mummy is always tired

For Our Very Lovely Daddies – No Sarcasm Intended

My other half is a great daddy.  He is patient and happy to sit and play endless rounds of ‘Shopping List’ (if you have a 3 year old I’m sure you’ve played this) despite the fact our 3 year old cheats all the time.  He is calm and collected and knows how to deal with toddler tantrums with far more dignity and composure than I could ever muster.  Where he would coax and cajole our grumpy child I would resort to hysteria and hair pulling (mine not theirs – obviously) usually resulting in being sent to the naughty room (them not me).

However, there are some (many) times when I really don’t understand the logic behind my other half’s actions.  These actions are usually focussed around dealing with the not so pleasant side of raising children such as what to do with pooed in pants or clearing up pools of sick.   Our eldest takes great pride in being able to go to the toilet now and will usually announce to the world when she needs a wee, poos however are altogether a different matter.  So, we have had several ‘poo incidents’ which have required immediate attention.  Now, the logical behaviour in dealing with ‘poo incidents’ would surely be to take off the offending garments, rinse through any left over deposits and wash on a minimum of 60 degrees? Well, it’s logical unless of course you have a better way of dealing with this – such as leaving it to someone else.  My other half isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and has on such occasions followed step 1 but failed to realise that unless you deal with stained and stinky pants, they will stay in exactly the same state as when you took them off.  As such I have often walked past the utility room to notice pooey pants casually thrown on the worktop waiting for someone to take action…..which of course would then be me.

But I don’t think my other half is alone in using this tactic.  I have a friend who, earlier this year was struck down by a virus that left her bed bound and unable to keep any food down, she was also breastfeeding their youngest.  So, it stands to reason that she was absolutely, without a doubt, exhausted.  Their eldest also catching this bug, threw up.  My friend, shattered, drained and simply worn out managed to undress her and leave the chunder covered clothes in the bathroom sink.  Surely anyone especially one’s ‘better half’ would see this, see the state she was in and deal with the offending articles? Well, a week later there were no more chunder covered clothes; no, they were now mouldy, chunder covered clothes.  Needless to say, someone was in trouble.

Still, I don’t think there was any intention in either of these instances to ignore the situation, I think it just comes down to not knowing what to do because clearly us mummies are just great at everything!  For example all the mummies I know are ‘in charge’ of sending out the mandatory post birthday and Christmas ‘thank you’ cards.  Not so long ago (mid Feb) this point was confirmed when a daddy friend looked over to his wife and asked “did we send out thank you cards?” to which there was no reply except a gentle rolling of the eyes.

The other morning, both our children decided to slow down daily efficiencies by being clingy.  With time pressing on and with the realisation that I would be late for work, drastic action had to be taken and I left the youngest to cry whilst I helped our eldest get changed.  With the screaming increasing to blood curdling levels I asked my other half to give her a cuddle.  Now, we have a dog and when you call, the dog comes bounding over.  This principle doesn’t work on wailing 17 month olds.  I know this, but clearly my other half thinks that toddlers and dogs are bound by the same laws of convention.  The result was my youngest reached such levels of hysteria, she made herself sick – all over her clothes and all over the floor (which the dog licked away, thank you Otis) and all this before 07.30.  Now, if my other half had done as requested perhaps our children’s bedroom wouldn’t now have that faint waft of eau de spew.  I was not happy.

Despite all this though we couldn’t be without daddy.  Regardless of the cast aside pooey toddler pants and the inability to use common sense and the washing machine/dishwasher/mop he is most definitely my other and dare I say it, better half.  So for all the daddies out there who get moaned at by exhausted mummies, we do appreciate and love you very much, but next time we ask you to do something, please do it.

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In Which We Explore ‘Hilarious’ Toddler Statements

Some of my eldest’s observations are really funny, but there are some comments she makes where I’m not entirely sure if she is being funny or not.  It could be she has an over developed sense of sarcasm or irony but I don’t think that’s the case.  I think she just comes out with whatever pops in to her 3 year old head; which is a bit worrying.

So, she has started to use comparisons, primarily between her and her little sister.  These are the usual, predictable “mummy says I’ve been good, but she [naughty little sister] is not” and “I’m a girl and Otis [the greedy Labrador] is a boy” and then there are the statements: “you’re so silly” which is usually directed at my other half and a true statement or “my bottom just burped” again usually a true statement that can be corroborated by smell.  Her sentence construction has come on in leaps and bounds in the last few months.  The speed at which she caught up with all her little friends has taken us a little by surprise.  Our eldest was always a little bit behind her peers in speech, whilst they could master complicated (for a toddler) consonant filled words such as ‘banana’ or ‘kiwi fruit’, ours could just about manage ‘pig’ and ‘dog’ the latter applying to all furry four legged creatures.  So having a suddenly articulate child is still a novelty and one which most of the time is delightful, although I can foresee a time in the not so distant future when it might become rather tiresome.

Niceties aside she can come out with some infuriating comments: “I DON’T want that” usually accompanied feet stamping, another very irritating and clichéd but sadly true toddler action, or “go away mummy” – I’ve not quite worked out whether she means this one or not and have been slightly perplexed as to how to take it.  Then there is “no you can only have a cuddle, no kisses” in response to bedtime tucking in which does make me a little sad but looking on the positives it does mean she can’t slather my face with her snot.  The most hurtful comment was in response to an “I love you” to which she replied “no, you don’t”, when prompted a bit further it seems she is now taking to heart the cuddles and kisses and the carrying around that our youngest receives.  Your sister is much smaller than you we tried to explain, she can’t get in and out of the high chair without being carried, she can’t walk down the stairs and she can’t say what she needs so she has lots of cuddles for reassurance.  Then it dawned on me (rather slow on the uptake I know) that although she is the eldest she still needs as much reassurance and overt demonstrations of affection as our youngest, after all there are only 21 months between them and in her little mind they are the same (they are almost the same height and weight, but again that is a whole other story).

With all that in mind I have tried to be as cuddly as possible, dropping almost everything for on demand hugs – really not that easy though if you are accosted mid vegetable chopping.  So it was with some dismay that I heard her latest statement, we were playing in her room before bath time when she started to shut the door hollering out to the rest of the world “you can’t go in, there’s a monster in there called mummy!”  Did she mean that? I sincerely hope not.


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In Which We Discuss The Incident Of The New Shoes

We went shoe shopping last weekend.  I’d like to say it was a pleasant family exercise but unfortunately our eldest didn’t want to play ball and it was a rather fraught experience.   Our eldest is extraordinarily stubborn, she cannot be encouraged or cajoled or just plain bribed into doing things she doesn’t want to do.  Now in later life this may well prove to be a quality worth upholding, when you’re 3 it is just  incredibly irritating.  There are certain things our eldest is just known for amongst our friends – she doesn’t wear skirts, she doesn’t wear dresses, she won’t even wear a coat.  She will only wear t-shirts (must be short sleeved) and she will only wear leggings (the older the better) and she will only wear her beloved purple fleece (again, ancient). Even at her birthday party, whilst her friends wore neat dresses with sparkly boleros she wore an old t-shirt with faded printed leggings, captured for all time on camera with the frayed seams and bobbly finish.

We decided to attempt to rectify the situation and as one of her birthday presents we bought a lovely, new, fluffy navy blue fleece.  If she won’t wear a coat we’ll try and compromise and this was a happy medium – or so we thought.  The gift was unwrapped and the initial reaction was good – a smile – so far, parents 1, awkward infant 0.  However, our smugness was soon quashed when she refused point blank to try it on.  That was 3 weeks ago.  So each day for the last 3 weeks we have, every morning attempted bribery, threatened (and implemented) the naughty step in order to get her to just try the fleece on.  Only yesterday did we have success.  I’m not sure if it is stubbornness alone or the fear of wearing new things that makes her stubborn, either way it is something we have had to ‘factor in’ when introducing anything unfamiliar.  New clothes are presented and then added to the wardrobe, to be ignored for several months until their presence has become familiar and therefore acceptable to then finally be selected and worn usually accompanied by silent mutterings of ‘hallelujah’ by us.

You can imagine then our weariness when we realised our eldest finally needed some new shoes.  Her current shoes have been worn so much that there are bare exposed patches where the lovely pink leather has been eroded.   The good thing was that our youngest was also due some new shoes, brilliant! we thought, surely seeing her baby sister getting shiny, new shoes would be an incentive? Right? Of course not but you knew that and so, deep down did we.  While our youngest smiled with delight as her feet were measured and triumphantly carried her chosen pair of shoes around the shop, our eldest sat…. sullenly….. brooding in the buggy.  We tried the softly, softly approach and when that failed, there was no alternative but to resort to the tactics that would inevitably cause a ‘scene.’  So, I foolishly tried to force some new shoes on her feet only to be met with the agile twisting and turning that only an angry 3 year old can demonstrate, of course, no such performance can be displayed without sound and with all the volume of cinema surround sound came the high pitched scream of “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, I don’t want new shoes.” Needless to say I was shamed in to untangling velcro, feet and socks and putting the new shoes safely back in their box.

So Monday came and the stark contrast between our eldest and youngest was clearly evident.  There was our youngest, smartly dressed in tights, dress and winter coat, feet neat in patent leather topped off with little white bows standing next to our eldest who in comparison looked like she had been dressed from the nursery spare clothes box. But not to worry, I shall log the incident of the new shoes silently and store it away, to be resurrected when our eldest becomes a teenager and no doubt starts to demand new shoes on a whim, to which my reply will be “NO, because you don’t like new shoes do you darling?”

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In Which Grandma Tells Mummy Off

It’s been pointed out to me that I am quite snappy with my children.  I’m not going to make excuses, BUT, coming home after a full working day, I am tired and sometimes when requests for help to tidy up go ignored or persistent demands for some contraband occur (usually cake) I can become ratty.  I know I am crotchety because my eldest often responds to my requests with words and phrases that sound frighteningly familiar: ‘what?’ (followed by hand on hip), ‘in a minute darling’ (usually with 1 finger gesticulating for emphasis) or ‘waait, waait’ with the emphasis on the vowels just in case there was any doubt to the importance of the meaning.  I don’t mean to be grumpy but I just want things done and anything that stops me getting these things done just needs to go away.  As mean as this sounds, mummy efficiency mode is not to be meddled with, any tinkering with this setting could result in all sorts of trouble.

But then Grandma comes to stay.  We love it when grandma comes to visit, there is endless laughter and chatter and my eldest in particular adores the fact there is someone completely dedicated to fun.  Want to do a jigsaw – Grandma will do it, want to smoosh play doh into small crevices – Grandma will help, want to draw endless random lines on sheets of paper – Grandma is willing and able.  Grandma comes to stay about once a month for a couple of days, sadly we don’t live near Grandma and it’s a 2 hour journey (3 when Grandma drives).  So it is an event met with much jubilation  when Grandma appears at the front door, plus it means my ironing magically gets done.  So, it was with said joy and delight when Grandma came to stay most recently.

We had a wonderful weekend.  Until that is my mother spoke the words that every child recognises as trouble: ‘now, don’t get angry, but…’  Now, I know whenever my mother starts a sentence with ‘don’t get angry’ that I have the potential to get angry.  And when I am angry, the incredible hulk is merely the jolly green giant.  My temper could fuel a rocket into space.  My other half knows this and my mother knows this too, although I am pleased to say it is not a well known fact amongst our friends.  I try to keep my wrath safely locked away – so far, I have been successful (I think.)  So my mother utters this phrase and I hear my other half take a sharp intake of breath – which way is it going to go I can almost hear him wonder? “Now don’t get angry, but I’ve noticed you can be very sharp with her [my eldest]and it makes her very anxious and she clams up.” This is a big statement for my mum to make but sadly, it is true and I know it so there is little I can do but graciously accept it as the truthful statement it is. “Yes, I know” I wearily sigh, it is all well and good knowing your faults but it’s quite another matter when someone points them out.  But there is nothing else to add because my mother, as usual, is quite right, I shouldn’t be so snappy.  My eldest is 3, she doesn’t understand that sometimes I just need to get things done and actually do they really need to be done? Is it so important that the floor gets mopped, does it really matter if those tops are a little bit creased or is it actually more important that my cuddles are unlimited?

So, I have been making an effort.  A real, determined effort to be patient, so far I think I’ve been pretty good.  I proudly emailed my mother to let her know I had only uttered my fearful “what?!” once in the last week.  My mother’s wise reply: “children grow up very fast, treasure your time with them.  They are very sensitive and can sense when parents are stressed and it causes them anxiety” she then added just before I thought it “I can say that now because I’m a grandparent!.”  And so my mother has shown that no matter how old you get you are never too old to be told off by your mum, now that’s a lesson I’m sure to pass on.

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