Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Finding That guardian (Angel)...

It's funny the things that pop into your head. As we were driving home from a lovely day out with my parents at the weekend I inexplicably chose that time to hit my tired, 'been driving for an hour' husband with;

"We really need to up our life insurance, make a will and discuss who would be Daisy's Guardian should anything happen to us."

Oh yes, not one but all three of those little gems all at once while he attempted to negotiate the Sunday evening traffic on the M1 and all in that slightly neurotic 'we have to do it now, we're terrible parents' tone I have a tendency to adopt when we discuss things like this.

While I have sympathy for Mr R it is a very real concern, D was sleeping in the back and perhaps it was seeing her like that, a picture of pure innocence that bought it home how precious she is and how important it is we make sure she is safe and looked after for the rest of her life even if we can't be there to do it. It got me thinking, am I alone in not having this sorted, has everyone made "those plans" for their little ones and even more terrifying how do you choose the right person / people to care for the most important person in your lives?

Of course we've touched on a the subject about who before, even had casual non committing discussions with said people, but I can't get rid of the feeling we are asking the biggest ask of all. Yes we wish for D to be cared for, clothed, fed and taught but most of all we want her to be loved, loved like a Mummy and Daddy love their children and that is a huge ask  - especially if those people have children of their own. Then there's the issue of siblings, we have never intended for D to be an only child but to ask somebody to look after two children? - that big ask is just getting bigger.

I found myself sitting there as we edged closer and closer to home fretting over the little things, things we discussed together as Daisy's parents, promises we made each other about her future. We would teach her to swim, encourage her to learn to drive and show her the places in the world which are special to us. And then there are the things she can't do, no ear piercing till she's old enough to look after them, no chocolate for breakfast (Easter and Christmas are obvious exceptions) and I was going to put no drinking milk from the cereal bowl but Mr R appears to have already blown that one! I can feel my blood pressure rising just at the thought of it, I can barely relinquish control of her now so how can I realistically make plans for someone else to do it for the rest of her life!

Parenting throws some pretty sharp curve balls at you along the way but this feels like one of the bigger ones so far and the only way to avoid it consuming me from the inside out is to face it head on. Follow my head a little and my heart a lot and sit down with Mr R to make what could be some of the most important decisions of our lives. I think this is a subject I'll need to come back to. Who said parenting was easy?

Friday, 26 July 2013

A Friday Ramble: Love, Life and London Traffic

Cycling through to work this morning I heard a familiar nagging voice, the very same voice I hear every day and the same voice that makes me move to the side of the road get off my bike and walk the final 5 minutes to the office, avoiding the horrendous 5 lanes of merging traffic that is Aldwych at 8am. 

The voice that reminds me there’s now a small person in my life and she could do with me sticking around.

As a parent you can feel so powerful and yet so vulnerable almost all at the same time. It is mind blowing to know that nobody in the world is more suited to my job than I am. I’m responsible for shaping a little human life, introducing her to the world, protecting her. But equally I often feel massively vulnerable, scarily aware of my own mortality and if I’m honest a bit overwhelmed.

Nothing makes you more aware of yourself than when you have someone else to consider. As a mum I get to be everything, the finder of missing toys, the giver of cuddles, the mixer of cakes and cleaner of grubby hands but I also get to be the little life boat making sure nobody’s sinking.

The thought of having to be all those things all at once can sometimes make me want to run for the hills but as I trundle along on my little fold up bike dodging the towering red buses and the speedy courier boys, I realise it’s being all those things that keep me safe and push me to make the right decisions.

“So young lady, I’ll keep you safe if you keep me safe, deal?” lovelovelove

Monday, 15 July 2013

Separation Anxiety

I’ve been back at work for 10 months now and for the first time since I started back I am stood here blubbering at the station, wishing I could leave my job and be at home to look after my girl. Daisy has always loved going to her childminder, she practically runs in without so much as a bye, but today was different. She cried. And nothing pulls a big gaping hole in your heart like hearing your baby cry for you and seeing her big brown eyes pleading for a ‘cuddie’.

I remember the last phase of separation anxiety well, those long nights of sleeping (well attempting to sleep) on the floor next to her cot because she needed to hold my hand to sleep, overnight she became my own little koala baby clinging onto my side and for a couple of weeks no one else would do. Secretly I loved the closeness and took advantage of the cuddles knowing it wouldn’t be long before she was off and I would be replaced with whatever Happy Land figure was her latest bestie. I've got quite a few friends going through this for the first time and have been confidently telling them it'll pass (which of course it will), but I must admit I didn't expect to find myself with a little Velcro baby again so soon.

I read a lot about separation anxiety the first time round, like all new mums I was desperate to be reassured it was 'normal' behaviour. Disappointingly I found a lot of advice on how to stop your baby being ‘clingy’ or ‘needy’, which I always felt was a little unfair, afterall the little poppet (who at that point had only been on this planet for less than 250 days) had discovered something which was life changing, ‘Mummy is Mummy and I am me, we are separate people!’ She was suddenly very aware of her own self and even more scarily aware that I could leave her, Plus I didn't want to fix her I wanted to help her.

Fast forward 10 months and that awareness has heightened, her knowledge of who she is, who those around her are and where they fit into her life is awe inspiring. But it seems with knowledge comes fear, I’ve started to notice a little flinch as people pass us in the street, aeroplanes and 'copters send her running to mummy’s trusty leg and I’m surprised you didn’t all hear the screams when dad had to drill a tiny hole to put a picture up last night! Everything seems just a little bit scary at the moment so she’s doing what she knows best - sticking with Mummy and Daddy while she rides it out.

One theory I read and liked was the idea that babies and toddlers satellite their mums (or dads), going off to play to a safe and comfortable distance but continuously checking in. I see this behaviour a lot with Daisy and it makes complete sense, she needs to explore the world around her but isn't quite ready to go too far yet. A quick run back to smear chocolate on my trousers or stick a rogue finger up my nose apparently is enough to reassure her I’m always there.

I’m not claiming to be the perfect, gentle parent and I can certainly see how easy it is to become frustrated, not to mention exhausted, during these phases but I just have to keep telling myself it’s exactly that, ‘a phase’ and it will pass. I try to imagine how she sees the world and quite frankly it's very very big and very very scary, so in my book she's doing a pretty good job.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is although it’s hard work I can see it’s just her growing up, she's starting to truly understand the meaning of self and where she fits in our family and the world around her. Most of all it shows she has no doubt that despite all the scary stuff out there mummy isn’t going anywhere and that makes me feel pretty good.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

What's In a Name?

So I couldn’t resist rising to the bait and throwing in my two pennies worth on the recent comments made by the former Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins on why she won't allow her children to play with certain friends.

For those of you who haven’t seen it this was a feature on This Morning...

The discussion was whether parents should judge a child (or that child’s parents) according to their first name and Katie proudly divulged that she screens her children's friends on the basis of their names not permitting them to play with the likes of a ‘Tyler’ or ‘Charmaine’ (her examples, not mine!) as these children would clearly be from a lower class family and therefore this would be reflected negatively in their behaviour.

Her bizarre rant went on to suggest children with certain names don’t do homework, have bad manners and are generally little blighters in the making! She did however treat us to a terrific gaff when she stated that she hated names based on geography only for Mr Schofield to point out her own daughter is called India – priceless!

I could go on and describe every ridiculous, attention grabbing and moronic statement she made but it’s probably better to watch the clip for yourself.

So what do I think?

Essentially this was a class rant (from a woman who appeared on the reality TV show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and found herself in the papers for, ahem ‘cavorting’ with a man who wasn’t her husband in a field, a tad ironic?). Katie can dress it up as she chooses but she was essentially saying her children would not be allowed to spend time with any child she considered to be of a lower social standing than herself.

I could to-and-fro for hours about whether she is right, wrong or just simply publicity hungry, but my underlying feeling was one of sadness for how this ill judged attempt at getting her face back on TV / guiding her children through life (delete as you wish) is denying them the opportunity to make friends – real and true friends.

What a shame her children won't be able to enjoy nurturing true friendships with people they will love and trust for the duration of their childhood and possibly even adult lives. She is denying them the wonderful opportunity to make friends in a way which arguably only children can, based on absolutely nothing more than how one person feels about another – a child’s friendship isn’t confused by gender, class, money or in fact any outside social influences and that’s where it’s beauty lies. Whether we want to admit it or not, adult decisions are repeatedly affected by outside influences, consciously or subconsciously, maybe we could all learn a little from our crazy toddlers.

Her comments have however made me consider whether we are all a little guilty of making judgements when hearing someone’s name – do we judge a book by it’s title? – Perhaps a blog for another day!
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