Will you be my friend?

Lately, I’ve noticed something terrifying. I am officially a grown up. It’s not just the whole Emerging Adulthood thing. Although certainly having a husband and a son, a career, many many bills, and a place of our own helps to hammer the message home.

It’s other more worrying aspects of adulthood. I get a little nervous when I see a group of rowdy youths, and I refer to them as ‘youths’ in my head. I get really annoyed if I accidently end up out too late in the afternoon and have to share the bus with school kids of any number. I cant even picture myself going into Miss Selfridge or Top Shop, and have started to think of Dorothy Perkins as a entirely acceptable place to browse. I have less and less interest in sweets, which leads to me being even more disinterested in things like Simchat Torah and getting the bill in restaurants. And last year, I’ll even admit to having a subscription to Prima. (Gasp!)

Yep, I’m boring. I’m aware that I’m still young, dont get me wrong. I’m loving being a young mum, renting our flat, being at the beginning of my career and having a lot of fun with it all, but there are no two ways about it, the teenage years are far behind me, in age as well as mindset.

As great as this is, I have trouble working out how to relate to people in a ‘grown up’ way. Not actual grown ups, I have no problem talking to friends parents, or older colleagues in my office, or relatives and the like. It’s the people the same age as me that I’m struggling with. You know, my friends, or potential friends.

The longstanding ones are not an issue. We have been friends for so long that we have an easy relationship, strong bonds, great banter and deep chats. But new people… I’m lost. No longer can we dive straight into what my 16 year old self called “proper chats” where you can discuss everything and everyone with no holding back and very little self consciousness. We’re grown up, and as sad as it may be to lose that passion, we dont do that anymore. But similarly, there is no space in our lives for superficial chatter and fake smiles that barely break the surface of a real conversation. Who has time for that when we have shopping and carpools and meetings and cooking?

So we’re looking for something in the middle. That easy ‘come for a meal this weekend’, that friendly ‘let’s have a playdate this week’, the wave from across shul that means we have someone to sit with,  or the real conversation that makes the weekly shop and the grouchy toddler that much more enjoyable to deal with.

See? I know what the goal is. But I dont really know how to find it. Without the intimate discussions of our teenage years, is it just a matter of waiting until the on the surface words become something more real all on their own? If I keep inviting you over, will it eventually become effortless, not just for us to be couples friends, but actual friends as well?

Or perhaps those days are just behind us. And the relationships I have with my best friends and my husband are not only sufficient, but more than most people have, in their history and their simplicity, and at the same time, incredible complexity. And if I have that, and am oh so grateful for that, then the on the surface chatter, and the basic conversation which seems to fill 90% of grown up interaction, should really be enough for me. Maybe it is true, that we make our real friends in high school, and in a world where we have hundreds of online ‘friends’ and yet a mere few to open up to, the rest of our lives we just need people to spend time with.

I’d like to know the answer to this one. Maybe I’m looking for something that doesnt exist, or just going about it the wrong way.. But how does one make ‘Grown up friends’?

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Charity and Childminding

 

Given that I write what could be referred to as a ‘mummy blog’ I am using this opportunity to advertise what I think is a really great cause, by Loved By Parents, a great new parenting website. Over the last year, C and I have seen a lot of poorly kids at all of our various appointments with R, (who is thank God not a poorly child at all!) and I wanted people to have the chance to get involved, especially at this time of year, it is no coincidence that this cause is going on during the time of year where charity is considered most important.

On the 7th October we will be attempting to tweet 1,000 tweets in 24hrs to raise money for Make A Wish Foundation who grant sick childrens wishes. For everyone who sponsors £10 or more, you will be entered into a draw to WIN a prize from our prize bundle. Prizes are, Maclaren Quest, Red Cath Kidson buddy, x2 BabyBjörn UK limited edition pop original carriers, Yoomi duo set, A Pink lining Changing Bag and a PacaPod bag, Dig deep!

www.justgiving.com/lovedbyparents

In other news for the day, I am once again at work, and once again sad that I left R crying his little heart out this morning. I secretly waited outside the door again, and yet his tears did not ‘stop immediately after I left’ as I’ve been assured by other mums. My gorgeous childminder sent me another text to assure me he is fine, and says it’s probably just because I only send him once a week.

But that’s what I keep patting myself on the back for! I only send my son to her one day a week, and the other days which I work I get it all done from home. With difficulty. I do this so that my son gets to be with me as much as possible. But am I doing the wrong thing?

At the moment, I have a whingy little boy who is underplayed with and entertained on the mornings I am working from home, a harried and stressed Ima who cant get all her work done most days and ends up checking emails in the middle of the night, and now to cap it all off, a miserable baby who doesnt spend enough time with his childminder to get to know her properly!

Perhaps, trying to find a middle ground is not the answer after all. Where affordable, maybe worktime should be at work and babytime at home. Even if that means that I see my little boy less. After all, he doesnt really care. I’m sure somewhere deep down in that mini body of his he loves me very much. But it appears to me that as long as someone is watching him pull everything off the shelves, or clapping when he pulls himself up on the washing airer (sending my clean washing flying in all directions) he is as happy as can be. What makes him less happy, is when I’m tap tapping away while he looks longingly past the stair gate, or on a conference call (why cant you time your naps better baby?) while he finds and eats raisins in parts of the house I didnt actually know existed.

And if I dont get to see him as much as I do now, perhaps the time I do see him will be more quality time, where he doesnt have to share me with my laptop or my manuscripts.

Right, all thats left to do now is go water my money tree..

 

R.. son of a preacher

Today I threw away the majority of my son’s bottles and teats. I have officially moved him over to a cup for all drinks, and although I’m a bit sad about waving goodbye to one of the very last signs of babyhood, I’m very proud of my growing up boy.

But having done this, I’m feeling quite judgemental towards mums who let their babies have their bottles (and other habits) well into toddlerdom, and beyond. I genuinely dont get it.

Well, maybe that makes it sound like I’m more of a mumzilla than I actually am. Of course I get it. It’s about a few things. The main one, is missing the boat. A newborn baby with a dummy, absolutely fine. Babies have sucking reflexes, they need the comfort, they cant be feeding all day long, and many babies would scream all day without one, and become little angels with. I’m not sure it takes a genius to realise that the age where it starts coming with warning signs (careful about their teeth, careful about their speech, careful about their eating habits) is the time to take it away. Generally this is about 6 months. But if you miss this time slot, and let them keep it until they develop something resembling a memory, disaster ensues. Your 6 month old will forget there is such thing as a dummy within 2 days. 3 tops. My 5 month old forgot it within 36 hours. Your 10/11 month old? Not so much. You’ve missed your chance. Sure, you can take it away, and you really should. You’ll shake your head at fellow mums when you give it back to your crying child, you’l say encouraging sentences like “oh I really must wean him off that dummy,” but when it comes down to doing it, it’s really hard. The light at the end of the tunnel is that no one gets married with a dummy in their mouth. True. Normally when you wait until they are old enough to reason with, you can find a way to trick your 2/3 year old into parting with it. And thats why a lot of mums just wait.

So when you find yourself in this ‘inbetween’ stage, I can understand why you feel a bit stuck. But I’m going to lose a few friends here when I say, you really should have done it earlier. Every health visitor/midwife/book/informative pamphlet etc that I read said take away a dummy before 6 months. So I did. Every health visitor/midwife/book/informative pamphlet etc that I read said take away bottles before a year. So I have. I’m not trying to be supermum, I just dont want to make things harder on myself. I trust their years of experience to tell me that its not good for my toddler to have these things, and it will be loads easier for me if i get rid of them before a certain point. And it is. I dont deserve the praise I get for ridding him of these habits… shh.. it was really easy.

I guess I always decided since he was born, that I’m in charge. He doesnt get anything just because he is crying, and he isnt allowed to do anything that is potentially dangerous for him, however much he wants to. That’s how it goes. I want him to be capable of doing the same thing for his kids some day, (with a mouth that speaks with perfect speech and straight teeth.)

My preachy advice to other mums? Just do it. Take it away, dont look back, deal with the couple of days of crying and difficult behaviour, and thank me later.

What a pain in the…

I have an idea. Hear me out before you call me crazy. Kids should be born with a full set of teeth.

Wait, you promised to hear me out. Let’s list the issues first.

  1. Breastfeeding would be a trickier option.
  2. They may bite themselves or do other damage with sharp teeth.
  3. You’d need to brush them straight away from birth.

Acknowledged. Lets tackle them in order. 1. Plenty of people breasfeed their kids well into toothy peg years and beyond. (Fodder for another blog methinks.) Most people that seriously breastfeed don’t stop until their little one has at least one pearly white. I often see it on mum forums, “My baby bit me, what should I do?” and plenty of the pro feeding mums get out their free hands to type encouraging messages and discussions of “take them off, say no sharply, they’ll get the message pretty quickly” etc. If they manage to power through and teach their baby not to bite, we could all do it too. Lets face it, we have enough things to teach our kids, I’m sure one more wouldnt kill us.

2. I’m not sure they would bite themselves, cause in my experience (which isnt vast) my baby didnt put his hands anywhere near his mouth in any effective way for 4 months.. and he only managed to keep it there about a month later, by which point he was already teething. Of course this may have been due to his sight issues.. Either way, we develop scratch mitts for nails, I’m sure we could come up with something for mouths. And nails are much more annoying, there was a point in time where I was cutting/biting his nails about 3 times a day they grew so fast, and no one is suggesting babies should be born without nails.

3. Brushing. Ok, I think we’d all get used to it. When theyre little its basically a game of trying to fill the time between morning and night while feeling like we’re spending time with our baby. I think many of us would welcome a new chore to add to the list.

Have I convinced you? While I was pregnant, my friends will attest to the fact that one of my biggest fears was having a baby with teeth. I actually had nightmares about it. I imagined being handed my baby boy for the very first time, smiling down at him, and receiving a full gleaming white smile right back. -shudder-

However, since R’s first tooth at 6 months on the dot, (an event to which I actually shed tears believe it or not) I have rapidly changed my mind.

Here are a few (but not all) of the symptoms to which my research tells me are most likely ‘nothing to worry about signs of him teething.’ These are a mixture of friends, internet and doctors advice.

  • red blotchy face
  • regular waking at night
  • CONSTANT whinging
  • half eating food and then throwing it/dropping it
  • needing to be carried all day long (I now have a bad back. my LO isnt so L anymore)
  • changing his mind daily on whether he is starving hungry or completely devoid of appetite. (leading to enough food for a small country being wasted)
  • such bad nappy rash that we have three creams for it.
  • an inability to do the simplest things for himself. Hello? Learn to get dressed already.

Ok. That last one may not be entirely down to the teeth thing.

So now I’m left with what seems like an ill baby, but with no antidote other than to wait and see if a tooth develops. With teething signs common up to a month before the tooth appears, and with a kid expected to get 18 teeth by the age of 2.. I think you can do the maths. It basically equals One Unhappy Ima. I now shed tears, but not the joyous kind.

So I put my thinking cap on, and this is what I’ve come up with. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves. This Yom Kippur, you know what to daven for. Health, happiness, and full sets of infant teeth on our newborn babies. Do it now, Thank me later.

Conflict

I like to think of myself as quite an empathetic person. I listen to my friends, I cry in movies, I like to help out those in need, and most people know I have quite a thing about the homeless. But I manage to do this while being proud of what I’ve acheived and what I have. And I’m not sorry for that.Just because I can be understanding of those that have less than me, doesnt mean I need to be ashamed of what I have.

And yet…

There are certain things I have, which others in my family do not. Whether that is money, or love, or friendship, or a career, these are all aspects of my life which I put a lot of hard work into, and have taken me a long time to accept that I deserve.

And yet…

When will that voice stop? When will I finally be able to believe the things I say, and not get knocked over by the negative comments and looks? With one “Oh..” and a sigh in my direction, I suddenly feel like I shouldnt be able to enjoy the life I’ve built for myself, because you dont have it as well.

In the least harsh way possible.. how is that my fault? I try and let you experience as much of my life as possible. I try and include you, in fact-I want to include you. But it’s never enough. It’s never all the outings and invitations and time spent together that you remember. It’s only the rare occasion when you’re not included, even (or perhaps especially) when you easily could have joined in by simply asking.

Instead, you refuse to join in when asked, and then make me feel awful for doing something for myself. When I’m trying to enjoy spending time with my nuclear family, instead of encouraging us and being happy that we’re going out together, you can only focus on the fact that you dont have what we do.

I’m sorry. This probably isnt making me seem very nice. You dont have the support system that I do. In many respects, you are alone. Maybe a better person than me would feel more sorry for you. Include you in everything. Brush over it when you do that face which is primarily meant to show me how hard everything is for you, and take it as a true mirror of your feelings, rather than a statement of martyrdom. I suppose I’m not that nice a person to begin with. Because it is hard for me. Unbearably so.

I can imagine exactly what you would think if you read this. She doesnt want me to spend time with them. I’m such a burden. I’ll keep myself to myself from now on. Oh how you would miss the point so fantastically. I love spending time with you. R loves spending time with you. When we get the opportunity, all three of us love it. It’s the other times. It’s when I have joy that doesnt include you, when I go out, or have a treat, or experience something that’s just mine in my life, or just ours as a unit of 3, that it all seems to go wrong. And as I’ve said, I can see that it must be difficult for you, because I know you feel alone.

But as crazy as this sounds, It leaves me wondering… Does it improve your happiness to take away mine?