Posts tagged ‘parenting’

August 8, 2012

Roles and roller coasters.

When my daughter was born, she spent the first nine weeks of her life in hospital. On the blessed day she was allowed to come home she weighed the grand amount of five pounds and four ounces, and was a tiny and delicate porcelain doll baby with almost translucent skin and barely any hair. As you can imagine, her early birth and subsequent hospital stay was a traumatic time for us all. She was the first grandchild for both sides of our family and so, from the day of her arrival, was treated with such love from everyone it was almost overwhelming. We got cards and gifts from people we didn’t even know, who had heard about her early arrival and wanted to send their best wishes. I still have them all.

As a consequence of her tiny stature, I’ve always thought of her as being delicate and fragile, and I’ve been guilty of treating her in that way – as though she might break easily. But recently, that’s begun to change. Even though her end of year report talked of her being ‘gentle and quietly spoken’ she is beginning to surprise me in so many ways. She’s athletic, bold and brave. She’s one of the tallest children in her class, and even though she has a tiny hand-span waist (making clothes buying a nightmare), she also has a six pack of muscles!

Perhaps a lot of this is merely that she’s growing up, but I’m beginning to see that my ‘cotton-wool’ treatment of her was wrong. I’ve never really behaved the same way with her younger brother, (who I consider to be relentless in his pursuit of life, even when he’s clinging to me)  and so I do think that it’s a hangover from those days when I had to sit by her incubator, unable to do little more than watch her breathe.

This was highlighted to me hugely when we were on holiday last week. We went to the Isle of Wight (which I’ll write more about in another blog) and spent a day at Blackgang Chine. Now, if you went to Blackgang Chine when you were a child, you’ll know it’s a cliff-side theme park, and some of it really and truly remains the same as when I was a child – and the kids are still enjoying it so much. The place was packed full, and it was so great to see that in a time when we’re constantly told that kids don’t play outside, and as a consequence of too much TV have lost their imagination, that if you provide the right backdrop (a fairy castle, or a pirate ship that fires water, or a cowboy town) that imagination is alive and well. It was like being in the middle of an Enid Blyton novel, or perhaps ‘Just William’ might be more fitting!

Anyway, one of the new things at Blackgang Chine is a roller coaster. A proper, scary, roller coaster. It’s only short, but there were plenty of screams coming from it when my daughter announced that she wanted to try it. Now, that in itself was a surprise. However, she duly queued with her dad, having found out that she was just tall enough (at five) to go on it.

Here it is! – Well, part of it anyway…

Heart-in-mouth, I watched as they took their place on the ride. From what I could see from the ground (waiting with her younger brother) they seemed to be having fun, but at the end, I waited by the exit anxiously for them to appear. They didn’t come out and so I was imagining all kinds of horrific accidents, or perhaps just buckets of tears. But, and I bet you know what’s coming already, she loved it so much she stayed on for another go…and then two more. Followed by three times down a terrifying water shute, in the dark.

I think that we get assigned a role in a family, and that it can stick with you forever. In my family, I’ve been thought of as the ‘academic’ one (even though I went to agricultural college, not Oxbridge!) , and my brother as the ‘practical’ one. In fact, even to this day, if we have an argument his parting shot to me is often “oh, go and read a book…” so it’s clearly a label that has stuck. Little brother, if you’re reading this, you know I’m right! The problem with such a label is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – you think that you can only do certain things, or behave in a certain way, because that’s the role you’ve been assigned or the way people think of you. This clearly isn’t true. I could be practical and my brother could be academic, if we gave ourselves the permission to be different and worked at it. If you think about it, I bet you know what role you were assigned (often unwittingly) by your family or friends, or even one you’ve given yourself.

So, I’m going to try really hard not to think of my kids as being the ‘delicate’ one and the ‘relentless’ one. I want them to carry on surprising me and to be the person they want to be, whoever that is.

December 19, 2011

All I Want for Christmas (That Money Can’t Buy)

I’ve been tagged by the lovely folk at More Than a Mum to write a list of things that I would like for Christmas that money cannot buy.

It’s a very timely request because I’ve been thinking about this for a while already. To be honest, by the time Christmas actually gets here what I might need is a lie down in a darkened room, such is the stress of school, pre-school, work and home stuff all leading up to the big day. From outfit requests for Nativity to Secret Santa at work, it’s one long ‘to-do’ list and I’m exhausted. And that’s before I’ve even thought about paying for everything on a pretty strict budget. I’d make more things myself if I could, but at number one on the wish list of every working mother is the gift of TIME, so in truth, although I have lovely images of self-created gifts, it would probably have caused me more stress than it solved!

Anyway, that’s my whining over with. Here are the ‘money cannot buy’ gifts I would wish for this Christmas:

1: Happiness for my friends. So many of us are struggling with problems, whether they are physical, emotional, financial or something else. My friends, scattered around the world as they are, mean so much to me. They have seen me through highs, lows, bad dancing, near-death experiences, quick drinks-after-work that lead to being thrown out at closing time (after putting the world to rights, obviously) , long distance travel, parenting and everything else. I love them dearly and would like nothing more than to be reassured of their happiness this Christmas.

2: I would love to be able to slow my children down a bit on Christmas Day. A pause button would be handy. They’re so excited at the moment, they cannot sit still for a second and I know that in the flurry of excitement on Christmas morning, they will be tearing the paper off carefully chosen and wrapped gifts with utter abandon. I’d like to get them to slow down. To appreciate each gift (even if it’s clothes!) before turning to the next. They are so fortunate and blessed to be loved by so many people. I know that they’re only little, so this really doesn’t cross their minds at all. I just want the feeling of joy and appreciation to last as long as it can.

3: In the same vein, I’d love for peace. On a global scale, if I can have it, but if not, then just between my children would be perfect. They do fight quite a bit – when they’re tired, over-excited, or when they’ve just been stuck indoors too long. Like racehorses, they need daily exercising! Last year, Father Christmas was a bit silly and put quite a large packet of sweets into each stocking. Which ended up being secretly eaten for breakfast. Which then led to a huge burst of sugar-fuelled excitement following by fighting and then keeling over. Anyway, I’ve had a word with him and this year, he’s only going to put a tiny chocolate into each stocking, so the kids are hungry for normal breakfast, which will hopefully mean they’re less likely to go crazy. We’ll see, I suppose. I may end up making them run around outside for a bit. Even if it’s snowing. Actually, while I’m here, I’d quite like the gift of snow on Christmas Day too – enough to make it worth sledging in (due to pink birthday sledge which, as yet, is unused) but then for it to magically disappear after Boxing Day without turning into that horrible grey sludge stuff. That’d be ace.

4: I would love the gift of optimism. They say, where there is life, there is hope. But it’s been a difficult year for us; for the world. I’d like to be optimistic for myself, for my plans for 2012, and for my children’s future. Otherwise, I’ll be spending Christmas under the duvet. Come and get me after the next General Election (but only if it’s good news…)

5: And finally, I have two dear friends who are in the late stages of pregnancy, and so I wish for a safe and healthy birth for them.

Now, I have to tag someone else to do their list and so I’m going to tag my lovely Twitter buddy, The Last Slayer . It may be a bit late though (and I know she’s really busy) so this tag may end here.

I hope that you all get what you wish for this Christmas.

September 7, 2011

My Daily Uniform.

I’ve never posted an outfit photograph before, but this photo taken by David at Sandsend on our camping weekend pretty much sums up my daily wardrobe. I tend to wear a uniform of sorts. I try to shop so that everything in my wardrobe can be worn with everything else, which means that there is always something that I can throw on without much thought, and that I can chase after my two year old son in! It’s mostly black or other neutrals, and as I’ve written before, very rarely do I wear a print or anything bold. I’m going to try to change that, but it will mean that I have to put more thought into my daily uniform…

I am wearing:

Navy wool cardigan and trousers from Gap.

Cream (washable!) vest top with broderie anglaise edging from J Crew at Net A Porter.

Mulberry Antony bag, which is usually slung diagonally over my body so I can run around without losing it. The hands-free bag is a totally necessity when you have two small kids. Honestly, I have worn this bag every day since my lovely husband bought it for me one Christmas.  So, as far as fashion maths is concerned (which, as we all know, is cost divided by number of times worn) it’s one of the best bargains ever!

3.1 Phillip Lim sunglasses – giant glasses hide a multitude of sleepless nights, especially useful after sleeping in a soaking wet tent, which was my misfortune the night before this photo was taken.

A grumpy expression. Hmm…again I think this is lack of sleep. Or possibly hunger. We got fish and chips shortly after this was taken which were lovely.

Ash high-tops, I love Ash shoes, they’re always a slightly quirky but comfortable choice. Is it wrong that I need comfortable shoes? I do buy heels too, but I wear them less often, my life just isn’t cut out for them at them moment. The current season of Ash high tops are available from and I’ve already got my eye on this pair.

Seal Virgin High Top Leather Trainer by Ash

Ash | Seal Virgin High Top Leather Trainer by Ash.

What is your daily uniform?  Are there pieces of clothing that you couldn’t live without? Do you find it liberating or stifling to wear the same thing every day?