Monthly Archives: May 2018

Doria Ragland and the chip on my shoulder

I’ve written before about feeling judged as a single parent. However I feel judged because I am judged. The woman with 4 children and no father at home. This isn’t something that is all in my head.

There are all the scary news headlines I wrote about here for one thing. Then there are comments passed about the lack of ring on your finger (yes seriously!!) about what your kids do for male role models (they have loads of female role models and an awesome grandad thanks for your concern!) Comments made flippantly but ones I always took to heart.

A huge chip on my shoulder about being a single parent is that extra chair at school parents evening where a dad should be. Looking around at all these couples and wondering why I didn’t get to have that ‘proper’ family.

The chip on the shoulder at awards ceremonies , good work assemblies , school plays when I so want to share my pride with someone. I want someone else sat by me as proud and excited about how great these children are .

Then came Doria on Saturday.

A royal wedding. Her daughter a star of the show.

Sat in that church all alone , tears of joy and pride rolling down her face with noone next to her to pass her a tissue. Did she look ashamed though? A bit embarrassed and apologetic for her single mum status?? With the whole world watching on.

Not for a second . She was there , at one with her daughter . Taking up the space she deserved in that church so far away from home. Looking at her beautiful girl and no doubt thinking ‘wow , I raised her’ .

I’m going to be more Doria. I’m going to embrace my single mum status more. Stop feeling like I have to apologise to society for being. Not feeling like I have to explain my situation to people. I’m going to keep my head high because I did a two person job all alone and didn’t totally *touches wood* screw it up.

So next parents evening. When I get the fear. When my anxiety makes me feel like the only single parent in the school , I’m going to think of Doria , I’m going to channel her . Think less about how other kids have 2 parents cheering them on and just cheer double loudly , because that’s what I’ve been doing for years.


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My daughter , my way.

Apologies in advance that this could become a bit of a rant. However I inhabit my little corner of the internet so as I can express myself so surely a little rant from time to time is acceptable??

I think as parents we all have certain aspects of our parenting that we really hold dear. I don’t mean the screen time limits that we say exist but fall by the wayside for the sake of a bit of peace ,but the really important things that matter to you as a parent. It might be cooking food from scratch , or everyone sitting around the table together . It may be ensuring you get the kids out into nature and exploring. It may be ensuring books are a way of life or that they are able to express themselves with art and crafty activities. There are just some things along this parenting journey that you’re not willing to let go off because they are important to you.

I mentioned in this previous blog post about how the older I get the more confident I get in expressing my opinions. This goes together I think with backing and defending my parenting style to the hilt. Something I learnt just this week.

Small girl turned 10 this week. She had a fab time , has already worked out how to turn one special day into one special week and does rock a birthday. We went out for dinner with a group of her family and maybe I was particularly irritated that day or maybe ,I think more likely,that I’m so fed up of the kind of nonsense we sometimes spout around our children that on this occasion I had to pick up on it.

Small girl was talking about a boy in her class and how she didn’t like him and he was mean to one of her female friends.

“Oooo he must like her ” someone said.

“boys are always mean to girls they want to be their girlfriend!”

Now. I have heard this narrative a million times. From when I was a child through to now and usually I can turn a blind eye but actually no.

Let’s not tell her things like that I suggested. I don’t want her growing up thinking if a male is nasty or horrid to her that she should just be flattered by the attention. I said it with a smile , I didn’t go on to do the monologue that was in my head about how bloody dangerous this message is to both boys and girls and maybe I should have because the second I opened my mouth I saw it. The collective eye roll. The collective tut thinking “here she goes again on one of her crazy feminist rants”

I’ve seen it before.

I’ve seen it when I pick up on phrases like “don’t be such a girl” when a boy dares express emotion.

I’ve seen it when I ask people not to tell teen girl to ‘dress more like a girl’

When I’ve tried to explain how toxic masculinity is harming our boys as well as our girls.

I’ve seen it a lot , and I think often it has quietened me.

This time it angered me. I am more than aware I cannot police language around my daughter always. I can though I think ask people who she trusts and loves to be mindful of what messages they send to her and I will.

I want my daughter to know for sure there is nothing she can’t do. That she is strong and powerful and brave and intelligent and that she can change the world.

It’s a massive shame that here in 2018 we’re still pedalling ridiculous gender limiting ideas but I always have to challenge them in front of her in the hope that one day she’ll do the exact same thing. That’s more than worth a few eye rolls.

JakiJellz
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A decade old birth story….

Bloody love a good birth story I do.

Problem is writing about my own personal pregnancies and some births is still not yet something I can do. I will one day because writing is my therapy and it helps to heal.

This story though I can tell you because it’s like some kind of badly written sitcom.

It’s small girl’s 10th birthday this week. Everything with this pregnancy was different. I was the model patient . As a bit of background I have suffered with ridiculously high blood pressure through all 4 pregnancies. As an extra bit of background I am an absolute big baby with pain and hospitals and doctors and nothing , I repeat nothing terrifies me more than needles . If it’s at all possible to escape needles I will run away. If it’s inevitable…well I’ll still probably try to run away. I’ll cry and beg no. I’ll vomit , I’ll faint . It’s not a pretty sight at all. I know how irrational it is but then most phobias are aren’t they.

OK , on with the story….

So here I am at 36 weeks pregnant. My blood pressure has played ball relatively well but I’m still seeing a consultant as they want to keep a close eye on it . I have a community midwife check up so off I toddle to have heartbeat listened to and blood pressure checked. Midwife checks the blood pressure ,declares her machine must be broken as it cannot possibly be that high and to come back at the end of the week. I do mention my history with blood pressure but she insists no it can’t possibly be . I’ve had none of the symptoms of pre eclampsia I’ve had previously so leave it there and go about my business.

Next day I’ve GP check up and this is where the nuttiest day begins.

Have a chat how I’m feeling , listen to heartbeat , drop off pee sample and off I go into town to do a bit of shopping. On the bus home I’m feeling all horribly uncomfy as you do .Like all my internal organs are being compressed into a too small space which I guess they are . My phone rings and it’s my GP in a bit of a flap telling me to stop what I’m doing and immediately get to the hospital. There is a lot of protein in my urine and I’m an old hand enough to know what this means….and it’s not good.

I rock up to the day unit where they tell me to just lay on the bed and collect any urine should I need to go in a big old jug!!Sounds pretty gross but hey these people know best . Just for a few hours then I can go home if things settle a little. I can’t have been laid on this bed longer than 20 mins when a Health Care Assistant comes over to ask if I’m on my own. I found this a bit of an odd question which kind of answered itself but replied I was for her to answer

“OK then let’s go!”

“go where ?”

“Delivery suite ”

(Hold up what now??? I’m meant to be here starting a one woman urine collection….we don’t need a delivery suite for that”)

“but why ?”

“they’re gonna induce you , has no one spoken to you? ”

(Look at this face ….does this look like the face of a woman in the loop??)

“I’m not doing that”

Now my hospital,pain , needle issues manifest themselves in toddler like behaviour. Stamping feet , refusal to do what I’m told and generally behaving like an idiot without the slightest bit of shame. It’s total fear that has me behave this way.

Some lovely doctor finally comes over and cajoles me into going to the delivery suite and just taking it from there. I kinda know I’m being conned here , noone goes THERE for a manicure and a chat but it’s less public than a ward so I can flip out in relative privacy. Calm , sweet doctor then says how my blood pressure is dangerously through the roof they must deliver asap as that’s the only way it’ll come down. I simply tell her no ,this isn’t happening I am not having a baby today no chance . I’m not ready ,I’ve nothing with me and I’m not mentally prepared to have my vagina ripped to shreds today . So thanks bit no thanks. Calm lovely doctor smiles and leaves .

I’m laid on yet another bed , monitor on in the delivery suite plotting how I can best make my escape. Don’t think climbing out the window is feasible too high up…when the door opens .They have sent in the big guns. In walks the world’s best midwife and woman who has delivered the 3 elder ones. We already have a huge bond with that. I trust this woman .This is a sneaky trick to pull.

“If they’ve sent you in to talk me round it’s pointless”

“Look , this is very dangerous you know how serious pre eclampsia is . This baby needs to be born today or you could both die”

“OK have you ever personally had a woman die of this ”

“No”

“Well then…”

“I have had a baby die though”

Shit. Real life hit me in the face and snaps me out of my egotistical toddler tantrum .

I have a cry at this point. A big cry . Then I ask if I have time to call my sister to come be here with me . They agree and world’s best midwife examines me to find actually my body has taken the lead on this one and I’m 4cm dilated already. TOLD you I was uncomfortable!!It’s getting to about 8pm now so I call my sis…she says she’ll be right here and HERE the fun begins…

Sister turns up and announces with breathtaking excitement how she told the taxi man to step on it and go as fast as he can as her sister is in labour and how she has ALWAYS wanted to say that! She’s so animated in her story telling and giddy and a great distraction…but hang on a minute ..is she drunk?!!!!

Trust you ,she says in front of the World’s Greatest Midwife , to go into labour on the ONE night I have a couple of glasses of wine !!! Oh shit she is ,she’s tipsy! Not as drunk as I am on gas and air mind. That stuff is good!! I decide I can entertain myself here with this situation. You know how heavenly the gaps between contractions are when the pain stops and you can talk again and you’ve never felt better (high on gas and air !) The midwife asks if she can get my sister coffee as they’ve been chatting as I’ve been teeth grindingly contracting.

“She’s only gone to get you coffee because you are drunk ” I absolutely lie to my sister . Sending her into a panic of how she’s only had a couple ’till I start giggling and she realises I’m just being a knob. She obviously had the last laugh as huge contraction followed and pushing season was declared.

The real hard work began there and other than shouting at my sister attempting distraction by asking I was going to spell Isabelle mid push (probably the only time in my adult life I’ve shouted “shut up” at her ) Isabelle (2 l’s and 1 e) was here before I knew it . Teeny tiny but super cute and absolutely ravenous!!There began a relationship with the quirkiest ,chattiest girl in the world.

Do you know what though? My Blood pressure did not return to normal after birth. We were stuck in hospital a week like Forrest Gump on that bench. We were in a high depency ward so there were only two beds but women would come and go and we’d still be stuck there. It actually took years for my blood pressure to return normal and the conclusion being it was outside influences possibly rather than medical that had caused it. Or outside influences made it an ongoing problem at least.

So there we are , writing about that it seems a blink of the eye ago but at the same time just so long. A story that could have been way more serious and awful but enough funny moments for me to be able to write it without freaking out!!!

This week celebrates a decade of Isabelle and for that I am incredibly grateful.

If anyone wants to hire my sis as birthing partner give me a call!!!

The Pramshed
JakiJellz
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10 things I want you to know as you turn 10…

I can’t believe my ‘baby’ is going to be 10 in a matter of days .

10 just seems a big number.

I’m hurtling towards 40 at breakneck speed , yet really I’m not that wise . Never the less here’s 10 things I want small girl to know as she turns 10.

Hold on to you

Unfortunately in life people try to make you fit their mould. Different upsets their view of the world. These kind of people just want everyone to be the same as them. You know how we say everyone is a bit weird in this house and that’s how we like it. Keep that in mind always. Your little quirks are what makes you you . If when you’re 30 you’re still dancing and leaping and spinning from A to B rather than walking well good for you .

Keep reading

You’re bookworm extraordinare . You’ve always a book or 2 on the go. I’ve seen in your siblings that sometimes the desire to read falters once teenage years hit. That’s such a shame because as life gets more tricky and busy there is an unbridled joy in being able to take a little time out of real life and escaping in a book for a while . It’s a gift so hold tightly onto it.

Keep asking questions

Your questions are the best and we’ve had some crackers over the years.

If we were a family of cats do you think we’d still watch Strictly?

What’s your favourite word to write in joined up writing?

What do colours sound like to you?

What do you think the queen does as a birthday treat?

Keep up the questions , and surround yourself with people who will help you find the answers no matter how off the wall they are.

Continue to dream huge

We say that don’t we ? Don’t just aim high but aim the highest. There’s nothing bad coming from shooting for the stars . You might not quite hit the moon but you’re going to get way higher than the person satisfied with sat on the ground. You want to be a chef when you’re older at the minute. A Michelin star level chef , a double, no triple Michelin star level chef. You keep up that kind of dreaming!!

Know your worth

You do now . You know you are clever and kind and funny and beautiful. You know this as fact . No part of you doubts it. You know your company is sought after and you’re fun to be around. I would love for you to still feel this way when you’re 30 or 40!!

Love and allow yourself to be loved

We talk a lot don’t we about you having your two homes? Our one here with me and your siblings and your other one over with daddy. I tell you how we’d both love to have everyday with you but we have to be sensible grown ups and share your time . How you’re just so loved by all of us we all just love being around you. You seem to know that. You love us all right back too , you do that very well. Nothing is nicer than an unprompted Iz ‘ I love you’.

Stay true to your inner penguin

We suspect don’t we ?You and I? That you are part penguin. You love swimming and diving and cuddling and eating fish. You do a pretty good waddle too! We once were talking about if we were dog people or cat people for you to pronounce you were neither you were a penguin person.

Keep being that little bit penguin.

People pleasing is for fools

Your mum is the biggest of all for this. I’m working on it but 38 years of people pleasing is going to take some undoing. You thankfully don’t seem to suffer from it . You were telling me a few weeks back about a girl in your class who doesn’t like you and had told you as such . Had this been your foolish mum I’d have been concocting a strategy to get her to like me . When I asked you how you felt about this though you just shrugged and said you don’t mind as you “don’t much like her either” That’s a healthy attitude and one that’ll get you through.

Stay close to the losers

Or siblings as other people would call them. I know the losers tag is given with great affection…..

Your relationship with your eldest brother is so lovely. He’s a good lad that one ,stick with him you’ll not go far wrong.

Younger brother is the world’s most stubborn person – yeah I don’t know where he gets it from either but he seems to drop all that with you . You have him wrapped around your little finger and that is no mean feat.

Your sister will be there for you always. She’s fiercely protective and she’s a lot wiser than she lets on. Any boy or girl ever breaks your heart and I feel sorry for them unleashing the wrath of her .

A problem shared (with mum) is a problem halved.

That’s our mantra really isn’t it it . If something is on your mind ,no matter how silly you think it is or how scarily huge it feels tell me about it. I am here for you always. There is not a worry in the world that we can’t take on together. No matter if your 9 or 59 that won’t change . There’ll never be a time when I won’t try my very best to solve or help you with your problems (and you’re doubly lucky there because I’m certain your dad would say the same!!)

So there we are 10 things to know as you turn 10. I’m sure there’ll be a slush post by your actual birthday but hey you’re stretching out birthday celebrations over a week surely I can be a bit self indulgent in writing about one of my favourite things in all the world (that’s you by the way)

Xxxxx

Mission Mindfulness

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Communicating with teens in this tech age

Before I begin I’ve got to say that my teenagers and I do have real life conversations. Honestly they’re not square eyed inarticulate zombies . We go out for dinner together and we chat. We do the “how’s your day been?” and we’re all more than capable of conversation. We talk a lot in this house . A.Lot.

However what I was pondering the other day was how each of them communicate with me via social media and technology in totally different ways . It’s not a replacement for conversation,I think it’s an enhancement. Probably a time saver too , if someone sends me a link to a play I might like that’s much quicker than giving me the details verbally I guess. I don’t have to ask dates ,times , venue as it’s all there in front of me!

The 17 yr old eldest is a fan of a meme . When the Messenger symbol appears on my phone yet he’s there in the same room as me I know memes are coming! Particularly fond of ones with Gavin and Stacey quotes of late . He knows what makes me giggle , he’s pretty cool like that.

He’s also good for info. Links to articles about shared interests we have . Doctor Who or snooker (don’t judge me!) or the rugby team we support are shared back and forth between us !

He’s quite clued into his politics and current affairs too like me so any articles , memes or posts in relation to that subject go down well. He’s a regular in the Messenger inbox and I quite like that. Needy mum with the grown up son likes that he thinks of me . On that note he’s quite good with texts through the day regaling me with work anecdotes ,he even *shock horror* calls me occasionally on his lunch to tell me a particularly funny or bizarre story!!

The 16 yr old youngest son well that’s a whole different kettle of fish.

Talk about radio silence.

He does not like my FB status’ even really funny ones.

He does not send chirpy texts or message at all actually. He went to grandparents for a week not long back , his siblings texted and messaged intermittently. Not a peep was heard from him.

Chances of him answering his phone when you call him are minimal,he barely even knows where it is most of the time and you get the vibe from him that he could happily do without all the tech (other than the x box …obvs!)

Eldest girl at 15 well she’ll tag you in a meme or two , she’ll like the odd photo you stick on Facebook.

Her social media communication of choice though is links to food. Ice cream parlour menus , restaurant links , takeaway pics of gorgeous dinners. I think she follows every restaurant in the vicinity purely to drool over the food pics . She is indeed her mother’s daughter

The youngest at almost 10 aside from her YouTube watching nonsense has no need to wrap herself up in tech. She’s no need for a phone and she’ll certainly have no need for social media for a long while yet. With her we’ll stick to our quirky chats about what colours sound like and what our fave baby animals are.

I know social media gets a bad press , and deservedly so sometimes. I don’t think it’s all bad though. I don’t think it’s killing conversation or making us all antisocial. I was pretty antisocial before Facebook and Twitter came along but written communication has always been a favourite of mine. I still like writing letters. So along those lines of thinking I’ve probably become a little more sociable !

What do you think ??Do you think that social media can be an enhancement of communication and conversation between parents and teens or do you think we are all too screen focussed . Be really interested to hear your views.


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