Wednesday, 26 August 2015

One for the Daddies

Mr T and I are somewhat traditional in our roles, in that he goes to work to pay the bills and I raise the children and run the house.  By 'run the house' I mean I attempt to keep up with the chores and do a weekly online shop so that nobody starves... it pretty much works.  Now, I am truly grateful that I have the opportunity to be at home and raise my children.  I realise that we are in a fortunate position that we can manage and Mr T is a fantastic breadwinner, husband, father.  Sometimes, however, he commits the odd blunder that makes my blood boil.  Now, he is not insensitive or selfish, he just somewhat lacks judgement on occasion.  This post is to help out any Daddy's out there sharing a house with a stay at home Mumma- read carefully, it may just make life that little bit more harmonious!

When you get home at the end of the long working day, we appreciate that you have most likely had a busy and stressful day- but we are so relieved to see you!  That extra pair of hands to help at bedtime makes all the difference, especially if Mumma is outnumbered by Littles.  DO NOT come home, excite the children with your presence and proceed to run a bath unless this is followed by the sentence "There's a bath waiting for you darling, I'm doing bedtime tonight- off you go!".  You may stop to notice that she is wearing the same clothes as yesterday, her hair is embarrassingly greasy and she has fantasised about soaking in that tub in a similar fashion to the way you look at Taylor Swift in music videos- yes, we notice that.

When you're feeling a bit peckish but no meal has materialised, by all means, DO go ahead and rustle up a snack.  But be warned, DO NOT stuff your face without providing a similar snack for Mumma and the Littles because guess what?  There is no dinner on the table because she has been flat out keeping the kids alive dammit!  She is unlikely to be thinking, 'ah, it's been a tough day, I think we'll eat later tonight, say around midnight, so I can finish the laundry first. I mean, I'm not even hungry...'  She is more likely to have survived the day on toast crust and dribbly biscuit remnants cast aside by the Littles because there is no time for cooking!

Heading out for a beer with the lads? No problem.  Sometimes we relish the chance to take control of the remote and watch some truly mind-numbing atrocious entertainment on the box.  DO go ahead and make plans, just let us know in advance that you won't be around and we'll plan accordingly.  Hell, we'd do the same if we had an ounce of energy left!  However, DO NOT, on your way out send a text stating that you're really not feeling it and you'll be home in two hours tops.  This alters our plans and we might find ourselves thinking, 'ah well he wanted to see this film too, I'll wait.' or, 'he didn't eat before he left, maybe he'll want some pizza too, I'll just hang on for him to get in'.  If you're going out, stay out.  We both know that you will get the taste after the first pint, the Archbishop of Banterbury will arrive and you will soon forget that you weren't up for it after all.  Rather than texting and saying 'I'm having a laugh babe, home late after all' you make the situation so much worse by convincing yourself that you really will be coming home early and continue to text 'leaving after this pint'.  Remember that we are getting angrier with every pint you consume and it's all your own doing.  DO be honest gents, we appreciate it more than you would think!

The weekend arrives, no more work for two whole days- fantastic! Who doesn't love a weekend?  Nope, not us, Mummas love it when you're around to help with the Littles because- they are yours too!  That's right- DO get stuck in.  DO NOT ask what you should do or even worse, wait to be asked!  They belong to us both, you may have clocked off but just remember that I can't.

While we're on the subject of weekends, yes your alarm is switched off, good for you.  You will do well to remember that mine have no off switch.  They still wake with the sun rise and though you don't hear them, the word 'weekend' has no meaning to these creatures we adore so much.  DO NOT fall asleep on the couch during the day and snore loudly.  I know its your day off, but Mummas are not allowed this luxury.  You will do well to remember that sleep is currency now that you have Littles- and you my friend, are already heavily in debt.  If your Littles are of an age where they still require sustenance throughout the night, that debt is higher still.  DO volunteer to do your share of night feeds and chances are, we'll happily send you off for a nap to thank you for returning our sanity.

Obvious, right?  I'm just wondering how many Mummas are reading this and thinking 'yes! Why does he do that?!'  Daddas... we know you mean well, we also know that hints don't work so well so read it, re-read it and go run that lady a bubble bath because she will love you all the more for it!  Happy wife, happy life...

Thursday, 20 August 2015

A different perspective

I've asked the same question three times already.  You still haven't heard me, have you?  Again, louder, slower.  "What. Do. You. Want. To. Eat?" I've called your name, I finally have your attention, now listen, here is the question again.  "What... do... you... want... to... EAT?!"
Well you've heard me but all you've done is repeat my question back at me.  Why won't you just listen to me, just tell me what it is you want?  I know you hear me!

Just put your trousers on. It's really not that hard, you put one foot in at a time, stand up and we pull them up. That's it! You wore these last week, they fit fine, I really can't see the issue.  Why are you being so naughty today?  That's it, we're already late I can't wait for you anymore, you will wear these trousers! There, you see? They're on, what was the big deal?

Just put the trains in the box now, we're tidying up.  Why are you lining them up? Just put them in the box! Right here, this box.  Look, I'll show you. See? It's easy. Why are you screaming? It's time to tidy up! Stop SCREAMING! They're just trains! Why can't you just do as you're told?!

Here's your dinner. Eat it now, please.  Eat your dinner.  You ate it the other day, I know you like it. It's going to go cold.  Will you just eat something? You've barely eaten all day, why aren't you hungry? Forget it, I'll take it away. Why do I even bother cooking for you? You never bother eating it anyway!  Why are you crying now?

It's bedtime, into bed now, time for sleep.  Please just sleep.  I've had a long day, I'm very tired and I just want to switch off.  Please, keep still, lay down and just sleep.  I've read you a story.  I'm not reading it again, just go to sleep! Enough is enough.  GO to sleep NOW!  Stop screaming and SLEEP!!! I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS!

I've just noticed my name.  I was in my safe place where everything is calm.  I turn to look at you and you seem angry, but I don't know why. You're asking me something, you want an answer.  I'm just learning your language, it's just beginning to make sense.  I can make out the words now... " what... do... you... want... to... eat..." I don't know the answer to that.  Did I say that out loud? I'm making you even angrier now... I think I'll go back to my safe place.

You're asking me to put those trousers on but I feel anxious about it.  The material makes my legs feel funny.  I wore those last week, I remember how it feels, it's not nice.  They make my legs itchy and I can't concentrate and it just gets worse.  I can't shut it out. No! I'm not ready! Don't make me put those on yet! I need time to feel ready! They don't feel right! I can't concentrate, they don't feel nice! Help!

I like my things in the right order.  I can relax when everything is where it should be.  You seem to like watching your programmes on the television, they make you happy.  Lining my trains up makes me happy, I forget the things that are troubling me.  You're moving them! Why are you moving them? No! Okay, okay! I'll do it when I'm ready! Wait- I need time, please!  If I can just keep these two with me, I can cope with the others going away.  Please, no! Don't take them all! I don't mean to be naughty, please understand! I'm really trying but I'm panicking! It's all too fast! Help me!

You've made me my dinner.  I like it, but it's quite hot.  I'm a bit hot from running around so I think I'll wait for it to cool down.  Last time I ate something hot it made my mouth hurt but I didn't have the words to tell you. I haven't eaten much today because my tummy has been hurting but I don't have the words to tell you that either.  I'd like to eat this, but when it's not too hot.  You're angry again.  I'm not sure why.  I do want my dinner, I just can't eat it yet.  I just need some time. You've taken it away! I wanted to eat it, I really did.

It's bedtime.  I'm very tired and would like to go to sleep now, but I have a lot bouncing around in my head.  It's very noisy in my mind, I've been learning so much today.  All the new words and sounds and smells are all shouting at me at once, I can't filter it out.  You've read me a story and now those words are in my head too.  Maybe if you just read it again I can focus on your words and drown out the rest. Please, I've had a very long day, please just let me rock and bounce until I settle down. You're angry at me again.  I've upset you somehow but I don't know what I've done this time.  I'm so tired it's hard to think.  It's too loud, I need to drown it all out. Please!  I CAN'T KEEP DOING THIS!

Sometimes, I lose my temper.  I shout.  I rush and I throw things in a flash of rage.  The results are devastating and I am reminded just how fragile our relationship is.  It's built on trust and I have to protect that.  It's all about a different perspective- this is where the extra patience comes from.  When I'm tired and stressed and impatient I have to remind myself that, if that's how I'm feeling, what might he be feeling?  Why are we rushing, what does it matter if we're late?  Does it matter if we get some place on time, or does it matter if he can make himself understood or face his demons and conquer a fear?  Does it matter if he eats what I want him to eat or does it matter that he just eats?  I remind myself that his mind just works a little differently and I think about what might make things that little bit easier for him.  That's how we get by.  Sometimes that's all it takes. 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Tough day for a small boy

Sometimes you'll hear me say "Tough day for a small boy".  There will be days where I will excuse us from all planned activities because Crazy is having a 'bad day'.  Some meet this with confusion and wonder or even openly ask me, "but surely he'll be better if you just bring him out? Go anyway, it'll be a good distraction!".  In the past I have buckled and tried to persevere with our plans only to be met with disaster.  It always ends as a hard day all round and no fun for anybody, so if you hear this from me in future, please don't be offended when I don't bow to your persuasions.  I know you mean well and you're disappointed but trust me when I say we're not up to it today.

Many of you will have seen Crazy on his good days, when we're out and about and joining in.  He doesn't look Autistic? What should that look like?  Before we did some research I had written it off as a potential diagnosis because, yes, he can look you in the eye.  These days he can even ask you to play with him.  If you're highly honoured you may even get a cuddle!  A brief, but wonderful cuddle- I live for these moments.  I had fallen for all of the myths surrounding Autism because my boy was sociable and he was communicating and he could look at me and understand me.  Things, however, are not always as they seem.

So what does a bad day look like for us?  Let's start with waking up.  It usually starts with tears and 'oh dears' right from the start.  From the minute he opens his eyes we can tell how he's going to be.  If he is accompanied downstairs by 'Froggy and plug' his comforters (a musical frog and his dummy for those wondering) he is feeling anxious.  If he gets out of bed at all that is.  Sometimes he can't face it.  He will hide and cry and not want to be talked to or touched or looked at and that is painful to see in such a young man.  Assuming he makes it downstairs, he will refuse food.  Almost all food, almost all day.  Contrary to popular belief, he doesn't appear to notice hunger and would in fact starve himself.  After some research, we don't seem to be alone here.  Autism and food issues appear to go hand in hand and it is very worrying.  He will park himself under his 'heavy cushion', with his tablet and zone out.  I do not know if he hears me, chooses to ignore me or just doesn't understand me.  On a good day I can say, "We're going to get into Mummy's car now and go to the park to feed the ducks!" and he will understand.  On a bad day, if he responds at all it is only if I break it down, "Mummy's car now, go to park".  The most likely response is "No car. No park" and more tears.  On bad days he barely looks in my direction, never mind making eye contact.  He exists in an alternate world, tentatively joined to this one and on these days I worry that he may break free and become lost.  Lost in the repetitive movements, sounds and motions.  Lost in the ease of solitude.  I never stop trying to bring him back, for every hour he spends doing what makes him happy all by himself, the next will be spent trying to interact in any way I can catch his attention.  If we do make it out, his anxiety increases.  He is uncomfortable in his car seat restraints and fights every step of the way.  If we walk, you'd be forgiven for thinking the touch of my palm on his burns like fire.  He cannot hold my hand without falling to the ground as if in pain.  He doesn't understand the dangers of the world and he runs, as fast as his legs will carry him, wherever we are.  The pushchair poses the same uncomfortable harness, as do reins.  Going anywhere is dangerous on these days.  Every option is met with frustration and upset, even things he would ordinarily enjoy, such as cold water fountains on a hot day, are just too much for him to stand.  He becomes terrified of every day occurrences and pushing forward just prolongs agony for him.  If he speaks, he is a robot.  The words are often simple, delayed and jumbled and he will often be stuck on repeat.  You may find him alone, muttering to himself "we go now and... we go now and... we go now and..." and you will never know the mystery of what he is trying to convey.  If you interrupt he is embarrassed, I've come to know now that when this is happening he isn't aware that he is speaking out loud.  I can only imagine the confusion and chaos in his mind if this is his inner monologue.  He sometimes approaches me for something and if I do not understand his first attempt he can become frustrated.  Lately, he sometimes lashes out, a pinch, a head-butt.  Whilst I always discipline violence I can't help but feel for him.  I doubt I would have the self control to manage the feelings he is having to manage and at such a young age.  But he must.  He must learn, because he deserves the very best chance at 'normality'.  On these days he goes to bed early, exhausted and usually still unable to sleep.  Bedtime stories are unwelcome, bath time is yet another upset.  He remains in bed, talking, shouting, crying.  Trial and error has taught us he is best left alone until he drifts off, any intervention just prolongs the inevitable. 

I am truly thankful that these bad days are few and far between lately.  The good days far outweigh the bad and we live those days to the full.  I try and make sure he doesn't miss out on life and the joys it can bring but we are now accepting of the limits on tougher days.  If we retreat and do what we need to do to get through these days, we are likely to awake to a better one tomorrow.  If we just accept it, to go with it rather than fight it, I feel more confident in helping him through the tougher times and whilst its hard to tell, I feel like he has more trust in me too.

So to those of you who have just accepted this and not questioned me further, I thank you.  You have no idea of the burden of guilt I feel when I let people down and just hearing you say 'that's ok, it's no problem' is a weight off of my shoulders.  To those that have pushed in the past, I get it.  I probably would've and may have in the past- and I hope this goes some way to explaining just what a tough day can be like for us.  We do want to see you and we will make it up to you, as soon as he's ready- please be patient, don't give up on us just yet!  I promise we're trying... because the good days are too bloody brilliant not to.  That funny, bright, loving boy comes back out to play and I see who he really is behind the storm clouds.  Here's to the sunny days, illuminating the dark times

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

8 Signs that you're a seasoned parent

8 Signs that you’re a seasoned parent

When that first little bundle of joy appears in your life, everything gets a whole lot harder. You query your every decision and google every little sniffle. You read every baby routine book in preparation for the day they go longer than half an hour between feeds. You buy clothes in the first three sizes- just in case- and stockpile nappies like they’re being discontinued. There are no such things as hot meals, sick days, nights off and the simplest of activities requires military precision planning. You eventually fall into a new routine, albeit a clumsy and bumbling one. By the time your second, third or more make an appearance, you’ve got this parenting thing down! You are ready to ‘adult’.  Here are a few tell-tale moves that set you apart from the newbies:

  1. Danger changing- removing the soiled nappy and then performing the clean up before placing a fresh nappy or suitable changing mat underneath that butt. If you get away with this in the middle of the night without disaster you score extra ‘badass’ parenting points.
  2. The scroll ‘n feed- gazing lovingly into your baby’s beautiful big eyes as they feed… for a few seconds before sliding that gaze right beside those perfect pudgy cheeks at your phone already sneakily placed in the hand of the supporting arm. Scroll away Mamma, your newsfeed awaits…
  3. The sink bath- why drag the baby bath out or fill the tub when you can just shift those dishes and give baby a rinse? Half fill with suds, pop ‘em in, a quick wipe down with the cloth- all the while ensuring that soft little noggin steers clear of the stainless steel- job done. Bonus points for rinsing the dishes at the same time- that’s right, we’re multitasking.
  4. The roll down- poonami strikes, it happens. Before you’ve even released a popper you know that mess reaches up to her neck, front and back. You know that envelope necked vest was designed for exactly this reason, you roll it down, wipe away the tar as you go et voila! No more poopy hair or face for baby, you can even finish up with a sink bath if you’re feeling diligent!
  5. The sleep feed- now only a true pro can perfect this manoeuvre. This requires the ability to feed the baby without even truly waking. You wake hours later to find an empty bottle/breast and contented baby with absolutely no memory of the occurrence- when you can achieve this step, you are what is known as ‘old school’.
  6. The prop ‘n play- remember the hours you spent hunched on the floor helping your precious first born  turn the pages of those squidgy books? Stacking cups while those crazy waving arms knock them down again to their delight? Now feeding support cushions are your friend.  One behind, one in front, dangle a toy from your toe as you enjoy that coffee. Bring on the caffeine- they may tag team at night but they will not defeat us!
  7. The distraction- even better than the prop ‘n play, buying you an extra twenty precious minutes if you set it up right. Use the older sibling to occupy the baby. Set firstborn up with a noisy, repetitive task (I find a motorized train set to work best) and simply point the new addition at them. Occasionally remark upon how happy they are making the baby and what a good brother/sister they are- job’s a good’un. Now, who drank my coffee? Where’s the kettle at?
  8. The hint- now this one has to be done in the right company.  Remember how you couldn’t stand to be parted from that teeny tiny in your arms? Now look around- you’re outnumbered, sister!  Need a break? Spend some time with a relative or close friend that you trust (we’re desperate here- remember you’re not choosing godparents, just blagging yourself an hour off, don’t be too choosy!) and sigh- a lot. Reminisce about the times you used to nip to the shops with nothing but your purse, the hair salon, nail parlour- anything that didn’t involve your little darlings. Do not, I repeat, do not ask directly for a sitter. This may result in awkward refusal and even if they do accept- a time limit. Sigh some more. Make eye contact for just long enough that it’s almost creepy and there you have a volunteer. That’s right, this person is offering to give up their time to watch your little critters while you take 5. Only don’t take 5… take longer- much longer and don’t feel bad, they offered!
    If you can master all of these steps, you’ll find yourself with some free time, a caffeine buzz and maybe, just maybe, the notion that these Littles aren’t so bad after all.  You’ll remember the cute sniffly noises while they nap.  That brand new baby smell.  The first smile, the first laugh! But don’t get too carried away. After all, that’s probably the reason you’re a seasoned pro and not a newbie anymore- aint nobody got the time or energy to be pregnant again!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Spectrum mysteries

Each day I try to understand the reasoning behind,

The quirky ways that you behave, what happens in your mind?

I long to know just how you feel and what you want and need,

What it means to always move, to jump and run at speed


What makes you walk on tippy-toes and draws you near to wheels?

Why won’t you eat or try new foods, why are you stressed by meals?

How does a cushion comfort you in your times of distress?

Why are cuddles shunned in fear, your preference a strong ‘press’?


Why do you echo things I say, why is answering so hard?

Your sentences so jumbled, each word a broken shard

Do you feel anger with your speech, do you even care

If you have thoughts and feelings that you may not ever share?


But when I am not wondering, I’m watching you in awe,

You see, dear boy, my precious son, I couldn’t love you more!

I marvel at your interests, your memory, the ease

At which you do the things you love, you master skills with ease


You shine so bright with happiness, your company a joy

You love to play with others and you’ll gladly share a toy

Your baby sister loves you, you share a special bond

I see how much you love her too, of these times I’m most fond


So when you have your troubled days and things just don’t feel right,

Although I may not understand I’ll help you fight each fight,

To get you through the hard times, to help you have your say

We’ll keep trying together, son, to help you on your way


Your future is a bright one, of that I’m very sure

You’ve so much love to give that you can overlook a flaw

Your perspective is so innocent, the world’s a better place

You’ll learn to know the feelings that are hidden in a face


It’s quite okay if you don’t want to look me in the eye

I know that when the time is right you’ll have the strength to try

You may not notice hunger, or pain or danger near

But that’s why I am here for you, to teach you this, my dear


Keep being who you’re being, don’t ever lose your way

There’s one thing so important that I really have to say,

I’m proud of you – because, not in spite- of everything you are

My firstborn and my son you are my brightly shining star