dating, Motherhood, Mums, Parent, single parent, toddler

Regression

Definition:

A return to a former or less developed state

A return to an earlier stage of life

It’s a strong word. When talked about in parenting circles, it’s usually pre-empted by ‘sleep’ as bleary eyed mums and dads find a fancy term to describe why their kid won’t pipe down. This is happening for me once again right now, but I will get on to that shortly.

First though, I am also regressing in my own life as I am reverting back to being single, moving back to my home town and likely to end up stumbling around some old and familiar haunts in heels that I can’t keep upright in.

Following the recent decision for me and TJ’s dad to go our separate ways, I find myself at the beginning of starting over after a decade of familiarity. One of the biggest changes in modern day living which has completely passed me by is the dating game. The apps, the swiping left (or is it right?!), the etiquette on that fine line between messaging and pestering – I am completely clueless on it all.

I have never been good at knowing what to do or what to say when it comes to courting and I have had little chance to hone my skills in recent years. I do find it easy to get on with most people, anyone who follows my blog knows I usually have quite a lot to say for myself and I truly enjoy meeting new people and discovering what makes them tick. Becoming a parent has also changed me for the better as I am stronger, more confident and more driven than ever before. So, that may be a winning combination to find another happily ever after.

I have no plans at all to throw myself into something too serious head first. I need time to heal, to recover and to learn to have some ‘me’ time again. I am also not looking for a replacement dad for TJ, he’s got one of those already.

But, I believe in love. In the words of SATC’s Carrie, I want real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, can’t live without each other love. Wanting more for my life is the reason I am applying for my own mortgage in the first place. But when that time comes, I know it will bring the phone checking, the self-doubt and the constant ‘is he just not that into me’ questioning. Online dating can only fuel that. Maybe I won’t have to resort to downloading Tinder and there is that person in the real world for me instead. I will keep you posted.

So, about last night. That parenting pitfall of sleep regression reared its ugly head again.

TJ has been a dream baby overnight for months now, and it’s been essential in order for me to function as a human being. So, when he screamed the house down at 1am one night last week, I resorted to pulling him in bed with me – two hours later when I had exhausted all other options. I prayed that it was a one-off and this wouldn’t be the start of the co-sleeping we abandoned way before TJ’s first birthday.

I was wrong. It happened again last night, at 2am. I didn’t even put up much of a fight this time, grabbing his massive Sleepyhead pillow and thanking God for the space afforded by the king size bed. TJ calmed down thanks to a combination of cuddles with his favourite soft toy and grasping at a chunk of my hair.

Despite the awful sleep deprivation (we both only grabbed a few handfuls of sleep in the hours that followed), it was blissful on fleeting occasions. When TJ let go of my hair and playfully felt my face and said ‘nose’, my heart leapt. When he woke up a little unsure of where he was but relaxed when he saw me and said ‘mama’, I took reassurance that I had done the right thing.

But what’s next? Is this the start of things to come again? It really can’t be as we both need our precious sleep to have positive experiences the following day.

What about you? Have you experienced toddler sleep regression and if so, any tips on how I can get through it?

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Motherhood, Mums, Parent, toddler

judge-y wudge-y was a bear

As I sat in a bank, minding my own business, a lady came up to me and TJ to strike up conversation. I thought it would be the usual ‘he’s gorgeous, how old, blah blah blah’ chit chat, which we do get from random strangers pretty often. I usually love it too. But instead, she asked me if TJ was walking yet. When I said yes, she said ‘that’s good – the only problem is that he’s still quite large isn’t he’. I smiled through gritted teeth, mumbled something about his healthy appetite and made a quick exit.

Although the bluntness of this maybe well-intended exchange is a rarity, there’s nothing like parenthood to make you feel like you’re living your life under a microscope. It can sometimes feel like every move you make is under constant scrutiny from other parents, people who are grandparents to children other than your own or people haven’t become parents for themselves yet.

It doesn’t seem to matter what I am doing – whether I am letting TJ get away with murder as he runs riot or when I do my best to discipline an 18-month-old, I always feel like there’s a disapproving look or a wagging tongue just over my shoulder. And, because I have ears which can hear things, sadly I know I am not always too far from the truth. Today’s encounter isn’t the first time something like this has happened and I fear that it won’t be the last.

I don’t blame them, really. I used to do the same – although I didn’t say it out loud. I didn’t understand the people who took an iPad to a dinner in a restaurant. I couldn’t figure out why people let their kids trash displays in shops. I was sad for the mum who told her child to shut up. I have done all of those things – and my child isn’t even two years old yet.

It’s a different ball game altogether when you’re on the receiving end of judgement. For me, it started from almost day one – people I had never seen before in my life (and I hope to never see again) told me that TJ was cold, hungry, tired or all of the above. I may have been a newbie to the parenting game with a tiny baby in tow, but I also used to be a beginner at cooking food and I didn’t want the opinion of the checkout girl on how to prepare my onions.

It’s led me to critique my own behaviour. I use Disney on YouTube to keep TJ happy far too often – what started as a way of keeping him still during nappy changes has crept into other areas of life including the odd pram ride, meal time or even when I just need to get some jobs done around the house. I let TJ get his way and watch the same DVD over and over again instead of trying to convince him to read a book. I ask him to do something and relent the second he says ‘no’ or I can sense a tantrum brewing.

But, sometimes, needs must. We all do what we need to do to both survive and try our best to raise rounded, positive, ‘spirited’ little people. I don’t let TJ watch a small screen all day – we go to baby classes, we go to the park, we point out every bus, plane and train which we see out and about. The name of the game is everything in moderation – food included.

Having brought an overdue seven pound baby into the world through a traumatic emergency C-section, failing to exclusively breastfeed like I had intended and being told by a health visitor that my five-day-old son was seriously failing to gain weight, I take comfort in watching TJ eat a healthy diet and I kiss his chubby little baby legs as often as he will let me.

So, you know what, random stranger – if you don’t like it then look the other way. Don’t make a beeline for me just to make me feel bad. I don’t judge your life choices (even when you’re wearing such ugly shoes) so don’t you judge mine.  

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Parent

News.

I don’t know where to start.

I’m on my route to work trying to hold it together after TJ didn’t on the way to nursery this morning.

I’m feeling guilty because he was clinging to me – maybe because I didn’t make enough time for him this weekend.

I’m feeling concerned because I don’t know how his day at nursery will go. I’ll wait for their phone call later to hopefully tell me that my boy is happy and playing with his friends like he normally does.

I’m feeling sad because this is a sign of the future.

After 10 years, TJ’s Dad and I have decided to go our own ways. I’ve felt every emotion under the sun in that last decade and in the recent weeks since that decision was made.

We’re both house hunting. Our house is up for sale. We’ve planned childcare routines. And we’ve both bottled up how we actually feel about this huge change.

It was my decision. A thought which had been on my mind based on the difficulties we’ve faced together. I love him but I think we’re unhealthy and destructive forces to each other.

But now, in the words of All Saints, my head is spinning. I don’t know how to follow it through. I don’t know how to cope with missing so much of TJ’s life. I keep telling myself that it’s so common for this to happen – one in four children is raised by a single parent. But that doesn’t help. When it comes to me and my life, the thought of not seeing TJ every day wrecks me.

I am hoping for the best when it comes to how to maintain a relationship with TJ’s Dad. We can be grown ups, friends, and co-parents to the most amazing result of our time together. I think we can do this and still be civil, happy, and enjoy each other’s company when spending time as a family.

But TJ doesn’t know that. He won’t understand why his two parents aren’t around all the time anymore. He won’t understand why we will have to spend lots of time driving up and down the M3 between mummy and daddy’s separate homes. I think the battle I just faced to get him to nursery will be a drop in the ocean compared to what those journeys may be like.

So what do I do? Do I abandon the plans of separation and try even harder to make my relationship work? Or, do I bite the bullet and hope TJ is young enough at 17 months to accept the change and grow up not to know any different?

Answers on a postcard please.

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Mums, Parent, toddler

Sleep

Ah, there’s a loaded word when it comes to parenting. Prior to producing people, it could only have positive connotations of beautiful slumber following a day (or night!) of life.

Now, it’s not such a pleasant thought or experience.

And this time I’m not talking about the baby.

At 17-months-old, TJ is (mostly) sleeping through the night. Aside from one problem. He wakes at around 5am for a cry. It’s short-lived, doesn’t require assistance, seemingly for no real reason and yet it’s primary function seems to be to wake me up.

This has become such a regular occurrence that I wake up at that time, whether TJ does or not. It also happens even if I am not at home, as I’ve been painfully reminded when I’ve had a night off and stayed with friends.

That little sod of a body clock ensures my day starts bright and early anyway … and continues to wake me up every 30 minutes until TJ is ready to start the day/I finally concede defeat in getting more shut-eye and get up out of lovely, lovely bed.

I know I am lucky that TJ is sleeping well at night. I know that I am also lucky that he doesn’t seem much interested in getting up before 7am. I also know that I could (possibly) remove this issue if I switched off the baby monitor and did some sleep training of my own.

But I won’t. I love feeling like the little man is right with me by having a black and white version on that screen on my bedside table. I also still feel a duty to keep an eye on him or listen out for if he needs me for anything overnight.

So I’ll just hope that the 5am wake up calls make a hasty retreat soon – and that hopefully they are not replaced by an even earlier call to action.

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Motherhood, Mums, Parent, toddler

I never thought I would say this

But I am sick of Disney.

The happy, clappy music can just bloody piss off.

And I didn’t see this coming.

I love(d) Disney. I own more Disney DVDs than I can be bothered to count. I’ve been to the theme parks countless times (my literally and metaphorically speaking poor parents). I even used “so I can watch Disney more often” as a legitimate reason why I should become a parent.

But, now, when I Just Can’t Wait To Be King is one of the only ways to get TJ to pipe down on a car journey or during a nappy change, I’m hearing these damn songs on repeat every day, from around 7.30am.

Being a child of the 80s, it was the 90s classics (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King) which have always been firm favourites for me.

But there’s nothing worse than Prince Ali making his grand appearance on the streets of Agraba over and over again on a trip to the supermarket.

I’ve tried other stuff. Shrek made a brief appearance. But it didn’t work the same magic of calming my tantruming little toddler (see future blog post on how the tantrums began at 14 months).

This is also without a detailed mention of how I know all the words to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which is taking up more storage room than anything else on my Sky box.

Ok, the one cute thing is when said programme is on and TJ picks up the Mickey Mouse toy which my parents (obviously) bought for him.

So until TJ gets as fed up with it all as I am, I guess I’ll just have to Hakuna Matata my way through. And save up for that pricey trip to DisneyWorld.

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Motherhood, toddler

Things my son did today

I went for lunch with two friends today. TJ was amazing and amusing in equal quantities.

This is how.

He fed me some of his tangerine. First by trying to insert it into my eye and then in my mouth. I don’t like tangerine, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

He repeatedly took small packs of crayons from a pot and tried to eat the cardboard they came in.

He walked around the restaurant with me and showed me the bathroom, three times.

He pooped whilst standing next to someone else’s table. His pooface gave the game away.

He played peekaboo with my friends and made them laugh.

He shoved butternut squash purée sandwiches in his face like they were the best thing he’s ever eaten.

He made my friends touch his wafer before each bite he took of it.

He did all this on no nap. Aside from the not napping thing, I couldn’t be more in love with my crazy little baby.

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Parent, toddler

Food for thought.

I work two and a half days a week. In the olden days, I would have questioned such a silly working pattern and wondered how to fill the rest of my life. As a parent, this is no longer something I need to give thought to.

On my Tuesday afternoons off (ha ha), I run around like a mad woman getting all the jobs done that I can’t do when I have a little person to cart around with me. OK, this isn’t EVERY Tuesday … but the majority at least.

This Tuesday, it was time to batch cook some meals for the coming days. As TJ is on a nap-strike, I have no opportunity to do this during the day and by the evening I struggle to throw something resembling a meal together for myself and TJ’s Dad (whilst said Dad is on bedtime routine duty, not just sitting on the sofa watching Eastenders).

After finishing work at 2pm, I legged it home so I could do a food shop and sharpen my culinary skills before picking TJ up from nursery at 5.30pm. After some questionable driving of both a car and trolley, I made it back to the kitchen with an hour to whip up baby curry and baby pilaf rice.

I don’t always have such a plethora of appetising choices for TJ. He’s no stranger to an Ella’s Kitchen pouch or a Heinz mini meal. He’s also rather familiar with my signature dish – pea puree sandwiches. But I do like to rustle up some homecooked grub now and again, and ignore the fact that TJ seems to enjoy a pouch just as much, if not more.

I peeled, chopped into tiny pieces, sauteed and simmered a wide variety of healthy stuff, shoved it into tubs, let it cool and lobbed it into the freezer with just enough time to ram half a tub of cottage cheese down my own neck before running out the door to collect the little man from his day care.

I am lucky because TJ is far from a fussy eater – he usually wolfs down whatever I put in front of him *touches wood so he eats that damned curry*. He’s never been a struggle to feed (breastfeeding aside), and he’s growing exceptionally well (too well?!) to prove it.

When he gets some more teeth (four and counting now!), I will start giving him more of what me and his Dad live on.

Until, then it’s bespoke baby meals a go go in the Peppis household. You never know, I could just be a mumtrepreneur in the making. (I am not, my cooking skills are terrible).

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