Be wise, immunise

I hate taking my kids for their jabs. The look on their little faces when they realise what’s happening… gah. But a grown-up’s gotta do what a grown-up’s gotta do.

This morning, I made the mistake of explaining to Eva why we were going to the doctors – her pre-school MMR booster – as we were heading to the car. I thought she might appreciate the heads up.

Having managed to extract her from the garden where she’d run off to hide, I carried her, sobbing, to the car. Getting into the doctors’ surgery was even more interesting as she elected to put off the inevitable by lying on the ground in the car park screaming, meaning I had to hand Alex over to a stranger while I prised her off the tarmac. Alex, unimpressed by being shoved into the arms of an enormous bald gentleman he’d never met, also chose to proceed down the tantrum route.

So far, so fun. Eva’s jabs brought on tidal waves of tears from both kids but we did it. Look at my brave little pin cushion. Somebody’s getting an ice cream later.


The cocoon

It was never my intention to update this blog all the time, or turn it into a ‘thing’, chiefly because that would’ve entailed finding out what a ‘thing’ is, and then doing it. It’s more a place for diarising life with young kids (because I am extremely forgetful), sharing the funny stuff (because I don’t have colleagues), and venting (because I usually do that quite angrily and out loud while I’m having a shower and I’m not sure if the neighbours can hear me through the wall – this is quieter).

I’m finally sitting down to write this post about life as a stay-at-home parent slash freelance journalist slash can you be a stay-at-home parent with a job slash no not really. It’s been percolating in my brain for a while and, unlike any notions I’ve had over the years to get tattoos, hasn’t gone away. It’s about the overwhelming blanket of nothingness that can drape itself over you when you stay at home with kids, and what it feels like to be under it.

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Coping/not coping

There are certain moments in life that come with their own handy phrases and clichés, and it’s only when you live through them that you realise how apt they are. Heartbreak, for example, is a throwaway term until you’re jilted, sobbing and clutching at your chest thinking, ‘Ouch, bloody hell, they weren’t joking!’ Even when the physical ache dies away, the conviction that your poor heart has been stomped to pieces can linger for years.

There are plenty of jolly little clichéd phrases, images and expectations around motherhood, too. Fraught mum reaching for the booze or the meds – mother’s little helper! Frazzled mum with banana in her hair, mum putting her purse in the fridge, calling the children by the cat’s name, mum reversing the car into a post box, wiping baby spew off her best blouse before a party and hoping nobody notices. Mum on a spa break having her ‘me time’ with cucumber slices on her eyes, mum in her mumsy bra and big pants with her ‘mummy tummy’ and ‘wobbly bits’, sobbing at NSPCC adverts and nativity plays, whooping with delight because her toddler did a poo in a potty then sending little Jimmy off to school with his sister’s ballet bag instead of his PE kit. Mums!

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My chips are sleeping

Listening to most parents – me included – complaining about our kids is probably enough to spur the child-free to take a vow of chastity, hastily pack a bag and race for the border, wherever that is if you live in the UK. Gretna? Dover? Harwich? Anyway.

From births that resembled That Scene In Alien, or That Other One From Prometheus, and maybe a little of That Bit In The Exorcist, the bad times keep rolling. Sleepless nights, separation anxiety, terrible twos, threenagerdom, bum-obsession, hormone jolts, stroppy teenage years then all you get at the end of it is a sponging student who buggers off to university only to to return to the nest for at least 20 years as they struggle to pay off university debts and save £50k for a deposit on a shared ownership wendy house on a small pile of rubble in the Thames just outside the Tilbury Docks (great transport links to Fenchurch Street).

Personally, I’d more than bought into all of this stuff. I knew I wanted kids, but as well as being something I looked forward to, it loomed over me. I was pretty certain that, should I be lucky enough to have the babies I wanted, I was condemning myself to a life of hell on toast.

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Family photoshoot… lights, camera, tantrum!

What I didn’t mention in my last post – the one where I said I wasn’t afraid of giving birth again – is that I was due to, er, give birth again the following October. And I did! Although it actually ended up happening in November, which any calendar fan will tell you comes after October. The baby – a boy, called Alexander – was 15 days late, which I suppose is probably quite interesting in itself and I should almost certainly write about that.

I should also write about the fun tour of the hospital we had during labour and the larks we had bouncing around the special care ward during the week after. Also, the pros and cons of finding out the sex of your child, what to do when your episiotomy stitches dissolve a week before they’re supposed to and how to make the best use of cushions when you can’t sit down.

First of all, however, I would like to make a record of something far more traumatic than all of that – our first, and possibly last – family photoshoot.

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