Why I am going to stop apologising for my daughter

There are several things that babies do not understand.  These include such concepts as sharing, being gentile, patience and timing.  As adults, we know that these ideas are beyond a babies comprehension, and yet, daily, we still hear cries of “No darling, don’t take that” or “I hope you are sharing”.

Babies learn about the world by exploring. And they like to explore with touch and with taste.  These tiny beings are new to the world and show much more curiosity than the standard adult.  But we choose to stifle it.

When our tiny beings arrive in the world we start to apologise.  For their noise, their smells, the time that they consume and the fact they have changed our priorities in life.

Then, at some point in the first year, (a scary 5.5 months for my daughter) they become mobile.  It is at this point that the apologies really start.

“I am sorry she stole your child’s toy”

“I am sorry she poked your son in the eye”

“I am sorry that my daughter ate your daughter’s rice cake”

“I am sorry that she keeps pulling your hair”

“I am sorry that your phone is now in her mouth”

“I am sorry that she is hitting your leg”

“I am sorry that she is tapping you to get your attention”

“I am sorry that she is biting your foot”

The list goes on.  Well, do you know what. I’m stopping. No more apologies. Instead I offer you an explanation.

“She’s too young to understand, she doesn’t mean to take your toy, she’s just interested”

“She is excited by that food, it’s new to her and she wants to learn about the world”

“She likes you, that’s her way of saying hello, if you wave at her then she will learn to wave back instead”

“Ooops, your phone was left in her reach and she is really interested in learning about new things”

I am not going to apologise any more.  My daughter is young and this is not her fault.  She is amazing. She is curious and she is intelligent. She is fearless and she is learning about the world at a speed I can only envy. She does not get tired of discovering new things and her brain takes on so much every day.

We should be embracing the curiosity of our children.   We need to stop apologising for them and instead defend them and help them to explore.

So, to all the babies and toddlers my daughter meets. She is a whirlwind. As long as I can help her she will not stop learning until she understands it all.  I will do everything in power to keep her learning, and to keep her curiosity. I don’t want time and age to kill her journey to understanding and stop her quest for knowledge. I am NOT sorry.

My daughter is a baby, and I will not apologise for that.

I can see clearly now the rain has gone…

…I can see all obstacles in my way.

It’s leaving me. The cloud of PND that has been following me for so long is leaving.

It’s a very strange thing to feel happy. This feels like true happiness.

Not the kind of happiness that makes you see the world with rose tinted glasses, but the kind if happiness that makes you see the dull colours just as clearly as the bright ones. I can see the bad in the world as well as the good and I can cope with it. This, to me, is a much more sustainable form of happiness. This is not a bubble that could be burst at any minute, this is a house. A brick house with solid foundations.

In fact, things have been far from easy recently. Family illness and work pressures have made things tricky, but the exciting thing is, that despite all of this, my head is above water.  Waves that would previously have drowned me are simply washing over my back. I can cope. I am coping.

I can indeed see all obstacles in my way, and by seeing them I can face them.  My head was covered in a rain cloud that made me unable to see the path ahead, unable to see what was in my way and therefore I stayed still. I was scared to move towards happiness as I feared tripping on route and being stuck in deeper mud that I was before.  Well, now the rain has cleared and I can see the path clearly ahead of me. I can even see the destination. I am not there yet, but I do now have my map.  I can make it.  There will be ups and downs along the way, but I can get there.

 

 

To my father and my daughter’s father.

Cleaner, cook, shopper, helper with homework, provider of financial advice, fashion consultant and entertainment coordinator.

What makes a father? Biologically that answer is a simple one, but we all know that there is a lot more to being a Dad than little swimmers.

My Dad is the best example of this that you could ever hope to find. *Technically* he is my step father. But that step exists on paper only, not in his eyes and heart and certainly not in mine. He has celebrated with me in the best moments of my life, and cried with me in the worst. He has fought for my rights and defended me in disputes. We have rowed and we have shouted, we have sworn and we have thrown things. When learning to drive tensions ran high and when searching for missing things the messy bedroom was always pointed out. He loves me as his own and I frequently forget the existence of that step. His choice to father me makes him all the more valuable.

Thank you Dad.
Thank you for picking me up from school when I was too illfor maths.
Thank you for the endless notes getting me out of P.E.
Thank you for your anger when the ‘biological one‘ let me down time and time again.
Thank you for making my Mum happy.
Thank you for sacrificing your precious time off to explain, explain and explain again the many stupid and pointless quadratic equations that were forced upon me.
Thank you for writing to the manufacturer for the last few cards to ensure my Take That collectors cards were a complete set.
Thank you for giving me the duvet and sofa that day we were both off sick.
Thank you for introducing me to real music.
Thank you for distracting the teenage me with garden hose shopping when my heart was first broken.
Thank you for proof reading many many dull dull essays throughout my degree.
Thank you for spending hour after hour reworking the weekly ‘chocolate limit’ on the budget plan you made me. (and thanks for not being cross when I always spent the lot on Monday!)
Thank you for giving me away on the happiest day of my life.
Thank you for being a wonderful wonderful grandfather to my proudest creation. Your granddaughter adores you.

Thank you for choosing to be my Dad.

My husband has, in my eyes, always been a wonderful man. However, since he became a father my love and admiration for him has increased beyond all measure.

He calmly sacrifices both sleep and leisure time, without a moments hesitation to play with and care for our daughter. He feeds her from his plate, and shops with her in mind. He washes and irons her clothes and holds her when she cries. He was, without doubt, born to be a father. A more natural Daddy I never did see.

Thank you my darling.

Thank you for being the rock on which our family is built.
Thank you for allowing me to be the best parent I can be.
Thank you for the yummy food.
Thank you for teaching me about proper films.
Thank you for showing our daughter that real men are equal to real women, and neither is more or less valued.
Thank you for showing our daughter that love is all that is needed for a relationship to work.
Thank you for holding things together when I fall apart.
Thank you for the sacrifices you make daily to ensure that she and I have all we need and are happy.
Thank you for loving us.

Thank you for making us a family.

To my Daddy, and to my daughter’s Daddy.

I have needed you both at many points in my life, and you have always been there.

I promise that in return I will use the wisdom and strength you have given me to be the best person I can be.

I will love you forever and I will always, always, be there for you when you need me too.

Please don’t eat your wand…

You find yourself saying some odd things as a parent. For me, with a nearly ten month old who likes to put anything and everything in her mouth, (and bite!) the most common phrase of all is “…. is not for eating L”

Mummy’s face is not for eating.
This includes, but is not limited to, her chin, her nose, her cheek, her eyebrows and her forehead.

Books are not for eating.
Mummy and Daddy met when they both worked in the same bookshop – are you doing this to wind us up?!

Wands are not for eating.
They are for magic. Also not for eating are your wings, your bunny ears and your Christmas hat. Anyone would think you didn’t want Mummy to dress you up!

Remote controls are not for eating.
And should you decide to sneak up and do so when Mummy’s back is turned, you should not get upset if Mr Tumble or Makka Pakka disappear from the screen.

Mobile phones are not for eating.
They are for talking on. (Or playing games, Facebooking or blogging) There is no ‘eat me’ app installed on mummy’s phone. Please put it back.

Feet are not for eating.
Not Mummy’s feet, or Daddy’s feet. Not Grannie’s feet or Grampy’s feet. Not your Auntie’s feet or the feet of your friend who has just arrived in his pushchair. Eating feet is also not the traditional and socially accepted way of introducing yourself to the other babies Mummy opposite us at Baby Sensory. (incidently, nor is stealing and eating their mobile phone.) Even your own feet, although yours by rights, are not really for eating.

Wires and cables are not for eating.
That’s just silly and dangerous, and it makes me look bad!

That other babies hand is not for eating.
The other mums are starting to talk about you my darling.

Bathtime octopus is not for eating.
I know you love him, I know he protects you from the rubber duck who you find so inexplicably terrifying, but please don’t eat him.

Darling girl. I promise you this, when things are allowed to be eaten it will be clear. That stuff Daddy and I put in your bowl or on your plate when you sit in your highchair- that’s for eating. (not throwing on the floor!)

Why I am jealous of Makka Pakka

Makka pakka

 

Yes, you read that correctly. Makka Pakka, that strange little being with the funny shaped head.

My daughter, now nearly 10 months, has just started to fully appreciate TV, and Makka Pakka is her absolute favorite. In fact, it seems he is responsible for her new found clapping skill.  In The Night Garden, for those that have not seen it, is an odd little world of confusing, ever changing scale that is inhabited by rogue vehicles and odd beings.  Makka Pakka is a funny little being who likes to collect stones and clean.  My little fairy loves him.  She squeals with excitement when he appears, and waves and claps both hands.

However, the excitement he causes in my daughter is not the reason I am jealous of him.

Last night’s viewing set me off on a whole new pondering.  The story went something like this, Makka Pakka was out looking for stones.  He couldn’t find any.  Meanwhile in other parts of the garden, stones were just lying around for others to find.  And find them they did.  Upsy Daisy, Igglepiggle, all three of the Tombliboos and even the teeny tiny Pontipines all found stones.  And when they saw the stones the picked them up and went in search of Makka Pakka so they could give them to him.

They found something, something, which to them, was unimportant and insignificant, and yet they took time out of their day to find Makka Pakka because they knew he would like it.  How lovely. They handed the stones over to Makka Pakka and he repaid them with nothing but a hug. In fact, the lovely little Pontipines gave their stone in secret, quietly depositing it when he wasn’t looking, not even expecting praise in return. (Although a Makka Pakka hug would have easily smothered the tiny family).

The delighted Makka Pakka arranged his stones in a perfect little pattern on the floor.  Happiness was all over his rugby ball shaped face.  His friends, had gone out of their way to bring him happiness.  How lovely.  How many of us can say that we have friends that would do this for us? More to the point, how many of us would do this for others?

If any of these characters ever said anything other than their own names, we would expect to hear “I saw this and thought of you”.

I would love to be delivered stones. Perhaps it is true that I would like the stones to actually be cake, or shoes, or chocolate, but the fact remains that I would also have happiness on my oddly shaped face if friends went out of their way to deliver things to me.  Things, that to them, are as odd and worthless as stones, but that they think I would like. Pink fluffy things perhaps, or fairy related paraphernalia.

Friends who read this, thank you.  Some of you really do go out of your way for me, and I am forever appreciative of this.  In return, I will make sure that I do the same for you, should I find your stone lying around.

Makka Pakka really does have it all.  His fantastic little squeaky scooter, great friends, and happiness caused by the smallest things.  What a lucky little guy.

 

 

 

Appreciation I forgot to give…

Annoying parents like me are forever saying “Just you wait until you have kids. Then you’ll realise how easy you’ve got it!”

In life before baby I used to smile and nod politely at this, whilst internally sighing and rolling my eyes, feeling certain that I was appreciating everything that I had.

I was wrong. So, in the style of the annoying parent that I am, here is a list of things I forgot to appreciate.

TIME
I wish I had appreciated time when I had it.

I always thought I was so busy. I was a multi-tasker exrrodinarie and housework still rarely got a look in. Work from my job was bought home too often and nights in front of the telly invariably also included a pile of marking. Fitting in seeing friends and shopping and the like meant I barely stopped.

Now of course, I really understand the meaning of the word busy. I can mark books while supervising playtime, I can eat dinner with a baby on my boob. I can ice cakes, feed and change a baby, bath, wash and dry my hair, make a packed lunch, wash the breast pump and organise expressed bottles and still be at my desk checking emails before 8am. I am busier than I ever thought possible, and I’ve never been happier.

A PRIVATE WEE
In my previous ‘busy’ life I used to take my mobile phone to the toilet with me, seeing that as my only spare moment to reply to messages. Never did I think to myself, “gosh, isn’t it nice to wee without an audience.” In fact the thought never crossed my mind.

Now my 9 month old comes with me. Far too mobile to be left alone to play, and immediately hysterical if left in her cot, the safest and easiest option is to let her sit on the floor while I go about my toileting business. While I appreciate the smiles and cheers, I do miss weeing alone.

SELFISHNESS
Although I’ve always been in a career that requires caring and sympathy I have primarily always been a selfish person. I would plan my day around me and I would do what I wanted when I wanted.

Now a small person dictates my schedule, (and certainly has no schedule of her own!) I do what she wants when she wants it. I can count on one hand the selfish moments I have had since I became pregnant. I have become a different person.

THE LACK OF UNSOLICITED ADVICE
This is one I really wish I appreciated more when it was the case. Before pregnancy and birth I was free to make my own choices and my own mistakes. I could walk down the street, or into a room without being given helpfultips. The only advice I was given back then was the advice I asked for. I really miss those times.

Having a baby is like wearing a badge. please give me advice, please tell me how you did things in your day and please tell me how it never did your children any harm. Advice is something you can certainly have too much of. At points I’ve nearly drowned in it. I certainly miss the days when people didn’t try to help.

LACK OF JUDGEMENT
I used to make it through a day without being judged. I didn’t appreciate how nice it was to be able to do something without being told I was wrong.

When you are a parent, not only does everyone have ‘helpful tips’ to give you, they also have an opinion on your parenting style. Sadly, it’s almost always an opinion that they can’t keep to themselves. Breast may well be best, but that is not understood by those from a previous generation. People, for some reason, feel it is appropriate to tell me I am spoiling my baby by going to her when she cries. I long for the days when I could live without judgment.

IGNORANCE
Ignorance really is bliss! I certainly never appreciated how worry free my life was. I was totally ignorant of the fear of parenthood. I didn’t understand breastfeeding, or attachment, infant sleep or any of the many things I have now become well versed in. Not understanding meant not worrying.

Knowledge is power, but it’s also a drain, a worry and a constant anxiety.

EATING FOOD WITHOUT SHARING
Biscuits, chocolate and crisps. I used to eat them on the sofa without a second thought. A bar of chocolate in front of the TV was a regular luxury. The thing is, I didn’t see it as a luxury at all. I didn’t appreciate that it would soon be a thing of the past.

Now, not only am I expected to share my food, I then have to clean up the mess it has made. Snacks that don’t take place in the high chair are simply asking for trouble. And my chocolate intake has to be in secret. I have no desire for my daughter to become the chocoholic that her mother is.

CHOOSING CLOTHES FOR FASHION
Before motherhood I found shopping hard. I could never find anything I liked that suited me. I found the shops a challenge and invariably came home feeling fat and frumpy. I had no idea how easy I had it!

Despite my new, slim body, (thanks for that by the way breastfeeding) shopping is harder than it has ever been. As a nursing mother every item of clothing has to be considered in view of how easy it is to ‘pop one out’. I finally have the figure for hip and stomach hugging long dresses and it just can’t be done. Yet.

So really- appreciate it all while you can. Life will change forever once a new one joins you. But it’s worth it. Even if I never again wee without an audience.