The Warm and Fuzzies

Me and my son had a moment this evening.

A moment can happen at any time, and with any person. With a partner or a spouse, it reminds you what made you fall in love in the first place, and brings you somehow closer, even if you didn’t think there was any space left to bridge. With a friend, it normally teaches you something about yourself as well as them, cements the relationship further, gives you reason to trust them even more with your thoughts and feelings. A moment normally comes when you least expect it, without much warning.

I’ve had plenty of experiences with my baby boy over the past two years that have made me smile, or laugh, or even cry tears of joy or sometimes relief that he is ours, exactly the way he is. But I wouldn’t say that we’ve had too many moments, where I just wish the world would stand still and let me remember that fragment of time exactly how it is in my mind at that second. If I could give my son some memories of his first years in this world, tonight would be one of them.

Try not to lose the emotion of the moment while I set the scene.

I was eating a chocolate digestive biscuit. As anyone with children will know, if am eating a chocolate digestive biscuit, so is R. I broke off a small piece and handed it to him, and within a nanosecond it was in his mouth and forgotten about as he reached out for a second piece. When the second sliver followed suit I knew I had to choose a different route to go down. I broke off one more small piece, about the size of a thumbnail, and handed it to him slowly, clearly telling him “No more! Last bit!” 

He looked at me. He looked at the biscuit seriously. His look said it all. This is the last piece of biscuit, possibly forever. He looked back at me and smiled. He clambered up next to me on the couch, leaned back so that his damp freshly washed head of hair was lying in the crook of my arm, and began to eat.

I say eat, but nothing was chewed or swallowed. He licked at the chocolate, sucked at the sides of the biscuit, and kept stopping to pass the small piece back and forth so he could lick his fingers clean. He had no inhibitions about making little baby sighs of pleasure as he savoured the immense treat he had in his tiny hands.

He lay there for 40 minutes. I haven’t had a cuddle that long with my son since he was 6 months old. It was not just the best 40 minutes of my day, but a front-runner for best 40 minutes of my adulthood. And I just watched him. Chocolate smeared onto my couch, I didn’t move to wipe it away. He licked the couch, I didn’t say a word. His newly bathed arms and face looked like Augustus Gloop after a swim in the chocolate rivers of Willy Wonka’s factory, I smiled lovingly in the way only a mother can be delighted by their child’s sticky mess. Cleaning I could do later. He was so happy.

At the end of the 40 minutes, he sat up, grinned at me, and passed me the now non-chocolate digestive non-biscuit. I picked him up and he snuggled into my shoulder while I sang his goodnight prayers and songs to him quietly. I placed him down into his cot with his baby bear, and he rolled over and closed his eyes instantly.

A lesson from my son today, I hope I can learn to savour an experience the way he savoured that thumbnail of chocolate biscuit. At the very least, I hope I can remember this moment again the next time he screams for two hours before settling, or spends the witching hour between supper and sleep-time throwing toys at my head. I will make the most of this deliciously warm and fuzzy feeling, as that ‘next time’ will probably be tomorrow.

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War, apparently.

Can anyone think of something more passive-aggressive than a parent secretly hiding  ice cream in her child’s freezer, and then not mentioning it, when they are both on a full on diet?

While I’m aware that this is more amusing than pure evil, suggestions for an appropriate retaliation would still be great.

Pacifying thoughts

The topic of dummies, or pacifiers, is a strangely heated one among parents. I recently had a conversation with a friend who claims to be from an ‘anti-dummy family.’ After thinking about this concept for a while, I have to say, I’m a little bit stumped.

I think most people agree that after a certain age, dummies are detrimental to a child. Teeth, speech and the normal development of a babies mouth, all need the ability to move freely without the hindrance of what past the age of a year basically becomes a plastic stopper. I see so many parents misusing this object, using it to effectively keep their kids quiet when they are too busy to give full attention, or avoid working out what is actually bothering the child.

It might come as a surprise therefore, that despite that strong view, I am a huge fan of pacifiers. And I don’t really understand why in young children anyone isn’t. In all baby books that I’ve read (which is a few- 9 months of pregnancy is a long time folks) they talk about the babies innate sucking reflex which we are all born with. For some babies, it isn’t very strong, and is fulfilled by nursing or drinking bottles. For others, they quickly find their thumbs or hands, or a favoured toy, and the need is satisfied with those. Some babies however, have such a strong instinct to suck, and gain comfort through sucking, that they want something all day long.

My son was born with a mighty sucking reflex, and after 4 weeks of being a human dummy, I had had enough. Society had made me into one of I’m sure many “anti-dummy people” who actually don’t know much about it at all. I had heard that it would interfere with feeding, (not that it was going so brilliantly anyway) and that it damaged teeth and speech and made your baby feel unwanted. I knew with the certainty often felt by people who actually dont know anything, that if I gave him a pacifier, I would spend months and possibly years bribing him away from it, and teaching him to sleep again. So whatever current hell I was in, what was the point?

But at 6 weeks, when I realised that our baby was spending 20 hours of the day either feeding from me or with one of his parents pinky fingers on the roof of his mouth, I took a trip to the local supermarket and faced down the literally ridiculous choice of baby soothers available. (By the way, if everyone is so anti-dummy… who is buying all these?)

And then, I got educated. After reading what the ‘experts’ had to say about the pros and cons of using a soother, I gave R a dummy during the day, and tried my best not to let him use it to help him fall asleep (although I did give it to help him resettle in the night). I offered it when I wanted to stretch out the gap between bottles, but never before checking that any other reason for his crying wasn’t satisfied. Lastly, at about 5 and a half months, after 2 nights in a row where he needed it to fall asleep, I Took It Away. At six months, he remembered for a few days, and then forgot that it ever existed.

And here is what really confuses me. I hear so many parents saying that they either cant give a dummy or cant lose a dummy because they “cant take it away” from their child. But it’s a baby! You’re the parent! All they know is what you do. If you are really doing it for your kids best interest, surely you can choose a time and stick to it. Yes, we had a hard couple of days while he adjusted to not having it, and learned new ways of setting himself, but by six months, a baby no longer has a sucking reflex. So they might love it, want it, cry without it, but they simply dont need it.

A child of two or three is a whole different ball game. Not only is it by now doing more damage to your toddler than the good it was doing to your newborn, but it must be near on impossible to take away. Toddlers, unlike babies, have opinions and great memories, and I would imagine can drive you mad for weeks or months demanding you return what is rightfully theirs.

My point I suppose, is that once your feeding is established after a month, and before your kid is old enough to get stubborn between 9m to a year, surely a pacifier is simply just whats on the tin; something to help comfort and calm your baby if they need it. While I used to be firmly swayed by their bad rep, I’m now happily in the “where’s the harm?” camp.

These are all only my thoughts, and what worked for us, so please don’t take anything personally as I know I’ve chosen a controversial topic. As a mother who started off ‘anti-dummy’ I just thought I might provide a happy compromise for those parents who are currently walking around the house rocking a baby with their pinkies indisposed.

‘Not about me’ Day

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I hate mothers day. I have nothing against motherhood, or mothers in general. Heck, I’m a mother and some of my best friends are mothers. But I do resent, in the same way as I resent Valentines day or Secretaries day, anyone telling me when and where I should be grateful for the people in my life. If my husband deserves a box of chocolates, whether it’s February 14th or October 3rd, he’s gonna get one.

Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. Well if this is the motto to live by, then I’ve done it every mothers day of the past 25 years. Nothing. I would be embarassed if my son ever bought me so much as a card for mothers day, and so therefore I’ve never thought to do anything for my own.

But this year, the year that myself and my mum have been taking steps to understand each other better, I’ve been having thoughts. Ok, I don’t agree with the concept or implementation of this faux holiday. I think it’s fake, impersonal, forced and insincere, and I think its pretty much meaningless. But it’s not called Daughters day, and so it really isnt about what I want. What I want, (by the by) is to ignore the whole thing and roll my eyes whenever I hear it mentioned. Not only is that what I want, but it’s what I’ve always done. And yet I know that she would love me to mention it or do something out the ordinary. She’s even said as much from time to time. And then I spend my time complaining that she doesnt ever think about me.

Hypocritical much?

So this year, I’m thinking again. I still hope my son never even mentions this day to me, let alone acts upon it, and I would be upset if he did. But that’s because I’m his mother. And I suppose it makes sense to say that as upset as I might be about it being celebrated at some point in my future, the same emotion might be felt by my own mum at itnot being celebrated.

There are many things that the two of us disagree on, and basically have to agree to be polar opposites about. We discuss, argue, attack and debate each other about so many aspects of our very different lives and feelings on a plethora of topics. This does not have to be one of them.

So I’ve bought the flowers, I’ve signed the card, and I’ll be giving them with a smile. The smile at least, I know has meaning. And I hope to get one more meaningful than ever back in return.