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.

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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 – Seriously, you guys need to stop hugging your 5 year old, get out my classroom, and let me teach.

Adventures of a parent, working from home.

Today may be the last day of my previously mentioned optimistic attempt to Work From Home.

Apparently my son is on a crusade to make it as obvious as possible that he is not happy with the lack of attention he is getting on a Monday and Tuesday morning.

This morning, after a while in his playroom, I heard the whinging begin, and opened the living room door to let him explore the house a bit, hopefully giving me an additional half hour to finish off my current task. It all began well, he immediately went to the magnets on his bedroom radiator, and was happily playing while I returned to my laptop. A few minutes later I see him wander on hands and knees into the kitchen, no doubt to helpfully remove all the food pouches from the shelf and tip out my box of child friendly cutlery. The kitchen being, believe it or not, one of the safer places in our flat, I decided to leave him to it.

A few minutes later, I am suddenly aware of how quiet it is. As every parent knows, it is not the noise you have to fear, the real trouble begins when you hear absolutely nothing. Quickly entering the kitchen, I hear an all too famillar noise. “Mm nyum myum.” From behind, I can see that R has sat himself happily by the now open snack cupboard. Oh disaster, I mentally list all the forbidden foods we currently have in stock. Chocolate, crisps, marshmallows, gummy bears, even boiled sweets and other choking hazards. Rushing over to him, I glance at the floor and spot half a bar of chocolate discarded next to my son. In his hands, the other half of the bar, half covered in the cardboard casing, with chocolate sticking out over the top, in easy reach of my son’s waiting mouth.

Of course, he isnt interested in the chocolate part of this naughty treat. He is far too busy chewing on the aluminium foil wrapping. That’s right, with chocolate a-plenty within swallowing distance, I instead spend the next 2 minutes removing pieces of tin foil from my sons mouth and hands, to great protestations.

This story kind of reminds me of the biblical tale of the first time King Pharoah met baby Moses. The story goes as following. To test the intentions of this tiny babe, the king placed two bowls in front of the baby. One contained gold and jewelry. The other, glowing shiny coals. If Moses reached for the coals, like any baby would when presented with something shiny, he passed the test. If he instead went for the apparently dull looking gems, the king would know he was after his crown, and remove him from the palace. Moses, being indeed cleverer than his years would suggest, reached for the treasure, and if not for an angel of God moving his hands to the coals, perhaps we would not be here today.

Apparently, my son is not the next Messiah. Not only did he fail this test, being enthralled by the shiny foil as opposed to the treasure of chocolate, I would bet money that when Moses was taken away from his treasure, he wasnt as easily placated with half a cracker.