Monday, 21 July 2008

It Could Sleep In The Airing Cupboard

We are little by little moving away from the baby stage which fills me with a mixture of sorrow and joy. Joy that we no longer need a pushchair loaded like a Nepalese Sherpa, sorrow that I will never again have people coo over my newly born baby in public. Joy that I will no longer have to buy nappies, sorrow that the four year old is hurtling towards school faster than I can say “who has drawn on the wall in felt tip?” In particularly low moments I even suffer bump envy.

I have friends who are quite happy with their lot and would rather chop off their arm than have another child. I think I’m programmed differently; I would have babies until my womb dropped out. My husband on the other hand would rather chop off both his arms and his legs than have another. It has caused arguments, mainly beginning with the arrival of a friend’s baby and ending in me drinking vodka and wailing.

If I listen to my heart I’m a mother of 10. If I listen to my head I’m more than happy with the two we have. In reality I don’t have the money or the patience to have more. Everyone gets their own bedroom, swimming lessons and bike and because I have a boy and a girl, no hand me downs. We don’t need a people carrier (although we have one) and a day out is much cheaper than it would be for the Von Trapp Family.

I recently read about a woman whose children left home to go to University - she had dedicated 18 years to being a stay at home mother and was now lost, unsure of what to do with her time. She killed herself. I’m thinking after 18 years of worry, no sleep and refereeing sibling fights I’ll be more than happy to have some ‘me time’.

All that said I would have just another one ... it could sleep in the airing cupboard.

My husband is now hoping my womb will drop out and is hiding the vodka.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Supermarket Sweep

Since having children my relationship with ‘the supermarket’ has changed somewhat.

In the early days I would go for a full shop, but as a breastfeeding mother this was difficult. On one occasion it took me 2 hours to get round, at which point my baby was crying so hard that I had to abandon my half full trolley and to a young shelf stackers shock I shouted “I’m going to breastfeed my baby in the car park. Watch this trolley”. He instantly went red and off I went. I returned to find the trolley but no shelf stacker.

With 2 children in the supermarket my outings fare no better. Firstly there is the argument about who sits in the trolley, closely followed by ‘red faced and screaming on the floor’ tantrum about who holds the shopping list … this all before we’ve entered the supermarket. Once inside whichever child is not in the trolley decides to bolt off in search of an item on the list, failing to tell me what or where it is causing me to race round looking for the child in a panic … and then one of them invariably breaks something whilst ‘helping’ to put it into the trolley.

Last month I did an emergency shop which involved a 5 minute dash round the supermarket because there was no bread or milk in the house. I proudly managed to get to the checkout with no incident. There were three checkouts, all busy. I had one person in front of me, three behind me when I heard someone say in a very loud voice ‘Mummy, I need a poo’. The next 60 seconds is a blur. Everyone turned to look as she said it again, but louder. At the moment she said it for the second time her brother bolted for the sweet shelf. I was pulling the 2 and a half year old away from the sweets, whilst telling the 4 year old to ‘hold it in’. She was shouting ‘I can’t, I can’t’. Glowing from embarrassment I was weighing up whether we needed milk and bread more than a follow through. The woman on the checkout scanned everything at top speed and I threw the money at her telling her to keep the change as we fled the supermarket. We rushed across the car park with the 4 year old clutching her bottom and me looking for a suitable bush when she suddenly announced nonchalantly that she no longer needed a poo.

On one occasion we had just completed the shopping and I was contemplating going home and drinking a whole bottle of gin. In the car park the 4 year old was in full whinge mode due to me telling (lying to) her that the hideous ride outside the supermarket which requires 1 golden coin for 15 seconds of movement and crap music was out of order. Having dragged her to the car I decided that the best plan of action was to trap her in her car seat whilst I unloaded the shopping. This I did. Wrestling a rigid screaming child into a car seat takes time, patience and strength. Pleased with myself I started to shut the door when I was tapped on the shoulder … by an old aged pensioner holding the trolley which contained my 2 and a half year old and my weekly shopping which he informed me had rolled across the car park.

I now use online shopping … otherwise we’d starve.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Burning The Candle Both Ends

I didn't know true sleep deprivation until I had children. Now I know I can survive on 4 hours sleep with the help of Diet Coke and pure childcare adrenalin, but I am a monster, and I know that blood is thicker than water because if they weren’t born of my loins I would have killed them by now.

The 4 year old didn't sleep through the night without interruption until her brother arrived on the scene (she was 18 months old). I'm sure she then slept with a wry smile.

Now it's different- I think they have meetings by nightlight to discuss that evenings tactics.

The current tactic is a relay race by which the 4 year old, who suffers night terrors, wakes from 11pm-3am every hour on the hour screaming as though she’s being stabbed with a butter knife. Then the 2 and a half year old wakes at 5am to beat on his door with whatever he can find (usually Mr Potato Head’s carcass) whilst shouting ‘Mummy’ in a variety of tones until he is released.

We did have an unusually quiet morning 2 weeks ago. The sort where you think maybe you should check they are still breathing. Which I did, to find the 2 and a half year old on his window sill smearing nappy cream all over it and himself. I wasn't sure whether to be happy for the extra sleep or angry for the mess.

I think I should invite myself to one of their nightlight meetings and put across the point that if Mummy doesn't get enough sleep Mummy is very grumpy and that I will offer chocolate incentives.

The 2 and a half year old still has a nap and I often wonder whether I should give him a taste of his own medicine and wait until he’s just dropped off then bang on his door with a selection of Mr Potato Head’s limbs (for variety). I could then burst into his room covered in nappy cream whilst shouting his name. I could then be sectioned …

… but at least I’d get some sleep!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Stunt Boy

My youngest child is 2 and a half. He has stumbled through his life from one accident to the next, usually involving his head or knees and a hard surface. Surprisingly, I have only been to A&E twice. On the last occasion he appeared to me gushing blood from his mouth like a fountain. Unable to prise his mouth open (even with the bribe of chocolate buttons) and after a brief discussion with his 4 year old sister we established that he had scootered down the steps in the back garden and collided with the concrete.

After two hours in the children's waiting room of A&E he regained his composure and began his crusade. He fell in a toy box, jumped off the seats, demanded several boxes of raisins and casually flirted with a 3 year old girl with an foot injury.

When we eventually saw the nurse he confirmed in 40 seconds what I already knew ... 2 spoonfuls of Calpol, a good nights sleep and Stunt Boy would be just fine.