Social Networking, Face to Face.

Some people thrive in social situations. These people look forward to events where they will see both their nearest and dearest and also meet new faces, potential friends and contacts of all kinds. They enjoy getting dressed up, making small talk, mingling and shmoozing with all kinds of people, finding out about others as well as opening up about themselves.

A lot of people say that they dont enjoy social affairs. Oh-I’m no good at small talk they will sigh, or I never know where to put myself at these things. This type, despite their protestations, normally find the people they already know and stick by them, or choose a wing man for the duration of the engagement to keep them company on the daunting task of meeting new people. Truthfully, they are fine, even while they do not shine at first impressions or superficial chatter, they go home perhaps glad that the evening is over, but no worse off for having attended.

There are those out there however, who have a real phobia of not just crowded events and new people, but even socialising with current friends and family. Just being taken out of their comfort zone, out of their own homes can be a serious mental and physical ordeal. Watching someone with a disorder like this is an eye opener into both psychology and sociology. They may stand frozen to the spot, not knowing who to talk to or where to go. They will perhaps look moody, or act rudely, not speaking to the host or hostess, not answering direct questions, not engaging in conversation, eating hardly anything or in an anti social manner. In contrast, they might be overly interfering and pushy, make a scene, burst into tears, or fall into a noticable sulk. They may even walk out.

The drama begins far earlier than the time listed on the invite, with anxiety starting perhaps months beforehand, and debriefing and rehashing continuing for the same amount of time afterwards. A 2 hour cocktail party can become a 6 month ordeal.

This kind of issue is all the harder to understand because simply talking to another person, especially someone we know already, is something we all do on a daily basis, without even thinking about it. It is so second nature to us all, that it seems almost laughable that just being in a room with more than 3 or 4 others can cause such a strong and negative reaction.

But it happens. I see it. I’m sorry for it. I’m sorry for you, I’m sorry for the host, and I’m sorry for the people who are just trying to make you feel more comfortable. And if I’m honest, I’m sorry for me too.

Unfortunately being sorry for us all doesnt make it go away, or make it much easier to deal with.

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A break, in blogging at least.

I’m back, after over a week of lying pathetically in bed (when possible) and joining my 16 month old in whining and crying with the worst virus I’ve ever known. And technically, seeing as this is by double the longest I havent blogged in, I should have plenty to say. I should be bombarding you with witty anecdotes about my family and relationships, choosing only the best and funniest bits of the past 10 days, making you leap to press that alluring follow button. But truthfully, I have been feeling better since Friday, but have been suffering from a bit of writers block.

What being ill for a whole week has shown me, is that it is so easy to start doing nothing. It is highly addictive to just stop. When we are healthy, we never stop. As mums, we are always busy, always tired, always doing something. Stopping is a luxury we simply can rarely afford. Not that we dont get the odd cup of tea, or hour in front of the TV, or even afternoon off once or twice a decade, but even during the rare body breaks, our minds are still working overtime.

What’s for dinner? Is the washing dry? Was that the baby? Did x bill get paid? Even when we arent physically doing the chores themselves, they murmur incessantly in our heads until we give up on any notion of ‘Me-time’, and settle for a mere shadow of the ideal.

But then we get ill. And suddenly the only space in our heads is “Pass the Nurofen..Plus.” And someone else will have to pick up the baby, because we cant. And supper will have to get sorted, because the idea of food is making my stomach hurt even more. And washing? Cleaning? Bills? The office? They will have to wait, or disappear, or something, I dont really care.

How enlightening. The idea that if we dont do everything, things will still get done. Yes, one week later and I have a laundry pile which resembles a ski slope, and the carpet has disappeared under a sheet of cheerios, but look- we are all still here, fed, clothed, thank God, healthy, and starting a new week. The world didnt end because I disappeared for 6 days.

So why does it take being deathly ill for me to take some ‘me-time’? And now that I’ve discovered it, why is it so hard to start again? Jobs which would have disappeared without a touch of complaint now seem like huge tasks, and just browsing my work emails is tiring me out. I feel like I’m 15 again, struggling to get out of bed for school after a summer of 11am lie-ins.

I know the ideal. To be able to take some of this newfound freedom, and the knowledge that the world doesnt fall apart if I give myself a break, and put it into my busy hectic life. To work hard professionally and as a wife/mother, and also give myself some time for me, and not just when I have a 103 degree fever. But it’s definitely easier said than done.

Maybe thats why we all work so hard. Because the shiny prospect of not doing anything is too tempting to even entertain for a half hour of alone time. Perhaps the world is full of women, who if given half a chance, would jump back into pyjamas, turn on Desperate Housewives, say screw it to the housework and office jobs alike, and let the men, business and babies fend for themselves.

60 Minutes. (Cryway to Hell)

Writing in stress today, as my baby is driving me mad.

I have to admit, I’ve been pretty lucky generally with my son. I’ve really never had many tear my hair out moments, and the ones I have had, have generally been more about me than him. As a newborn, he was never one for crying for hours, especially not for no reason, even when he isnt well, he tends to lean towards ‘pitiful and limp’ rather than ‘angry and screaming.’ He doesnt have any real discipline problems, and thank God, he is generally a happy and calm boy.

Right, now that you’ve finished hating me, I can give you a startling fact. I want to lock him in a cupboard right now. Even this baby, who is admittedly so good and so unstressful, has managed to make me lose my cool today. Because motherhood is really really hard. And all babies, no matter how cool and calm, have times when they just drive us mental. It started at 4.15. It is now 5.14. And in that hour, I have become a crazy person.

In order to understand how one hour could possibly be worth me punching the wall (Did I mention that part?) I’ll break it down slightly.

4.00: All three of us were playing happilly on our bed, peekaboo (obviously) and other such games.
4.15: R started moaning, and chewing his fingers. “Hmm, maybe he’s teething” I thought.
4.20: The moaning kicked itself up a notch, and I went to find the bonjela, applying with fear, as always when taking my life in my hands putting them anywhere near his ridiculously sharp gnashers.
4.21: I began singing songs, to pass the time while the gel started to work, but half way through wind the bobbin up, my son turned away from me and started extreme whining mode.
4.30: After trying to coax him out of his bad mood, we decided to go for baby nurofen, after all-there is a long time to bed time. When it was obviously not working, I decided to make his supper early, glad to get some peace and quiet from the crying and whinging, i went off to make dinner.
4.40: When I enter with food, R literally jumps towards me, arms outstretched. “We’ve cracked it-he’s starving!” I thought. How naive I was.
4.43: R stops eating after about 4 mouthfuls, and starts instead opening his mouth for food, and then pulling it out with his hands and throwing it at me.
4.50: Much coaxing, offering of drinks, different foods later, I walk out of the room, covered in rice and fish (which I am ALLERGIC to, ungrateful child.) C takes over.
4.55: Husb gives up. Apple is given to SHUT THE CHILD UP.
5.00: Apple gets thrown on floor. Baby gets taken out of highchair, in the hope that he will calm down and play. I come back in to try and entertain him.
5.05: R takes his half chewed apple, and starts biting bits off and then spitting them IN MY FACE and ON MY BRAND NEW COUCH.
5.10: I start to lose my cool… and baby whining and grizzling turns into full blown crying. Bad parenting moment. I walk out the room, give evil child to C (who has more patience than me evidentely), bash the wall, and open blog.

R, I know you are 15 months and fairly backwards in comprehension, but if I’ve ever wanted to ask you somnething in the last year and a bit, this is it.

If it isnt your teeth, and you aren’t in pain, and you’re not hungry, and you dont have a nappy, and you dont want us to play with you….. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT IS IT?!

And now you know why I was blessed with a baby that didnt cry that much and for no reason, I obviously am ill equipped to deal with it. But I don’t feel awful. I feel blessed that I have a great husband who can step in and take over when it all gets too much, and also that I dont feel this way that often in the grand scheme of parenthood.¬† If anything, I’m just a little in awe of the mums who DO have the babies who scream often and for no reason. How do you stay cool and calm day after day? Do you just get used to it? I know that no matter what the personality of your kid, it’s something that all mums go through from time to time, just part of being a parent, and generally it has no long lasting scars on your parent/child relationship, even if we do ‘lose it’ once in a while.

So I take a deep breath, glad that I’ve had the opportunity for some me-time to reboot, suppress the guilty mum feelings that threaten to surface, and remind myself that some days its harder than others, but if I can go back next door and calm him down, and get a smile out of my baby, or even just stop him crying, it will all be worth it.

If not, It’s only an hour until bedtime. And tomorrow is a new day.

Hey Four-eyes.. Finish your bottle, it’s bed time.

My 13 month old recently got his first pair of glasses. It hasnt been an easy ride. Firstly there are our own issues as parents. The emotional drama of getting used to giving specs to such a small child, and realising that for the rest of his life they will be something he has to rely on, and hoping that he never gets teased. Knowing that just as for me, glasses are the first thing I reach for in the morning, and the last thing I take off before I close my eyes to sleep, his reliance on them might be even more dramatic. (Not that I know how, as I have issues taking them off in the shower until I’ve lived in a place 6 months or more. TMI? ūüėČ Sorry.)

It’s no longer unusual for a child as young as he is to have glasses. Look around in the street and at your kids schools, and you will see plenty of kids under 5 sporting the finest in NHS visual aids. Some have straps which go round the head (seriously geek chic) others like R’s have curly ear frames, some might even be designer frames, (glance down, these kids are probably wearing uggs also.) but is has definitely become more common. However, since glasses became a talking point between us and our various doctors, I have recieved a lot of the same responses.

Glasses? Really? They do that for babies?
Glasses? How will you keep them on?
Glasses? Won’t that annoy him? (less tactful types.)
Glasses? Adorable!

This difficult choice has been much easier for us to grasp given the facts which have surrounded his visual impairment. All newborns are born virtually blind. Within the first few days, their vision improves so that they can see about as far as their mothers face when being fed. Over the first few weeks, it improves further, giving them their first glimpses of the world around them, teaching them security in their surroundings, and the ability to acquaint themselves with what is normal and familliar, and what is new and different. Each new step in vision, be it distance, or colour, or clarity, is a stage which affects all the other areas of development, and gives our children a bit more independence and understanding of their world.

As many of you know, although our son was born as blind as the rest of us were, it took somewhat longer for his eyes to mature. Until 5 and a half months, R could not see anything at all. Reliant on his other senses, he became accustomed to his surroundings, but at a much slower pace than his peers. While most mothers are eager to recieve the knowing smile that their child gives them between 4 and 8 weeks, I was given my first smile from my son at almost 6 months. The same is true with eye contact. At 7 months, when most babies are sitting up and playing unaided, and some may be starting on the road to movement, my baby boy was lying flat on his back, barely trying to lift his head up.

At that point, glasses were not an option. He didnt have a refractive error. In fact, aside from his nystagmus, which is the way his eyes move from side to side constantly during his waking hours, there was no error at all with eyes. If someone has suggested a way to improve his vision, we would have jumped at the chance. Anything to have our son look at us, smile at us, interact with us in any way at all.

And then God gave us our own incredible miracle. Pokeach Ivrim, our son was given sight. Day by day, we saw incredible leaps forward that made our jaws drop. By 9 months he was rolling in both directions, by 10, sitting unaided and playing with toys. By 11, crawling, and by 12, standing. At almost 14 months, he now walks around furniture and is reaching all the physical milestones that he should be at his age. Adding this to the new blessing of sight itself which meant he could interact and play with us, he was unreconisable as the helpless boy we watched struggle for so many months.

His vision is now poor for his age, but certainly manageable. As he gets older, we will know more about what and how he sees. Hopefully by the time he starts school, all his other development will have caught up, and he will be no different from any other child in his class.

So yes, glasses are a big deal. It’s hard getting him to agree to keep them on for longer than five seconds. It’s frustrating how every time he reaches up to explore what is on his face, he leaves baby sized fingerprints over the lenses, meaning I have to take them off and clean them. It was a challenge for us as parents to accept that he needs something on his face so constantly and obtrusively, when to us, his sight is so incredible already. It still takes a lot of effort for me to put them on him, when he seems to capable without them.

But when I think about my happy 5 month old, who would grin at the ceiling even though he couldnt see anything at all, who would play with toys with only his hands, his face turned in the opposite direction, I know that he has already come so far by himself. Anything that we as his parents can do to make the next part of his journey easier or less tiring for him, is nothing short of a priviledge.

Separation Anxiety

When I was in high school, a teacher, and now good friend of mine, taught us about Separation Anxiety while studying A Level Psychology. The idea is self-evident. All children go through a normal phase where they dont want to be separated from their parents, and can exhibit tears, tantrums, and clinginess when put into that situation. It tends to peak between 9 and 18 months.

Well done R, you hit another milestone right on time.

Now I know that my boy loves his childminder. Probably too much for my liking. I try and trip her up, leaving her lunches for him that he would never in a million years eat if I was feeding them to him, only to come back to a scraped clean bowl “Ooh, he loves Shepherds pie doesnt he?” “No. No he doesnt. But thanks.” When this hasnt worked, I try super fun morning times. I sing songs on our twenty minute walk down the road, ignoring the strange looks I get from the few passers by who havent crossed over to the opposite side of the road on hearing my dramatic version of the bumblebee song from 100 yards away. I get him up early to play games, clapping¬†excitedly when he correctly puts the triangle into his shape sorter, and subtly turning away when he (in a moment of less than pure genius) tries to get his Dear Zoo book through the same 2 inch hole. However, up until today, his grin has barely wavered when he spots his minders face on a work day. I’m not ashamed to admit it, I’ve been a bit jealous.

After all, it’s bad enough competing with the man in his life. All stay at home mums feel it, that tightening inside when after a full day of listening to¬†whinging and moaning, trying everything to make them happy, not even having 5 minutes to sit down, our LO shines a full watt beam on their dads who have done absolutely nothing but walk through the door. It can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, I woudnt swap for the world, and I wouldnt want R to bond with his daddy any less than he does.. But I have no such sparkly feelings towards the lady whose job it is to keep him in one piece 8 hours a week. She’s great, I love her, but how did you get my boy to laugh like that? Why is he still spotlessly clean when by now I would have¬†completed 3 changes of clothes? No, no he does not love rice.

Until today. As I passed my baby boy over to a woman I trust entirely on the day he turns eleven months, and watched his little face crumple and his tiny body fight to get back to me, I felt the tears well up behind my eyes. Oh.. be happy munchkin, please dont sound so sad. Knowing how annoying it is when parents hover, I left quickly, but will admit to standing outside the door longer than necessary to listen to his increasing sobs. Any feelings of jealousy were gone without a trace. Yes! Be better than me at this, make him stop crying, entertain him to the extent he forgets he even has an Ima until 5.30 when I arrive back..Recieving a text to say he’s doing fine by 9.30 didnt entirely clear up the lump in my throat as I sit in front of my computer this morning.

So I have new empathy for mums who are unable to leave their kids without incident today. Apart from the new parents I encountered yesterday at my Cheder/Sunday school job РSeriously, you guys need to stop hugging your 5 year old, get out my classroom, and let me teach.