Monday, 31 August 2015

TV or not TV? That is the Question

Ah. The TV. I love watching it. When I watch television, depending on what I watch, I am entertained, informed, amused, educated, moved, excited, included, inspired.

But when it comes to my children, I always worry that they are watching too much (well, the oldest. The youngest is only six months old and, except for the theme tunes, is more entertained by the washing machine than he is the TV).

I feel guilty if I let R have a 'lazy day' and alternate between watching Fireman Sam, playing races with his cars and eating Hula Hoops on the sofa. I feel like I should be continually entertaining him. I should be painting, baking, making things from the boxes in the recycling, planting things, going to the park, drawing, playing games, teaching numbers, building towers.

Or I used to feel like that.

Until a couple of weeks ago, after a busy Tuesday blackberry picking and visiting relatives, a Wednesday and a Friday at nursery and a Thursday with grandparents where he went out for the whole day. On the Saturday when I enthusiastically suggested we do some painting, he said;

"Mummy can I have a rest?"

He had been stimulated all day every day for four days straight, without a chance to just stop and chill out. He wanted to relax. He wanted to be lazy. He wanted to not have to think carefully and take on new information and learn and discover every moment of the day.

And that's ok isn't it? It's ok for a child to sit and watch TV if it's balanced with input from other sources. Because we read two books every night before bed. We go on a family day out every week. We take him abroad where he hears other languages and experiences different cultures. We paint and draw and plant and visit the park. We learn our letters and numbers.

But aside from all that, TV is not quite the mind numbing, child dumbing device I used to think. It's ok for my child to watch TV because, when he watches it, he is;

Entertained - he enjoys watching it. We only put it on when he asks. But it entertains him and he likes to talk about the stories we are watching.

Informed - what R can tell me about steam trains and diesel trains, courtesy of Thomas the Tank Engine astounds me sometimes. He can explain how the coal is used to make a fire, which creates steam, which rises and prompts the piston (yes, he uses this word) to go up and down, which turns the wheels and makes the train move. He understands how to use different vehicles for different jobs courtesy of Bob the Builder and will gladly explain how a cement mixer combines water and concrete and a steam roller flattens tar to create smooth, flat roads.

Amused - it's ok for children to laugh at things they see on TV. I'll take my children happy and laughing any day of the week.

Educated - we don't just plonk him in front of the television and leave him to it (not always anyway - sometimes I do have the washing to hang out!). We talk to him about what we're watching. And we teach him how to control the TV. So he knows that to turn the volume up he has to press the 'add button' because add means more. To turn it down he has to press the 'take away button' because it takes the noise away. He knows to press the triangle to play something, the square to stop it, the two rectangles to pause it and the two triangles to go backwards and forwards.

Moved - not in the same sense that I cry at the Pride of Britain awards. But he can recognise his emotions when watching something. He will tell us if he doesn't like it, if it scares him, it if makes him happy or sad or worried. He is developing his emotional literacy.

Excited - R recently went to the cinema with Daddy for the first time. I was dubious. I didn't think he had the skills necessary to successfully cope with a cinema trip. Oh me of little faith! I didn't think he could concentrate on one thing for over an hour. I didn't think he could avoid visiting the toilet. I didn't think he would be able to follow a story line. I didn't know whether he could separate reality from fantasy, especially on such a big screen and I was worried he might get scared by the huge picture and the loud noises. But he proved me wrong on all counts. He loved it and still talks about it frequently. He can tell me the whole story too. So he wasn't sitting watching it passively. He was actively engaged.

Included - a new boy started at R's nursery last week. R became this child's 'best friend' at nursery because they had bonded over knowing the names of all the Bob the Builder vehicles and racing them with each other. The nursery staff said R had been wonderful at helping the new child settle in and had been confident and friendly. Proud mummy moment. Might they have bonded over doing a jigsaw or something? Maybe. But they didn't. The Bob the Builder toys were out and my little boy made a new friend because of them.

Inspired - we have visited so many places off the back of R's developing interests. And a lot of these interests stem from the TV. He has visited Great Central Railway and seen steam trains, diesel trains and ridden in the driver's cab of one. We have visited Crich Tramway Village and he has loved riding on the trams, learning about the old ones and following the woodland trail. He plays with his toys, using TV programmes and films as starting points for storylines. He tells stories with different voices and expression because he's seen the way different voices are distinguished on screen (as well as from us, when reading to him).

Are there other ways to feel excited, to learn things and to develop emotional literacy which don't involve a screen? Of course. We take him to farm parks and soft play and swimming pools and parks - not inspired by TV.

So should we deny him the TV? Deny him the chance to unwind when he asks to? Deny him any input at home other than us, ourselves and the things we insist on him doing?

My opinion? No.

Everything in moderation.

Not strictly the TV but screen time all the same!

A Cornish Mum
Best of Worst

Sunday, 30 August 2015

If I Was A Poet.....

I have become a bit obsessed with Erin Hanson on Pinterest recently (as any one who follows me will know after I pinned about seven pieces in five minutes a couple of weeks ago). She writes so beautifully. It's exactly how I would love to write poetry, but I don't have the words like Erin does.

She makes everything sound ethereal yet real.

Harsh yet romantic.

Magical yet ordinary.

Idealistic yet realistic.

Her poems are literally some of the most gorgeous things I've ever read.

And I think my favourite of all has to be the one below. It is everything I want to tell my children, but they are only 3 and six months old and currently have trouble understanding the word 'No'.

So, whilst this may currently be wasted on them, I'm hoping to get a print of it to display in the house. To remind them (and me) that this is what is important:

Cuddle Fairy

Saturday, 29 August 2015

10 Life Lessons We Can Learn From Babies.......spoiler......"how to sleep all night" is not on the list

My baby A is six months old. He is so delightful at the moment (although two nights ago when I was slumped over his cot at 4.15am I was not so delighted). He is always giggling and on the move and he's made me really think about what we can learn by watching babies. Turns out they can teach us some pretty important life lessons:

  • Smile at strangers - though probably not quite so persistently and manically as my baby does. But he smiles at everyone. He doesn't discriminate between the bank manager and the woman in Costa Coffee, and it makes everyone behave towards us in a warm, considerate way. If we, as adults, smiled at people more, instead of walking around staring at our phones, we may find the world is a much friendlier, much more helpful place.
  • Persevere - Baby A is trying to crawl. Actually he is crawling but he's going backwards. Has he stopped trying to go forwards and decided to spent the entirety of his life facing the wrong way? Of course not. When he tries to pick up the bit of banana from his highchair tray, and sticks it in his eye rather than his mouth, does he decide not to eat ever? Nope. He keeps trying. There's a reason for that famous saying, when acquiring a new skill; if at first you don't succeed, make like a baby and try and try again. (Ok I added the baby bit).
  • Be resilient - So far today, A has bumped his head rolling from front to back, hit himself in the head with the TV remote and he trapped his finger in a teething toy (don't ask). He dropped his lip when he rolled, cried when he trapped his finger and didn't even notice when he whacked himself in the forehead with the SKY control. And then carried on doing whatever he was doing. I throw myself a massive pity party if I stub my toe. I really need to take a leaf out of my six month old's book and get over myself. Though, in my defence, is stubbing your toe not the most painful minor injury ever?
  • Laugh at the little things - this one doesn't need much explanation. Let yourself be amused by the ridiculous. Like the Twirlywoos.
  • Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full - babies don't decide to binge eat a bag of crisps just because they can. Mostly because they are not allowed to eat crisps, unless you include those 'flavoured' puffs which actually taste completely unflavoured (well you have to try one don't you because they look like Wotsits?!) When they're hungry they eat the food you give them. They stop when they're full. Even if it's their favourite thing to eat like a fromage frais or something. They just throw the spoon at you instead. So next time you feel full in a restaurant, maybe just put the spoon down (don't throw it at the waiter. It's cute when the baby does it but I think it's probably frowned upon as an adult).
  • Appreciate the little things - the simplest things make my baby happy. The wind blowing in his face (or me blowing at him - it's fine - he can't distinguish between us yet) gives him this look of total bliss like it's the nicest thing he's ever felt. Today he stared at a leaf for ages (he also tried to eat it but don't follow that example unless it's a herb). He looks at everything with such awe and wonder and sometimes we need to do that too.
How hilarious is eating?
  • Speak your mind - if a baby is unhappy, s/he'll let you know. If they feel sad or hurt or tired or hungry, they'll tell you (in their own, magical, crying-at-such-a-pitch-you-want-to-hide-under-the-stairs way). Adults should do that too. Though probably through the medium of measured, informed speech, not the crying thing.
  • Love unconditionally - there seems to be no half measures when it comes to love from a baby. I know it's partly because their relationship with you stems from their dependence on you, but they still love without boundaries. My baby doesn't hold back his cuddles if I haven't showered yet that day. He doesn't hate me because I made a bad decision at work. He just loves me for who I am, faults and all. Obviously, pick your people (I presume that my baby doesn't love the shop assistant in Tesco the way he loves me). But when you find people you love, love them unconditionally.
  • Don't worry what others think - does my baby care if he's got Weetabix all over his face when we go to the supermarket? (yes, I know, Mummy should have cleaned it off but she didn't because she was busy changing nappies/getting dressed/hanging the washing out/fetching nappies for the change bag/just generally trying to leave the house). No he really couldn't care less. Because he's happy in himself, with himself. He doesn't need the opinions of others to validate himself. We should all do that. But probably don't pop to Sainsburys with Weetabix round your mouth.
  • Dance like no one is watching - and when I say 'dance', I mean 'rock back and forwards to the theme tune of Everything's Rosie'.
Some of these are quite tricky for us as adults I think. But, hey, if a six month old can do, I think we can give it a pretty good go.

Modern Dad Pages

Friday, 28 August 2015

Are You Going To Try For A Girl?

Are you going to keep trying for a girl? Probably the most frustrating question I get asked as a parent (except the obligatory "how's he sleeping"? He bloody isn't. Thanks for asking though and reminding me of the fact I snatched three hours broken sleep last night).

I have two gorgeous little boys who astound and amaze me everyday (well, actually, some days they drive me up the wall). We always wanted two children and always knew we wanted just two. After we had R, our eldest little boy, and fell pregnant for the second time, so many people would ask "are you finding out?" "It'd be perfect if it was a girl wouldn't it?"


What could be more perfect than two healthy babies? We would always say the same thing; "we just want another healthy, happy baby". Sometimes I felt like people thought I was lying. How could I not be desperate for a little girl?

Because I didn't want children for gender specific reasons. I don't want a little girl so I can 'dress her up' (someone actually once said this to me - "it'd be lovely to dress her up in cute little dresses with bows in her hair.") Yes, except, she wouldn't be a doll. She'd be a baby with, most likely, minimal hair for bow-wearing for at least a year. I've not had babies with the sole purpose of dressing them in cute outfits, though this is a happy by product I'll admit :).

Whilst we were expecting our second, I often thought about whether I really did want a specific gender. Was I just lying to myself, pretending that I didn't want a girl because, deep down, I just felt it was another boy? Was I somehow protecting myself? Would I secretly love a little girl?

The answer: no. I genuinely didn't mind. Part of me wanted a little girl because I didn't have one and it would be nice to watch her grow up, understanding a bit more of what she was going through than I understand with boys. Part of me wanted a little boy because I hoped that having two boys would mean that they would be close. They would grow up best buddies (who will probably fight a lot!), and the youngest would look up to the eldest in an "I want to be like him" sort of way. I know children of different sexes can be equally close, don't get me wrong. But I was also swayed by the sixteen bags of boys clothes in the attic.

Part of me wanted a girl and part of me wanted a boy.

But you know what the whole of me wanted?

A baby.

We had a second little boy. And the developing relationship between him and his older brother is one of my favourite things about being a mummy. We always wanted two healthy, happy babies. We've got what we always wanted.

But still we get asked "are you going to try for a girl?" as if somehow our two healthy, happy boys are not enough.

They are enough. They are more than enough.

If someone told me they could guarantee me a baby girl if we tried one more time, would I do it?


Because I wanted two children. I've got two children. It is more wonderful (and much bloody harder) than I ever imagined. And I am so enjoying anticipating the 'last times'. The last time I'll have to put up with teething pains. The last time I'll have to potty train. The last time I'll have to wean. I love my two boys with every ounce of my being but I've done the 'having babies' bit. So whether another baby would be a boy or a girl wouldn't matter. We wont be trying for a girl.

Because, also, I know what I was like as a teenage girl. I don't want to inflict that on myself ;)

The Dad Network
The Twinkle Diaries
Best of Worst

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Words of the Week 25/08/2015

Nurturing and praising children has always been important to me, first as a teacher and then as a mummy. As a teacher, I've been given probably hundreds of pictures from school children to 'take home and put on the fridge' as one once said.

But I never did put one on the fridge. Why? Because my fridge wasn't big enough to fit them all on. And I couldn't choose just one because that would be choosing a favourite picture and, sort of, a favourite child. And, as a teacher, that doesn't feel quite right. (Don't get me wrong, fellow teachers, there are kids that we gel with more than others, some that even leave a little imprint on our heart, or at least our career. But I couldn't choose to display their pictures in my home and bin others).

But then I had my own child. And when he progressed from eating crayons to actually colouring with them I was so excited! And it's ok for me to put his pictures on the fridge (well the wall actually because the fridge is still too small) because he's mine and so it's ok for him to be my favourite!

Although now I have another. He is still at the crayon-eating stage so I've not had to create wall space for him yet. But when I do? I'll be putting number one boy's pictures into a scrapbook and I'll do the same for number two. Because, to them, these pieces of artwork are just that; works of art.

Actually not just to them. They're works of art to me too.

Cuddle Fairy

Monday, 24 August 2015

5 Things I Hate About Children's Comics

My 'just turned 3' year old is obsessed with buying comics. Every time we go to ANY shop, he asks if he can buy one, even if we are visiting a clothes shop. We have started to give him pocket money to teach him that if he wants to buy himself a comic then that's great, but his money will only stretch to so many (meaning one) comic(s) a week. Our house has become over run with them. I have to have a 'throw out' on a fortnightly basis and they have sometimes been known to fill up a quarter of the recycling bin if I leave it longer. It's not us that buys all these bloody things. We have always limited to one a week. But grandparents are a different kettle of fish. It is practically assumed that an outing with the grandparents will result in a comic purchase.

Last week, when he turned three, and we decided to start giving him pocket money, we had a word about the comic buying. We no longer want three or four per week littering our house. And below are my top five reasons why:

  1. The crappy plastic tat - you know the stuff. Also known as the 'free gift'. Free?! Our child buys a comic 97% for the plastic tat and 3% for the stickers. His whole decision making process is based purely on the following criterion; is there a good toy on the front? Are there stickers in it? If the answer to both these questions is yes then it's a resounding winner.
     Most recent 'free gift'. 2 plastic trains and 6 foam oil drums for just £3.99!

    However, the fact that he is purchasing it solely for the acquisition of the plastic crap does not then render it a 'free gift'. If anything, it means I've been ripped off for something which, at a push, I could get 20p for at a car boot sale. Which leads on nicely to my next issue....
  2. The chuffing price! £3.99?! Sometimes, if we're really lucky, he will be tempted by some rubbish on the front of six pages of paper which only sets us back £2.99, but this is something which happens once in a blue moon. Maybe even less often than that.
  3. The repetition. Basically each week/fortnight/month it's the same shit, different page. Finding opposites, practising some letters (which, as a teacher, drives me to distraction: if you are intending to teach my child how to read Peppa Pig magazine, please pick something beginning with p that is easy to sound out. You know, like PIG. Not f*cking PAINTBRUSH). There's always a million colouring pages and a game that, just to clarify magazine makers, WE WILL NEVER PLAY, because we've actually got to cut stuff out and back it onto card and find a die before we even begin (and finding a die means basically raiding the monopoly box and we don't have time for bloody monopoly now that we've got children so we have no sodding idea where it is. Probably under the bed somewhere. Behind boxes of old rattles, teething toys and newborn vests). Sometimes they even repeat THE FREE GIFTS! Cheeky sods. I spent £5 buying a shoddy doctor's kit from you once Ben and Holly. I wont be doing it again.
  4. The adverts. Not content with the nonsense sellotaped to the front of the comic, my child then flicks through (searching for the stickers) and sees pages of toys. In his own words "I don't have enough toys". Which is a lie. See photo for evidence (and bewildered dog):
    So, not only do we already have a shed load of toys, but now he has seen a ton more. "Maybe I could have these toys too Mummy. When we go to the shop next time?" Maybe not kid.
  5. The way I still keep buying them! You see, despite all these things, I still let him stand for ten minutes (it's gone beyond this once because I think I slipped into 'standing-up sleep' having been up half the night with the baby) in WHSmith perusing the many comics, picking the chosen one and carrying it home. Why? Because for ten minutes when we arrive home, I get to sit and have a cup of tea whilst pointing to places where stickers can go and explaining that, even though circus sounds like it starts with sssss, it actually starts with c (FFS Peppa).

And we all know, we do anything for a hot cup of tea :)
Modern Dad Pages

Sunday, 23 August 2015

An Open Letter To Those Trying To Conceive....

To all those Trying To Conceive,

I am writing this to you. Man or woman. Younger or older than me. Straight or gay. First child or fifth. Conceiving naturally or otherwise. This is what I want to say to you. But what I would never dare say face to face.

You see, I feel embarrassed and a bit guilty that I conceived both my children naturally in four months. I have never suffered a miscarriage. Both my pregnancies and births were complication free. So I wont sit here and insult you by saying "I can only imagine what you're going through". Because I have no idea. I can't even begin to try and imagine.

But I do know people who are trying to conceive. Who have been trying for years.

I know people who tried to conceive for a long time before falling pregnant naturally.

I know people who had IVF to fall pregnant.

I know people who have had multiple failed IVF attempts.

I know people who have miscarried a baby. Some more than once.

And to all of you, these are the things I want you to know:

  • I'm Sorry; not in the pitying and 'empty' sense that says "I'm sorry you've not had a baby yet". But in the sense that I'm sorry for my attitude towards my children at times. I know it must be sickening to hear me moan about my toddler throwing a tantrum or my baby waking up at night. I know that all you wish for is to have a baby to get up for in the night. And you dream of the day your threenager screams at you because he wants to take the burning hot pizza out of the oven with his bare hands. I know, even if you don't think it immediately, that deep in your heart of hearts you must want to shout at me "well just think yourself lucky you've got children to moan about". And for my seemingly ungrateful attitude, I'm sorry.
  • I Understand; I don't understand what you're going through. I can't begin to. But I do understand if you don't want to share it with me. Me - who has the thing you want more than anything in the world. I understand that you don't want to bare your soul and divulge the most agonising experience of your life with someone who can only offer false empathy. Someone who can hug you and encourage you to keep going, keep trying, but whose words don't mean much because they don't understand the raw emotion behind it. So if you want to tell everyone except me, don't worry. I'm not offended. I'm not worried about the state of our relationship. I understand.
  • I Admire You; I don't consider myself a particularly strong person emotionally. And I have been close to people going through IVF. Close to people trying to conceive. Who, every month, for sometimes years, have raised hopes and shattered dreams repeatedly. I don't know if I'd have the strength to cope with that. And then, on top of that, there are those people who are given the gift of pregnancy, only to have it snatched away when they lose their precious baby. All these people have dealt with this with a quiet strength, so respectable and so admirable that I genuinely mean it when I say; I admire you.
  • I Envy You; I know it sounds trivial and I am in no way comparing these things with wanting a baby. But sometimes, I listen to you and I am so jealous that yoau can take a last minute mini break because you've had a tough week. I envy the fact that you can stay in pyjamas all day and slob on the sofa when you've got a hangover, surviving solely on Pot Noodles and cups of tea. I am envious of your holiday snaps where you are lounging on sunbeds, sipping cocktails, whilst I spent a whole week catching Thomas the Tank Engine coming down a water slide and feeding a baby mashed banana. I know it's so trivial and materialistic and I know how lucky I am. But still. I envy you.
  • I Hope; I hope you get what you want. I hope you get the fairytale. I wont lie; some days are hard. Some days it's Cinderella before the ball - all shabby clothes and mountains of housework. But I wouldn't change my children for the world. And that's the closest I can come to understanding how much you want this.
Because I can't imagine the heartache of not having my children.

And so, I am trying to use that to imagine your heartache at not having your children.

I still don't know what you're going through. I still feel ignorant to what you must be feeling.

But I hope. I hope so hard that you get what you want more than anything.

Love Me

Brilliant blog posts on thumbnailsize
A Bit Of Everything

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Internal Monologue of a Six Month Old's Mind (in the morning)

6:00am - I think I might need a poo. I better let Mummy know. MUMMY! I don't know why I'm shouting as she's sleeping in the bed next to my cot after the fun we had in the middle of the night. I practised my rolling over for an hour while Mummy did this really clever thing where she watched me whilst slumped over my cot with her eyes closed, patting my back and stroking the back of my neck.

6:02am - ah Mummy there you are! I'm grinning at the memory that I only saw you an hour ago! Oh her eyes are still a bit closed. And she's putting that bloody mobile on in a vain attempt to climb back into bed (there she goes) and bag herself another ten minutes sleep. Mother why would a lion and a polar bear floating around a lit up jungle and the Antarctic entertain me for more than a few seconds? I don't even have the life experience to know what a lion or a polar bear is. I am so over this mobile already - it's for baby babies Mummy, I'm six months old for goodness' sake. I can't maintain attention on the same thing for more than five seconds now - unless it's that machine spinning round with all the clothes in - then I could watch that thing all the life long day.

6:05am - nope, this mobile is crap. Talking of crap, I still need that poo. I'll shout Mummy to let her know, even though I can go to the loo whenever and wherever I feel like it. Oh hi Mummy! Yes this mobile is pants - the crocodile has gone round four times now and I'm getting deja vu. Also.....hold on a sec......just filling my nappy........ok, done........can you get me up now please - well you have to really now that I'm lying in my own poo don't you?

6:10am - result! I'm up and dressed! Time to go and see Daddy who always does this funny skit where he pretends to still be asleep whilst I blow raspberries really loudly and grab his hair. Mother where is my milk? Ah there it is. Daddy strokes Mummy's arm and asks if she's tired and she says "yes I bloody am", which I think means she really enjoyed our early morning playtime.

6:18am - oh here's my older brother. He really makes me laugh! Mummy looks at the clock and sighs. Then she kisses us both and says to Daddy; "remote." Daddy passes Mummy the remote then gets up and says "tea?" I think they can maybe only talk in one word sentences now. I don't think that's anything to do with me or my brother.

6:20am - Oooh the remote. Is this food? I shall chew it anyway. Oh my brother is annoyed because Fireman Sam has gone off and Everybody Loves Raymond has come on. Apparently I've pressed some button or something? I don't see how, when the remote control has been in my mouth the whole time?! I am so misunderstood.........

Monday, 17 August 2015

How Do I Feel About Parenting?

My big boy R turned 3 on Sunday - where has the time gone? And my little man A was 6 months old on Friday. This has made me reflect on my life with two children and with parenting in general (well, this and the wine!). And I think I can summarise it in two words;

Overwhelming and indescribable.

Although it's not as simple or as concise as that. Because over the past three years, and particularly over the past six months, I have felt all of the following;

- Overwhelming tiredness: an easy, obvious one to kick off with. Children are sleep thieves. Period. NEXT!

- Overwhelming frustration: oh you stepped on that toy car and hurt your foot? The one of forty on the playroom floor? The one that I've told you to tidy away more than once? And I told you to watch where you're going at least three times so I haven't any sympathy.....where does it hurt? Let me kiss it better. *kisses foot* *gives hugs* *offers more sympathy than you can shake a stick at*. This happens in our house most days.

- Overwhelming pride: when R took his first steps, I reacted as if he'd just walked on the moon. And, to me, his first 'small step' will always be more important than that giant leap for mankind.

- Overwhelming despair: nothing will make you pine for your pre-child life more than being awake for three hours in the middle of the night. Not because the baby is hungry (you've fed him) or because he needs his nappy changed (you've just changed it), but simply because he is awake. And he'd like you to sit there please mummy while he just lies on the bed staring at darkness. For. Three. Hours.

- Overwhelming fear: am I doing anything right? I hope his cough is just a cold. Will he be safe climbing that massive slide? I just yelled at him - have I damaged his emotional wellbeing for life?

- Overwhelming joy: A laughing at R dancing, R 'reading' to A. These moments fill my heart with so much joy it sometimes feels like it will burst from my chest.

- Overwhelming positivity: some days I leap out of bed. We go to the park and take a picnic. We come home and paint and make wind chimes for the garden. We pick herbs and smell them and eat them and check on the progress of our tomato plants. I cook from scratch. Then enjoy a glass of wine whilst I wind down in the evening.

- Overwhelming negativity: some days I can't be bothered to leave the house and simply resign myself to the fact that I'm basically a glorified grown up slave to two tiny, pretty demanding, people. Crisps for lunch and chips for tea? Yes siree! And wine. Downing a glass of wine in the evening.

- Overwhelming delight: my pre-child self would have scoffed as I told her that one day I would be so delighted by a baby rolling over I would want to shout it from the rooftops. But this is a reality of parenting. R pedalled his bike independently for the first time a few months ago. It got videoed and sent straight to the grandparents. He literally moved the bike about 2 feet.

- Overwhelming guilt: this is a biggie for me. I feel some form of guilt over my parenting every day; I shouldn't have said "wait a minute" so many times, I shouldn't have let him watch so much TV, I wish I'd spent less time loading the dishwasher and more time playing with them, I shouldn't have gotten so angry.

- Overwhelming excitement: I'd been excited about R's birthday for over a month now thanks to the anticipation of watching him open his presents. Because watching his little face as he unwraps his gifts is, quite frankly, one of the best things on the planet. 

- Overwhelming busyness: I am always busy. Sometimes I manage to sit down during the day but I'm still 'busy'. I'm busy being a supporter of the mini Grand Prix happening in the playroom. I'm busy displaying (feigning) excitement as Lightning McQueen wins over and over again. I'm busy fixing a toy car whose wheels keep falling off because it's a crappy little plastic thing we got off the front of a comic, which mummy would like to dispose off but is forbidden to do so due to its partial resemblance to Roary the Racing Car.

- Overwhelming boredom: this is one I'm probably most ashamed to admit to. Sometimes we are so busy (see above) that it gets to 4pm and I don't know where the day has gone. Sometimes, though, I am so bored. The thing is, children have a much higher tolerance for repetition than adults. And this is so important and precious because it is how they learn and how they consolidate that learning. But some days it takes a heap of conscious effort to remind myself of that when I'm visiting R's shop for the fifteenth time. To have my basket loaded with surplus items I haven't asked for and to then have my PIN number entered into the chip and pin machine by the shopkeeper because "it's a bit tricky". And then to be ordered to pretend-eat the contents of my overflowing basket because "you're having a party". If anyone feels like going crazy with some fake popcorn, plastic peas, half a plastic apple and some foam grapes, the party is at mine.

- Overwhelming amusement: sometimes, your baby giggling at your toddler's rendition of 'Five Little Ducks' is all the entertainment you need. 

- Overwhelming shame: I'm so ashamed of many of my parenting actions. I've been known to go bat s*!t crazy over the most ridiculous things: are you putting your shoes on or not? SHOES! NOW! Why can you not get all your wee in the toilet?! (Like father like son I suppose). Stop running on the grass - there's dog poo all over it. R! POO! 

- Overwhelming contentment: nothing gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling like seeing J get home to a toddler running into his arms chanting "daddy, daddy" and a baby grinning like the Cheshire Cat when he sees Daddy's face.

This is not a definitive list. But it's enough for now. And I know I have some pregnant friends who are now probably s*!tting their maternity pants at the prospect of what's to come!

But to those ladies; don't let it put you off. Because parenting makes you feel two things more overwhelmingly than anything else; selflessness and love.

I would do anything for my children. They will always come first. That doesn't mean that I've abandoned my relationship or myself. We still call on the grandparents for babysitting so that we can go out and remember why we had our children in the first place. I still manage to sneak an evening with the girls or an hour for a massage here and there.

But it means I would give my children the clothes off my back if they were cold or the food off my plate if they were hungry. It means I forget to eat breakfast because I'm busy making theirs. It means I walk straight past ladieswear to childrenswear because they need vests and pyjamas and I saw a really cute outfit for them in the window. It means I sleep on the floor with a towel as a duvet to check they're ok when they're poorly. It means I let my tea go cold because I'm fake-consuming plastic watermelon from my eleventh visit to the shop that day.

And I do it all because of overwhelming love. Because the love I feel for my children is unlike any love I've ever known before. And when I check on them sleeping before I go to bed, and I see them sleeping peacefully and serenely, I feel a love so strong that I feel I might buckle under the strength of it. A love so fierce, it dwarfs all the other emotions I've mentioned. A love so powerful that it over-rules all those negative emotions and leaves me with only feelings of pride, delight, joy and contentment. Watching them sleep can make tears well up in my eyes purely because of how much I love them.

And then I kiss them goodnight, climb into bed and close my eyes.

And I hope beyond all hope that this is the night I actually get some effing sleep.

Best of Worst
Mami 2 Five