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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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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Motherhood, Parent

Dancing to your merry tune

Last night, in a bid for TJ to let us brush his tooth (singular), I found myself jumping around the bathroom with my toothbrush in my mouth whilst attempting to write and perform the “let’s brush our teeth” song.

It’s come to this.

It did work as a good form of distraction while TJ’s Dad wielded the baby brush. And I don’t blame TJ for wondering why we’re shoving a bit of plastic in his mouth (although he does it himself every 15 seconds).

But it’s a new level of parenthood when you realise your one-year-old has turned you into a performing monkey.

Ten minutes later, TJ’s Dad is skidding across our laminate floor in his socks. This, we have found, is the only way to keep TJ happy as I get him dressed for bed.

On the up side, I reckon I can count the “let’s brush our teeth” song as my daily exercise.

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Motherhood, toddler

The truth.

I never want to lie. I haven’t intentionally perpetuated any myths about parenthood. I’ve actually gone out of my way to be real about all of it.

But, just to be clear, here’s the facts.

Motherhood is hard.

I’ve just spent two days with TJ and they were much more tiring and testing than the prior two days in the office. I feel like applauding myself for getting through the 10 months of maternity leave if this is what it was always like.

Of course, it wasn’t always like this. TJ has changed, developed and grown both in size and personality. It’s easy to look back at those newborn days through rose-tinted glasses but I know that’s not the case – I’ve still got the bags under my eyes to prove it.

Yesterday, I willingly did a big food shop just for something to do.

I’ve also gone to two baby classes a day just to get out of the house as TJ is apparently bored at home. He loves other people and children and I’m prepared to indulge him in that to avoid meltdowns, to give us some fun time together and also to keep me sane.

During these outings, several people have commented on how happy my baby is. My stock answer is that he’s happiest when we are out of the house.

At home, the following are currently a battle:

Feeding – spoon feeding is off the menu for TJ so I’m ransacking Annabel Karmel for finger foods which my limited cooking skills and budget can take on.

Nappy changes: This particular battle starts around 7:30am, the first change of the day. This is usually a code brown, and I have to forcibly pin TJ down so I can clean him up.

Sleeping: as always. This one has never changed for us. Thank God TJ’s Dad usually looks after bedtime so it’s just those precious day naps which are the issue for me.

Leaving the house for a car ride or pram trip: This is when I also have to forcibly get TJ strapped in and endure a few tears from him before we can go on our way (usually to a baby class).

Moving around: TJ is constantly on the move – finger walking being his preferred mode of transportation. So, I spend my life crouching down to hold him upright by his wrists. I would hold his fingers (as the name suggests) but TJ has taken to carrying some random treasure around with him, like my shoes. Or a coaster. Or a toy which he doesn’t play with.
If he’s not walking, he’s desperately trying to crawl but then he just ends up frustrated, crying, face down on the floor, resting his face on his arms in a proper toddler tantrum style (which I thought he was too young for!)

That doesn’t leave much time for anything else does it? Well, yes it does. This I must remember.

It leaves time for cuddles, which he has learnt to climb into my lap for.

It leaves time for uncontrollable giggles when I tickle him by his ears or on his tummy.

It leaves time for how he insists on holding a bit of my hair when I give him his bottle whilst he’s sitting on my lap.

It leaves time for me to love TJ more than I thought possible.

Motherhood isn’t easy. Despite what TV, Instagram and all the rest of it make it look like through a good filter, it really is the hardest job in the world.

But would I change it? No. Well, I say this whilst TJ is snoozing. Ask me again at a nappy change.

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Motherhood, toddler

Stick a needle in me, I’m one.

I no longer have a baby – I have a toddler. TJ turned one yesterday and we celebrated with a trip to an aquarium. He spent the day showing some true toddler traits – both the good and the bad!

Today, he had his one-year-old injections. And he’s reverted back to baby. He’s been in my arms for the last two hours – tired but not sleeping but refusing to stop the cuddles. He’s being simply delicious.

The injections weren’t fun – he cried and I cried (and cursed myself afterwards for not being the strong grown-up parent he needed). His little chubby legs swelled up red and sore. He’s been clinging to a chunk of my hair all day.

I would never, ever not have TJ vaccinated. We’re incredibly lucky to have some fabulous medical care available and I simply can’t understand anti-vaxxer mentality.

But today has been hard. I know my baby (sorry, toddler) is suffering for short-term pain and long-term gain reasons.

And I know that an afternoon filled with only cuddles is pretty special.

I just wish I could still feel the arm he’s been resting his head on since 3pm (it’s now 5pm)

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