Pushed to the Limit By Small Child

There has been many a day when I have returned from work to find my mother slumped on the sofa, a look of exhaustion and despair etched on her face.

“It’s been a difficult day,” she would croak, as Piglet played with his cars around her, in front of Abney and Teal, making cute little noises of contentment as the Poc Pocs hopped across the screen.

“He really is naughty you know,” she would add, for effect, as I cheerfully headed for the kitchen and a cup of tea, before settling in front of the cooker and flinging pots about, cooking our dinner while my mother chased Piglet around and desperately tried to keep him from emptying the entire contents of the cupboards.

And how I would scoff.  Piglet is not naughty, I would say.  He’s a completely normal toddler.  Completely normal.  You have forgotten what small children are like, I’d say.  You imagine that we were the most perfect children who ever lived.  I would remind her about that time my brother, in his own wayward toddler years, put his head through the living room door, pointedly adding that I still remember him with his head stuck in that door.  It’s never been the same since.  We had to get rid of it and get that ridiculous bit of plastic sliding door that’s hanging off the hinges.  There you have it, EVIDENCE.  We were terrible kids.

Well that was different, would come the response.  That was an accident.  Piglet’s misdemeanors, by contrast, are deliberate and calculated, like he is actually sitting there plotting the downfall of his loving grandmother.

I would look upon Piglet’s angelic visage and know, I would just know, with the intuition that only a mother could, that Piglet was doing nothing of the sort.  He was a wondrous child, the sort that would never, could never even contemplate such a thing.  He was a paragon of virtue, a model child and, of course, nothing out of the ordinary.  All his behaviour was perfectly normal and expected.  Developmentally normal.  There was no need for a visit to the psychiatrist.  All would be well.  This too shall pass.

Well reader, now that we live on our own and Granny sits in the restored peace of her own home and watches Great British Railway Journeys each evening in restful solitude, I sometimes wonder.  It appears that I have now taken the role of tormented guardian, to be run ragged until I too am a shell of my former self. Today, for example, he deliberately poured milk all over one of my bar chairs from Dwell (RIP Dwell.  How I miss your glossy red tables and your overpriced statuettes of diamante covered skulls), and then pushed its sister chair over, just for the hell of it.  Those chairs were from Dwell.  Like all the best shops, Dwell has now gone bust.  There will be no replacing those chairs (even though I saw identical ones in B&Q, but DWELL).

My response to this, after keeping my cool throughout the previous onslaught of a) the throwing of dinner on the floor, b) the deliberate spillage of milk on the floor and up the walls and c) the near-destruction of a standing lamp underneath the television which Piglet has gleefully discovered can also be pushed over, was to be really annoyed.  Annoyed enough to put him in his pushchair for a couple of minutes and leave him to cry, feeling like a monster, whilst I attempted to fix the damage and finished my already cold cup of tea.

I now know how my mother felt on those days when she lay, pale and exhausted, on the sofa, an empty husk of the woman she had been just that morning, before she had been pushed to her absolute physical and mental limit by a particularly exhausting toddler.

And I’m hoping it’s still normal, right?

The Public Badge of Good Motherhood: What’s so great about it anyway?

Picture the scene.  You are in a cafe.  Your toddler, having just had a floor-hugging, rigid back arching, high-decibel screaming meltdown over not being able to push his own buggy into the centre of the cafe and then spend the next twenty minutes using it to bash tables, and the legs of anyone who happens to be sat at those tables, while Mummy sips her coffee and gazes at him beatifically as though she has never clapped eyes on a more charming child, is now having another meltdown. This time it’s because he has spotted something on a high shelf that he wants, and which may or may not be a packet of crisps, the very Food of Satan, which you were not planning on allowing him to have until he is forty-two and probably capable of taking full responsibility for the resulting obesity.

As you desperately try to calm him down with your soothing Mummy-voice and consider doing a deal with him that he will be allowed to have said crisps, but only if he sits nicely in his high chair, which he is at that moment refusing to do, then finally give in and allow him a chocolate covered cereal bar and slump into your seat, relieved that nobody has yet launched a complaint with the management or chased you from the aforementioned cafe with torches, never to darken the threshold again, you look up.  There is a woman on the next table who is looking at you with an air of sympathy.

“You handled that well,” she says, approvingly.  “I would have given in ages ago.”

How do you feel at this point?  I’ll tell you how I felt.  I felt as though I had just received the Public Badge of Good Motherhood, the Order of Mothers, the OBE for Services to Motherhood, bestowed by the Queen herself.  No, forget the Queen, her children were raised by nannies.  This is an honour bestowed by Our Lady of Motherhood, the vision of pure motherly love, the Holy Mother of God herself, the Virgin Mary.  I am literally going to Heaven for the day to be crowned with my own personal motherly halo.

That is how great that felt.

But why is it that we feel that we need the approval of others to validate our own status as parents? Why do we need that constant reminder that it’s OK, we’re doing a good job, we’re all still intact, it’s going to be OK and we’re probably not raising a monster?  Is it because as women we are encouraged from childhood to seek the approval of others, to be liked, to be the popular girl with the impeccable manners and great hair?  Being a mother is a high stakes job, and we wouldn’t want others to think we’ve got it wrong.

The following day, as I basked in the contented glow of sunlight reflecting off the gold from my Public Badge of Good Motherhood, I took Piglet to soft play.  I could feel the approving looks of other parents on me as I played with Piglet in the ball pool and he squealed with delight, clearly deliriously happy that the Fates had given him such a wondrous mother, overflowing with such selfless maternal love that she had actually abandoned a full cup of coffee to watch him repeatedly try and climb onto a mini scooter.

It was only on the way home that my mask of motherly goodness began to slip.  Around five minutes into the 30 minute bus ride, Piglet’s brain suddenly remembered that it had not had a nap all day, and proceeded to send him into a tumult the likes of which had never been seen throughout the outer suburbs of Bristol.  He was determined that he was going to get off the seat, out of Mummy’s suffocating grip and walk around on the moving bus, and the more Mummy-the saintly Mummy, recipient of the sought-after Public Badge of Good Motherhood-tried to wrestle him back into his seat, the more he screamed, the more he cried, the more he thrashed about.  Hot with shame, I desperately tried not to look around, conscious of the fact that everyone on the bus was looking at us, and thinking I was the Devil’s Own Mother.

The need for approval had struck again, and this time it was sending me right to the back of the class, confiscating my Public Badge of Good Motherhood, and replacing it with the dunce’s hat of Mummy Fails.

The moral of this story.  None of us are perfect, all of us are muddling along, trying to be the best we can be, succeeding one day and failing the next.  Never accept the Public Badge of Good Motherhood, even from the Holy Mother herself.  It’s bound to slip.  Far better to know that it doesn’t matter what others think.  As long as Piglet thinks I’m doing a good job, that is enough.

Assuming he does think I’m doing a good job, and isn’t at this precise moment petitioning Brad and Angelina to adopt him.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

ethannevelyn
Life with Baby Kicks
Post Comment Love

Dear Mum-to-Be, here is my rubbish advice

Recently, a friend of mine announced that she was expecting.

It made me think, if I could go back and speak to myself in those hideous, anxiety-ridden, nauseating thrilling days of early pregnancy, what would I say?  What sage snippets of wisdom would I have to impart?

I came up with the answer today while I was walking Piglet home from what has become Mummy’s daily overpriced coffee habit (it’s like crack*, that stuff, honestly.  Why else would I walk two miles in the pouring rain to sit in silence staring adoringly at an oversized paper cup for half an hour, allowing Piglet to nap way past his usual time, even though I know that means he won’t sleep until long after Cinderella has left the party.  I swear that in years to come coffee will actually be banned.  You heard it here first people).

The answer, my friends, was none.

Nope, I have no advice to give.  None at all.

Firstly, I have had but one child.  One.  In scientific circles that would be considered a very small study size.  I don’t think my experience is going to be published in any scientific journals on the typical realities of pregnancy, birth and child rearing any time soon.

Secondly, when you have a child, people are literally falling over themselves to offer advice.  Let’s see, there was the woman in the library who stopped to help when Piglet, then aged five weeks, was screaming.  This help consisted of blowing on his face, and then saying triumphantly after he had stopped screaming for approximately half a nanosecond, “look!  They love it, see!  Blowing on their faces always works!”  Piglet then resumed screaming.  We had to leave the library**

Then there was the man on the bus who put an appeal out to the entire collective of passengers to “give him nipple.  Somebody give him nipple,” because Piglet, aged seven months, was crying on the bus.  He was crying because he was bored, as was I, having to endure one of Wembley’s finest traffic jams, but let’s not allow that fact to get in the way of the fact that I was a terrible mother who was failing to give my child “nipple” on the bus.

Then there was the woman at the station who suggested I pull my coat around Piglet’s feet as he wasn’t wearing a snowsuit, and there was an eclipse happening.  And the the man (I sense a public transport theme happening here.  Here’s some advice-avoid public transport!) who said Piglet needed a haircut and implied I was one of the Daily Mail’s vilified benefit scroungers.

Yes, people will always be willing to proffer their advice, usually with a massive side order of judgement, all over everything you choose to do.  They will advocate never reading a parenting book, then suggest a routine that makes Gina Ford look like a laid back hippy.  They will raise their eyebrows when you put the baby in a sling, or in a pram.  They will have something to say about breastfeeding, and formula feeding.  They will say you should introduce solids at four months, but not until six months.  They will suggest purees, but the baby will never eat normal food unless they’re given finger foods only.  The spoon is the devil you know.

You simply cannot win.  There’s no point in trying.

Just do what you think is best.  Oh, and if anyone tell you that the room needs to be eighteen degrees celsius exactly, otherwise the baby will die, you have my permission to punch them in the face.***

*DISCLAIMER: I don’t have any personal experience of ACTUAL crack.  No drugs here people.  I don’t even know where my vitamins are.  Hidden under the sofa along with last season’s prime blueberries and the TV remote, probably.

**OK, there is one, ONE piece of advice I have to give.  All that stuff they have in some cultures about not leaving the house for a month-that is there for a reason.  Just don’t leave the house for a month, if you can bear it.  I thought I had to be back in the local coffee houses showing off my newborn within a week, and wearing my new American Apparel bodycon dress within three weeks.  After all, I had paid good money for the blighter in the expectation that I would one day be thin again.  I got into the dress, wore it out one day, and underneath my svelte post-baby body (where is are those Daily Mail photographers when you need them?) my C-section scar was bleeding from rubbing against it.  You will be able to leave the house again.  You will be able to drink wine and look fabulous.  Just don’t rush it.  Get everyone round.  They can look after the baby, and bring you food.  If you are breastfeeding then everyone will see your boobs, but you will just get over it, after all far worse things happen during the birth.  Just relax.  Don’t do anything.

***Metaphorically speaking.  Like, maybe in your head.  Violence is not the answer.

Run Jump Scrap!

Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Life Love and Dirty Dishes
ethannevelyn
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother….

When they were both wee nippers, one of my brothers hit the other one around the head with a toy milk float.

It was probably the most dangerous use of a milk float until that episode of Father Ted where the evil milkman places a bomb on his milk float and Dougal gets stuck driving it.

Got to love Father Ted

Luckily, the damage was minimal, and since then the design of children’s toys has improved and been made safer.  For example, toys are now generally not made of steel, with sharp edges.  Indeed, Piglet’s toys are now mostly bright plastic, huge (so they cannot be swallowed) and with no little fiddly bits.  That is, except for the ones he has inherited from generations past.  Ones like the toy Volkswagen Beetle which he was bequeathed by my brother (the aggressor in the Act of Violence Perpetuated by Milk Float).  Well, I say “bequeathed” as though he was given it, wrapped up in tissue paper and hidden at the bottom of a drawer like a family heirloom.  Actually Piglet found it lying on a high shelf in the living room.  And by found it I mean that one day, when he was walking past in Granny’s arms, he spotted it, pointed at it and then shouted until lo, it was presented unto him.

I’m not sure what the obsession is with this toy, but it certainly seems to hold a hypnotic sway over Piglet and, apparently, its owner, Uncle Milk Float Attacker, as every time Piglet plays with it Granny reminds him not to “break it, as it’s your uncle’s and he’ll be very upset!”

Uncle Milk Float is 30.  I’m not sure he has much use for a toy Volkswagen Beetle.  Also, as it is made of metal, it is more likely to break Piglet than be broken by him *MORE ON THIS LATER.*

On an entirely different note, Piglet loves his Mummy.  Arguably, he loves his Mummy even more than he loves the Volkswagen Beetle, as he often cries when I leave the room.  Although to be fair he also cries when a bit of old tissue is taken away from him so that doesn’t necessarily prove much.  Yesterday, when Uncle Milk Float Attack Victim (as opposed to Attacker) came to live with us (he’s fully recovered now), Piglet spent about two hours crying and gripping on to Mummy’s hair at the fearful sight of there being a man in the house.

Piglet also likes to show affection by launching himself at my head, opening his mouth (“ooh Piglet!  Are you giving Mummy a lovely kiss?”) and then clamping his little jaws shut over whichever part of my face is nearest (“PIGLET!  YOU JUST BIT MUMMY’S NOSE OFF!”)

At least, I think this is a show of affection.  Either that or he actually hates me, the Horrible Mummy who denied him a father, spends far too much time on Twitter and won’t let him play with the oven when it’s on.

Today, for example, I ignored Granny’s cries of “careful mind!  He’s got that Beetle!” (he wouldn’t hit his Mummy, would he?  He loves his Mummy), lay on the floor and waited for my delightful baby to shower me with kisses.

And, in a chilling echo of the violent incident with the milk float, he hit me in the face with the Volkswagen Beetle.

So what does the future hold for little Piglet?  Is this a foretaste of things to come?  Will he be excluded from nursery for hitting another child with Thomas the Tank Engine or one of his Friends?  Will he end up in juvenile court for hitting someone with a REAL car?  Will he wind up in prison, serving a life sentence for……

I mean, they say you can tell a lot about a man by how he treats his mother, right?

 

 

Modern Dad Pages
Mama Mim

Times My Mother Was Right, and I Was Wrong

Obviously this is going to be a short list (haha, SORRY MUM).

My mother and I do not always see eye to eye on all things parenting.  For example, she once exclaimed to me in a horrified tone, “You’re not planning on breastfeeding him past six months, are you?” as though I had just told her that I fully planned to still be exclusively breastfeeding Piglet when he went off to university, and that even then I might have to visit him at weekends to dispense “Milky Pops” as and when required.

She also seems to be utterly convinced that my siblings and I slept through the night on cue, never needed feeding at night and were toilet trained by the time we turned one, all of which may be the result of a bit of artistic licence over the past thirty-odd years.

However there are, inevitably, times when I have to bow to her greater experience, and one of these was the other day.

The thing is, Piglet seems to have a bit of an obsession with the washing up.  I can only assume that he has inherited this from the sperm donor’s side of the family, as there is no chore that I detest more vehemently than washing up.  When I lived in Japan, I actually had flies living in my sink, such was my neglect of this particular household burden, and the thought of ever not having a dishwasher again fills me with dread.  Needless to say, in my current living arrangement with my mother, we have an unspoken agreement that I do all the cooking, and she does all the washing up.  However, as you can imagine both of these activities are somewhat more challenging with Piglet in attendance, and while cooking often seems to have the effect of making him want to crawl as quickly as possible towards the hot oven in order to inspect its contents, or into all the cupboards to see if there is anything-preferably made of glass or containing things that will make an unholy mess-that he can remove and start throwing about, attempting a bit of washing up makes him take up residence on the floor next to the sink, lifting his arms and screaming until he is picked up and allowed to dangle his little hands in the bubbly water.

IMG_1607
Hmm, is this where you keep the washing up liquid?

 

I might add here that having a dishwasher is no saviour.  We have one in our flat, and Piglet was never more alert than when Mummy was loading and unloading, at which point he would come scurrying across the room like a herd of ants carrying a leaf, and jump inside it at the first opportunity.

IMG_1522
Piglet, with his favourite toy

Anyway, keeping in mind the fact that Piglet is clearly a future homemaker and all-round Domestic God, the other day when he was having an episode of particular crankiness, I decided that I knew exactly what was going to calm him down and cheer him up.  Was it a quick feed?  A distraction toy? In The Night Garden?

No, it was the rare treat that is MUMMY DOING THE WASHING UP.

I cannot actually remember the last time I did the washing up.  Lo!  I thought, I shall be a kind, loving daughter who does the washing up while her mother is out at work.  What a wonderful, thoughtful thing to do!  Especially as it was me who got all the plates dirty anyway, and I haven’t done the washing up since 1992!  My mother will be so pleased, and Piglet will be happy playing with his lovely bubbles.

The effect was exactly as planned.  Piglet was thrilled.  He took up residence on the kitchen floor, lifted his arms and commenced squealing.

He literally would.  Not.  Stop.  Squealing.  I had to lift him up repeatedly and allow him to cover himself in bubbles, and every time I put him down he wanted to be picked up again.  He literally wanted to be in the washing up bowl with the plates and cups.  It was a NIGHTMARE.

Realising that I was not going to get anything done, I decided he would need to have his own little mini washing up bowl, purely for his enjoyment and pleasure.  You know, like babies have their own toy TV remotes, toy mobile phones and toy ride-on cars.  That was what Piglet needed, a plastic toy version of the real thing, preferably in garish colours and singing a song at the touch of a button.  What he needed was an old takeaway container filled with washing up water.  Actual washing up water.  The genuine article.

I filled up the container and set it down in front of him on the floor.  He picked it up, and immediately emptied the water everywhere.  It was of course at that moment that my mother decided to arrive home from work, picked a sodden Piglet up off the floor and berated me for making a mess of her kitchen floor and generally being a terrible mother.  She then harangued me for making Piglet all wet, while he crawled off back into the kitchen and promptly slipped over on the wet floor, landing on his face and howling.  The look of pure self-satisfied glee on my mother’s face as she grabbed a screaming Piglet off me and proceeded to give me a dressing down was indescribable.  She had won, and she knew it.  Mummy was an idiot, and a failure of a mother.  Mummy nil, Granny one.

Mummaknows

THANKS AGAIN TFL.

Most.  Unproductive.  Day.  Ever.

Piglet woke up this morning at 7.30am, which I understand from my fellow parentals is usually described as “late.”  For me, this is obscenely early, and I spent over an hour whimpering “Go back to sleep” whilst being enthusiastically hit in the face by an increasingly perky baby.  Once I finally did get up, I remembered that I had been planning to go to a childminder’s drop in session in the vicinity of where I work, so I reluctantly put Piglet in the pram and headed off.  One delayed train, five minutes of peering mournfully at the huge staircase I had to navigate with the pram at the other end before some knight in shining armour took pity on me and came to my aid, and one brisk walk later, I was at the children’s centre, only to be informed that the childminder’s session had ended ten minutes previously, and yes there is a nursery here if you’re interested, but you should probably know that there’s a two year waiting list.

TWO YEARS.  WHAT IS THIS PLANET OF MADNESS UPON WHICH WE LIVE????

“I just got a place recently!” a young mother who happened to be sitting nearby piped up, with the pride of someone who’s just been told that their toddler has just got a place at Oxbridge.

Newly enthused, I asked how old her daughter was.

“She’s two.  I put her name down at birth!  Some parents put their babies’ names down before they’re even born!”

OH HELL.  I am DOOMED.  I am never going to be able to go back to work.  I am going to have to put Piglet in the nursery up the road, which is called “The Honeypot.”  The HONEYPOT, I tell you.  It sounds like a porn movie.  This is HIDEOUS.

After a brief visit to work to show off how much baby has grown since last visit four months ago, I trudge wearily back to the station, only to spend ten minutes at the bottom of a set of stairs wondering how I am going to navigate them with a pram, wondering if it would be acceptable to ask someone who works there to help (I’m guessing no, based on previous experience with Transport for London.  I’m surprised they haven’t yet gone on strike about it), contemplating whether it would be highly dangerous to attempt to lift entire pram, complete with sleeping Piglet (answer: yes) and most of all, wondering how I am supposed to do this every day after a whole day toiling away at the coalface at work, in the not-too-distant future.

I finally resorted to folding the pram, which was not Piglet’s most contented moment with as I had to lie him down on the manky station floor while I did so, then holding the now-wide-awake-and unimpressed-about-it Piglet with one arm whilst dragging the pram up the steps behind me with the other.  I am not sure that the pram has fully recovered from the experience, and that thing was EXPENSIVE.  And don’t even get me started on the state of my shredded nerves.  I am so going to have to bite the bullet and get one of those cheap things my mother had back in the ’80s, which she used to expertly fold with her little finger whilst simultaneously hauling an armful of toddlers onto the bus.  Some things really were better in the Olden Days.

More Hair-Raising Adventures on the London Underground

Travelling anywhere with a baby has begun to resemble a particularly farcical episode of Miranda.

Today, for example, Piglet and I (plus my mother) travelled from Bristol to London on the train (Piglet’s first trip on the “big train.”  He was fairly non-plussed, despite my mother’s running commentary on the journey with all vehicles played by characters from Thomas the Tank Engine). All started well, although there was a brief moment of panic when we got the pram out of the boot of my mother’s friend’s car at the station only to discover that whoever had packed the pram in the car had disassembled it completely.  The last time the pram was taken apart Mother and I spent twenty minutes shrieking in the kitchen and cursing the makers of Bugaboo, watching Youtube videos on “how to assemble your pram” and yelling “it wasn’t like this in my day!  I used to be able to fold a double buggy in seconds whilst running for the bus!” whilst unsuccessfully trying to fit all the bits back together, before giving up and taking Piglet out in the sling.  This time however, due in no small part to the somewhat calmer influence of my mother’s friend, we managed to put the pram back together, and the journey to London passed uneventfully.

Until we got to Paddington.

“Look!” said my mother smugly as we wandered across the station concourse having successfully folded the pram, stowed it upon the train, removed it from said train and reassembled without incident, “I told you there was a lift!”

One lift.  That doesn’t go all the way to the actual tube.  POINTLESS.

Needless to say, before long we found ourselves faced with the prospect of a perilous journey on an escalator; Mother with a large suitcase, and me with an empty pram and Piglet in the sling.

Mother panics.  “You’re not allowed to take buggies on the escalator!  It’s not allowed!  It’s too dangerous!”  It’ll be fine, I thought.  I’ve been on an escalator with the pram before, admittedly not without help, but IT’LL BE FINE.  Anyway, there is no other way of getting to the tube, unless buggies are suddenly banned from that too, which is entirely possible.

Seconds later, Piglet and I are on the escalator.  The pram has toppled over and is veering off to one side (THANK GOD FOR SLINGS), and the escalator has come to some sort of emergency stop.  Piglet is thankfully unharmed, and is gazing at me beatifically from the sling, blissfully oblivious to the fact that his hapless mother has just brought the entire Bakerloo Line to a standstill.  Mother and I tiptoe off the escalator, hanging our heads in shame, and wait for it to be repaired while a long line of fellow travellers gather at the top, looking annoyed.  It is even worse than that time I tried to get the pram-this time complete with Piglet in it-off a crowded London Overground train at Willesden Junction and the front wheels of the pram FELL DOWN THE GAP and had to be rescued by a crowd of quick-thinking commuters.

And there was me thinking the mass exodus of parents out of London had something to do with the house prices.

Who is even allowed to use the birth centre?

Just returned from a quick excursion to the toilet to find Piglet slumped in his bouncy chair, hanging off the end.  Perhaps the time has come to start strapping him in (what’s that sound?  The sound of social services being called at the fact that I have so far failed to do this).  Either that or I am going to have to start taking him with me to the toilet.  Last night he cried when I left him in his cot in the bedroom while I went to clean my teeth, and I had to take him into the bathroom with me and lie him on a towel on the floor to keep him quiet.  I may never have a moment to myself again.

Anyway, today we have been to the library, so that Piglet got to have an excursion in the pram so that he could go to sleep; and we went swimming.  There was a nap required before the latter as well, and as Piglet did not seem to want to nap in the bouncy chair, or go anywhere near the bouncy chair, crying every time I tried to put him in, and thinks his cot is a receptacle for bicycling his legs around and giggling, we had to leave half an hour early for swimming, and sit in the “London Designer Outlet” (sorry, that still cannot be written without the use of inverted commas) for ages so that we could get a good nap in beforehand.  Luckily, it paid off and Piglet was surprisingly cheerful throughout swimming, managing to crack no less than three smiles.  As usual he behaved impeccably, which made me feel better about having to sit through the following poolside Competitive Mother conversation that took place beforehand.

“My labour was really quick-just six hours.”

“Really?  Mine was three hours.”

“Mine too.”

I HATE YOU.  I HATE YOU ALL.  Perhaps I should just dive into the very shallow pool head first and kill myself now as I am obviously a failure as a mother and as a woman in general.  One of the women even said she gave birth in the birth centre.  The BIRTH CENTRE.  I thought giving birth in there was banned.  Isn’t it just there to make women feel better and make sure that the species doesn’t die out by making us all think that maybe there’s a remote possibility that giving birth is just going to be a matter of bouncing on a beach ball a couple of times, playing some whalesong and sitting in a paddling pool grunting?  One of the women from my antenatal class was banned from using the birth centre just because she’d visited the hospital a few times during her pregnancy worried that she wasn’t feeling the baby move enough, even though there was nothing wrong, and even though the birth centre is like, in an actual hospital.  WHO IS EVEN ALLOWED TO USE THE BIRTH CENTRE?

Piglet is gazing at me forlornly from his baby gym, sucking his thumb.  The look on his face says “yes you are a rubbish mother.  You are not even fit to call yourself a woman.  Because of that caesarean, I am now traumatised for life like it says in your hypnobirthing book.  And it’s ALL YOUR FAULT.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, due to my rubbishness as mothering, he then banged his head on the lockers in the changing rooms, mercifully not enough to do himself an injury, but enough to make him howl for long enough that all the other mothers considered calling social services.  And then I accidentally poked him in the eye whilst trying to soothe him.  ARGH.

He later did a projectile wee into that very same eye while I was changing his nappy later in the day, which I imagine must sting a bit, but as we were at home and minus an audience, that didn’t even register a whimper.

The Public Badge of Good Motherhood has now been confiscated.


New Sport of Ostentatious Breastfeeding Makes Wembley Debut

And so for a bit of ostentatious breastfeeding.

Well not at the moment.  At the moment I am watching X Factor on mute so as not to wake Piglet from his slumbers.  Michael Buble is either singing or talking to someone who may or may not be Nelly Furtado.  Without the benefit of sound, they both look like they’re hosting the Eurovision Song Contest and are having a faux-hilarious conversation about the merits of Azerbaijan whilst pretending to look excited about the prospect of someone from Bosnia-Herzigovina singing a heartfelt ballad in Serbo-Croat.

Anyway, today Piglet again behaved impeccably throughout swimming, and another comment was made about how relaxed he seemed to be in the water (another star on my Public Badge of Good Motherhood).  One poor child was screaming so much his parents took him out of the water, which would not have even merited a comment here were it not for the fact that I caught Piglet watching him with interest as his parents tried to take him to the other side of the pool to test to see if he could go in again without crying, and I am pretty sure that he was taking notes.

Piglet’s impeccable behaviour continued throughout the afternoon as I went to meet friends for coffee, but then sadly decided to deteriorate right at the point when Mummy and friends decided that they wanted a mulled wine at the Christmas market.  The following farcical events then ensued.

1.) Piglet starts screaming.  This is worrisome.  Previous attempts to feed him in Costa Coffee have been unsuccessful; partly because my eyes are constantly scanning the room for any signs of Nigel Farage or Katie Hopkins come to chase me into the corner, where I will sit behind a taped-off police cordon marked with the sign “Danger!  Breastfeeding woman ahead!” with a napkin draped over me; and partly because I am wearing an enormous fluffy jumper which gets in the way.

2.) Piglet is briefly distracted by some fairy lights.  Thank the Lord for fairy lights!  And for being born at Christmas, allowing us all to have fairy lights!  This gives Mummy enough time to chug down the greater part of of a cup of mulled wine, keeping it well away from Piglet of course (remembering the health visitor’s dire warning about a baby they saw recently who had been scarred for life by a hot drink).

3.) The fairy lights are forgotten, and the crying resumes.  Mummy attempts a fair bit of ostentatious breastfeeding, standing on the table yelling “Look everybody!  I’m breastfeeding!” squirting jets of milk at the two other people in the open air Christmas market bar, and the five bouncers they have inexplicably needed to employ to keep those two people under control.

4.) OK that last one was inaccurate.  What actually happened was that Mummy had to take off Piglet’s hat and unbutton his coat while the Public Badge of Good Motherhood fell from its privileged position on Mummy’s lapel in the cold December air, and attempt to latch Piglet onto the breast while the fluffy jumper and Piglet’s fluffy coat conspire to render such a feat impossible.  Well, I couldn’t take the coat off as IT’S DECEMBER GODDAMIT AND THE BABY MIGHT FREEZE, and I couldn’t remove the fluffy jumper either in case Nigel Farage happened to be promenading past arm in arm with Katie Hopkins and THERE WAS NO CORNER IN THIS EDIFICE.  I mean, it was like, in the open air! It was just a roof with some tables!  And it was sort of a bar as well, which serves ALCOHOL, so what was I even doing in there with a baby?  Off with my head!

5.) As things get even more fraught, I decide we may have to vacate the area, and knock back the remaining mulled wine.  As I do so, some of the mulled wine spills onto Piglet’s fluffy white coat.  It looks like blood.  AARGH!  I am terrible mother!  I have done something terrible to baby!*

6.) That’s it.  We’re going home.  I look around.  The five bouncers are looking at me in a judgemental way which says, “you are a disgrace to motherhood.  Get Nigel Farage on the phone IMMEDIATELY.”

And that, my friend, is ostentatious breastfeeding.

* I must add here, before you all call social services, that the mulled wine was, by this point, cold.  Piglet was never in any danger from the mulled wine spillage.  Put down your phones, people.

The Maternal Guilt Starts Here

Well actually it started three months ago, when the wee one was born.  And there is never a moment when you are truly safe.  There’s always something waiting round the corner that could be going wrong.  A case in point being the one illustrated below.

On Friday I was happily bleating down the phone to a friend about how being a single mother is “fine, just fine” (except for the fact that I am about to slip into a financial abyss from which I will quite possibly never return).  But finances aside, i.e. if I had all the money in the world, or even just a bit more money, like I’d won the Euromillions or something, then it’s all just fine and dandy.  Then, inevitably, something happens almost immediately that shatters that illusion.

On Friday that something was me suddenly acquiring some sort of food poisoning or norovirus type ailment.  I won’t go into detail about what it entailed but suffice to say I was in no fit state to be looking after a wee one.  Luckily, by the time it struck (at 9pm) Piglet was asleep (something of a miracle.  He normally goes to sleep around midnight).  Consequently, the last few days have been spent doing the following:
1.) Feeling rough
2.) Not eating
3.) Tentatively sipping water
4.) Watching Loose Women whilst lying on the sofa in a sleeping bag
5.) Lying in bed with Piglet, apologising that I have no energy to do anything else.

There were several points where I actually had to take Piglet off the breast to go and vomit/other end, leading to screaming fits which definitely lasted longer than most child psychologists would recommend.

Speaking of which, I am still confused about the best way to get Piglet to go to sleep as half the Internets I have read say that babies should be in a routine by now and that rocking or feeding a baby to sleep is going to mean he will turn into David Walliams in Little Britain demanding “bitty” from his ageing mother at inappropriate times, and the other half say that imposing a routine is going to mean the child turns into a Romanian orphan circa 1990, silently banging his head against the cot he still sleeps in at the age of twelve, unable to speak, so basically whatever I do, Piglet is doomed.

He’s actually lying next to me now, shouting at me that why oh why when the parents were being given out did he have the misfortune to end up with me and not Brad and Angelina.  At least I think that’s what he saying.  It actually sounds more like “O-OOOH EH OOH, GOOO,” but I’m pretty sure that’s baby language for the above.

Motherhood.  The guilt just never ends.