Category Archives: Baby

On being thoughtful

I’ve not written about how tiring being a single parent was because I could’t find any way to describe it. How do you describe a state of exhaustion which makes you too tired to think of similes and metaphors?

And then I read a post On Wanting and new exactly how to describe it. Think about the exact opposite of wanting anything, being enthusiastic about anything.

That’s how tired I was. Mersina didn’t sleep through the night until she moved into her own room at two years and seven months old. That was about nine months ago.

It took about two months of mostly sleeping almost normally and then not every night until I felt well enough to feel enthused about things again.

I’ve not been thoughtful for a while on this blog and it’s mainly due to a lack of sleep and energy and wanting.

When the new little person arrives in a few months it might be a swift transition to not-wanting again but I’m not a single parent anymore so it may not be as bad. I don’t mind either way, it’s just nice to recognise the symptoms.20140714-190941-68981356.jpg

Happy families

Facebook can be very useful sometimes. Life changing announcements are as simple as a quick notification which is what I did with my pregnancy – I posted the baby scan and then everyone who wanted to ‘liked’ and commented. Well, that baby’s father is now part of our family and has moved in to live with us. I’m no longer a single parent and neither is he.

I have a lot of attachment to the idea of single parent but I’m happy with how we are as well.

I’ve posted a fair amount about the pregnancy, about the baby stages and about growing up and co-parenting. I haven’t yet posted anything about a relationship and a family. Not until now and even now I’m not saying much. Let’s see how it goes.

Family photo

Coffee #0003

coffee #0003

Percolated coffee with condensed milk. This is breakfast after the sixth night in a row with not much sleep. I’m reading Gone Girl and writing a book review which I won’t talk about yet. My dad is in the hotel across the street and my sister is somewhere off Whiteladies Road. Mersina had porridge for breakfast and we’re watching the Wiggles.

The Nescafe mug was given to me by my old employers in Colchester when I moved into my first flat on my own in 2002.

30-June-2013

Soy latte #0001

Soy latte #0001

One soy latte, one dairy flat white, one Eccles cake and one custard tart from Hart’s Bakery. Mersina and I got to Hart’s at the Bristol Temple Meads train station just before 9am after going to our early morning doctor’s appointment at 8.10. We waited at the bakery for her dad who had been out to the Gromit Unleashed launch and we all caught a train to Cardiff at 9.56.

The dairy flat white has the love heart.

28-June-2013

Breastfeeding awareness week

I’ve read some meaningful and emotive posts on breastfeeding this week and it made me want to share as well but I can’t quite find it in me to go down that route. Instead, here’s a list of all the places I have fed my daughter over the last two years and a bit:

The Bristol mayoral inauguration
The More than Words festival at the Bristol museum
At Cinnamon Square in Rickmansworth
In the Bristol Central Library
College Green
The Ethicurean
The See No Evil festival
Upfest
Eat, Drink, Bristol Fashion
Yurt Lush
The European Green Capital announcement launch at the M-Shed
The Square Kitchen
Ashton Court
In front of Chandos Deli
The Tobacco Factory
The Brewery
The Bristol Old Vic
Flinty Red
On the train
On the bus
On the aeroplane
Love Saves Sunday festival
Clifton College
StrEAT
Explore @Bristol
The Bristol Hippodrome
The Colston Hall
St Stephen’s Cafe
Flavalanche
AngelBerry
Brandon Hill
The Grain Barge
Bristol Zoo
The Bearpit
Boca
Paintworks
Queen Square
Small Street Espresso
Berwick Lodge
On the Harbourside
At the bottom of the steps when she fell down the stairs
On the way to A&E when she dislocated her elbow, in the taxi, in my arms for half an hour
Rainbow Cafe
Bristol Eats
Quakers Friars
Giraffe
Caffe Gusto at the Harbourside
Lashings
The Lounges
The Watershed
Beese’s
Zazu’s Kitchen
The Thali Cafe’s launch in Southville
Bar Chocolat
Prezzo
Pieminister relaunch on Stokes Croft
The King of Egypt exhibition at the museum
Mi Casa pop-up at the Big Chill
St Werburgh’s Sunday Roast pop-up
Yume on Cotham Hill
Mamma Mia, my favourite Italian restaurant
El Puerto
The Arnolfini
Bordeaux Quay
The Robin Hood
The Wardrobe Theatre
The White Bear
Highbury Vaults

And many more…

Did I mention the mayoral inauguration?

Breastfeeding at See No Evil 2012

Sticker Fun Holiday from Top That Publishing (and the Froobles)

I received these books for review after responding to a tweet. I didn’t know the publishers until then.

I am already a bit biased pro- Top That Publishing because these books arrived just two days before I was set to travel to Devon with a 2-and-a-quarter old toddler. Look at them: Untitled

They are perfect toddler entertainment.

As the bigger book says there are 555 stickers about various scenarios such as horse riding, a day in the park in autumn, skiing, an airport and various other locations. The paper is shiny and of good quality and the stickers are colourful and creative.

I initially thought the pictures were a little busy with figures added in already but my daughter loved them. She loves to add stickers in order to cover already existing characters so she had a great time.

She didn’t get as excited about the second book – the Froobles – because she’s a little young for the story so we’re saving that one. The first one was perfect though and we still have lots of stickers left.

Thanks for the chance to review Top That Publishing!

You can find them on Twitter at: @TopThatPub

10 identities that I am giving my daughter

We create our children in so many ways from the way we talk, act, behave with others, eat and every single thing we do. Sometimes the responsibility of it all weighs me down but usually it helps me see how I get created as well. Watching it all is an amazing process. I didn’t even notice half of the stuff until I started writing this post.

Here it is though, just some of the identities I am helping my two-year-old daughter adopt:

1. Helpful – I spill some water on the floor, Mersina rushes to the mop and comes back to help me clean up. “Thank you very much, you are very helpful to me.”

2. Beautiful – “You are so beautiful,” times a billion.

3. Nice – She gives me a kiss and a hug. “Thank you, you are such a nice person.”

4. Clever – She counts, she repeats, she writes M, she identifies letters – numbers – animals – past visits: “You are so clever! A genius!” She loves jigsaws.

5. Athletically proficient – She runs for ages when she can and this weekend I bought her her first pair of trainers: running – “You’re so fast! You’re such a great runner. She’s been running for ages, such a great climber.”

6. Angry – I try to let her be okay about getting angry. Anger gives you energy and it can also cause you to be hurtful. I don’t have a problem with her getting angry about things but it can slow us down which may cause her to see impatience come up in response to her anger. Anger isn’t one of our usual emotions so I’m finding it hard to think of examples.

7. Creative – I encourage drawing and let her pick any colours and shades she likes. She is allowed to use most types of paper that aren’t necessary. I let her choose the colours for her online drawing and sometimes she wants the whole picture to be the same colour. That’s fine. She makes up stories about her froggies.

8. Sad – I don’t like her to be sad so it’s harder for me to not interfere to shake her out of it or distract her with something. When she was a little younger she started practising being sad by coming up to us with her head down and just standing there. I would rush to her to find out what was going on and she would look up with a big grin at having fooled us or at being successfully sad. That’s fine.

9. Happy – “she was born smiling”, “she’s such a happy baby”, “she’s so funny”. She does smile a lot. When I look back to pictures of me from when I was small and even now, my first response is not to smile. Her father is more likely to be smiling. Does smiling mean happiness? I don’t know.

10. Social – she seems to enjoy the company of other children. Whenever she sees another little person she gets excited and says “hello!”. I have yet to see many (any?) other little people say hello back. When she was all about “chasey” she would see another little person and run away from them hoping they would follow. That was so cute.

All the activities she does are natural and come from her. The labels and identities arise from our reactions and cues as to how acceptable they all are. Some I would like to cultivate are mindfulness, perseverance and the ability to express herself. For now I’m trying to notice as much as possible. Communicating her feelings is the most important one, in my opinion.

musical M

How being a single mother is just being a mother

“I love, more than anything, that I don’t have to take anyone else’s feelings or opinions into consideration when I do something… It’s just me and Jack against the world!”

http://www.mothering.com/community/t/219427/why-i-love-being-a-single-mother/420

Here’s something I wrote recently during an argument: “Your membership of this family is not unconditional. I’m sorry if I made you think it was.”

The argument was invariably (I can’t remember the specifics) about one of us not getting our needs met. It most likely had something to do with communication. I forget the argument but that sentiment about family membership being conditional stuck with me. If it applies to him then it must apply to me and to our daughter and to any other member of this family.

I was reminded of it today while reading the thread on mothering.com about “Why I love being a single mother”. Some of the behaviours these mothers were escaping were shocking. One writes:

“no more wondering if he is still cheating (of course he was!)”

Another member writes:

“I love that my home is emotionally peaceful now (yes, even with four kids).

I love that I am not walking on eggshells or tiptoeing around someone else’s moods and quirks.”

Another member:

Here’s my top five list:

1. Having control over my body, finances, and time.

2. Knowing exactly what to expect when I walk in the door.

3. Pride in my home, my family, my values and my life choices (and never having to compromise any of them).

4. Embracing my spirituality without feeling ashamed of my faith.

5. The ability to pass these gifts along to my son in the most loving environment I am capable of creating for him.

This thread has been going for eight years.

“I love that my kids do not dread coming home from school because dad is here
I love that they can go online without me worrying they will see porn (he never bothered to delete his downloaded videos or history)
I love that they don’t have to be on eggshells all the time wondering when he would go off next”

– nobody calls my older kids insulting names , like ” the little n…..s ” !

– I don´t have to hide food from him anymore , so that he doesn´t hurry up and eat it , before my kids get some or get in fights with him , because every time , we have cake or donuts or some special treat like that he goes ” do the adults get 2 and the kids 1 ?” or ” we ( the grow-ups ) should eat as much as we like and then give the kids the rest”

And the saddest one I’ve read so far:

Not seeing my children punched, kicked, slapped, pushed, bloodied – all in the name of “discipline”.
My children and I no longer living in fear or always being on edge.
No more holes in the walls, or broken possessions.
My kids not being walked over (literally!) because they were “in his way”.

But some of the sentiments don’t sit well with me:

“To sum up what everyone has posted: no interference.

I am the master of my domain!”

And the one I posted at the start:

“I love, more than anything, that I don’t have to take anyone else’s feelings or opinions into consideration when I do something.”

I don’t agree with those sentiments. The rules I mention about being in this family apply to me too. It isn’t my way or the highway but basic rules about love and putting each other’s needs first. My big task is how to make this ‘our’ task and create an environment where everyone can contribute.

I have changed in many ways since having a child. The state of my flat was a mess and I didn’t change that until I was told about it by M’s father. I need to go to the dentist but I didn’t do anything about it other than ponder for a while until my sister nudged me and said hey, you need to do something. I don’t always know best. There are things I’d rather let lie until someone forces me to do them. My housemate points out the cleaning and the tiny’s tv-watching and other things he sees. When he does it out of love and concern then I have to listen and no matter how annoyed I get that my issues are being mentioned, I pay attention.

I posted the Art of Loving on International Women’s Day because of its message that love is about giving and it is about loving others as much as you love yourself. Not more and not less. I remember a time in my life when I was asked to picture my situation as a film genre and what kind of role I had in it. I was the supporting cast in my own life! That just can’t happen anymore and I don’t want it to happen to my tiny child.

At first, the most difficult thing in setting boundaries and establishing rules seemed to be my reactions to other people’s reactions. Their anger, moodiness, lack of communication but mostly the anger. The yelling. The criticism. My response to it all was a huge well of emotions, mostly fear.

But then time passed and nothing happened to me. I didn’t die. I managed to survive and no one really minded being told that certain things were unacceptable. I’ve not worked it all out yet but that’s my main message to me and my daughter, there are rules and boundaries and they exist with anyone at anytime. Being a single mother is just being a mother and no one can escape people.

This is a sentiment which resonates with me:

It is easy to understand how there can be no more stable foundation for friendship than the shared awareness that both individuals are strongly committed to the happiness of the other. What room is there for jealousy, anger and resentment when we know that our friend or partner is deeply committed to making us happy? When we know he or she values our welfare as much as, perhaps even more than, his or her own happiness? Who inspires greater confidence in us than the person who truly believes that they gain more from kindness than from greedy self-indulgence?

(The Art of Loving – Medialens)

And being single has nothing to do with it.

Family photo

M’s red cardigan

Mersina received the most beautiful hand-knit red cardigan for her birthday from our lovely friend Paula (and Philip!) and I’ve been trying to collect some photos that show off how well this suits little M.

Untitled

m_red_cardigan

Thank you!

A letter to Mersina, 23 January 2013

I’ve had the strangest worry today that something would happen to me and Mersina wouldn’t have any memory of me. Before the day was over I wanted her to have something that she could keep – some sentiment from me. I’ve never particularly liked those letters that mums write to their children but this was barely a choice. I wanted her to know certain things and this was the best way I knew how.

I am not always comfortable with too much personal stuff on here but I’ve already shared so much so this feels like the place for a complete picture for her of how we are.

Dear Mersina Anne,

Four years ago today I woke up knowing that I was in love with your father. Not only that but exactly one month after I met him, he went Morris dancing and I knew that someone who could do that would meet most of life with the spirit which I saw in the world myself.

The fact that he didn’t feel the same way didn’t matter and didn’t change how I felt. I couldn’t shake off this love no matter how hard I tried. Maybe it was you that I had already seen in him and I couldn’t let that go.

About a year after your daddy and I met, you started to pop into my mind. Little pictures at first, sketches of a faceless little girl, older than you are as I write this, standing next to the two of us. I thought it was me being silly but sometime in 2010 we found you.

I loved you from the first instant and your daddy loved you from the first moment he saw you. I don’t think he believed it until then.

There was never a moment when you weren’t loved. You are loved every moment of every day. I hope you carry that feeling around with you forever and through every lifetime.

When we put your picture in the paper for your birth announcement we wanted something inspiring and fun for you to take with you. None of this “no matter what she is when grows up as long as she is happy”. We wrote, and we wrote it in complete agreement, that you would be the first foreign correspondent in space when you grow up.

You are already showing signs of aiming for his dream. Your spirit of adventure is your biggest characteristic equal to your big smile and your love. You can be very determined in your love and also forceful when you shove food in my mouth to make sure I am fed, or when you stroke my head quite violently so I can close my eyes and rest. You don’t know your own strength and I hope that knowledge comes to you in the future.

For now, I hope you can take with you the joy, happiness and love that you are and bring with you

Our miracle, our gift. Always loved.