Thursday, 23 July 2015

Little Swimstar

I love going to swim with my child. To enrol with Waterbabies was one of our very good ideas. We started last year in February, our daughter was 10 months old. She was one of the oldest in the beginners class but I think it was a perfect timing. I wouldn't be able to commit sooner with her non stop breastfeeding and the stress of being somewhere at a certain time. Smaller babies were enjoying themselves, too, but I had the feeling that her advanced age brought a better awareness of what was going on.
We planned on taking one course of 10 classes and see what will happen next, but we just carry on and probably will do for as long as it goes. She loves it, we love it and it will give her a skill for life.

What is fun about swimming with babies is watching their surprise after every dive, their excitement when they get back to the water after a week, the pleasure they get from chasing the toys or doing funny stuff in the water. When you let go of them sometimes, there is a surprise in their face, as it is when they are separated from you for a moment and passed to the teacher. They gain confidence and strength, too.

When we started our first course, we met new people and as usually great friendships weren't build. There is always a hope, when joining a baby group of any sort, that we will meet 'the one' - the little family with a child of similar age to ours, who we will get along. The truth is, swimming day is a busy day. There is lots of logistics involved regarding eating, sleeping, pooping, packing and transport. All day evolves around half an hour in the pool. And some parents have to run off to pick their older children, too. So the group never really stays together, it is every parent for himself.

I enjoy observe people and I can distinguish a special group which I call make up moms. There is at least one in every group (I usually meet one group in the changing room, one is in the pool ending when we get there and the next group is around the pool by the end of our class, plus sometimes there is new group getting ready in the dressing room, too). And most of these groups will have some 'flamingo'. They have their hair perfectly done, all nails long and painted (how do you change nappies with these?), and full face of make up plus I assume spray tan. The make up is something worth mentioning. There are eyebrows, eye shadows, eye liners, false lashes, blushers, lips, all the jazz. For a trip to the pool. Some mums try to avoid swim and hand the babies, in their cute little swim customs, to their equally coiffed dads (either hipsters or body builders). I still remember the look on the faces of two mums when, in our third class of the first course, we were told to bring our swim goggles as we will need them to dive with our kids. Some refused to go under water, some sent the dads, few braved a half hearted face dive. I realized that great deal of waterproof make up was involved, but they wouldn't risk the hair extensions.

There are few questions I never asked:
First and foremost: when do they get the time to do all of it?
Why do they bother?
Isn't it better to have fun in the water than show anxieties about your look so early on to your child?

Most of them are very pretty, I am sure they would look great without all the slab. Why is the look so important all the time? They are probably the women who worried about how they will look after labour, so they made sure their spray tan, hair, nails and make up are on during and after delivery. They stressed themselves about the post baby weight  more than about their sleep. Their look defines who they are, I see it on people around me a lot and find it quite sad. It doesn't matter who you are and what you can do, you must look the part!
I like to make myself pretty. But I can not be bothered to do my make up every day. Not for running around the garden, going to the shop or park, or a local pool. I am confident in myself with or without my make up because whatever is or isn't on my face isn't really me. And when I had a difficult night it shows and I can tell you all about it if you want to hear. But I do wear my smile in case you don't .
I don't want my daughter's first memory to be of me sitting by the mirror or worrying about my shape. I would never let her sit in a pram in the nail salon and let her inhale all the fumes. I don't want her to think that she only matters if she looks good and if she is perfectly made up. And I don't want the world to expect it from her.

So lets hope that we will fit some good swims in our Summer while Waterbabies has a break!

Monday, 13 July 2015

The 1 sure sign that I am getting older....

I can not 'hold my liquor' that good any more. Thanks to having a child and trying to produce another one I didn't realize it. On and off I would have the single glass of wine with my dinner or a shot to aid digestion or prevent nasty stomach bug when child was sick but I didn't realize how much my ability to break alcohol changed.

Yesterday my old friend came to town and we met after 3 years. She stared at our child in the pram and couldn't quite believe how much ones life can change. We went for lunch and then for a drink... The first thing that seemed weird was ordering a bottle of wine with our food. OK, there were 3 of us (child on the side) so it did make perfect sense but there were times when husband and I would always order a bottle with our food. And drink it and feel normal afterwards.

The second interesting thing I noticed was the hazy happy feeling as we left the restaurant. I was pleasantly p***d. After some 2 large glasses of wine? I would feel like this much much later in the old days.

The extra glass before we had to say goodbye sent me over the top. I wasn't drunk but I did feel like I would feel after a night out, not an afternoon. And I worried that I will not be able to take care of my child properly. The truth it, I did just fine plus I had a nice conversation which made a perfect sense, so clearly, I wasn't in a bad state, it just seemed to me like that because I am not used to it anymore. I do not miss my old party times at all. I think there is time for everything in life and right now I am where I need to be. I had a very hectic month with lots of sorting out and organizing and a little health scare on top of it. Nothing seemed better than a spontaneus day out. It was a Sunday, after all. And my husband was glad that I am finaly having some good time and see my old friends, too. Bless. He took care of the child most afternoon so we could catch up. Sometimes there is a great reminder to why am I married in the little things he does.

But in the evening I was knackered. And I couldn' just fall a sleep. I was twisting, turning and felt all wrong. My poor body was breaking the alcohol and made me aware that it isn't really interested in doing it anymore. It was weird. The mixture of happiness, excitement (having a day out in town, going there not for a chore or a baby club in the Art Gallery but because of ME, seeing my old dear friend who didn't disapear forever just because we live faraway and lead very different lives, being out as a family with husband present, not constantly hunched over his phone - it was great) and surprising discomfort made me feel strange. My husband reminds me that I didn't drink excesively and have no reason to feel guilty, it is good to do something out of ordinary sometimes. It is just that my body feels as if I did drink more than I actually did. Maybe it is my tiredness, my sleep wasn't the best lately (thanks darling child), it probably knocked me off more than the wine itself. Oh well, back to normal and maybe I should try to see people more so the excitement doesn't get better of me again!

Monday, 15 June 2015

Stil Kicking...

I am stil here. But I took a very long time to sit down to write again. Our adventure in South Africa was great, we saw some amazing places, had lots of Sun and our dear child hardly left the water. It was great even with the annoying flights.
Ever since then I am seriously behind with everything... I should try and write about my To Do List soon... Or about the disapperance of ME and what used to make me ME....

But at the moment I am on the edge. I thought I could multitask. I thought I had a lovely clever child. Until we met the potty. I am ,right now, in the middle (I hope it is the middle but it could well be only the beginning) of the potty training battle.

Since my child started sitting my parents repeatedly remainded me that it is time to sit on the potty. When I tried to outsmart them with the new and sparkly research that up until 18 months of age children aren't aware of their bowel movement I was reminded that my mother managed everything by herself with TWO children at much younger age than I am now and we were fully potty trained by 9 months (wow my sibling and I are baby geniouses how can I be so useless now?). But they left me alone appart from the odd remark here and there that I chose to ignore. Until we celebrated 18 months birthday. The interrogations started again.

Our child actually did show some interest in the potty which we brought into the house and did sit on it every now and then but how to keep a very lively child on the potty until something happens? According to my mother we loved nothing more than to sit on the potty all day long helped by a piece of roll to chew on.
There was some luck on the way but unfortunatelly it freaked our child out and she refused to sit on the potty, was hysterical, it was a battle. So for what felt like forever we went with doing nothing or trying gently - typical one step forward five steps back tradition of trying to bring up a child. I asked mother how did she actually do it. What trick am I missing? 'Oh your father was very consistent. He kept you on the potty, he kept trying, he wouldn't give up. He was so great.' (My dad passed away at the end of last year. He is now like a saint, all his negative traits are forgotten. I don't mind. But I find it interesting that it actually wasn't my mother who did all the hard work although I always hear how she did everything by herself with no help and, unlike me, with two children. So there is no trick to be learned. Husband does his bit but he is so busy at the moment it is hard to expect more from him.)

Then I read about how they must be ready. So I was looking for the sign. And I didn't see it. Or I did but nothing happened. Or the hysterics came and I simply can not wrestle screaming child for 45 minutes, I tried it with the cot and find it too traumatising for both of us.

I felt guilty occasionally. Did I go too fast in the beginning? Did I damage my child? Did I miss some signs? Am I bad mother? Whenever we went to the baby group or to the pool I looked around to compare the children. Are they older or younger? Do they wear nappies? Most of them do. And they seem fine.

I read about the magical training pants which inspire kids to use potties. I bought them. Child didn't mind in what it should do the business.
I read and heard a lot about potty training books and their magical inspirational touch. Bought it, read it, showed it. Child loves to press the special button on it and that is about it. The other day she actually stuck her fingers in her ears so she doesn't have to listen to THAT STORY again although it was HER who brought it to me, pushed it in my hands and asked: 'Read that one!' Clearly, she only needed somebody to hold it while she pushes the YEAH button hundreds of times until I get insane.

 I would love to be able to stop washing and folding nappies one day soon. I would love to listen to something else on skype chats with my mother. Is she ready for it? In some ways yes, in other ways no since she won't realize it will happen until it is happening.

I decided to wait. To try gently. But last week there was a sudden nappy rush, out of nowhere, we didn't do anything differently, she wasn't in wet nappy for too long, maybe it was the warm weather. I don't know, but my child was red and clearly uncomfortable. So I decided to help the healing with some air and keeping dry. That means no nappies. That means potty training, ready or not.

Today is the second day of my ordeal. The skin is better. I am trying to time the number ones and miss most of them. Many places and the one person who is the homemaker and has to be here were wheed on. Oh dear. I did catch a number two yesterday and felt like a superwoman. Today I wasn't so lucky. The child tends to sneak around looking for a quiet spot to do the business. Yesterday I caught her in her favorite spot at the right time, today she changed the tactics and it took me a second to realize what the sudden quiet could mean and I was a second too late.
I bought about 20 pairs of lovely panties plus five pairs of proper training pants and they are flying out the drawer. There will be no end to the washing any time soon. But we are getting there.

I also read about the charts. We had a chart for a long time and now it is getting some stars on! And I did read about bribing child with chocolate buttons. I wasn't even pretending hesitation. Anything that gets the bottom on the potty and potty filled is worth it. And the chocolate buttons have an added benefit to them: one for each success by the child, three for each miss to chear up mummy and prolong her will to live and carry on...
I think I will dream about potties. If my child allows me. Besided anything else it keeps visiting me in random times of the night.... I thought little baby was difficult. I had no idea. It is harder now when we get used to sleeping through the night and know it is doable. Lets just carry on and hope we will not run out of chocolate buttons anytime soon!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

On the Homefront

In few days our happy little family will embark on a great adventure. We are going to South Africa, husband's homeland.
We met when I lived out of a suitcase, to travel was the most natural thing. As we settled, there was less and less traveling. I used to go 'home' - the place I paid rent in to rest, do laundry, sort my bills and haircut, to relax. And now, suddenly, there was Home. And I would view travel as a means for a holiday - a whole new concept, to travel to rest and think and have some quality time.
So my life turned upside down but in the process it became normal, average so to say. Which proves that I wasn't normal in the first place and that may explain why some very ordinary things still make me nervous. I am someone who was raised by wolves (or raised by myself).

The thing is, now I am not excited at all. Traveling changed a lot, I am very glad I had my time on the road and in the air in the good old times. Before the paranoia, the 100 ml limit on toiletries, the striptease before boarding and extra one if you have a connecting flight. Airports lost their magic, their sense of adventure, even a little sense of exclusivity. Flights became less interesting as the standards dropped with the price war between tradition and no frill.

Plus there is a child. To travel with a child is different. Our child did have to short flights within Europe and did great but a long flight is a whole new level. But the most annoying part is to get into the plain. A cup with water and a pot of yoghurt take about twenty minutes to properly investigate. Not to mention the folding and unfolding of a pram with one hand in about ten seconds while the annoyed member of staff stares and people behind you tut. For child, all of it is a game and pram in the x ray, mummy being probed and daddy taking of his highly suspicious shoes is an invitation to a great run against the long curvy queue. Lets face it. Travel is annoying. Terrorists and budget airlines ruined it for all of us.

I am seriously considering only traveling by car to Europe in the future. I believe that it may actually be faster considering the endless waiting, delays and, my personal favorite, endless queue for passport control when you reach the sweet Great Britain again (without a pram as a bonus). But with Africa there is no choice, we will have to discover what happens when two people and a 22 months old decide to go and visit the friends and grandpa.
Wish me luck....

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Is it just me, or...?

...Did anybody else notice how the days suddenly got longer? With the arrival of February there is new lease of light. The afternoon is definitely longer, the morning brighter. It is bitterly cold and the heating is still running non stop but it is OK, it is supposed to be like this during winter and I prefer anything to the constant wind and rain - the soundtrack to living in Manchester.

But yup, the light is coming back to us! One day next month there will be spring!

What a long and sad winter it was. And this morning, sitting around with our teas and breakfast while having the news on, the scary main story was hammered into our hearts: one in two of us will develop cancer. What a way to start a morning. Husband and I usually comment on morning news and developments, it is one of the reasons why we abandon our dining table in the mornings. We slouch on the sofa instead for a while, before we go on with our jobs. But this morning we said nothing. We just sat there. Because it was the two of us on the sofa. Does it mean one of us will be the unlucky one? Or will our household be spared but both of our lovely neighbors will go? Statistics are cold and there are too many of them. They are meant to be helpful, but are they, really?

Few weeks ago they said in the news that scientists found out most cancers are just a bad luck. A mistake that happens to our cells while they are busy renewing themselves (so to say, very unscientifically). Dah! Of course it is, thanks. Didn't we all know it already? We are not preventing illness with our healthy living, we are trying to prevent the bad luck, the mistake. We can not prevent bad things from happening, but we must try.

However, since I started exercising to loose weight, I find it much harder to motivate myself. When I tried to diet, I was craving all the bad stuff. I would eat healthily before just because, but suddenly all I wanted were biscuits and endless cups of tea (they did keep me going while I breastfed and didn't sleep so I gained weight as the breastfeeding went down). I used to exercise a lot before I had my child, now it is so hard to find the time and it is not the same when I feel I have to do it.
 I am tired of scare mongering  statistics, nurses who never knew me sitting in front of computer ticking boxes while questioning my lifestyle, saying 'is that all?' after listening to list of activities and choices. I am also a piece of statistic. I don't know which way I will go but I don't want to feel bad for having a slice of cake or few glasses of wine with a nice dinner and friends. Do I want to live for hundred of years afraid I will endanger myself or do I want to enjoy myself and live responsibly for 80? As long as I can take care of myself I don't care how long I live. I do try to be healthy but I am a human being. Could I just go on about my life without being constantly scared by newest discoveries?

A letter came for me this week, a questionnaire for mothers of children under two. It is supposed to be a research on 21st century motherhood. And they mean to find out how to make our lives easier in the future. Beside ticking some boxes and telling them how old me and my child are they are asking me: what is most challenging about being a mother in 21st century? I don't even have time to think about it. Plus, how does it really compare to motherhood in any other century, as I have only experienced being a mother in this one. And do I want to help to create another 'helpful' statistic? Not really. Letter goes to bin and I go on with my mothering and home making.

I will cook a wholesome dinner which will quite likely contain more than our 5 a day. I will have a cake made with xylitol and coconut oil. I will drink few cups of tea during my day. I will have a long walk in the crisp cold day because the sky is blue and I want to be outside. I will exercise if I like it and I will try to sleep as much as I can. And I will not ask if I am doing enough.
My father was the mistake of cells, his life style couldn't contribute to the fast and deadly cancer that took him from us last November. Cancer was always scary but now it is personal. Yet, like with the thread of terrorism,  I refuse to let it rule my life. So statistics can go. I am too busy living today.

Friday, 9 January 2015

I am back

It has been a while since my last post, not because I was too busy publishing a book... My dad passed away 2 months ago to the day which meant lots of things to do, to think about and not much mood for writing. The time when there are so many feelings to process, so many memories to sort out in my head, the very action of writing seems so....inadequate?.....wrong? Like writing down what I feel and why, what I think and what I do would be somehow wrong. Mourning is a very private thing, best done alone. I don't know how long it is appropriate to keep mourning. I think part of me will mourn my dad forever.

There was also too much to do. All of a sudden Christmas preparations went aside and there was a trip to organize, a family get together we didn't plan. Than there was a quick run to Christmas. Few days before them baby got fevers. After Christmas, while enjoying the calm time, I got down with tonsillitis. So I opened the year with antibiotics and fevers. Hey Ho....

A month after he passed was a very emotional day. In the very day I witnessed a struggle of an ambulance crew to resuscitate a lady on the street (if I left home few minutes earlier I could have been the one who found her and called them). I passed by quickly knowing she is getting the best care possible and didn't want my child to see it, but suddenly, on the side of a busy road, I was fighting tears, wishing for her to be well, thinking that she probably is someone's mum. I felt helpless and so sad.
And then, couple of minutes later few blocks down the same road, I saw our midwife going into somebody's home holding a familiar bag with scales in her hand. I didn't see her since she discharged us when baby was six weeks but I do remember her very well because she was so great. Seeing her on that day at that very moment made me feel so much better. Just knowing that not only do people carry on dying all around the world but that they are also being born, that there is lot of happiness and nobody down the road knows about the tragedy up the road, it made me smile again. Tears and smile mixed up, I didn't care anymore and walked.
If it was a dream it would be a very poignant one. But it did happen. And the day was so strange because of it.

To be remained by my mum that it is 2 months today shows how much my mind shifted. I am living in the new reality now. I do think about dad, just not counting the days without him anymore. Mum still is.

So I am glad I could close a sad year and open a new one. I hope to get pregnant this year and we hope to find a home of our own, too. Fingers crossed it will all work out!

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Are naps over?

I was told that newborns sleep 20 hours a day. At the late stages of my pregnancy, unable to sleep comfortably, constantly getting kicked from the inside, anxious when the labour will finally start, I was really looking forward to this. I knew it will be hard. But I was so looking forward napping alongside my newborn! No matter that it will only be for 30 minutes, an hour, maybe 2, it will still be a nap.
Ha. My child NEVER slept unless hanging on my boob, lying in our arms or snuggling in the middle or our chest on top of our heart, bless.... There was no putting it down after a feed and nodding off - not for me at least. Exceptions to that sleeping arrangements were: in a car seat in a moving car and occasionally in the pram.
It didn't get better for a long time. There was no 'me' time  and I could only nap when my husband took mercy of me and went for a walk or a drive with the child, or, when I was trembling and crying, spent 4 hours late in the evening downstairs watching tv with the baby comfortably in its favorite sleeping position... These rare moments of being left alone in bed were no naps, it was more like a coma. Gradually, the night sleep got slightly better. Then we started teething and our child decided it will not sleep in the cot any longer. Ever. I can not remember how many middays I spent two hours reclining on a sofa with my child sleeping on top of me, watching stupid day time tv, congratulating myself for the peace and quiet. Because the alternative of me putting my child away would be a grumpy tired needy awake child.

Sometimes this year I managed to slid my child on the bed after a midday feed. We had proper real naps! I had time for myself. It was so great. The new ritual of us going into the bedroom, getting a feed, child falling a sleep for something between 40 and 90 minutes was so great. I remember the sense of freedom, the pleasure combined with a pressure of what to do first? Exercise, read, have a cup of tea, do the laundry, clean, sort emails, write.... Sometimes I was very efficient. Some days I day dreamed. Some days were all about house work which left me grumpy. Some, very few days, I slept, too!

Am I saying goodbye to this? During the last 3 weeks I am keeping up the routine but my child falls a sleep only 2 or 3 times in a week. I am feeling very exhausted because somehow I don't know how to cope with my new day structure. Again, I am the last one to get any needs met so there is not much exercise, writing, reading or generally talking to people who have nothing to do with me being a mother, I believe they are called friends? Every milestone takes some getting used to but I will forever miss these precious few hours of the day when I could stretch and do whatever. Is 18 months too early for no naps? I don't have time or energy to consult clever books. The usual message is 'every child is different' anyway and our child seems very very happy. Maybe we will have free evenings thanks to earlier bedtime from now on? Fingers crossed.