Slipping through my fingers

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Back to School and My boo-hoo moment always comes a couple of weeks in, when they run in without looking back, blazer/coat too big for them, one sock falling down. That’s when the Abba song starts playing in my head “slipping through my fingers”. It’s not that I’m not emotional for them growing up with another school year starting, rather than it takes a while for me to shake off other emotions.

I find the long summer school holidays hard, by the end of it my brain is so saturated with thoughts and the fact that I have had over 50 days of incessant chatter from my 5 and 8 year old that I cannot fit any more emotions in.

I even found myself commenting on the “rainbow” colours of a handout at work just because it was highlighted! That’s when I knew I’ll be glad for the headspace when they finally go back to school.

My brain has been so full of living their everyday lives, being their entertainer, referee, craft maker, social organiser, chef, etc that my ability to process and decision make even the simplest of task has become nigh on impossible.

Some mums relish the prospect of “making memories”, spending quality time with their children and don’t get me wrong I do too however I realise more so now that I need regular breaks away from the intensity of 50 days with them. I know how not doing this affects my mental health as it takes me longer to recover my energy levels.

I also appreciate that I am in the fortunate position of not having to juggle working and childcare, which I know is particularly difficult, during the holiday period for some parents. I generally work term time and don’t know how other parents do it when the school holidays eat into their annual leave and several favours are cashed in with friends and grandparents.

Having our children go back to school another year older is always a reminder of how quickly time passes but also a huge mummy milestone. We’ve made it to another school year! Our children have no hesitation in reminding us the knowledge they have learnt, mine in particular didn’t see the need to have to prove it to me when I disguised times tables or spellings as “fun games”!. Even though there is a constant mummy/parent guilt that they have not done their holiday homework. Every child is different, some love writing holiday diaries whilst other struggle to hold a pen, some especially in my daughter’s case adore reading, having read 6 books over the holidays, others won’t have picked up a book in that time. Some will have had nature adventures, whilst others have been glued to a screen. I’ve come to realise that all of the above it totally fine and it is what being on holiday from school is all about.

We as parents shouldn’t be berating ourselves as to what we didn’t do with our children. Yes they should have spent some time being bored, not “making memories”, eating junk food( although pasta and pizza is a staple in our house), arguing with you and/or their siblings, and watching more screen time than a family on Gogglebox.

Having the company of my children for the holidays has been lovely but also a challenge and I will be waving them off at the school gates with a genuine smile and sigh of relief! I got through the holidays slightly war weary, bruised and battered but in one piece. And I will have no guilt for sitting down having a cup of tea after I’ve done the school run. I may even sit there until pick up time!

Slipping through my Fingers:  Abba

Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while

The feeling that I’m losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sleep in our eyes her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she’s gone there’s that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can’t deny

What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
(Slipping through my fingers all the time)
Well, some of that we did but most we didn’t
And why I just don’t know

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile

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“Do you believe in me Mummy?”

 

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“Do you believe in me mummy?” Said my daughter who was attempting to climb a huge rope climbing frame in the park. “Yes darling I believe in you.” To which she replied ” If you believe in me then I believe in myself.” And off she clambered. After several attempts and some “rests” she managed to to do it and get to the top. Even pausing in her combination of fear and adrenaline for me to take the obligatory phone photo. She was beaming, so was I. Even hours later she still kept saying “I can’t believe I did it mummy, I climbed to the top and I believe in myself”.

It’s not often that we as adults feel that same sense of achievement or perhaps we don’t allow ourselves to relish in it. Are we too caught up with adulting and being grown up that we become reluctant to take risks? Do we know the risks hazards or dangers too much to appreciate that we once did things without thinking about them first which encourages us to stop doing them rather than embracing those challenges?

All too often we find ourselves protective parenting. When our child reaches out to us our instinct is to help and protect. Help them off the log or climbing frame, Stop the swing from swinging. Let them climb into our arms instead of them finding their own way to climb down.
Resisting that urge to protect and help is hard but seeing the sense of achievement and knowing that this action completely changes their way of thinking is something which I love to see. A child’s reaction when they have achieved something they had no idea they could do by themselves is such a joyous moment. Perhaps we should believe in ourselves to help our children believe in themselves too.

Running your own race

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I ran my race and nobody else’s;

Yesterday we had my daughters sports day. It was different to others we had been to as she is now going into Upper School in September so this time it took place at a local sports ground with a track and long jump pit.

All the parents had been cheering from the sidelines and very supportive of all the children when the call came in.. “It’s time for the parents race!”

Now last year I suffered the humiliation of the nursery parents race in the playground in which I went spectacularly arse over tit scrauping my knee to pieces on the cut glass surface which is the playground. Oh the shame!!

I had thought to refuse the call this year citing the wrong shoes, the fact that I had been on a girls weekend and much alcohol consumption had taken place or even as I heard one mum say “wearing the wrong bra!” Needless to say I soon found myself on the starting line pretending I was warming up! The PE teacher came and checked our footwear and gave me the reassuring view that I would “break my ankle in those shoes” as her disclaimer! I wasn’t wearing heals!! I assured her it was my intention to come last.

Starters orders and in my head I was trying to wrestle with my competitive streak and my potential and likelihood of a second year humiliation when I was surely to face-plant the track if I put any concerted effort into the race.No my sole job was to get over the 50m line with my knees and pride in tact.

Ready, steady, Go! The pretend Beta mums who were actually Alpha mums in disguise stormed ahead, the roar of the crowd, I’m not going to lie it was tempting to increase my speed and see if I could be part of the pack. Thankfully my brain took over and I decided that I was going to run my own race. My sole goal was to not fall over and that’s was I was determined to do.
Yay I did it!! And just like my daughter in the egg and spoon race earlier who was adamant that she was not going to drop her egg and stopped at every wobble she took her time and did it. The support for her was amazing even though it did look as if she was walking in slow motion!

It’s so important to decide on your end goal at the beginning. If you don’t then your judgement can get clouded and you are inevitably disappointed. Either in the result or with yourself for letting yourself be persuaded to alter you course.

No it’s much better to run your own race and blinker yourself to others. Only that you will you be truly satisfied with your result.

Finding the right words

Sad that one year on from me writing this there are more unthinkable tragedies that have occurred. Just within the last 8 weeks the UK have had 3 major terrifying terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and just last week the truly awful fire in a London tower block.

itsamumslife2016

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I can’t watch the news
I can’t even speak to. My children about what’s going on in the world How can I when I don’t understand it myself?

It frightens me, it makes me feel anxious, it makes me worry for my safety and of the safety of my loved ones, family and friends. I can’t tell them or let them see because I can’t explain it. Children like, no need to know they are safe and that as a parent we are that safe place and their home is their safe space. There’s too much sadness in the world and how can I explain why people do what they do to others because they believe they are right in what they think or do, say or believe in. As a parent I think I am right, as a child they think they are right but what right to others…

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It’s just a blip

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Maybe I should’ve seen it coming, maybe I took my eye off the ball.
I didn’t see it coming
I didn’t see my downfall

Which came first, feeling down because I was ill or feeling ill because I felt down?

Does it really matter does that really matter at all?

All I know is that my body broke it down for me. Told me clearly in no uncertain terms. Look after yourself mama or I will make you.

It seems harsh that my own body would treat me this way but what do you do if you’re not listened to? Shout louder or do something extreme? I wasn’t listening, shouting til I screamed.

At first it’s the grumps, then tiredness and slumps. Eating left overs and showering after the school run. Only I forget to do that.
Putting my hair up in its messy, “having a shower” bun and leaving it in all day. Forgetting to take it out for days, when I do I don’t need a hair band, the tangles keep it in place.

Feeling nauseous, head banging and body aches. I can’t keep awake in the day yet long to sleep at night. Until in the end I need to share my feelings with a friend.

Nails and skin bleeding, raw and sore. Feeling of guilt of my self destruct is clear for all to see. Clear that is to all those who want to.

They say that your mind is your worse enemy in my case it’s true. I don’t even know when I will stop feeling this blue. I long for the days when the sunshine penetrates through and I can feel my body warming to its soothing touch.
Summer is coming but for now the weather is a mixture of clouds and rain.

April 2017

I wrote this last week. When I was just realising that my body which I hadn’t been listening to was finally telling me that I needed to look after myself. For the first time in a year I called in sick at work. I literally dropped the girls off at school and picked them up. I went no where, saw no one during the day, didn’t wash, hardly ate, watched tv boxsets, Facebook stalked and generally felt dreadful. I slept and dozed, felt guilty for not making an effort, felt guilty for making myself feel this way, felt guilty for the things I wasn’t doing and guilty for things I was. It was a never ending cycle. The bank holiday weekend was looming and all I could think of was that my husband was working two of the days and how would I get through this. It came and went in a blur. I did take the girls to a birthday party which I had thought about bailing out of or asking hubby to take them so I didn’t have to see anyone but then I realised I was self sabotaging my recovery process. I needed to see my friends. They could see straight away I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t hide it and didn’t want to. But a few hours was enough to zap my energy and leave me exhausted again.
I had hopes of venturing out to the woods with the girls and the family dog we were looking after but even that thought wasn’t enough to get us out the door. The girls were fine, they knew I wasn’t feeling well; they mainly think that’s it’s a cold and were more than happy to take advantage of the TV being on and no stresses about doing homework. They even played really nicely together creating their own games. It make sure me feel very proud of them.

Back to the reality of work commitments and this meant venturing out and talking to others. It’s been good for me to be forced to do it. I know it’s not good to wallow in this self pity. I’m slowly coming out of the fog but I know this is a blip in my recovery.

I put my all into the long Easter holidays and had loads of fun but now I realise that I didn’t put myself first during any of it. This has to be a must for me and I’m only just working that one out and trying not to feel guilty about it!

It’s maternal mental health week this week and I’m proud to be a part of it. I share my pnd story and my ups and downs as a mum publicly so that others know that it’s not an easy journey.

I know this feeling shall pass but for now I’m just soldiering on, taking one day at a time.

Much love to my #pndfamily too who are doing an amazing job promoting maternal mental health

Xxx

How would you score on a parenting quiz?

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Ever done one of those social media quizzes? Apparently I’m a unicorn, extrovert with anxiety, who grew up in the ’80’s. Is one of the top 5% of the population who can truly say they are a 100% fan of the sound of music and dirty dancing and didn’t watch all the ’80’s coming of age movies because I was too busy dancing to Wham and Madonna!

I was thinking what if we had a parenting quiz, would we all get 100%? Congrats You are a rocking mama, well done you’re doing okay with this parenting malarkey, keep going you’re doing just fine, or lastly drinking wine and eating chocolate in the bathroom? Congrats you’re 150% rocking parenting!!

What would the questions be?

Your baby just burped up a bit of sick on them and you, do you
a) give the baby and you a complete change of clothes
b) change just the stained clothes
c) give the clothes a wipe and carry on
d) change the baby but figure out you’ve it a couple of days wear in those jeggings?!

There are so many parenting bloggers out there who capture perfectly the humour which is essential when you’re a parent.
Links some of my favourites are below.

http://theunmumsymum.blogspot.co.uk
http://peterandjaneblog.blogspot.co.uk
http://www.the-baby-bible.com/

http://hurrahforgin.com

Humour and the ability to laugh at what can be excruciatingly embarrassing situations is definitely required the moment you set foot on the road to parenting.

From the ridiculous advice in a contraception book that after the deed is done or the seed is sown so to speak, the female should raise her legs above her head to ensure that the little swimmers are swimming in the right direction. I mean what???!! But yes I did do this!

Predictions of the baby’s gender that you are given by well meaning strangers. For a time when I knew what we were having I did enjoy the secret of knowing whilst they scrutinised my bump and gave me their unasked for prediction.

The “poonami” moments when the breaking of wind by your darling girl not only makes heads turn but you start to feel the seepage of the explosion through into your clothes. Everyone tells you you need a change bag full of the entire baby’s wardrobe but never to put a spare top in there for you. So whilst you have a newly changed sweetsmelling baby you can still smell the poo as you’re now wearing it. If you don’t laugh during this moment you will surely cry.

The toddler tantrum moments when your child seems to think that by lying on the supermarket floor you will give in to their demands for the essential Thomas the tank engine magazine. Which essentially comprises of pages and pages of pictures and words which they cannot read yet as they are only 2 but they have been lured by the “free gift” on the front which consists of some form of plastic tat in the shape of a train. Therefore your magazine with the “free gift” should really be referred to as the plastic tat with the “free magazine” that costs £3.99. So no it is not free and nor is it of any use. The said plastic tat toy will be held until the next bribe moment comes along and then discarded and forgotten about until the very moment that they are going to bed whereby this plastic tat will become the deal breaker of getting into bed. Found in the nick of time your toddler will go to sleep happy in the knowledge that they will have their toy close to them. Needless to say it will fall out of their bed only for your bare feet to find at 3am when they have awoken screaming for you. Ouch.

Now the moment comes when you have to relinquish your hold on your little one and hand over the reins to the education establishment.
Nursery  or childminders are magic fairies who will know in depth about you and your family because your chatty toddler would have told them about you farting in bed, singing in the shower or you letting them eat food off the floor that has been dropped. What gems they are all told when we are out of earshot. However we first have to go through the heart wrenching experience of dropping them off. The worry, the emotional torment of needing to be somewhere else whilst someone else is paid to look after your little one. The guilt you are made to feel just by the reaction of them going into someone else’s care is enough to pull those heartstrings. But again humour raises its head; my daughters would come out with all these beautiful hairstyles that the nursery staff had created yet would not let me near them with a brush. The clinging to me and crying at the door to the nursery room and the guilt of leaving them yet when you pick them up they are too busy with their little friends to give you even a cursory glance and say “I’m hungry mummy”. They might even have the cheek to even cry when leaving their nursery staff before being handed back to you. Smile sweetly whilst inside you are jealous as hell.
Only to do it all again the next morning.

Seeing your child soak up like a sponge their phonics and learning to read letters fills your heart. But when they are adamant that a ‘e’ sound is a ‘i’ and the word pest becomes pist is being shouted at the top of their voice then you have to laugh. Not to mention the new word this week by her elder sister is Homophone, and the mispronunciations that has had, not to mention Re-cock-nis [recognise].

Sometime I question my life choices and other times I can share and laugh in the humorous side to parenting. There are so many I write them down on my phone only to delete them by accident. The good ones are always remembered as they will be talked about to grandparents and friends when you share the parenting funnies. It’s not always fun, smiles and laughter but when I do take a look back I can see the funny side, even if I didn’t feel it was at the time. There’s always the guilt, I herd once thy if you don’t feel guilty at some point as. Print then you are not doing it right. I would suggest I feel guilty 70% of the time pretty much on a daily basis so there you have it. I have 100% passed the parenting test!

Your hand in mine

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When we are walking hand in hand
And your hand doesn’t feel so tiny anymore
I think to myself I want a moment longer
To see you crawling on the floor

For us to share a little more of the time we have together
Before it’s too late and you don’t want to hold my hand ever

I feel those moments in time are as lost as I felt,
Then with a newborn, a toddler, a child
Not captured on film enough, just left to be a memory
Of one which I wasn’t happy beyond that smile

To wander down the street with the sole purpose of fun
And now we rush from place to place
That time seems to have gone
And it’s now different struggles we face.

Is it gone or just forgotten that we can still have that again,
Time Together we can cherish those few moments that are still the same.
We can make new memories and just enjoy and be
In the moment that important we can replay that game.

It’s takes a simple game of spot this or that
To realise that these are those moments that I can have back
Nothing to stop us creating that special time together
I just need to remember that they don’t last forever.

Charlotte Antoniou 2017