birth and of being a Mummy are very different to every other Mummy’s experiences.  My experience isn’t exclusive.  There is no such thing as properly when it comes to being a Mum..

So if this time round, my consultant advises me that I should have another section, I’ll listen to her, because guess what? That’s her job.  She knows best and I trust her.  And because it’s my job too…the only job a mother has when they go into hospital, is to get their little bundle out of their belly!I

And I will happily hang upside down from the rafters, singing Jingle Bells, buck naked and high on horse tranquilizers if that ‘s what it takes to get my little one here properly.

I am Section Mum

Follow S-Mum on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/Secretsofsmum

il_340x270.588155013_7x8a

I am Suspicious Mum

happy singing

Yesterday, something strange and wonderful happened in our house.  For the first time in months, there were no alarms set to go off.  Yesterday, we were blissfully able to waken up to the wonderful world in our own good time.

And while this good time is usually before 7am, yesterday morning, we found ourselves looking at 9.10am on the clock.

This is absolutely unheard of in a very busy house.

So unheard of actually, that the initial stretches and contented turning over in the bed quickly turned to suspicion…panic almost.

Have we slept in? Why wasn’t she up yet? Was she OK?  What was wrong? Because something must be wrong when Mini-me is still sleeping after 9am.

And then we heard it… the singing.

Poor, sweet, oblivious Husband smiles and says “Ah listen to her, the wee dote’s singing.”

Poor, suspicious Wife smiles and says “Mmmmmmhmmmmm…the wee dote’s peed the bed.”

He automatically frowns at me and asks “Now how can you tell that when she’s across the hall?” and as he gets up to go over to his wee dote, I snuggle back under the covers knowing how the conversation is going to go when he reaches Mini me’s bedroom.  How do I know?  Because I do.

Pink---MUM-KNOWS-BEST---Tops

Every morning, our little munchkin climbs out of her pink bed, toddles out of her pink bedroom and takes her pretty self up to the toilet in the not-pink bathroom.

But once in a while, usually after an epic long sleep, she awakens in a puddle.  And rather than jump out of bed, horrified that she’s lying in smelly peepee, she seems to find the warmth of this magical peepee puddle so lovely and cozy, that she just stays there.  And she’s clever enough to know that when the duvet is pulled off the bed, said magical warm nest will become cold and wet and uncomfortable.  So she stays there…singing…until Mammy comes in and ruins it.

“The bed wet my jammies Daddy!” she announces as he enters the bedroom.

“Did you have a wee accident?”

“No.  It was the bed!”

So the bed had an accident.  Mini Me enjoyed the cozy cuddles of the accident and within two minutes, had been lifted from one warm, wet puddle to another one, as I set her into a bubble filled bath.

Accident prone bed stripped, washing machine started, windows swung open…oblivious toddler blissfully continues singing in her bath.

We have to admire a toddler’s ability to see only the good in a situation like this.  To the adult, it’s a torture; wet bed, PJ’s stuck to skin, stench of pee in the room. To the toddlemonster, it’s quite enjoyable to wake in the morning.in a pre-heated cocoon!

So how did I know that the sweet, melodic singing that greeted our lovely alarm free morning, was in fact an alarm screaming Mum, the bed’s wet!?  How did I know that she was quite literally singing in the rain-puddles?

Because I’m suspicious Mum, and where my Mini-me is concerned, I’m usually right!

suspicious

I am Snake Mum

I am Snake Mum

I don’t use the word “hate” very often.  There’s very little in life that can cause that word to even appear in my brain…except for snakes.

frightened-woman

I hate them.  I hate everything about them; how they look, how they move, how my stomach flips inexplicably each time one appears on the TV screen.  They truly are the one thing that I’m afraid of…and I have no real explanation for this fear.

Over the years, I’ve managed to talk myself around from being a big girl’s blouse who would freak out at the mere image of a snake in a book.  I’m able to look at such pictures now.  I can even deal with them in movies, (well, depending on their size and what they’re doing!), although I will still hide behind a cushion.

I used to cry at even the thought of entering the reptile house of Dublin Zoo, such was the ridiculous extent of my “phobia”.  But my “phobia” is nonsense.  It’s nothing more than a notion I have; a reaction to something that doesn’t appeal to me; that makes me feel unsafe.

Until I had Mini-me, I don’t think I really knew what fear was.  After she was born, I began to understand the word.  The fear that comes with being a parent is real. It is founded and justified. I became afraid of everything; of every cough, of every sniffle, of every decision we were making. Every time she gets sick, it is fear that prevails in my mind.

I remember the utter terror the first time Mini-Me slept through the night; leaping from the bed in a panic.  I remember lying at night, listening to her breath, terrified for no particular reason.  Now, the toddler fears are different, but they are still real.  Why is she being so quiet? Does she mix at playschool? Is she frightened if I’m not there?   Is that a rash? Am I over-reacting?

The fear even follows me to my dreams sometimes.  Last night, I was screaming at her as she ran towards a road and I couldn’t catch up to her to stop her.  Another night, I watched as she ran towards a stairwell.  Thankfully, my brain usually wakes me up before I have to watch the outcome of these situations, but the palpitations of the heart and rapid breathing transcend from sleeping Mummy to the Lying-in-a-cold-sweat Mummy.  So while it may have been only a dream, the fear is still real.

What is it they say? 99% of the things we worry about will never happen?  Good.  But that doesn’t mean that as parents, we don’t worry.  It is natural.  It is exhausting, but it protects our children.  It allows us to see potential dangers and to avoid potential disasters.

As parents, we learn very quickly how to put on a brave face and calm voice to ensure that our little ones don’t stress or worry.

The-important-thing-is-to

So when we visited a local zoo this week and one of the zookeepers was offering the children the chance to pet and hold a snake, my initial reaction was to take Mini-Me’s hand and walk (Ok, run…) briskly to the opposite end of the room.  To me, the snake was huge and horrible.  In reality, it was a small, red, very tame pet and the children were loving it.

One look from my Husband reminded me that it was me who was afraid of the snake, not our daughter.  And so I put on my cherriest voice and said “Look at the lovely snake.  Why doesn’t Daddy take you over to pet it?” I possibly sounded like Mary Poppins on helium, but it was a huge step.  My acting skills have never been so tested as when I had to feign calm and delight while I watched her little fingers run over the surface of the creature.

The snake might as well have been wrapped around my neck.  I could hardly breath.  I hated every second of her experience.  I hated that I was not 100% able to protect her. But, I had to stand back (waaaaaaaay back!) and let her experience something that I’ve never had the bottle to do.

I hate snakes…simple as that, but I can’t pass my ridiculous fears onto my child.  If she decides she doesn’t like them either, good.  We’ll have something else in common, but I won’t be the reason she doesn’t like them.  She’ll have her own silly and irrational phobias to deal with in her life.  And someday she’ll have real fears to deal with too, but they’ll be hers, not mine.

So when she came running back to me, face glowing with delight, I pretended to be so excited that she’d touched the lovely, pretty snake!  Daddy’s face was a mixture of smugness and amusement as he watched me lie through my gritted teeth, but as we walked towards the much more loveable ducks and rabbits, the “Good Mammy” whispered in my ear made it all OK. J

So, just this once, I am Snake Mum.

nice-snake-27078615