Saturday, October 29, 2011

Parenting - High's,Lows And I Don't Knows.

Some of you will know already that there is a massive eleven years between my two cherubs. That’s nearly 12 years spent in parent-ville to date.

So far it’s been a real journey but I like to think I’ve learned a few things along the way. Of course there are many who would agree to differ on that but as I say, I like to think I have!

Well whoever said Parenting doesn’t come with a manual was clearly oblivious. Aside from the government issue of  'Birth to Five' distributed on the twelfth week of pregnancy, we are quite literally overwhelmed by the vast array of expert advice relating to what we've all been doing for years- bringing up our Kids.
However the following notes about child rearing wont be found through browsing through the isles in WHSmith.. which sort of brings me to my first point...

Parenting books.
An Excellent alternative for fire lighters during those winter months, but if you think reading them will prevent you from turning out like your own Mother/Father then you are sorely mistaken.
The values you learned from your parents are programmed in to your psyche and seeing a more intelligent approach will only depress you when you when you don’t step up to the mark. For this reason it’s best not to read books at all but if you must, find one that’s backs up what you think already. Can’t find one? I know how you feel.

Pretend you know what you’re talking about.
It doesn’t matter what you believe in when it comes to raising a child but it is essential to give the appearance of knowing what you’re doing, if you don’t, you leave yourself vulnerable to all sorts of unwanted advice which again only reinforces a sense of failure, making your job harder.

Give a balanced picture when sharing your experiences.
Nobody likes a parent who only ever sees the good in their child. As sweet as it is it's also incredibly annoying. In contrast if you complain about your child and their perceived difficulties too much then parents will only use this as an opportunity to feel good about themselves. Yes it's a dog eat dog world out there in parentville, and parental one-upmanship is deeply ingrained in to the child rearing culture. As such, it is important to offer a balanced picture about your child. Two complaints to every three compliments is good.

Consider all unacceptable behaviour as a temporary blip
No matter how non distinctive a behaviour may seem it is useful to believe it to be only a phase. Of course this is tricky when your child is persistently presenting with the same problems, in particular if the same problem is highlighted time and time again by varying sources. Put your faith in the fact that after embarrassing you beyond belief your child will eventually overcome the phase and come up with new ways to show you up.

Dealing with Criticism.
Parents bring to the table all kinds of different ideas about how to raise kids and none of them are really 'right.' Folks bring to parenting what they think their child needs to survive in this world, which will be different to what someone else believes their child needs.Hence we are a diverse population.
With this is mind, if someone criticizes your child or your child rearing skills don’t feel you have to justify your parenting or their behaviour. A simple 'He'll grow out of it' will suffice.

Enjoying your role
Being a Parent is packed full of unforeseen challenges.
Any concept of how you thought you would deal with this experience will go out the window as you learn how to function in this dog eat dog world.
As your child grows so will your expectations,you will become increasingly hopeful of seeing a positive return on the time and energy invested. Sadly it takes years for a child s potential, aspirations and identity to become clear and by the time they do your own ideals will be lingering submissively in the background, abandoned in a bid to maintain a positive relationship with your off spring. As such it is wise to try to enjoy parenting for exactly what it is, a drawn out, unpredictable act of selflessness full of highs,lows and I don't knows.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Preparing For The Worst Whilst Hoping For The Best.

Ever wondered what it feels like to be catapulted off a multi story building only to find yourself suspended in mid air attached to a tree branch or similar?

You are petrifyingly frightened and unbelievably grateful.

You feel fractionally safe but not  too secure because in a blink of an eye it could all be so different and you know this.

This is what it’s like to have a baby in intensive care. Or so I told myself as I sat by the incubator in the NICU.

The monitors beeped away and it was strange because I felt slightly removed from the situation, rather like a stranger looking on. I was very aware of my mental state, very keen to hold it together, to be seen to be coping .

Better not do anything strange then or too weird. What about crying? Is crying okay? I’m sure it is, I thought, under the circumstances.

Before me was my wee scrap of a Smidge, The ventilator  rhythmically making ‘psssst’ noises, the numbers dancing around the screen. I hadn’t the foggiest idea how to interpret them.

The nurse strolled over and began to talking to me. She looked at me kindly and asked ‘how are you?’  I tried to reply but the words, they just seemed to escape me.

‘It’s overwhelming ,I know’ she said, helping me out a little.

It was my first visit to the unit without Steve and I was visiting our baby alone.

Looking in at her tiny face I found it unbelievable that she so small could grow to be big and healthy, yet it was equally hard to envisage that she would not live to be my daughter.

I think it’s the same for any parent of a tiny tiny baby. We see these four pound’giants’ being discharged from special care and it is so hard to believe that the foetal like preemie that lies in the incubator before you could ever reach that level.

Parents quickly become aware that there a few ways you can go mentally whilst in this very frightening and highly stressful situation.

You can;

Hope for the best:
Optimism is one stance that never failed to amaze me in this situation. This is where brave parents think positively, if survival chances are 50/50 then they are on the happy end of it, their glass always seems half full. They put their faith in to the doctors, never fail to point out the positives and are very mindful what they focus on.

Prepare for the worst:
In contrast, the parent who prepares for the worst throws themselves in to the NICU situation, seldom leaves the cot side, takes on board every last detail and worries about everything. The situation and progress of the baby dominates all their thought processes, and they find it very difficult to take time out mentally or see a light at the end of the tunnel.

However most of us fluctuate between these two processes and mentally it is very tiring, We use a huge amount of energy  sustaining ourselves in this time of uncertainty.
As you know, I used Mummy- bot and got my dry eyes out to keep my energy up, but basically any coping strategy to me is perfectly acceptable because you just do what you do when preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Oh Bloggy.. I'm ill! I've poisoned myself and Mr.G and Stephen too! It seems only Smidge has escaped the wrath of my cookery. What started with good intentions resulted in simply torturous outcomes. Who ever would have thought a singular lump of cheese could cause so much trouble?

I was in the kitchen you see, preparing a vegetable lasagne with a complex aubergine sauce and keen to be as organised as possible I grated the cheese in advance whilst waiting for the aubergines to boil down.

I waited,waited and waited but those aubergines took a jolly long time.

When finally the correct amount of shrinkage occurred, I layered up the lasagne and lovingly scattered the pre grated cheese over the top. The cheese looked a bit,well melty,but surely it was just a little more mature now. right?

Wow Stephen was going to be impressed with me I thought to myself, much more Earth Motherly than last nights fish and chips. I popped it in the fridge so I could clean up the kitchen..

6pm and dinner was served, it was compliments all round and my Earth Mother status was reinforced.

A few hours on and the effects started to become evident, Oh the shame of poisoning your own child. I will be kind and spare you the detail but last nights shenanigans called for some serious indulgence therapy.

Today I put my green faced self in to a car and drove to the petrol station, where I purchased some tomato soup, jarred baby food and two trash mags.

I am now feeling marginally more human. :-(

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Coolest Thing About Blogging

I always kept a diary when I was a kid because I felt it was important to keep a record of all the great injustices I suffered. There would be quite literally reams written about my parents and the perceived issues regarding their chosen disciplinary measures.

I would literally spend hours scrawling away in my bubble style handwriting, putting the world to rights and then, with my brain fried and hand aching I would manage to muster up one positive sentence. Something like ‘Am meeting Louisa tomorrow, Should be good’

So you can imagine what a delight it was for me to discover the blogging world some 20 years later when once again I found myself struggling emotionally.

Of course these days I keep an ‘Open Diary’ so anyone can read, which is a far cry from the scribbled out jottings of a paranoid pre-teen.

This to me is by far the coolest thing about blogging. See, since making this diary public, I have come to realise that there are others, many others who can relate to my experiences as a parent, and it seems they can be a lot more honest about their own muddles and struggles, making me feel better about my own. Awesome J

Yes I think it is brilliant that there is a multitude of shameless parent bloggers out there ready to unveil the truth about parenting.  I mean I shouldn’t have to put a throw over the x-box or tip flour down my dress every time someone comes round should I?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dry Eyes And Six Real Tears

Do you know not yesterday but the day before I produced six REAL nicu- related tears? Quite an achievement for the emotionally redundant I’m sure you’ll all agree.

Especially given that over the past week or so I’ve been freaking out a bit that I might be ever -so -slightly affected by the dreaded PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Ever since I found out about this disorder, it’s been post-traumatic this and post traumatic that..  And in the end I’ve just had to take heed and admit I’ve always been a bit of a stress head, It’s in my nature, It’s just that now I have a reason for it. That’s all.

It’s fair to say that like most people, I’ve always had the occasional ‘off day’ You know the ‘I’m going to stay in my pyjamas all day, eat leads of chocolate and cry because I feel like a frumpy old whale with no purpose’ kind of day, but never in all my time have I ever suffered with dry eyes.

So Dry Eyes is new to me but I’ve been thinking a lot about it and have come to believe it is an unfortunate side effect from having to be strong for too long.

Dry eyes are what happen when there are just too many lumps to swallow and from seeing things you never ever thought you’d have to see and never had the time to prepare for.

Dry eyes happen when you find yourself in a world that you never knew existed, that comes at you so fast, so technical, so intense.

A medical world full of bleeps, tubes and experts.. all riding the wave of change.

And you have to keep those dry eyes because that world isn’t going to disappear. Not for a very long time.

And if you are VERY very lucky. Then one day you can leave the dry eyed world with a baby, a lovely little baby..

Who will learn to coo and gurgle.

Who will make you smile again with her gummy grins and shining bright eyes.

And lovely little babies make you feel what it’s really like to be a mummy, and agree with you that they  looked really silly in all that plastic stuff, They  help you to feel happy and proud and human  and ultimately enable you to produce..

Six REAL Tears!