Tag Archives: Day-to-day Mothering

The Twits in Spring

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I am not eating refined sugar for a while. The reasons are mostly to do with the fact that we eat a lot of rubbish, and apparently I’m the sort of person who requires a total YOU MAY NOT EAT THIS EVER kind of ban in order to make anything stick. I have an intense and somewhat emotional relationship with hot chocolate, so it’s pretty boring already. I don’t know how vegans manage. If I couldn’t eat cheese I’d just pack it all in now and survive on gruel.

I’m also considering doing some kind of unplugged regime, because I feel all itchy when my phone’s not in my hand, which is weird. But one thing at a time, eh? If I’m having to eat snap peas instead of biscuits, at least I get to keep Twitter.

Because, Twitter! I just had a browse through my last four months, online, to distract myself from the sadness of herbal tea. Herbal tea is made from the mournful tears of abandoned fruit, did you know? But Twitter is made from the dewdrops on the cheeks of angels. Because of Twitter, I came across and loved the following:

a Caitlin Moran interview with Benedict Cumberbatch that made my life;

a Martin Luther King article that left me on the floor;

a last letter from a miner trapped underground that made me cry out all the water in my shrivelled body;

a brilliant compilation of the five best punctuation marks in literature (be still my heart);

a comprehensive trashing of the paleo diet;

a summary of WW1 as a bar fight (very useful, this);

a series of articles about monks inventing art that have made me weep tears of laughter and snort cheesecake out of my nose (medieval art, renaissance art, Byzantine art) (oh, cheesecake!);

a lovely, exactly right alternative epilogue to Harry Potter;

and, after watching Saving Mr Banks, this fabulous article about the creator of Mary Poppins and her decidedly odd life.

And here’s a potted summary of January to April. The usual warning: poo.

7 Jan

Regretting taking Ed to the weighing clinic a few hours after his brother gave him a ‘fond’ bite on the leg. [pagingsocialservices]

In case you needed more eau de Tuesday, 15mins ago I said ‘we’ll go to the library in a sec – just need to get this sick out of the Hoover’.

13 Jan

2YO: What are these?
@mrjeffcoat: They’re my cycling gloves, Henry.
2YO: *sigh* Use real words please, Daddy.

15 Jan

We’ve now watched Tangled so much that this is what happens to me at the end:

Eugene: Rapunzel, you were my new dream.
Rapunzel: *sob* and you were mine.
Me: *UNCONTROLLABLE SOBBING*

17 Jan

Shopping list with a cold:
-bread
-milk
-yoghu—GIANT POT NOODLE
-INGREDIENTS FOR CHOCOLATE PUDDING
-DRUUUUGS

4 Feb

I tell ye what, having the How to Train Your Dragon theme stuck in your head makes going to the loo TERRIBLY dramatic.

This is the noblest wee I have ever had.

5 Feb

Me: ‘There’s something round your mouth. Have you been eating anything?’
Hen: ‘I eating nothing’
Me: ‘oh, ok’
Hen: ‘except clockolet’

16 Feb

Just saw someone on Twitter write ‘voilà’ as ‘whalla’, and I think something inside me has died.

23 Feb

Fell down stairs carrying both boys this morning. Felt like Aragorn leaping to safety in mines of Moria, hobbit under each arm #flyyoufools

24 Feb

Basically, come into our house with the assumption that every cushion is artfully positioned over a sick stain #howdiditcometothis

4 Mar

Nothing makes you look so insane as getting faint wafts of poo from somewhere so furiously sniffing every item in the house. #WHEREISIT

6 Mar

Toddler just imitated the braying laugh of a check-out assistant next to us, so you’ll excuse me for trying to bury myself under the floor.

6 Mar

[at end of long discussion about biting]
Me: look, you can put your mouth on people if you want, but it has to be CLOSED.
#weirdmotherhood

10 Mar

Baby refusing naps. Come in 15 minutes later to find he’s completely dismantled his bottle and is no longer wearing trousers. Career in MI5?

I also can’t find the trousers.

11 Mar

From the bedroom, Teddy’s making the noise I have come to read as ‘I am having all the breath squashed out of my body bit by bit’. #brothers

12 Mar

Never ask a mother what she’s doing between 5-6pm, because the answer will always be ‘googling local orphanages’.

24 Mar

Boys haven’t slept simultaneously in weeks. Today they did, & I was like ‘yess, work!’ and body was like ‘um..sucka I am pulling that plug’.

(just woke up. No work done. Major bedhead.)

25 Mar

2YO: Try it, try it!
Me: That’s dried yoghurt from your chin. I’ll pass.
2YO: Shall I put it on your chin?
Me: Still no.

2 Apr

Tim: Mark Wahlburg is in trouble.His leg bone is sticking out.
Me: A tight spot. Poor Mark.
T: it’s ok, he pushed it back in.
#narratedfilms

10 Apr

Look, I’m not going to lie. He calls it ‘Willy the Poo’, he can’t say ‘Winnie’, I laugh every time, I am juvenile.

21 Apr

Just ate the most disgusting Burger King burger. Had to eat the raw onion (urgh) just to make sure my mouth still had feelings.

Yes, that about sums it up.

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Hey, if you catch this in the next couple of hours: the MAD Blog Awards voting closes at midnight today! If you haven’t yet and you wouldn’t mind, I’d be jolly grateful if you’d vote for us in the Best Baby Blog category.

Click here! Thank you!

This Is Where We Are: A letter to my children on Mother’s Day (3)

Dear Future Versions of Henry and Edward,

Today is my third Mothering Sunday, and you are two-and-a-half and nine months old, respectively. We are tucked up in bed again, this time because you have hand, foot and mouth virus. Before I had children I thought HFM, if I thought about it at all, was a disease for cows. Motherhood is not so much a learning curve as a learning ski jump, with no skis attached.

You first, Teds? You don’t often get to go first.

Henry and I call you ‘bear’ at home, and it suits you. You are a golden-haired, roly-poly, beaming little thing, and you remind me more of a bear cub than a baby. Your eyes are an untroubled, unclouded blue. Honestly, Teddy, I could go a hundred miles and not find another person as sweetly lovely as you. You are the sort of boy who sits in a two-inch bath clenching his fists and squealing, because nothing has ever been as good as this bath, ever. I can put you on the bed with a piece of paper, and twenty minutes later you’ll get a bit bored so I’ll need to mix it up a bit and show you an interestingly coloured sock. You’re that kind of lovely. You’re the sort of lovely that smiles so wide there’s not room on your face for the whole of it, because that’s the kind of smile you think everyone deserves.

You love cherry tomatoes (what?!), apple puree, your purple spider, bouncing on your chubby feet, being in water, anyone who will look at you twice, and your brother, who is the brightest thing in any room you’re in. You hate…well, actually, I can’t think of anything. Except maybe being ignored for too long, at which point you bellow so loudly the glass shatters in the photo frames. You eat well; you sleep well; you throw up like it’s an Olympic sport. When I pick you up and you huff contentedly into my hair, I squash my face against yours and look sideways. All I can see is cheeks.

Two babies has been an adjustment I can only think of in natural disaster metaphors: a tsunami, a tidal wave, an earthquake. But it hasn’t been a disaster at all, and that’s because of you. Do you know how rare it is to find someone who evokes in you utter, uncomplicated joy? That’s you, my darling. So bright I can’t look at you straight. You have the sort of light that people are drawn to, and I’m only grateful it landed on me first.

***

Henry, you quicksilver boy: you are skinny, sandy-haired and full of burning energy. Your eyes are blue with the most extraordinary rings of greeny-yellow: they remind me of those fire-veined pebbles you find on beaches, still wet from the sea. If I told you this you would fix me with that look you get, eyebrows raised, mouth quirked up on one side: that, good madam, is ridiculous. You love a good joke, and I’m often your best one.

You love books, sausage pie, the twenty-seven ‘waysing cars’ you have stashed everywhere, Finding Nemo, sprinting, sitting in patches of sunshine in your bath towel, and Daddy. You hate salad, being made to take off your towel and get dressed, sitting in the Tesco trolley, and being reminded that I am in charge. You are rapid-fire chatter, ingenuity, single-mindedness, throat-gurgling laughs. When I push you high on the swings, you close your eyes and tip your head back to the open skies. You invite me to dance during the closing credits of any film we watch, and I would never dream of turning you down. You are clever as heck. Let’s say that now while you’re too young to get it. Oh gosh, you really are.

We have a more complicated bond these days: you want things and push back when you can’t have them; I lose my temper over your stubbornness more often than I should. We are parenting now in earnest, and often I feel a terrible tearing mix of frustration and fear and pride and love. I suppose that’s how you become less of me and more of you, and there’s something wonderful in that. I love you fiercely for your wholeness and integrity. Regardless of who’s watching, you are always most perfectly yourself. I have this sense of you as a poised arrow: fearless, determined, ready on the string. I can’t fathom where that headlong rush forward will take you, but I can guess. So high, my love, so high I can only watch you: so blazingly, beautifully high.

With love and some hair-pulling (on all sides),

Your mother.

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This Is Where We Are: A letter to my son on Mother’s Day (2)

Having read about it here, I wanted to write about how I mother my babies day-to-day, every Mother’s Day. The first was here. Here goes the second. 

Dear Future Version of Henry,

Today is my second Mothering Sunday, and you are eighteen months old. We are sat side-by-side in the big bed, you tucked under my arm and watching your third episode of ‘Sarah and Duck’. You’ve got a dribbly cold, which is the reason we’re at home on a Sunday morning, and also the only reason you’re happy to be tucked anywhere. I’m making the most of it. Usually you’ve got too much to do.

Oh, I am in love with you, little boisterous boy. You sprint through a world of vivid colour where every last thing is so interesting it’s worth climbing a bookcase for. You should exhaust me completely – our energy levels are not, at the moment, on a par – and sometimes you do. Mostly I marvel at how keenly you feel everything: you’re always astonished or powerfully curious or hilariously excited or heartbreakingly sad. I mean, I never considered how interesting a cake fork was, before you insisted on inspecting all twelve of them in the cutlery drawer. You do not believe in sitting still, not for a second. You sleep like a champ, but only because you’ve knocked yourself out all day wrestling with chairs and sofas and me.

After much trial and error, we’ve found a routine that works for us both at the moment. Daddy fetches you from your cot in the morning, and you lie between us for an hour, hiding under the covers and tweaking our noses, until we’re ready to get up. You take long morning naps while I work, then I fetch you lunch and the rest of the afternoon is ours. You love books, red peppers, your pull-along doggy, the fluffy side of your monkey blanket, other people’s breakfasts, jumping from high places, and Daddy, always Daddy. You would give up ten strawberry yoghurts to have that man chase you around the kitchen. You hate having your teeth brushed, being made to eat when you don’t want to (often), broccoli under any circumstances, and being told ‘no’. We are working on the time-out thing, at the moment. Thus far, not an astoundingly successful experiment. Neither do any of my warning faces have any effect whatsoever. I’ll keep trying.

I feel a great deal more pressure now you not only need to be fed and clean and rested, but also stimulated and taught: given good habits, trained out of bad ones, exposed to people and principles that will open your eyes and make you everything you could be. It’s a lot to do in an afternoon, and I am no great paragon of any of it myself. But somehow, despite all that, I feel more secure now in mothering you than I ever have before. This has been my favourite age so far. You are good company. I can see so much of what you are, and it gives me hope. I want you to keep forging new paths. I want you to be graceful, and grateful, and kind. I want you to read the whole of Roald Dahl’s back catalogue, but that’s probably a goal for another year.

I can’t tell you how much being your mother has changed me for the better. You have my heart and soul and everything in between. I hope you can feel it. I finally begin to understand that the glory of motherhood is this: no matter how far you move away from me, some part of you, for me, will always be that little boy lying between us and kicking his legs in the bed, babbling secrets into the half-darkness. I’ll have that forever. What a gift, my dearest boy. What an inexpressible gift.

With love,

Your mother.

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Dear Future Version of Henry, my hair doesn’t always look like an insane person’s wig. Promise.

Friday taught me this

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1. There’s one thing you can’t do with my new hairstyle, and that’s nothing at all. Today we worked and played mostly from underneath a duvet, hibernating from the torrential rain, and I never got around to drying it. Most of it is just frizzy, but the fringe… It looks like my forehead vomited.

2. You can’t make pasta in the microwave. This is something you learn when a) you haven’t done the washing-up in three days, so b) there are no clean pans, and c) pasta in tomato soup is all there is for lunch. We had a good go. The physics is all there. It just kind of looks like the microwave vomited.

3. A little of most things goes a long way. Henry has become obsessed with watching baby TV programmes on my iPhone. I don’t want him glued to a screen, but I can do a lot with ten quiet minutes. This morning we tried Bob the Builder. Henry was entranced (‘CAR! DADDY, CAR! DADDY!’). Bob is the luvviest builder we’ve ever seen, and sounds a bit like a cement-obsessed Kenneth Branagh. After a couple of episodes in a row, though, Henry is slapping the phone out of my hands, actually growling, and getting so excited his fingers spasm and press the exit button over and over. He has discovered, as so many before him, that Kenneth Branagh is best in moderate quantities.

4. Everything has a purpose. I know this because I spend all day explaining what things are not for.

‘Henry, cables are not for biting.’

‘No, the printer is not for dancing on. No, it ISN’T. Climb off.’

‘Darling, scissors are not for boys. Come back. COME BACK, PLEASE. Crap.’

5. When you have a massive, unused bowl of chocolate frosting in the fridge, and nothing to frost, you can always just frost a spoon. And the inside of your mouth. This one self-explanatory.

6. We really shouldn’t make videos of any kind after 7pm. But when he does that cheeseball smile halfway through, I could eat him.

Happy Birthday Grandma! (10/12/12) from Rachel Jeffcoat on Vimeo.

The reset button

‘There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle’.

Albert Einstein

There are thoughts that I hope all parents have, and don’t admit to. The ones you swallow immediately and never, never let out of your mouth. I am all for full disclosure here. This is a circle of trust.

Here’s one: SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP.

Here’s another: This house can rot for all I care. I’m not cleaning it.

And another: it would be SO MUCH EASIER to do this if I didn’t have a baby.

Hey, it’s alright. You’re not Satan. All it means is that you’re a human person, hanging out with another human person whom you love with a white-hot intensity but who hasn’t yet developed logic or table manners or conversation. And things are different now, but every now and again you forget. I sat at my table and thought that last one yesterday. We take Henry to lots of places, but I just wanted to go see Skyfall, and the Shakespeare exhibit, and a show for Timothy’s birthday next week, without wrangling around for a babysitter, spending money reserved for nappies and worrying about leaving my boy. I want to go away for our anniversary in March, but I don’t think timings will be on our side this time. I thought all that and stewed in my crossness, and then was engulfed in so much guilt I wanted to cry.

Change has a way of really thumping you in the face sometimes, doesn’t it? Even the best change you ever made. We just have a hankering for old routines we can’t shake off.

This evening I found my reset button. We ate homemade pizza and badly made cake pops (not my strong point). Henry ran around entertaining himself, coming back for the odd read-through of A Baby’s First Christmas – he’s feeling festive already, apparently. Then he got tired. Tim went to make his bottle, and Henry sat at the top of the stairs, hands in his lap, and cried. I knew without looking that he was waiting for me to ride on up and rescue him.

I didn’t hesitate. I ran. Because he was waiting for me. Because I can fix his problems. Because one day, I’ll wish I still could.

I couldn’t give that up for all the Skyfalls in China. If they’re showing Skyfall in China. Which, who knows. Maybe I could go see it there.

This Is Where We Are: A letter to my son on Mother’s Day (1)

Having read about it here, I wanted to write about how I mother my babies day-to-day, every Mother’s Day. Here goes the first.

Dear Future Version of Henry,

Today is my first Mothering Sunday, and tomorrow you will be seven months old. I am sat in a puddle of quiet, feeding you before your nap. You’re not much interested in feeding these days apart from as a comforting book-end to sleep. The knowledge that this connection between us is winding to a close is breaking my heart just a little. You are so big now. You are so completely yourself. You’re hardly my creation at all.

It has taken us this long to cobble together something like a routine, but we’re getting there. Neither of us are great at sticking to a routine – I am too indecisive and you are too energetic – but it does us both good. You nap twice in the day if we’re lucky, and most of the night. You will eat sweet potato till it comes out of your ears (or nose, more often), but choke extravagantly on anything more solid. You do everything extravagantly: lunging at things you want to put in your mouth, burying your face in my neck in a fit of excitement, bouncing like a grasshopper in my lap. You are always in the throes of some passion or other. You are never, never still. I think you’re going to give me a run for my money as soon as you can actually run.

You love singing, Sir Prance-a-Lot, your door bouncer, books that are solid enough to get in your mouth, labels, my hair and Daddy. You hate pasta, getting dressed, and doing anything for longer than five minutes.

In some ways I struggled with the transition to full-time mothering, needing more validation and more structure than you were able to give me, but I’ve grown into my life as you’ve grown into yours. I’ve been surprised at how natural it all is. I know every inch of you. I can sense what you need without really having to try. You want Daddy when you want to be happy, and me when you want to be sad. I know I won’t always be able to fix your problems so easily, but oh, I wish I could.

I have so many hopes for you. I want you to be independent and confident and curious. If I could have you be anything, I would have you be kind. I worry about you constantly. I suppose it will always be like that. But I love who you are and who I’ve become since you arrived. I only have you to thank for that.

With love,

Your mother.

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