I am Same Clothes Forever Mum

“We won’t get much longer dressing them in matching outfits” says Me to He as we walked along the promenade in Salou.  We were on the last night of our holidays and the girls had been wearing beautifully matching outfits every evening for the full week.

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With 4 years age difference, I’ve been becoming aware that Mini-Me will soon protest at  being dressed identically to her 3 year old sister.  And I was OK with that.

But then, something happened that has ensured and concreted the plan in my head, that while we are away in strange places, they shall be wearing matching clothes, until they are AT LEAST 35 years old.

Princess went missing.

Ladybelles.  She ran out of our sight and literally disappeared. In an EMPTY FOYER.

She was gone for about 7 minutes. 7 Loooooooooooong minutes. And I can honestly tell you they were the longest, most painfully dreadful 7 minutes of my life.  While trying to remain composed to FIND her, my brain had already jumped ahead to what would need to happen to get her found.

We were walking back to our rooms after the entertainment had finished.  A friend and his kids were along with us, and as we all waked through the hall to head towards the lifts, I made a MASSIVE mistake.  I caught the glint in her eye and said “Wait for Mammy please” which she heard as “Run Princess RUN!”

She scuttled off ahead of us, no more than 20 feet into what we knew was an empty foyer and when we all turned the half corner, there she was…gone.

We started calling.  Him belted up the stairs and started running through the halls on each floor, roaring her name.  The friend ran straight to the main door to ensure she hadn’t gone outside.  I started hitting the buttons for the lifts, automatically all assuming that she’d gone into one of the lifts and that it had gone up with her inside. (Fast closing wee buggers those lifts.)

Mini-Me started to roar and cry and Friend’s kids didn’t know what to do,  Wee pets.

She wasn’t outside.

She wasn’t in the lifts.

Every 20 seconds Him stuck his head over another balcony, roaring “Did you get her?” before taking off to the next floor.

Within 1 minute, the hotel staff had locked all the main doors and maybe 5 other dads had joined in the running.

Why will they always be dressing the same? Because every time someone else joined us to help, I was able to point at Mini-Me and say “She’s wearing the same outfit” and off they ran…

Just when I thought it was beyond a case of her innocently getting lost, and was about to step Mental Mammy up a notch, a big bald English guy stuck his head over the balcony and asked “Are you guys playing Hide n Seek with a little girl?”

The poor fecker was greeted with a herd of people running at him and some sort of gutteral wail that I’m pretty sure was coming from my mouth, even though I had no real control at that point.

I took those steps 5 at a time and met Himself on the corner of the big long corridor and there, peeking her curly little fecker head out from behind an corner, was Princess.  Half laughing, half terrified and by the time I reached her to scoop her into my arms, half sobbing.

We thanked everyone, went to the room, tucked them in and then did what all parents would do… sat on the balcony like two weins and cried for an hour.

But the scariest thing was that she was with a gang of adults, in a safe place, with no crowds and she still went missing right in front of our eyes.

Next morning, Mini-Me scolded her at breakfast.

“You shouldn’t go into the lift on your own.  It’s not funny.”

Princess looked at her as if she were absolutely insulted.

“I did NOT go in the lift” she admonished. “I went up the stairs.” before continuing to eat her porridge as if THAT made it all alright.

Oh well that’s OK then I suppose… Seriously.

Lessons learned? We only think we’re in charge, kids are fast, other parents are incredibly fast at helping when you need it… and matching clothes should be worn at all times, for the foreseeable forever.

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Mammy in Training…

My journey through the jungle of Mammyhood so far has many things. I am always learning and yet it feels like I never learn! 😅

Regardless of how you become a Mamma: pregnancy, IVF, adoption, fostering, marriage… if you are responsible for loving a child, you’re a Mammy.

And it’s quite a job.  A career.  A vocation even!

Let’s face it.  If I want to embark on any career, I generally need to spend 3-5 years being educated to qualify me properly to attempt it.  Being a Mammy (and indeed a Daddy!) doesn’t require a degree, and yet it is the most challenging career in the world.

As parents, we become educated in life and often hilariously terrifying ways of the world that no university could ever teach…
but if they did…IF there was a degree in parenting, here is what I imagine it would look like:

“Bachelor of the art of Perfect Parenting”

* Pregnancy and Parenting: A beginner’s guide

* Preparing for your new arrival – Required equipment

* Food preparation for the healthy family
* Techniques for sleep and Behaviour

* Planning your child’s play and Sensory Scenarios

 * First aid for Mummies

*Relationships; maintaining healthy romantic and familial relationships

*Positivity, Mindfulness and Sleep Deprivation – How to deal with it.

*Language and Speech Development.

And at the end, you would be a QUALIFIED parent.  You would have folders of notes, and a brain bursting with facts and figures, and lesson plans and medical references.
You’d be sorted. 😉

But as a Real Mammy, who knows that most of the above is utter crap, and that these headings only SCRATCH the surface of parenting, let ME suggest what a parenting degree outline should look like!
“Bachelorette of Thoroughly Modern Mammyness.”

Module 101 – Pregnancy and Parenting: A beginner’s guide – Life as you know it, ends here.  You only think you know what pain, fear and exhaustion are now.  Pregnancy is like a “One size” bra.  It fits some women better than others. Mine fit like a 4 man tent.  You may glow, or you may puke.  It’s great fun.  But at the end of it, there’s a wonderful thing.  And there’s  also the Love. I won’t even try to prepare you for that. I can’t. 💗💙💗💙💗💙💗

Module 102 – Change everything – The house, the layout of your rooms, the car.  Everything.  And enjoy your magazine perfect showhouse with your fancy candles and FengShui… That shit ends once your minion is able to move about on your once-but-never-again-clean rug.  All ornaments and valuables should be put up on a high shelf, or locked away for approximately 15 years.  Actually, just sell them.  You’re going to need the cash for the Stuff. 👇

Module 103 – All the Stuff.  Get your list of Baby Essentials.  Got it? Now, rip it up.  You do not need 250 steriswabs, or 5 pairs of scratch mittens.  The only thing on those lists that isn’t exaggerated, is the quantity of industrial sized sanitary nappies, sorry, towels.  Buy ALL of those bad boys.  And then buy extra.

And as for the list of furniture, equipment and travel accessories?  Get your basics.  Car seat, cot, baby bath, changing mat.  Depending on YOUR own house and YOUR own situation, you’ll know what you need as you need it.  Do not buy all the everything!  Trust  me, you’ll end up with a house that looks like a Baby shop has puked on it and, in approximately 8 months time, as you put the only-used-once-stuff in the attic, you’ll wonder why the hell you bought it in the first place.

Oh! And those lovely nursing chairs that we all want for our idealistic moments of feeding baby in the nursery?  They are the most glorified clothes storage devices in the world.  Your baby will more than likely be in your room for the first 6 years…sorry months… anyway, and when you ARE doing night feeds, you’re more than likely going to want to do them in the heat of your bed,  rather than in an empty room.  Yes, they’re lovely and I’m sure someone will disagree here, but that’s how I see them… A clothes horse.

Module 201 – Techniques for Sleep and Behaviour  –  Pray, wing it and go with your gut.  You can’t control your baby’s sleep.  You can’t control your baby’s behaviour.  You can only go with what you get on a daily basis and trust me, often, as cliched as it is, it IS just a phase.  And if you do find yourself genuinely struggling with either of these issue, ask for help.  There are brilliant (and actually qualified with real degrees) professionals in our community and there are SO MANY brilliant resources that Mums and Dads can access easily.

Google Parent Hub. Parent Hub, Donegal

You’ll be amazed at what they offer. Or talk to your PHN or GP.

Module 202 – Planning your child’s play   – Buy toys.  Watch child play with boxes, lunchboxes, remote controls and ANYTHING they shouldn’t have that could pose danger to them.  Shake head at the amount of educational crap in the toy corner and get out the saucepans and wooden spoons.  Oh and get down on your knees and play! 😅

Module 203 – First aid for Mummies – Have a meltdown everytime they cut themselves, bump their head, break a sweat, have a strange poo or get a temperature.  Slowly learn to recognise your own baby’s physical reactions and signs.  Google symptoms, freak out…ask on a Mammy forum…freak out…

But seriously, we’re mums.  Unless you ARE a Doctor, if you’re concerned about Baby, GO TO A DOCTOR!  And follow your gut.  While it may be sick with worry, Mamma’s gut is always right.

Optional Modules 

Relationships – learning how NOT to murder your partner at 3am

Sex – You will want to think about it again some day… 😈😉😈

Alcohol – It shall be frowned upon, but some days, even the most Sanctimonious of Sanctimommies thinks about gin at 11am.  They just won’t admit it.

Swearing control – Any parent who has never sworn behind the back of their child, or at least mouthed a profanity when they hear “Mammy” for the 387th time that day, is either sedated or a liar…

Disney lyrics – because you will need to know them.
And so there you go. I hereby declare the Bachelorette of the Thoroughly Modern Mammyness open for application.

**No previous experience or qualifications required. 

It’s a tight course, but the end result is something that no amount of paper or letters after your name can measure.  But if you really want to show off your qualifications, just start signing off like this…
S-Mum (Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum.Mum…)
Suggestions for extra optional modules on a postcard please. 😙😙😙

How do you measure up? 😂😂😂

You’re Doing Just Fine Mammy #maternalmentalhealthweek

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

‘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 chooses 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 from Aldi-Everything.

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.

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 with ANYONE.

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 how many false smiles you see in a day.

You don’t know how Mary-Jane never throws a birthday party for Junior because the stress of it might just not be tolerable right now.

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 more importantly, 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.
You DO know that.

So however YOU are doing things this morning Mammy, stop, close your eyes, take a breath…and smile.

Because, do you want to know something else?

You’re doing JUST FINE as you are…

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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That Time When I Wasn’t in Charge

Every mum has their own vivid memories of childbirth; some which bring little shivers of joy when we think of them; others which deserve to be put into a secret box and never brayed of tongue again.

For me, the arrival of my wee angel and the shock that she was not after all, a he, are obviously my favourite memories of the experience.  But there is one other moment that I often think of.  It makes me laugh out loud every time.

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I still feel a trickle of mortification creep onto my cheeks when I think of it.  Because, that moment, just before my little one arrived, was the moment when I finally had to admit to myself, that I was not in charge…of anything.

I had to have a c-section. I was ready and prepared.

Everything was calm and organized and exactly how I’d imagined it would be. (I grew up on a farm, so have witnessed dozens of MamaCows go through this procedure, so I was stupidly sure that I knew the basic concept of what would happen!) The doctors would perform surgery and Mini-Me would come out the sunroof, as opposed to out the door.

I’d never had surgery before, so of course I was nervous.  As I lay there, looking up at the bright spaceship lights on the ceiling, listening to the murmurs of the surgeons and anesthetist and nurses, aware of the beeping machines around me, I had a sudden recollection of the story of a woman who felt everything as the anesthetic hadn’t worked.

In my obviously, absolutely calm, reasonable and logical mind, I realized that this would OBVIOUSLY be what would happen to me.

I felt cold substance on my leg, which jerked me back from my reverie.

“1-10?”

“Sorry?”

“On a scale of 1-10, how cold is this?”

“Erm, 10”

Cripes, where the heck was my husband?

“1-10″

“Still 10″

Ok, so now my fears were becoming a reality.

“Now?”

“8, I suppose”

Who should I tell that the anesthetic isn’t working?

What if I needed some sort of horse tranquilizer to knock my nerve endings out of action. I need to get my husband in so he can sort this…Hang on!  Who owns those legs?!

Two huge, gleaming, white tree-trunk legs are floating in front of me, just above the blue divide that Mr. Surgeon has placed above my belly.  Two very strong women are holding one each and I’m suddenly aware that the legs are indeed, mine.  There’s a serious amount of maneuvering being done beyond the blue, but the top half of my torso is happily oblivious.

And so I began to laugh.  Not a subtle giggle of course. A proper crazy woman, high on a cocktail of all of the anesthetic and other drugs that I assumed weren’t going to work.

And hence, my poor husband re-entered the room, just in time for the arrival of the Boss, to find his wife laughing like a bloody hyena.

Of course, the laughing turned quickly to tears of joy and all was right with the world again very soon afterwards.

I’d had my first ever surgery.  I’d had my first baby.  And I’d learned for the first time, that even though I thought I was in charge of things, I really and truly wasn’t.

I genuinely believe it was one of those precious moments of clarity and insight, It taught me one of the most important lessons I need to be a Mammy.

You might think you’re in charge.  You can pretend you’re in charge.  You might even convince others that you are in charge, but really, we never know when someone’s going to take control of your big white legs.

And when they do, be glad that they’re there to take control… and don’t forget to laugh.

 

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