Wednesday, 29 April 2009
But this is the thing. Regardless of the reasons behind it all, I have to say that I'm beginning to get a little embarrassed. It's been there for a while, but these feelings of having to justify her love of nappies surfaced again yesterday after a comment made by another Mother (always the way). But it wasn't rude. It wasn't even malicious. All it was, was this.
"So, Edie...when is Mummy going to put you in big girl panties then?"
I couldn't help but go red, as much as I tried not to. And the more I tried to contain it, the worse it got until before I knew it I was having a full-on hot flush and looking for the nearest exit whilst spluttering something along the lines of,
"Well, we...we... have tried. She just refuses to do it. I just don't think....well, I just don't think that she's quite....er...ready yet."
At which point I got even more embarrassed at the rather lame excuses and had to scuttle away, clutching a rather large nappy-clad Edie.
Edie's a big girl, you see, so I suppose she looks older than she is (which is almost two-and-a-half in case you were wondering). She could pass for 3, as long as she doesn't open her mouth...Oh bless you Edie. I love you and I love everything about you.
But when I compare her to her sister (something which I know I shouldn't do but I can't help myself), I just don't remember having any such problems. The Grandparents, of course, urged me to put Renée on the potty before she was 2, but I knew she wasn't ready. Apart from running away and hiding each time the potty was 'subtley' produced, we were due to move house and have a new baby, so I thought it was best to leave it. And I was right. By two-and-a-half, with a new baby sister and an even newer house, she was out of nappies, day and night. There were a few accidents, of course, but only when she was particularly tired or engrossed in something. But the bottom line was, she knew what to do.
With Edie it's not quite the same. Believe me, I have tried. We've had days of wearing pants; pants which become sodden every 20 minutes or so, such is her lack of bladder control. We've had wee wees (or 'pee pees' as we call them) on the potty and subsequent star charts, but two minutes later, after much cadjoling and reminding, there'll be a pee pee on the floor and a poo poo (or 'caca') on the stairs.
And then I think, well is it me? Maybe she is ready and I'm the one who's not. So when I woke up this morning I thought 'This is it. Today's the day. No nappies. I'm just going to deal with the pain that is wet, soggy, smelly pants. I'm going to persevere until she's well and truly out of nappies.' And do you know what? She produced a pee-pee on the potty, we danced around in delight, we put a gold sticker on her chart and then dressed her in pants and trousers. Ten minutes later, pee pee everywhere. None in the potty. Not even near it. No mention of the fact that she had even needed it, or that she was soaking wet. I just happened to notice a rather dark stain on her trousers.
Ok, deep breaths. I wasn't going to throw in the towel just yet. New pants. New trousers. Another explanation of what to do should she feel the 'urge'.
Then a dilemna. Husband wants to take her for a bike ride along the seafront. "Can we put a nappy on her?" He asks.
"No", I reply. "This is it. She's going to learn. She's just done a pee pee (albeit in her pants), so she should be ok for a while. And if she does have an accident, then take some spare clothes and change her."
So that was that. Deep breaths again. Fingers crossed and a little conversation before departure that went something like this.
"Edie - if you need a pee pee, you must tell Papa."
"Ok Mummy. I know."
"Do you need a pee pee now?"
"Are you sure?"
"And if you need a pee pee, what do you do?"
"I tell Papa."
"That's right darling. Good girl."
And before she's even on the bike, pee pee. Everywhere.
So this is it. I just don't think she's ready. I'm ready. But she's not. It's as simple as that. I know that she'll 'get it' eventually, I just wish she'd hurry up. There are only so many times I can justify it before I shout at someone, red-faced and temperature rising.
"SHE'S JUST NOT READY. NOW LEAVE ME ALONE."
Monday, 27 April 2009
I've also been tagged by Bush Babies, Mum in Chaos, Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2 3, A Modern Mother and (sort of) Kate Morris (well I volunteered) - so thank you ladies. Some of the lists vary, but in order to save you the effort of having to read 5 separate lists and falling asleep before you reach the end, I thought I'd combine the lists and just do one. So, without further ado, here is my list.
Friday, 24 April 2009
So a couple of years ago when I was pregnant with Edie (sorry - don't think I can write a whole post without mentioning pregnancy or childbirth - it never quite leaves you, you know?!), I had a little bit of a nesting instinct and decided that we absolutely, more than anything, needed to move. My criteria - more bedrooms and a larger garden. My husband's criteria - to be close enough to the sea that he would (a) be able to hear it and (b) be able to carry his kayak to it. Funnily enough, not actually that easy. I'd like to say that my husband is a sea man through and through, but he's not. He's actually a mountain man, from the Alps. But in the absence of any mountains larger than...well in the absence of any mountains at all, he's very much a sea man (when he's around, that is)!
Anyway, without boring you with too many details on gazzumping and gazzundering (yes I didn't know the word existed either until it happened to us), or moving with a 2-week old baby and toddler (good timing hey?) - we did indeed find our perfect house with a bigger garden, more bedrooms, and...you've guessed it...a proximity close enough to the sea so my husband wouldn't collapse under the weight of his kayak before his feet were even wet.
And now with temperatures rising just a little above freezing, hubby (or JP - let me introduce him) is a happy Frenchman because after months of waiting he can finally paddle off into the sunset. But paddling is not all he does in his bright yellow sea contraption. No my dear friends, hard as it is to believe, he is a male multi-tasker! He is also able to fish from it! So imagine my delight when over the past couple of days he has returned, laden with the scumptious delicacy that is Sea Bass. On the first day he managed to catch 3 rather fine specimens and I was impressed enough with them for it to warrant a Tweet. The very next day he returned with 7. And, please believe me when I tell you this - they were not tiddlers. They were enormous. If you want stats, I can give you this. The largest one weighed 4 and a half pounds and measured 55cm from nose to tail. I have to say I almost swooned with pride, although it could have had something to do with the fishy odours, it was hard to tell.
So that's about it really. I may moan about my husband not being around most of the time, but when he is around, he certainly makes himself useful. And if the damn recession ever hits us even more than it has done already, at least we'll be safe in the knowledge that we will never go hungry. I therefore dedicate this post to my hunter gatherer and living by the sea. Two things which make it all worthwhile.
PS - the Sea Bass was divine!
Monday, 20 April 2009
And so went the exchange between the two sisters yesterday morning, as it does two mornings a week when Edie goes to nursery. When she's not at nursery and she's at home with me, Renée's presence is sorely missed.
This conversation runs on a loop throughout the day because Edie's tiny 2-year-old world does not exist without her big sister around. And despite the hair-pulling and biting, Renée adores Edie with such a genuine passion that she will forgive even the cruellest displays of toddlerdom (such as drawing on her newly-coloured in picture of Dora The Explorer or pulling the ear off her favourite teddy bear, or the worst crime of all - stealing her coveted last piece of Nutella on toast). For all these wrongs, Edie is forgiven in a heartbeat. They are as close as two sisters can be and for this I am so thankful.
You see, I never had a sister, and although I never felt the need for one (probably because I was far too selfish to share anything), giving birth to two girls and witnessing their bond developing and becoming stronger each day, makes me wonder whether there is a void in my life as a result. Growing up with an older brother, my world was dominated by the pacing of freezing touchlines as I witnessed him getting bashed about the rugby field on a Winter morning, or competitive games of Football and Cricket in the garden. There was no lacking of a brother/sister bond, but our lives were spent at opposite ends of our own worlds. And as much as I adore him now, I do wonder whether if I'd had a sister, things would have been different.
Recent research has shown that sisters provide no end of psychological benefits for each other. The knowledge that a friend may come and go, but a sister is for keeps, must be a bonus when dealing with the inevitable teenage friendship fallout. In a recent article in a women's glossy magazine (yes I'm not quite sure how I found the time to read it either), five famous women and their sisters were asked to talked about their relationships and what strikes me about each and every couple is that despite disagreements, arguments, differences of opinions and beliefs, sisters are always there. Author Esther Freud says of her sister Bella, "she protected me, but I was also her ally - it worked very well." And Bella on Esther "When she was 7 she was being bullied by a boy in her class and I went and threatened him." Other comments range from "I cherish our closeness and that non-judgemental love" to "I've realised that nobody's got it figured out, so we might as well muck-in and support each other." It's comments like this that make me feel happy for my daughters. Happy and relieved.
Having two girls you are inevitably asked the same questions over and over.
- Are you going to try for a third so you can have a boy?
- Don't you want a boy?
Friday, 17 April 2009
Now the reason for asking this was prompted by my trip today, with the two girls, to a sheep farm. Despite waking up this morning to storm clouds and more than just a drizzle, the trip had been planned for at least a month and as much as I welcome any excuse to stay inside and chain drink cups of tea, there's only a couple of days left of the lambing season and this was our last chance to witness a lamb being born. So as a threesome (husband is away again - don't ask), we braved the rain, donned our wellies, hooked up with some friends and ventured out to the back of beyond (otherwise known as Coombe Farm).
I can't tell you how excited the girls were. Ok, I'll try. Renée was whooping with joy and Edie was grinning inanely from ear to ear. Get the picture? Too, too cute. And despite Edie's irrational fear of absolutely all animals, which surfaced every now and then as a whimper, even she managed to have fun. They stroked and cuddled the lambs and generally frolicked about having a good time. In fact, if I think about it too much I may well up because it was truly beautiful. Call me a softie.
But gorgeous children and fluffy lambs aside, what I really wanted to see was the actual birth of a lamb. I don't think the girls were that bothered (actually I think Edie would have become slightly hysterical), but for me, it was the holy grail. So what do you do on a sheep farm when you want to see lambs being born? I'll tell you what you do. You go and study the back end of every ewe that doesn't already have a lamb. Ha. You see - in just one morning I've become an expert (yes I know CJ - I'll be taking your job soon). So while the children wouldn't leave the cosy embrace of the lambs, my friend and I wouldn't leave the ewes' bottoms. And I can tell you this - they were not a pretty sight. Swollen, bloody, pooey even...all with bits hanging out...and mangey bits of wool hanging off...it was strangely reminiscent of my own labour. But back to the point. Not one of the ewes looked to be in pain. Lambs were literally dropping out. Ok, so I didn't actually witness a birth (and don't speak to me about it because I'm devastated), but I might as well have done. There was one ewe in particular who was walking around with legs sticking out of her bottom. Well I assumed they were legs. What they actually looked like were two white hot pokers encased in rather slimy cellophane. And this went on for at least an hour. And I know this because I was there the whole sodding time. Unfortunately, I never managed to see the rest of the lamb, but what I did have the pleasure of witnessing was the passing of a few sacs of afterbirth, which I am still struggling to eradicate from my mind.
But just to wrap this all up. There was no pain. Plenty of blood. But no pain. A few bleats and a bit of panting and then a baby lamb is born. Why can't that be us? Oh I know. Maybe we'd all try to have too many babies and overpopulate the world with snivelling snotty monsters. That's it isn't it? A painful childbirth is there to stop us being too hasty in our procreation. I have to say, after my first labour I did swear to my husband (and there was a bit of swearing at him as well) that I would never go through that again. But here I am, two babies down and another on the way. ONLY JOKING. Do you think I'm that crazy?? Please. The sheep can give birth to as many lambs as they can manage, but I'm happy just with two.
Tuesday, 14 April 2009
It's the Easter holidays. We're visiting the Grandparents. It's a beautiful sunny day (well there was a light spotting of rain, but this IS England and we were trying to ignore it). Anyway we are all in the garden (Grandaprents, 2 sets of parents, 4 grandchildren and a dog). And we're playing a game. A giant game of Snakes and Ladders, complete with an enormous plastic board and an inflatable dice which the dog keeps chasing. Everyone is laughing and smiling. It's the best fun we've had in ages and if you ever get a chance to play it, I highly recommend you give it a go. It beats Twister any day.
So why, just 30 seconds after this magical scene was my elder daughter lying in a crumpled heap on the grass, hyperventilating with tears and threatening (between breaths) to give up on life?
- Had the dog bitten her? NO
- Had she slipped over on the lethal plastic mat that formed the Snakes and Ladders board? NO (but it was a close call).
- Had her sister bitten her? Not this time.
- Had her cousin threatened to stop being her best friend? NEVER.
- Had her Mummy or Daddy told her off? Not in this instance.
- Had she fallen and cut her chin? Whoops, sorry that was a couple of weeks ago.
- Had her year's supply of chocolate Easter Eggs been taken away? NO, but it's only a matter of time.
So, what could it have possibly been that had caused Renée, my gentle, funny and clever 4 year-old to sob and cry like her whole world had fallen apart?I'll tell you what it was. Her cousin had thrown the dice, rolled a 4 and skipped past Renée on her way to claiming victory in the inaugural Snakes and Ladders garden Championship. That was all it had taken. Someone else, other than Renée had won.
So I ask you this? If losing a game of Snakes and Ladders can cause a child so much pain and distress, is competitiveness a good thing? (Well she certainly has fire in her belly as my brother quite rightly pointed out). Or is it not the winning that matters, but the taking part? And if so, how do I stop this from happening every time my child fails to finish in the top spot? Help me please. I can't take another second-place.
But just before I go, I want to give a quick mention to the Mummy Bloggers Carnival which highlights the best posts from...you've guessed it...the Mummy bloggers...from the last few weeks. There are some hysterical, poignant and uplifting stories. So click here and have a read. You won't be disappointed.
Saturday, 11 April 2009
Just quickly though - on Friday Morning (day after husband's return) I did get a cup of tea in bed - made by myself of course because both children suddenly turned into the stickiest of limpets and wouldn't leave their Daddy's side long enough for him to even put the kettle on. If I'd have waited for my cup of tea to be brought to me, it would have taken...oooh somewhere in the region of 5 hours. Which just so happens to be the same length of time which it took us to drive here yesterday. That's 5 hours in a car with two small children.
Need I say more?
Only to ask myself why we do these sorts of things? And I don't really have an answer, except to say that the look on my two children's faces when we arrived and they were confronted with the huge tower of chocolate eggs, the new furniture for the doll's house, the moorhen eggs in the nest in the pond and the two new party dresses bought for them by Grandma was worth having to endure even a 10-hour journey. Well maybe not 10 hours... But just to see their excited faces, their lips quivering in anticipation and their little bodies jumping up and down is enough to melt even the cruellest of hearts. And after Edie's car game of sticking two fingers up her nose and seeing if she could blow snot down at the sides while simultaneously hitting her sister because she was bored, my heart was feeling in need of a good melt.
So that's all I have for you today. Just a quickie. The girls have gone for a country walk with Papa and Grandpa while I recuperate a tad. What that means, of course, is that I fiddle around on the computer whilst trying to eat as much chocolate as I can before they all descend upon me again. It's not entirely relaxing as every two minutes there's either a wood pigeon or a pheasant or some other large rural bird either furrowing around on the stones outside the front door or calling in the distance and every time I hear the crunch of the stones or the call of the birds I'm convinced that it's the big return and the third chocolate caramel shortbread is hastily put back whilst trying to give myself time to look as though nothing untoward has happened. But if that's all the relaxation I can get, then I'll take it. In the meantime, just one more mini chocolate egg while I can...
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
Here are just a few choice incidents which my husband has missed...
- A trip to A&E with two screaming children. Click here for the full story.
- Four delightful children's parties.
- Edie's first wee wee in the potty and subsequent (rather foul) accident on the stairs (he'll be devastated to have missed that one).
- A miserable, teething, insomniac of a toddler.
- A broken-down car whilst away from home.
- A puking, pooing, generally very unwell 4 year old.
And of course that is without mentioning all the meals cooked, school runs made, nappies changed, teeth brushed, stories read, kisses given, baths run and tantrums averted.
So, in light of all the things that I've had to do on my own and the promises that he keeps making me via phone, text, e-mail and Skype that he will come to my rescue as soon as he is able, I've decided, for his benefit of course, to write a list of all the things I need doing when he finally does return.
- Breakfast in bed (without children hovering nearby). As much as I love them, marmite on toast and Edie are not a good combination to have in bed with you. Especially not if your duvet is white.
- Cup of tea in bed (ditto above).
- A lie-in. Again without children hovering. Please just let me sleep until I wake up naturally and not when I hear 'Mummy' at 6 o'clock in the morning.
P.S. - to my husband - I will be forever grateful (that is until you go away again).
Saturday, 4 April 2009
Just a little bit of background quickly - National Velvet was my favourite film. (Sorry Tara - I forgot to include that on my list for your last post). Horses were my thing. In fact my ultimate ambition was to become the first woman to win The Grand National. Or was it to actually be Elizabeth Taylor? I'm not sure. But you get the drift.
So fast forward a few years. Renée is now 4 and a half. Old enough to choose a horse, follow it through the race and get excited when it finishes fifth and beats her sister's horse which finishes 17th. Or something like that. Give or take a few places.
Instead, this is what happens...
I read out the list of 40 horses. That's 4-0 (ie quite a few). She could choose any of them. Any.
"I want 'Hear the Echo' Mummy. I like that name. It reminds me of the tunnel leading down to the seafront, where we make noises. That's an echo isn't it Mummy? Yes, I want that one."
And there it was. Out of 40 horses she had made her choice. It was as simple as that.
The choices made on behalf of Edie, absent husband and myself are irrelevant. Suffice to say we didn't bother the bookmakers one bit. Of note though, is the fact that my eldest child entered into the spirit of the race with a childish abandon even I would have been proud of 30 years ago. She looked distraught when there were not one, but two false starts. She screwed up her face when her Daddy's horse fell at the first fence (told you we didn't trouble the bookmakers). She listened intently for any mention of her horse, of which there were quite a few, seeing as it was, for the most part of the race, a leading contender. She teased her sister (and her Mummy) when our horses were pulled up (I did say). And towards the end of the race she urged her horse on, as though it was her who had taken the pains to breed it and train it.
'I think I'm going to win Mummy', she said with two fences to go.
I could almost feel her excitement. Damn why hadn't I chosen that horse for myself?
And then I heard it. And I looked at Renée. And she looked at me.
"What does it mean Mummy? Collapsed on the run-in." She asked me. For this is what had happened. After 30 fences and 4 and a half miles of jumping and racing, 'Hear the Echo', Renée's chosen horse, her friend and pet, albeit for 20 minutes, had collapsed and died just before the finish.
"What happened Mummy? What happened to my horse? What happened? Where's 'Hear the Echo'? Why didn't he finish?'
I could have cried. Actually I almost did.
'I think he's just had a heart attack darling. He died. I'm so sorry.'
She ran to her bedroom, distraught.
However much you try to shield children from the inevitable, it will happen sooner or later. At least it wasn't the cat. Although at 14 years of age, that could be just around the corner...
Thursday, 2 April 2009
So not only have children taken over my life, but now blogging has too. When I first started writing my blog I thought that it would be about my life (my life) and be somewhere I could come, away from the world of babies and children and nappies and poo and vomit, and concentrate on me instead. But pretty soon it became obvious (er by about the first sentence of the first paragraph of the very first post) that my life was in fact, my children's life and that the only things I had to write about were the childen. And actually that was fine. I changed the name of the blog from 'Blog Fire' to 'Maternal Tales from the South Coast' and I conceded defeat, or at least I embraced it. I am a full-time Mother; I live children, I breathe children, and now I even write about children. I sometimes dream about them too.
But even though I may have embraced this new-found pastime, it doesn't help with the fact that not only am I exhausted, but I look it too. Huge suitcases have taken up residence under my eyes, my skin is rather more on the sallow side than I would like and my hair is just a mess. Well, that was until I bit the bullet this morning and booked myself in for a hair appointment. I mean there's nothing like a bit of pampering to make you feel better. And I even had a little fantasy that for three hours at least, I might be able to speak about something other than children. Right? Er not exactly...
Now I love my hairdresser. She's called Kelly and she's been doing my hair for at least ten years, so we're kind of past that polite stage. I know that she has two cats called Chav (seriously) and Maisie (or is that the dog? I always forget) and that she has boyfriend called Trevor and has recently moved in with him and that her Mum is only 5 foot tall and that she doesn't speak to her Dad and that she loves Jennifer Anniston but thinks Britney is a tramp. You see, we talk about all sorts of things, Kelly and I. And today that was what I wanted. I needed to sit down, be pampered and to talk about the latest offerings from Heat and Grazia. I could have done with a conversation about who's dumped who and who's sleeping with who. And I really thought that Kelly was my girl. I mean, there's no way Kelly would want to speak about babies and poo. Unfortunately for me it soon became clear that there would be no talk of Britney or Jennifer. Instead I got this...
'Guess what? I'm pregnant. Now we can talk about baby things too.'
Aaaaarrrrggghhhh. I guess the more you try to fight it, the harder it becomes! At least my hair looks good hey?