Tuesday, 23 February 2016

It's Probably Just a Phase...the Best Crap Advice You'll Get

"If one more person tells me 'it's probably just a phase' I'm probably just going to smack them in the face." (Knackered Me, 2012).

It's true, in the earliest days of being a mum the classic 'it's just a phase' pearl of parenting wisdom used to get right on my (slightly engorged) tits. It was only ever offered as an attempt to make me feel better, of course, but on the days I was existing in a fraught Mumzilla state, the fact that something was a phase didn't offer much comfort. In fact, it was right at the top of the Things I'm Sick of Hearing list alongside, 'It's probably a growth spurt!' and, 'He's probably just teething!' (which 9 times out of 10 were accurate assessments, actually, but still...bastard teeth and bastard growth spurts - everything is a bastard when you have had zero sleep and a small person is stuck to your body with Clingy Glue).

Phases were no good to me! I wanted answers. I wanted somebody to fix the baby who was waking every hour, or the toddler who would only eat beige food. I wanted a solution to the bed-wetting and tantrum-throwing, not a shrug that it 'wouldn't be forever'.

And yet, like almost everything in this here parenthood adventure so far, I am starting to realise that there are a couple of pretty solid reasons why 'it's probably just a phase' is offered as the default answer to everything (and why I have recently found myself offering the same statement to friends when discussing their parenting grumbles).

At times, dropping the phase-bomb is quite possibly the only comfort we can offer someone who has declared that things have become a little bit shit. If you have a baby with reflux so severe the vomit-spray hits a stranger in Starbucks (true story), or a toddler who will not sleep in beyond 4am (a friend of mine is living this exact excitement at the moment), there is not always an obvious practical solution. When staring into the bloodshot eyes of an exhausted mum who has already begged her GP/Health Visitor/Postman for advice, the promise of the current situation being temporary is sometimes the only half-helpful thing left to say (aside from, 'I'm coming round with cake.') 

We all know the drill here. The chances are, she has already desperately scrolled through every online parenting forum looking for answers and come away feeling more confused than when she started - not least because a fight about baby-led weaning broke out somewhere in the comments and she couldn't code-break the apparent foreign language (DD1, DS2, TTC, WAATFAA??*).

So out it comes, the thing that always sounds slightly feeble and unconvincing but at least offers a glimmer a hope: "I bet it's just a phase..."

And do you know what?
It probably is.

That doesn't make it any easier when you are living it, of course. ["Phase my arse! He's been like this for months!" was another midnight rant of mine, in the thick of bi-hourly feeds.] And though it's possible that the 'phase' could go on for ever, more often than not it doesn't. More often than not the issue or difficulty you are so desperately trying to shake off transitions into a new issue or difficulty without you even realising it.

So I'm sorry to all the people I quietly sneered at after they tried to tell me about the temporary nature of teething/reflux/general toddler arsiness. It never feels very 'phasey' at the time, but eventually your child will have a full set of teeth and, with any luck, will have stopped performing the Stiff-as-a-Floorboard trick when you try to get them into the pram. Tomorrow just might mark the start of a new challenge.

It really isn't forever.
It probably is just a phase.
Bastard phases.

The Unmumsy Mum
*('Dear Daughter 1,' 'Dear Son 2,' 'Trying to Conceive,' 'What Are All The Fucking Acronyms About?' Might have made the last one up).


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Your Child's Birthday Party in 10 Stages

1) During the preceding week, you will threaten to cancel the party (and, in fact, your child's whole birthday) at least 172 times. The evening before - when a tantrum over not being allowed on the CBeebies app coincides with has-anybody-bought-the-mini-rolls? panic - you'll resort to making fake 'phone calls' to warn the other parents that the party is likely to be cancelled. Cue hysteria.

2) You will make too much food for the crap party buffet. Granted, nobody ever eats the egg sandwiches or the token vegetable sticks but you can't face displaying an entire table of beige carbs. If we're being honest, the kids are only there for the Haribo. The foamy hearts will disappear in seconds. The carrot sticks will not.

3) Parents are never sure if they are allowed to tuck into the crap buffet, so deem it safest to hover with uncertainty near the sausage rolls. [There is self-preservation logic to this - the first child's party I ever went to I missed the briefing for rookie parents about it being the kids' food and piled a plate up for myself alongside one for my toddler. It wasn't until I was three bites into a cheese straw that I realised none of the other parents were eating...Oh. The. Shame.] The trick is to overfill your child's plate by 50% and then legitimately 'save wasting it.'

4) You'll unnecessarily worry whether said parents are having a good time. Has anybody offered them a cup of tea? Does she know anyone here? Why isn't the bloody Disney CD working? [The reality is that no adult is expecting to have a riot - it's Sunday morning in a church hall supervising bouncy castle play and making small talk with a friend-of-a-friend's-friend, not bloody Glastonbury].

5) Kids in superhero costumes and princess dresses will overheat and become red-faced and sweaty (but no they wouldn't like to take any layers off). Instead, they will down a plastic beaker of squash as if they have spent a fortnight in the desert, before wiping sweat from their brows and charging back towards the inflatables.

6) "Happy Birthday" will start feebly at least twice before somebody has the gusto to sing it like they mean it. Colin the Caterpillar will make a guest appearance at this stage.

7) At some point during the celebrations (or shortly after) the Birthday Boy or Girl will have a meltdown over something ridiculous (somebody stole their yellow balloon and although there are four more yellow balloons they need that exact yellow balloon back or they will go batshit crazy). People will nod in agreement that they are 'just over excited.' You will then need to read out the riot act about 'not showing off.'

8) Cards and presents will get separated and you will end up back at home opening presents  from anonymous benefactors. Having started off with the intention of writing 'Thank You' cards, you will soon realise you don't know which present you are thanking them for and end up sending a generic thanks via WhatsApp instead.

9) The Haribo sugar-high (which I recently read is mythical but I'm standing by or my entire childhood - based on the legend of the Blue Smartie - is a lie) will crash before teatime. The witching hour with zombified staring and/or whingeing children will prove painful.

10) Finally, you will eat leftover cocktail sausages and mini scotch eggs for tea and find yourself grinning at the happiness of your now-four-year-old who has gone to bed with Ninja Turtles stickers stuck to his pyjamas. [We're living stage 10 right now, Happy Birthday Henry Bear].

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

I Am a Terrible Mother (my innermost thoughts from today)

Most of what I write and share on this blog is a kind of tongue-in-cheek observational snapshot of my life with small, slightly feral, children. I rant, I laugh, I curse the gigantinormous list of shit I need to do (and then curse the inability to complete any such shit without somebody crying). But it's all quite light-hearted and generally picks up on one or two moments from an otherwise event-free (and often quite pleasant) day. We cope just fine.

This week I am not coping just fine.

There are several fairly understandable reasons why this is so. One child has got chicken pox, the other child has got a cough, and both me and Mr Unmumsy have got the flu. Last night the pair of us woke up in a panic and patted down our pyjama bottoms, fearing that by some bizarre and unfortunate synchronised incident we had pissed ourselves in our sleep. We had, in fact, just sweated so much that we were lying in a puddle. That's too much information, sorry, I'm just setting the scene.

I am not here to write a blog post about the Flu Sweats, or the sheer disaster of running out of painkillers which led to me clawing at the medicine cupboard and desperately swigging Capol like an addict. I'm sat typing a post because above and beyond feeling physically crap this week I have found my emotional state slightly more alarming.

Tomorrow, incidentally, is Time To Talk Day and if we are to remove the stigma and embarrassment around mental health more generally I think us parents need to share our innermost thoughts and feelings every now and again. So this is me sharing my thoughts from today (and I mean my actual thoughts - this is the state of my brain right now):

I wish I was anywhere else but here.
I can't cope with my own kids. I literally cannot cope with my own kids.
I shouldn't have had kids at all. Other parents just get on with it when everybody is ill. I am resentful that The Show Must Go On this week and it's not their bloody fault, is it?
I hate what being a mum has turned me into. Why am I screaming at everyone?
I am a terrible mother.
This is not okay.
This is not okay.
This is not okay.

I'm not picking this apart. I don't need to tell you that I remain pretty satisfied with my decision to procreate and make small humans (marginally less satisfied today, it has to be said, but satisfied all the same). I've been here many times before and have almost always shaken it off by 9am the next day when I'm teaching the kids the Macarena and eating Weetos out of the box.

I'm simply sharing that these were my thoughts today.
Because we don't share our true thoughts often enough.

Much love
The Unmumsy Mum x