We can’t wait…

Us parents, we’re such funny beings aren’t we?

When our baby is born…

we can’t wait until they can hold their head up
we can’t wait until they can roll over
we can’t wait until they are sleeping through the night
we can’t wait until they smile and giggle

When our baby is 5 months old…

we can’t wait until they can start eating
we can’t wait until they sit up unaided
we can’t wait until they are sleeping through the night
we can’t wait until they start to crawl

When our baby is 10 months old…

we can’t wait until they start to babble
we can’t wait until they are walking
we can’t wait until they say their first word
we can’t wait until we can stop carrying so much stuff around
we can’t wait until they are sleeping through the night

When our baby is 15 months old…

we can’t wait as they discover new words
we can’t wait to take them on walks through the park
we can’t wait until they are sleeping through the night
we can’t wait until we don’t have to take the pram everywhere

When our baby is 24 months old…

if you’re anything like me, you’ll cry and wonder how your little baby grew up so quickly, where the time went, miss the new born phase and apart from the lack of sleep, wish time would slow down and you can re-live it all again.

This afternoon I spent time with my cousin and my niece and what a delight it was to hold and feed an almost 6 week old. To inhale her baby smell and to remember what it was like when S was that young (while he sat beside me talking non stop).

At 3 years and 7 months…

I love that I can have a full blown conversation with him.

I love the imaginative stories he comes up with.

I love his laugh.

I love his sense of humour.

I love his independence.

But today I did miss his baby days. Just before I left my cousins house, she said she couldn’t wait for baby L to grow up a little bit and my response? Savour every moment because you’ll get to 24 months and realise actually, they grow too quickly!

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Parenting and Job Satisfaction

Most people I know, at some point in their career, will moan about their job. Or complain about the hectic week they are having or have a right ol’ rant about their boss. Most people, except mums that is. When it comes to being a mum, it’s almost like we’re not allowed to complain about our “jobs”. And being a mum is a full time job! in fact it’s more than full time because you never really switch off.

When we rant about our office job, we don’t feel guilt, we don’t ever think that maybe work is tough because we are not good enough. We rant because it’s tough, because we’re having a bad week and we need to let off steam. But somehow when it comes to parenting, that’s where our inner most insecurities come out. Like if we admit that we’re having a bad week or that our toddler is driving us slowly insane, it’s like admitting we’re not doing a good job. That we’re not good enough. And actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

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The fact is, like any job, even with parenting, there are good days and there are bad days. It doesn’t mean you want to give up your job or that you don’t actually love it. When you’re having a bad day, its just that, one bad day. The good thing about parenting is, having a good day truly makes you forget the bad ones. Like they didn’t even happen.

Today was a good day. A very hectic, but good day. I don’t know what the rest of the week will be like. No doubt we’ll have some tantrums and tears. I’ll probably have to deal with S kicking up a fuss about going somewhere and refusing to put a jacket on. But I’ll also get cuddles, kisses, funny stories and laugh out loud comments. To me, that’s job satisfaction right there!

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Gender neutral parenting

I’ve written about gender stereotyping before and while I’m open to S playing with every toy out there, I got to be honest, S is a total “boys boy”! He loves running, mud, cars, diggers, fire engines and wrestling. And the fact is he doesn’t like those things because that’s all I encouraged, he naturally gravitates towards those things on his own accord.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about gender neutral parenting and I have to be totally honest, I just don’t understand it. There’s a family in Canada who have a 3 year old named Storm and they haven’t “announced” whether Storm is a girl or boy yet. And in Sweden last year, they added the word “hen” to their vocabulary which essentially means “it”, rather than refer to a child as “him” or “her”.

When I think of gender neutral parenting, I think of raising our children to believe that they can be anything they want. That a boy can go on to work as a carer/nurse and a girl can go on to work as a construction manager. Both typically dominated by either men or women. I don’t think of raising my child so he doesn’t associate with being a boy. Because the fact is, he is! And that wasn’t a choice I made or one that he made. That is a God/Universe given choice. So to deny him his gender, in the name of social change would be wrong, in my humble opinion.

The fact is, boys and girls ARE different. But boys and other boys are different and girls and other girls are different. And let’s be honest, unless you’re willing to keep your child cocooned at home or only surrounded by people living the same ethos as you, your child is going to be subjected to everyone else’s idea of gender. And that’s just the way the world is.

Do I believe that toys should be split into boys toys and girls toys? No.

Do I believe that girls should be pushed to sit down and play nicely while boys get away with running around like hooligans? No.

Do I think all girls should be in pink and all boys should be in blue? Definitely not.

But I think children should be allowed to choose. S, who loves cars, diggers and trucks, also calls me his “Fairy Princess Mama” and is a fan of Elsa & Anna. He can belt out most of “Let it go” while also owning no less than forty variations of cars. It’s all about balance and allowing our children to find their feet. Not disassociating them with who they really are.

Breast is best BUT….

These days you can’t scroll down your Facebook feed without seeing a HuffPost Article on Breastfeeding or a picture of someone breastfeeding in public. And while it’s great that there is so much encouragement to breastfeed, I think people need to stop and consider those who *can’t* breastfeed.

When I was pregnant, no one told me how difficult it would be. No one told me about the cracked and bleeding nipples, no one talked to me about latch and no one described the guilt I would feel at not being able to do it. My cousin just had a baby and I was talking to her about feeding when she described similar issues. And the guilt she feels and as we spoke, she said she was glad she wasn’t the only one. I was quite surprised because she did quite a bit of reading before giving birth and yet she felt alone. And I’d felt the same way 3 1/2 years ago.

So when I see pictures and posts that are pro-breastfeeding, I wish they’d describe how tough it can be. Because even these posts make out like its the most natural thing in the world. And the fact is, it isn’t for everyone.

These days science has advanced so much that formula is almost as good as breast milk. It carries all the same nutrition and minerals. Some people claim that breast milk builds your child’s immunity and helps create a bond between mother and child. I’d just like to state, in my humble opinion, that is utter rubbish! S has a great immune system, even though he was practically formula fed from birth and for those that know us, there’s no lack of a bond there. In fact if you lined up a bunch of school kids, I’d bet you wouldn’t be able to spot those that were formula fed and those that were breastfed.

This post is not anti breastfeeding. If it’s possible, I’m all for it. I just think there needs to be more support for those that can’t. For those that want to but aren’t able to. For those that feel such guilt because society makes them feel that if they don’t breastfeed, they’re doing a disservice to their children. The fact is, they’re not. Whether they can’t or won’t, it really is each individual’s choice.

So to those sitting on a bit of a high horse because they were able to feed until 6 months, 12 months or even 2 years, I encourage them to reach out to friends and family who are pregnant and talk them through all the challenges. And reassure them that their kids are going to be amazing, EVEN if they aren’t breastfed!

At the end of the day, all babies really need is this little thing called LOVE!

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Raising independent boys

I stumbled upon a very thought provoking read yesterday. You can read the full article here. To be honest, I think the title is totally misleading. It should probably read “I wish I taught my Indian son the value of a woman.” Instead the title was “I taught my daughter to be an independent woman but I regret bringing her up like that.” Never the less, it was an interesting read.

While the situation that occurred can happen in any family, in any part of the world, the author wasn’t wrong when she generalised the ideology of Indian men. I am an Indian and let me just say that the opinions I am about to share are a generalisation (and in fact there are some amazing Indian men) but the basis behind my opinions do exist. I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, it’s still very common.

In many households, boys are not expected to do much around the house. And as the author mentioned, in the last generation, the women were expected to do everything. With this generation, thankfully many parents changed. They encouraged their daughters to dream big and go out there to achieve whatever their hearts desired. The boys however got left behind. I once spoke to a woman who I considered fairly “modern” in her thinking…her daughter was a go-getter and was encouraged to follow her dreams. But when referring to the ways of her house, she said “The men in my family don’t enter the kitchen and they’re not expected to.” I remember being stunned and wondering how she could have such different standards for her two children.

She’s not the only one. It’s very common for Indian women, even those working full time, to pull the bulk of the weight in the house. And sadly it’s what’s expected of them…by their own mothers, their mother in laws and their husbands.

We live in the 21st century people and yet the expectations we place on our girls is that of a by-gone era. And what about the boys? Shouldn’t your boys know how to clean up after themselves, do their laundry, boil an egg? Why would you encourage your girls independence and limit your boys? Don’t they deserve to be all rounders as well? Don’t they deserve to be capable? To look after themselves?

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I’m not just addressing this to Indian mums but to all mums. Give your boys the independence you encourage your girls to have. They’re as capable. I’ve heard the phrase “mums and their boys”…I “know” the phrase…I have a son! There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him. But the one thing I will insist on is him being independent. So he doesn’t actually “need” a woman to do things for him. He doesn’t need a woman to make him his breakfast, cook him dinner or massage his ego. He might be lucky to find a woman who wants to do all of that for him, but it’ll be her choice. And they’ll be lucky to have each other because I hope to raise a boy who will do as much for his wife as she will do for him.

A sticker for your hard work

S absolutely loves stickers. When I was potty training, I used a sticker chart which really worked for us. His teacher at nursery inspired the idea because it was something they were doing there and I thought I’d carry it on at home. The other day he handed me a sticker and said “Mama, a sticker for your hard work.” I smiled and took it and the more I thought about it, I realised, we mama’s, we totally deserve it! And I don’t believe mothers give themselves enough credit for what they do and how hard they work.

So to all my mama’s out there, here’s a sticker for YOU, for everything.

For carrying and loving a baby for 9 months, giving birth, feeding, the emotions, the hormones, the sleepless nights.

For the shushing and patting, the rocking and the swaying. For their tears and ours!

For the colic and the gas. For walking our babies around in pushchairs to fall asleep, for driving our babies around to fall asleep. For the singing and humming, the lullaby’s and the nursery rhymes.

For the burping, the spit up and the pooing. Hell I’ve had poo all down my pyjamas, I think I deserve a sticker.

For the weaning, the steaming, picking pasta off their hair, picking pasta off the floor.

For the mess and the pureeing, for the bad backs bent over bath tubs, nights spent worrying about fevers and days spent worrying about naps.

For the classes and the songs. Because you know every nursery rhyme back to front.

For the Lego you have bought and the towers you have built. For the books that you read every night and the gadgets that you buy to make life that little bit easier.

For the ouchies that you’ve kissed better, for the tears you’ve wiped away.

For every time you woke in the night and every time you were woken before day break.

For the tantrums and the whining, the indecisiveness and the mind changing.

YOU, my fellow mama, deserve a sticker…for all your hard work! Because even though you don’t realise it, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!

We do it for the love, the kisses, the cuddles, the “I love you mama’s” and the hugs (oh the hugs are the best!) but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means it’s totally worth it!

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My Random Musings

Would you be happy with just one child?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be a mother. When I was 14/15 years old, I’d talk about how many children I wanted and even what some of their names would be. At the time I had the crazy idea that I wanted 5 children. Clearly I didn’t really understand the responsibilities (and expense) behind raising a child.

When I was married and planning S, we talked about children and I said I’d wanted 3. I imagined raising them, wandered whether they’d be boys or girls, what their personalities would be like. When people talked about having only one child, I was rather obnoxious. I’d say things like: “Imagine you’re on a road trip in the States, going to Disney…would you rather have one child in the back sitting quietly on their Ipad or two children bickering and playing in the back?” I was really against the idea of only one child.

And then I had S. And very soon after, my circumstances changed. And suddenly the idea of having any more children was put on the back burner. And as S started to grow, I wandered whether this one child choice was such a bad idea. In fact, I couldn’t believe that I’d be able to love another child as much as I love S. Now of course, I’ve read about how common this is. Most mother’s feel that way after they have their first and then when they go on to have more, they just feel like their love expands to include the other’s. I imagine that to be a pretty amazing feeling.

I’ve been through a plethora of emotions since I became a single parent. Is this it? Will I only have one child? Will S be okay without a sibling? Will he be lonely? Will he be spoilt? And then I made peace with it because I realised, it all comes down to how you raise your child. And in today’s day and age of play dates and whatnot, S is never really on his own. He understands the concept of sharing with friends and he absolutely loves babies and is quite affectionate towards them. He has mine (and my parents) undivided love and attention which makes him a very secure and happy child.

I have a sibling, Sam. We’re only a year apart and as children we fought all the time. I was a tom boy and the small age gap meant we had a lot of mutual friends. He didn’t always like this. As we grew older we made our own friends and in many respects grew apart, each choosing to do our own thing. He lives in Nigeria and absolutely loves it there while I live in London and love my life here. I love him, respect him and know I can always count on him for advice/anything really, but he’s not always my go to person. That may be because we live in different cities or just because we’re quite different in our thinking. Either way, I have people I can talk to/confide in who aren’t my siblings.

S is very attached to my cousins girls who live in Nigeria. He sees them only once or twice a year and yet they have such a close bond. When they meet, it’s like they just saw each other the previous week. He misses them when they leave and often asks for them. With the help of modern technology, they’ll be able to have a relationship growing up, even living thousands of miles apart.

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In the 80s when I grew up, having a sibling meant you’d always have someone to play with, someone who was around. In today’s world, I think even as an old child, you’ll always have that. And so even though I’m open to having more children, I’m also okay if I don’t. Because I know my child will never really be alone and I also know my only child will always be enough for me.

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My Random Musings

What should I pack in my hospital bag?!

What should I pack in my hospital bag is a question I see asked time and time again in mum groups that I’m a part of. Although I was super organised when it came to purchases, etc. for S before he was born, my hospital bag wasn’t something I gave much thought to. I suppose I figured I was giving birth in Central London and if I needed anything, it would be easily available.

However, to make life a little easier, I asked several mama’s and have put together quite a list. You may not need everything on here but it’s there just in case.

For mama:
1. Comfortable pj’s (button up are easier for feeding)
2. Flip flops (public showers are not fun!)
3. Granny Knickers
4. A fan (especially if you’re giving birth in the summer)
5. Cotton Wool
6. Maternity pads
7. Sugary sweets
8. Refillable bottle with nozzle
9. Phone charger
10. Dried prunes for post birth poo (not something a lot of mums think about but let’s be honest, it’s reality).
11. Socks (your toes can get really cold during labour)
12. An old tshirt/nightie for labour
13. Lip balm
14. Hair ties
15. Things to keep you occupied (I doubt you’ll read a book but an Ipad/tablet, magazines help)
16. Snacks & Drinks
17. A going home outfit
18. Nursing bras
19. Breast pads
20. Toiletries
21. A towel
22. A eye mask (those hospital wards can be very bright!)
23. Make up (if you think it’ll help you feel better)
24. A hot water bottle (this can help post birth)
25. A TENs machine if you’re going to use one.
26. A breast pump if you think you might want to pump
27. Wet wipes
28. A camera/camera phone

For baby:
1. Lot’s of nappies
2. 4-5 sleepsuits and vests
3. Muslins
4. Socks and a hat
5. A going home outfit
6. Formula milk (even if you’re planning on breastfeeding, it may take time for your milk to come in)
7. A baby car seat (some hospital’s won’t let you leave without one, even if you’re going to walk home and you bring a pushchair)

I hope this list helps, let me know if there’s anything I’ve missed out!

How do you measure success?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what success means. Everyone has a different definition. To some, having a million pounds in their account means they are successful. To other’s it may be making a difference in people’s lives, learning a new language, taking up an instrument at 60, leaving a bad relationship, raising high achieving kids….the list goes on.

I think to me, being successful means to be happy. And that’s not to say that we’re walking around with big smiles on our faces, oblivious to the goings on in the world. But rather, to have a sense of contentment. To be able to ride the peaks and troughs of life and not be too affected by them. To strive to do better, earn more, be better but not to let that affect how you feel in general. To me, success is a constant work in progress.

I was talking to my cousin R a few days ago and she provided another answer. When discussing success, she said “Success is growth” and on that particular day, her comment hit the nail on the head for me. Success is growth! Look at where you were last year, she suggested, and look at where you are now. Have you grown? And by growth it encompasses all aspects of your life. Physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. I certainly believe I’ve grown a lot since last year.

I was chatting to another friend P and when talking about success, she talked about success being all about perspective. We live in a world where each person is unique, and yet we don’t act like they are. We expect people to fit into our model of the world, we expect our children to model behaviour that is acceptable to us. And yet who ever said our model was the right one? It’s right for us. She also went on to mention value. She does a lot of good work in an organisation close to her heart. It doesn’t give her any money but it gives her great internal satisfaction. Is she successful? In her opinion of success, she is.

Validation was something else we talked about. When you believe that what you’re doing is right and you’re truly happy with it, then how other’s feel about it and what other’s think and say to you, don’t affect you. You don’t need outside validation when you are content with who you are. I know, that’a a big one isn’t it? We live in a society that thrives on validation. I’m not immune to it. I was super excited when I hit 500 followers on Twitter and when I get lots of likes on Instagram and Facebook. But as I mentioned before about success, it’s a work in progress.

When you ask most new parents what they envisage for their children when they grow up, they may say things like “I want my child to be a doctor or a dentist. I want my child to play the piano or be an athlete.” But essentially, when it comes down to it, I think most parents just want their children to be happy. And yet most parents (myself included) also seek to impose their views on their children, their model of the world. And our views and models, while based on experience, are also based on our fears.

I think it’s so important to allow our children to BE who they want to be, even when we don’t particularly like it. That’s not to say we let them go off the rails and behave in unsociable ways but rather to act as guides and beacons of light. I love this quote by Khalil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

What does success mean to you?

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Thank you, son

S is at that lovely age where his speech has well and truly kicked in and I can have full blown conversations with him. He’s got a great sense of humour, loves to wind me up and often laughs for no reason. He is so observant, has a great memory and absolutely loves cars. Since he was about 20 months, even though he couldn’t speak, he recognised cars by their brand logo and would often point to a random car on the road and say mama or ada (my dad). I’d then say “Yes, that’s like mama’s car or that’s like Ada’s car…the same brand just a different colour or model.” He now knows the names of several different car models and loves to point them out while I’m driving.

But I digress, because I could sit here and write about my son all day!! But the point of this post was actually to thank him for everything that he teaches me. Every single day. General consensus would have you believe that WE are teaching our children. And we are! When you watch them mimic us, you know they are learning from us. But at the same time, they are teaching us so much.

My son teaches me that persistence is the key. Mama…mama…mama…mama….he will keep at it until he has my attention. Does it drive me mad sometimes? Well yes…if I’m in the middle of something important…but does it get my attention? Certainly! I’m not a very persistent person. I take no for an answer far too easily and on a daily basis he teaches me how important it is to be persistent to get what you want.

My son teaches me to know what I want. I don’t know if it’s a toddler thing, a piscean thing or just his inherent nature but he knows what he wants and he’s not afraid to ask for it/say no to something he doesn’t want. Since he was quite young I’ve tried to always give him options. What would you like for breakfast? Do you want a banana or an apple? Should we go to the playground? And this kid knows what he wants! I’ve been on a course all day today and he’s been hanging out with my mom. The weather wasn’t great and so after his dramarama class my mom asked if he’d like to go to Topsy Turvy, an indoor soft play area. He didn’t want to go. And he made that very apparent. As parents we often think we know what is best for our child. It’s saturday afternoon, it’s wet outside so we can’t go to the park, surely our kid would love to go to a fun indoor soft play area?! He didn’t and even when I spoke to him on the phone, he didn’t change his mind. Stick to your guns S!

My son teaches me that an award is not everything. This is quite a funny one actually. As many of you know, I recently found out I’m a finalist in the MaDBlogAwards which is very exciting!! The award would mean a lot to me and to even be a finalist amongst some amazing bloggers is quite an honour. S got an “award” at nursery last week for knowing all his numbers and alphabets and what did he do when he was given it? Chucked it on the floor! He was not interested at all. Who needs an award when YOU know you’re good?! I hope that trait always stays with him and he doesn’t need external recognition to know how amazing he is. I on the other hand am still working on that! 😉

Lastly, my son teaches reminds me to laugh. Sometimes he’ll wake up in the morning, look at me and just laugh for no reason. Or he’ll catch the glint in my eye, know I’m about to start tickling him and laugh hysterically before I’ve even begun. Children laugh for no reason at all…how awesome is that?! Given the phrase “laughter is the best medicine”, you’d think we’d all be laughing a lot more.

So each night, as I lay down to sleep, a small thank you goes to my son for everything he is and all that he teaches me.

 

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