Parenting. One word. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it. But how can one word be used when it encompasses so much? It is no wonder we feel overwhelmed
sometimes most of the time. At some point, the husband and I decided that we wanted to ride the parenting roller-coaster together. We had been that couple, watching that child in the supermarket, discussing how our child would never, ever, ever behave like that child. It was simple – it all came down to good ‘parenting’… And then our child did indeed become that child and we became those parents. Sound familiar?
I don’t like to chat too much about my relationship with my husband on here. It’s not what this blog is about (and it would leave me with nothing to moan to you about if I know you personally!) However, relationships are a key part of this word they call ‘parenting’ and I’d be lying if I told you that our – ahem – debates – weren’t about how we best parent that child. Our pre-children selves had discussed repeatedly and agreed on nearly everything we thought we knew about raising the next generation. The reality of having children has, let’s just say, adjusted my views slightly, and now, sometimes our ideas are far from a match. Is this still sounding familiar to anyone else?
So, in an effort to connect more with my husband we have hired a lovely babysitter and commenced regular ‘date-nights’. Likewise, in an effort to connect more with that child, we’ve started ‘date-day’.
Adjusting to life with a new sibling must be tough for any just-turned 3 year old. And to be fair, our little chap has taken it in his stride and genuinely is the best big brother in the whole wide world (no offence to the other big brothers out there). Even so, he definitely has had to cope with being told, “One moment… In a minute… Hang on a sec…” far more than he would have done if he was still an only child, and patience isn’t a virtue we carry much of in our family.
A few weeks ago, we had a Mummy and Oscar day together. It was wonderful. We went to football practice, stopped by Tesco to buy ice-lollies for us and bread for the ducks, fed the ducks, went for lunch and had a jolly good time being spoilt in each other’s company. Plus, I did not need to take a nappy bag, push a push-chair or fret about running out of specialist baby milk. It felt easy. And that child became the child that you dreamt about having, long before you joined the queue to ride the parenting roller-coaster. He was an angel that day.
When a new sibling arrives and your ‘baby’ is no longer the baby, it forces you to realise how quickly children grow up. With one child, I felt like I was drowning in nappies, naps and tantrums in a vast ocean that never ended. With two children, I have a life-raft beneath my feet and can see land in the distance; now I realise I want to stay at sea for a little longer. Though he is no longer the baby, spending some one-to-one time with him helped us reconnect, so he will always be my ‘Oscar-Baby’ on some level.
From September, I’ve decided to reduce his time at nursery. It will be the last year we have together before full-time school becomes compulsory and I want to make the most of it whilst I can. His is just one of the connections I am making an effort to strengthen this summer.
As for my writing, well, the juggle between being a present parent, good wife and pro writer is real. I’ve set up a local writer’s group and met some fascinating people with fascinating stories. Last weeks meeting was our second meetup and I’m proud to be able to tell you that I added 97 words to my picture book (though I should confess that since then I have deleted approximately half of them!) I am finding the writing process slow going, but thoroughly enjoyable. One aspect of picture book writing that I’m enjoying in particular, is playing with the pace and rhythm of the text. The way that authors use language to slow or speed up the ‘tempo’ to match the narrative, whilst avoiding becoming too predictable is clever. Rather like a conductor guiding his musicians through 32 bars of notation, the author must keep careful control of his language through 32 pages of text. I’m hopeful that I can have greater control over my writing than history notes I have seemingly had over my children!
Tonight, I am heading to Hertford Theatre to have a giggle over play-dates and pelvic floors with Scummy Mummies, Helen Thorn and Ellie Gibson. At 6 months postpartum, I’m hoping my pelvic ‘flaw’ is now strong enough to cope with laughing until my cheeks hurt! Perhaps theatre staff might want to deep clean all the auditorium seats tomorrow morning just in case – I doubt I’ll be the only one. The event is being hosted by Social Mama Hertford, aka Jess, who I had the pleasure of meeting at her Young Gums Brunch and Babes event. I am in total admiration of Jess; not only has she launched her events company dedicated to mums, she’s done all this whilst raising identical twin boys who haven’t even turned 2 yet – very inspiring!
I’ve also been busy meeting some other lovely mummies who are in no way ‘scummy’ at all and are in every way, truly inspirational. Their parenting stories may be different, but they all prove that you can still retain an identity aside from being ‘someone’s mum’ once you become a parent. You can read about some of the inspirational mums I’ve been chatting to over a latte in the sunshine here… and I’m hoping they’ll be many more to follow, so please do get in touch if you have or know a mum with an inspirational story to share.
So, going forwards, I hope to be able to strengthen my relationships with friends and family old and new. In the meantime though, if you should see me scrabbling around at the Tesco’s checkout, attempting to regain an ounce of control over that child, I beg you to cut me some slack. The angel in him has already made his appearance once this year and I’m still working on him returning this side of Christmas!