I am STOP TOUCHING ME Mum

This Mammy loves hugs and squeezes and little chubby fingers on her skin.  Mammy loves kisses and Eskinosies and the feel of Mini-Me’s arms crawling around her neck for a hug.

Mammy is aware that when you become a Mammy, you are going to be touched, a LOT.  But Mammy is still, many years on, not ready for the CONSTANT touching.
It’s 24/7.

It’s mostly lovely, but JESUS, there are times when Mammy just wants to NOT be touched, even for a little while.

LIke, a half an hour.

Now, there is no harm in the Touching. It is usually quite acceptable and welcome. In fact, if we delve into the minds of the TOUCHERS in the house, it is clear that the touching is a sign (usually) of love and affection and it is important for affirmation of love and all that jazz, but sometimes, Mammy considers pretending to have Scabies, just so that everyone will piss away off for 20 minutes and stop TOUCHING her!

The Wobbler thinks:

Oh! There is Mammy.  I will touch her.  I will swing off her legs while she walks.  I will stand on her feet while she cooks.  I will sit on her head while she snoozes.  I will sit on her knee instead of on my chair.  I will sit on her chair along with her.  I will hold on to her hand so hard that if she tries to sneak away as I fall asleep, I will know.  I will insist on being lifted when I see her standing with nothing to do.  I will make special effort to ensure that if her tellyphoney rings, she will not forget that I am here, because I will tug at her leg until she lifts me and then I will rub her face.  I will stick my finger in her mouth.  I will stick my finger up her nose.  I will shove my finger in her ear.  Oh Lookit. Mammy is on the sofa.  That is my sofa.  I will sit on her head.  I will stick my hand down into Mammy’s bra to find the dodee that I didn’t hide there earlier.  I will touch her every time she walks by.  I likes to touch Mammy.  Mammy is soft and squishee and she smiles when I touches her so that is what I must do.  Always.  Forever. I am the bestest witto wobbler around.
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The Mini One thinks:

I will ignore Mammy until I notice little sister sitting on her, and then I too will sit on her.  I will make sure she doesn’t feel lonely while she pees.  I will look after her while she showers. I will remember to ask her EVERYTHING when she is trying to talk to Granny on the phone.  I will ignore her in the coffee shop until her friend sits down to talk to her.  Oh Look! Mammy has sat at the the table. I must sit on her knee to make sure she doesn’t drink all of the coffee.  It is bad for her.

I will hug Mammy’s armpit.  I will stick my fingers in her armpit.  For some reason, I like armpits.  I must keep touching Mammy so that she doesn’t forget my existence for three minutes.  She must be touched as often as possible.  Even when Mammy asks me to let her think, I will add my thoughts to her thoughts to make sure she has all options of thinking available to her and that she never feels alone in her thoughts or her head.

Mammy’s minions go to bed and Mammy wonders what feels so strange.  Is it the silence? Is it the calm? Is it the peace?

NO.  It’s the lack of touching.
Daddy comes home.

Daddy thinks:

Oh look.  There is my beautiful wife. She looks extra sexiful in those baggy PJ bottoms and my teeshirt.  I’m glad she hasn’t brushed her hair or washed her face today.  I like the smell of Bolognese on her face.  I have missed her so much that I must touch her everytime she walks past.  I will touch her.  I will slap her bum every time I pass her..  I will huggle her.  Mammy looks lonely there without the girls hanging off of her.  I will make her feel better.  I will hang off of her.  Maybe Mammy would like some hanky panky.  She has been here on her own with the kids all day after all.  I wonder did the baby hide her dodees in Mammy’s bra today..  Maybe I will check…
Oh.
Mammy is looking at me with sexy eyes…or maybe those are her I shall hurt you eyes… I can never tell.
“Don’t FUCKING TOUCH MEEEEEEEEEEE” screams Mammy.
‘Ok,’ thinks Daddy, ‘not her sexy eyes’.  Daddy realises. For some reason, Mammy doesn’t like being touched tonight.  She must be hormental.  
Actually no.  Daddy remembers that this is The Touching Hour.

Mammy needs her Touching Hour every evening.  It is like the Witching Hour, only more dark and dangerous.  And the chances of further touching depend on the success of the Touching Hour.
‘Where is the chocolate?’ Thinks Daddy.  ‘I should sit in the corner here and throw chocolate at her until she calms down’.  Clever Daddy.

“Will I make you a cup of tea?” asks Daddy.  Mammy snarls at him.  Daddy pours her a glass of wine.  Clever Daddy.

“Here you are Darling” he says, trying not to touch her.
Mammy sips her wine, remembering a time when she used to pay people to touch her; When it was relaxing to have hands all over her in a smellified dark room in a spa or salon.  She would love to go for a massage, but that would mean someone else touching her and at this moment in time, that might make Mammy hurt someone.

She looks at Daddy, who used to be the only person who touched her.  He is so lovely, she thinks.  He has a very nice bum.

After a while, Mammy walks past Daddy in the kitchen and slaps his bum.  Yay! thinks Daddy.  The Touching hour is over, but Daddy lets Mammy pour another glass of grapes before he suggests such.

Daddy is clever.

Mammy sometimes feels like she lives with a squad of fecking Octopus…octopi?

But they are cute little octopi and by the morning, she will be ready for all the touching, all over again.

Because while of course Mammy knows she is a lucky Mammy to have so many people wanting to touch her, sometimes…well, it’s a touchy subject.

And if you have kids, you’ll know.

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Sanctimammies Toddle On By

Sanctimammy

Noun – A Mammy who believes that her way of parenting is the correct and proper way; judging and dismissing other Mums who do not parent as she parents.

Adj – Sanctimammious     

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‘Live and Let live’ they say.  But once you dip your toe into the world of Parenthood, that seems to change for some people.  It becomes ‘Do as I do, Think as I think’. There is no area in our lives which can cause heightened levels of self-doubt and self-criticism as parenting.  And often, it is the outright self-righteousness and shared opinions of other parents which makes us doubt ourselves.

Have you ever been asked something about your child, only to have an eyebrow raised, or a lip pursed at your reply?  Have you ever been nervous of telling someone how YOU do things, because you know that they do it differently?

We all have.  We’ve all been there.

Parenting styles and beliefs and practices vary, not just in countries, or counties or communities, but within homes.  For twenty houses in an estate or on a road, there will be twenty different parenting styles happening at once. But here’s the thing.

Just because you do things differently, doesn’t make you better.

Just because you work AND have kids, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who is working her ass off at home.

Just because you’re able to stay at home with your Puking minion, doesn’t make you a better Mum than the Mum who had no choice but to leave hers with Granny, because she couldn’t get off work.

Just because you Breastfeed your baby, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who, for WHATEVER reason, has to (or choses to) Bottle feed. You don’t know why they can’t (or don’t) breast feed.  You don’t have to. It’s none of your business.

Just because you use organic, reusable nappies, you are not superior to the Mammy who stocks up on Packets.

Just because your Baby sleeps well, does not mean that the Mum who hasn’t slept for 14 months is less brilliant than you.

Just because you’ve decided to wean your Baby by the guidance of some book, feeding Quinoa and avocado and peppers, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who feeds her kid mashed potato and gravy, or (shock horror!) fishfingers and waffles.

Just because your little Japonica goes to 5 activities a week at 11 months old, does not make you a better Mum than Jacinta next door, who can just about leave the house to do the shopping, because her PND is so crippling that she can’t breath.

Just because you gave birth without drugs, in a calm and wonderful experience, does not make you a better Mum than the lady who has had 3 sections.

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Now, I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t make an effort to do what’s best and what’s healthy for your baby. What I am saying is that what YOU deem right and important, might not be the same as another Mum.  Our priorities are all different. And that’s OK

Every Mum does what SHE has to do for HER family. And the only person who knows what is right for your family is YOU.

You don’t know another Mum’s circumstance. You don’t know her. You don’t know if she’s happy, or watching you getting into your car to go to work, longing to be you.

You don’t know if she’s driving to work in tears because her Baby cried again as she was dropping him off.

You don’t know how many times a day the Mammy in the office feels a gutwrenching guilt at being away.

You don’t know how the Mum in her kitchen is longing for a conversation.

You don’t know how much the Mum who has to pay bills rather than pay for Baby swim classes longs to be able to sign her baby up.

You don’t know how much time and effort that Mum, looks fab at the school gate, took to just get out the door this morning because she cried all night.  

You don’t know how much the Mum who seems to have it all, wishes that she had something else.

You don’t know how much the Mum who is mixing up formula berates herself.

You don’t know Jack sh*t.

As long as your children are fed, and loved and looked after, you’re doing great.  

How we parent our children, is nobody’s business but our own.  And what other Mums think of your parenting, is absolutely none of YOUR business.  

And if you EVER hear yourself dismissing or tutting at another Mammy because she’s doing it differently to you, lift your hand, grab a wooden spoon and hit yourself a good hard slap on the arse with it.

No one likes a Sanctimammy.

I am Stop Asking Silly Questions Mum

“I’m not your best fwend Mammy.  I’m Emily’s best fwend”…

And there it was. In one simple sentence, I’d been categorically dumped by my one of my daughters… AGAIN.  I’ve been through this before and yet, like all things parenty, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve experienced something, with each child you have, it’s all new again.

When I had my first wee girl, my aunt told me that I’d been blessed with my very own best friend forever.  We see signs and cards and photo-frames everywhere, stating that a daughter is a friend for life etc.  And this is largely true.

In my own case, I’ve been blessed with a wonderful Mum who I can happily call my absolute, all time, unconditional BFF.  We had our moments while I was (am) growing up, but we typify that stereotypical Mother/Daughter relationship and I know how very lucky I am. Friends may come and go.  Let’s be honest, only a handful are reallythere for the long haul, but Mamma Bear is a constant. 🙂

As my girls pass through the baby stages and began to bloom into the pleasant-if-sometimes-terrifying little personalities that they are, I fully appreciate their roles as my besties.  We do everything together; we have fun, we fight and we laugh and we cry. We bake, we go shopping, we play and we are wonderful at doing absolutely nothing together.  We work.  (OK yes, sometimes we work like a chocolate teapot, but hey. No one is perfect are they?)

In a world where everyone is busy and where as parents, we can often find ourselves a little isolated and out of the social loop for whatever reason, our friendships with our toddlers become more important to us than we can ever give them credit for.

My girls are my wee companions and they will always be 100% on my side (except for when they’re not!).  I know they’ll have my back and I have to admit that this tie, with Princess, I once again fell into the false security that I did indeed have my very own, custom made best friend.

Until again, (three years after the first time I made this mistake), like Snow White’s stepmother I asked the stupid question.

How quickly we forget the lessons taught to us by previous children.  For the past few months,  I had allowed this to become a daily certainty; an ego boost for me even.

Every day, “Who’s Mammy’s best friend?” has been answered with “Meeeeeeeee!” and usually accompanied by a giant cuddle and slobbery kiss…until Friday.

Princess was in her car seat, engrossed in a Paw Patrol book.  We were driving to playschool and I was chattering about what we’d do that afternoon when I collected her.

I may as well have looked in the mirror and chanted “Baby, baby, in the chair, Who’s your bestest friend in the world?”  Without a second’s thought, she announced “I’m not your best fwend Mammy.  I’m Emily’s best fwend”... and with that, the mirrors and illusions of my assumed Disney-perfect Mother and Daughter world, shattered into a thousand pieces.

Initially I laughed.  What else do you do? (For the record, the little girl in question is a wonderfully perfect BFF for my precious one.)

She’s branching out.  She’s socially accepted, popular even.  She’s making her own friends and she’s growing up far too fast.  It’s wonderful and it’s terrifying all at once, because while we parents encourage our little ones to grow and bloom every day, realising that you’re not the only thing your child needs in life, is just horrid.

We might be smiling, but we don’t have to like it.

Instead, we treasure every second, count every milestone, and celebrate every chapter.  We capture special moments in our memories, (or on our phones if we can!) We post on social media with pride.  We entertain others with our cute kiddies and we get through each day as best we can.  But sometimes, we get an inevitable slap in the face from our little angels as they take their own uncertain little stumblings through the big dark forest of the world.

As time goes on, I’m probably going to assume the persona of the Wicked Witch in both of my daughter’s eyes, rather than the perfect loving Queen.  That seems to be inevitable, but what is also inevitable is the certainty that some day, they’ll realise that Mammy IS actually their best friend again.

And until then, I can keep on asking the question and hope that the odd day, I get the answer I like!

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Stop Asking THAT Question

I’ve written about this before but it seems that it’s like non parents parking in mother and baby spots or people feeling the need to comment on how your baby is fed; it doesn’t go away!

STOP ASKING PEOPLE when they’re going to start a family or going to ‘go again’.

I know people don’t mean any harm when they insist on telling you that you should “be going again” or “getting a move on”, and yet often, these innocently thrown statements can stab a couple through the heart.

Firstly, why do people think it’s OK to assume that everyone wants to have more Babies? Or actually, even A baby for that matter.  Many people make the conscious decision that parenthood is not for them; that they are quite fulfilled and happy as they are.

Then there are the people who, no sooner have you popped out little Charlie or Nancy, but they’re telling you it’s time to get working on Jeremiah or Jezebel.  Why, oh WHY, do people think that it’s OK to ASK why a couple aren’t “going for number 3″… or 4, or 8?

And as for the people who tease a newly married couple, or indeed ANY childless couple, about ‘getting a move on’, well that is just a whole other level of silly beggar.

Here are 6 reasons to NOT comment on a couple’s NON pregnant state:
1. It’s none of your business.

2. You don’t know their situation. You don’t know if they’ve had a miscarriage recently. People don’t generally go around announcing that do they? In fact, we good Irish still fall into the trap of thinking that we aren’t allowed to tell anyone until the sacred 12 week mark, and so when things go wrong, couples often have no one to share their grief or help them through it.

3. 1 in 6 Irish couples currently struggle with fertility. How do you know if the person you are innocently teasing about “going for another one” or “filling that big house” isn’t one of those couples? You don’t know if they’re trying EVERYTHING and being constantly heartbroken. You don’t know if she’s injecting herself daily, undergoing physical and emotional and mental turmoil to try to help matters. You don’t know if he’s struggling with the fact that his sperm count is low. You don’t know if they’ve put every penny they have (and don’t have) into rounds of treatment, over and over again. You don’t know how deep your playful, well-intentioned words can cut.

4. Not EVERY couple WANTS to have a baby, or another Baby. For their own reasons. That they don’t have to explain to you.  And when a couple tells you that they’re all done or quite happy with their lot thank you, do not raise your eyebrow in a smug and all-knowing, “we’ll see” or tut at their ‘nonsense’.  You’re in murky waters now and you need to paddle back Dear.

5. Maybe that couple are in the process of adoption, or surrogacy. Maybe that couple are at breaking point, physically and emotionally and maybe…

6. …it’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Of course people mean no harm when we joke about “filling that big car” or “getting a wee brother for Nancy”, but like all things Parent related, innocent comments and harmless questions can cut through people like a bolt of lightning. We shouldn’t comment. End of.

So next time you find yourself about to joke or jest or ask someone about the state of their baby situation, consider this:  If they asked you about the state or your uterus, or indeed your sperm situation, how would you feel? Would you be comfortable if that person sighed and answered with “Well actually, we’re on our third round of IVF and we’re emotionally and physically exhausted and I’d love to tell you about it”?  Or if they said, “Well actually, we’ve had three miscarriages in the last 18 months” or “Well no, becuase we’re pretty sure we won’t be together this time next year.” If you would be able to deal with those answers, you possibly know the person well enough to know not to ask anyway.

If not, don’t ask and don’t comment.

Simples.

 

Take Some Time, Sometimes

I am Some Time, Sometimes Mum

We’ve “no time” for dancing, We’ve “no time” to sing.

We can’t play that game or go play on the swing.

There’s washing and cooking and things to be done

And sometimes the last thing we think of is fun.

And this is all normal and life does get busy,

But if it’s so hectic it’s making you dizzy,

It’s time to consider the things that mean more,

The small things we all take for granted, I’m sure.

Like breathing and laughing and reading and such,

Like the fact that our lives are each made up of much,

Much more than our jobs or our grades or successes.

They’re made up of giggles and family and messes,

Of routines and drop offs, of friends and of breaks,

Of worries and stresses, of plans and heartaches.

If we knew every morning, what would lay ahead,

There are mornings we’d probably stay in our beds.

But know we do not. Of nothing we’re sure,

Except that we’re here and have one morning more.

So take all the compliments, laugh all the time,

Always give hugs and sometimes drink wine.

Build all the jigsaws, take all the smiles.

Walk in the countryside, drive one more mile,

Say if you’re sorry, cry if you’re sad,

Don’t waste time fighting. Fighting is bad..

Look at the sky and take time to see

The colours and patterns, reflect on the sea.

Don’t waste time worrying about what MAY be

Think of your present. Enjoy memories.

Follow your dreams, Make all the plans,

Never let anyone tell you you can’t.

And while we have problems and things might go badly,

Remember that others would swap with us gladly.

So if you love someone, please make sure that you say;

Tell them and give them memories to replay,

Because we just never know when that last hug or kiss

is being given. So make sure it’s one you don’t miss.

Breathe it all in and live life as you must,

Be kind and polite and remember to trust.

Travel and wonder and read all the books

See all the beauty we’d see if we looked.

When life is good, live it, and take every chance

And never look back wishing that you had danced.

Leave “no song unsung and no wine untasted”

For time spent being happy is never time wasted.

So play all the games and run to the swing

And always make time to dance and to sing.

(Maria Rushe 2018)