The Emotional Health of our Children

Recently a fifteen year old boy went missing in my area and there was a big local campaign to find him. Unfortunately a few days later his body was found close to where I live and naturally there has been a huge outpouring of grief. Sadly, it seems this young school boy took his own life. I don’t know the circumstances of the case but I have seen his school friends, teachers and loved ones leaving flowers at the site where he was found, and it is heartbreaking to see the anguish on their faces and to think of the utter despair this young boy must have felt in his final days. It has made me question to what extent do we really know how our children feel and think? How can we ever be sure that they are not experiencing the darkest feelings of pain and despair?

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Remembering a loved one..

We try so hard to protect our kids from stranger danger and other external dangers, but how can we protect their emotional health? At every stage of childhood, from the toddler years right through to the teen years, children experience volatile and often extreme emotions. But when they are little they show how they feel through their tantrums and meltdowns. As they get older these emotions can often become masked or suppressed. Issues such as exams, friendships, bullying and relationships all come into play and can create further stress.  What might seem trivial to us can become hugely magnified to a child and impact their emotional wellbeing.

Although my kids are young, I try to nurture an open relationship of trust where they can talk to me. But even then it doesn’t always work. The other day Flump told me she had seen something disturbing on TV that she didn’t want to discuss. She was visibly upset but categorically refused to tell me what it was, despite my best efforts to prise it out of her. I felt like a bit of a failure to be honest as my kid was unwilling to open up to me. It eventually transpired that she had seen a close up shot of a pig’s head on MasterChef which had clearly traumatised her! She was expecting to see mouthwatering cake and linguine..instead she got an unwelcome shock! As trivial as it may sound, I have to say it was a bit of a red flag for me as it highlighted  there may be times when my child will not want to share things with me, and that is a bit of a worry.

So how can we protect our kids and help them process their complex and often extreme emotions? It goes without saying that we have to actively ensure our children feel loved, respected and valued. We have to look out for any signs of depression, such as feeling consistently low, unhappy, teary, disinterested or socially isolated, and not just put it down to teenage moodiness. As parents we can try our best to communicate with and support our kids but we shouldn’t hesitate to seek help from the medical profession, who can refer children for counselling and other therapies.

Mental health is, quite rightly, a huge political issue these days and we need to remember that children too can suffer from depression. None of us ever want our kids to feel so utterly hopeless that they feel there is no way out. Their formative years can be turbulent ones and we have to be mindful of their emotional anxieties. We always talk about how resilient children are, and whilst that might be true of younger children, I believe that as they approach the teenage years that resilience turns into vulnerability. The only way our children can thrive and stay safe is if we treat their emotional health as equally important to their physical health.

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The Precious Early Years

Lately I’ve become particularly aware of how quickly my kids are growing up. Flump is seven going on sixteen and now rolls her eyes at me when I speak, as if I’m some sort of ancient, clueless ignoramus. Ludoo starts full time school in September and has gone from watching me like a hawk and demanding my constant attention to telling me he doesn’t love me and wants to throw me in the bin. Charming. It seems the tables have turned and I’m no longer viewed as the centre of their world. And as much as I enjoy my growing sense of freedom, I’ve also been left feeling somewhat bereft. The precious early years of childhood are racing by and I wonder if I’m really making the most of them.

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Ludoo and Flump

So often I urge my kids to get a move on, dress themselves, feed themselves, wash themselves – you know, basic life skills. Ludoo consistently refuses to feed himself (unless it’s pudding of course in which case he very efficiently polishes off an entire plate). He insists I sit next to him and lovingly feed him each and every spoonful as he takes his sweet time chomping, chatting and chilling. It drives me nuts as it’s painfully slow and I’ve clearly got other things I could be getting on with. But have I got better things to get on with? Why am I willing my boy to grow up so fast when soon he will not need me at all?  As infuriating as it is, soon I will miss my boy not wanting and needing me.

As for Flump she is already fiercely independent and can do most things on her own. In fact she doesn’t even want to hold my hand anymore when we go out as it’s not cool…SOB! If she misbehaves I sometimes find myself lecturing her about the need to act more maturely and set an example to her younger brother. Of course we all need to set boundaries for our children, but why am I urging my little girl to act beyond her years? Why am I forcing her to grow up when soon she will lose her  childish, carefree ways?

At the weekends, I will often pack the kids off with the Old Git so that I can get a bit of time to myself. Sometimes I practically shove them out of the front door, armed with snacks and water bottles, just so that I can get some peace and quiet. We all need a bit of down time to recharge, but I’ve started to wonder if I’m wasting the opportunity to make precious memories with my children. Don’t get me wrong, I spend plenty of time with them but how much of that is quality family time? The early years are short lived and family days out undoubtedly form the basis of many wonderful childhood memories.

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Hanging with my homies on a family day out..

As the years hurtle by, I feel a growing sense of panic that the children are getting older and a strong need to appreciate every single moment of their childhood. That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to the years ahead, but the early years have a special sort of magic. This is when they need and want us the most. This is when they yearn to be around us. This is when they want kisses and cuddles. Soon those days will be gone and I will be faced with moody, know-it-all, grunting pre-pubescents. As uncharacteristically sentimental as this post is, I feel I need to let my kids be kids, warts and all, and cherish every single, beautiful, frustrating moment so that it is embedded in my memory for years to come.

 

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It’s Time to get Fit

Some people are naturally inclined to be sporty, active and fit. Others, like me, are not. For those in my camp, the thought of getting up at the crack of dawn to go to the gym or of going out for a run once the kids are in bed is crazy, unthinkable and, quite frankly,  abnormal. There’s more chance of my kid volunteering to do English comprehension homework or of the Old Git emptying out the bins without prompting than of that happening. However, even for those of us in the “inactive” camp, there comes a point when we realise something needs to change and it’s time to get fit.

Some of us do it soon after having a baby, or after experiencing a health issue or perhaps because we have a special occasion we want to get in shape for. For me, it was the realisation that I’d hit my forties and could not rely on my genetics for too much longer to keep me trim and/or healthy. Turning forty is like a slap in the face that forces you to consider your own health as you never know what could be lurking around the corner. Diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure checks are all a permanent feature of your life post forty. Depressing, right? So I had my wake up call and announced to the Old Git that I was going to start exercising. He smirked. The kids laughed. Nobody took me seriously.

Keeping fit!
Keeping fit!

Two months on and I am now a fitness guru. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but at least I’ve started exercising a few times a week. That’s a flipping result for me. My friends don’t believe me when I tell them I’ve started running as they’ve all been doing it for about twenty years plus and have failed to enthuse me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t jump out of bed at 5am or ever envisage signing up for the London Marathon but I do feel like I’m the absolute boss after I’ve managed to run for twenty minutes continuously, considering I  could only run for two minutes when I started. I’m high-fiving myself as I type.

I also attend weekly Zumba classes which I LOVE. It’s like going to a  disco on a Monday morning at 9.30 am. Who would have thought? All those years of clubbing pre-marriage/kids have finally come in useful. I am particularly outstanding at the fusion bhangra moves and enjoy lip syncing to every single song. It’s bloody marvellous.

My biggest challenge with my new fitness regime is deciding what to wear. I feel I need to invest in some funky exercise gear as I’m currently wearing fifteen year old tracksuit bottoms and post-pregnancy leggings. It’s not cool, but it’s all I have. The Old Git is hyperventilating at the prospect of a bulk purchase, but has impressively managed to restrain himself from moaning about it. He doesn’t want to piss on my parade, after all.

Chocolate is my weakness/love..
Chocolate is my weakness/love..

As for my diet, I’ve been cutting back on the samosas and chicken pasties. In the past I have had an abnormal intake of these deliciously moreish snacks but they aren’t doing me any favours. They have to go. But I can’t seem to make any progress in cutting back on chocolate. In fact, the other day I went for a really good run and decided to celebrate immediately by eating a giant Easter egg. Not ideal. I have zero self-control when it comes to my chocolate intake and have been known to lecture my kids about the damaging effects of too much sugar whilst chomping on a Toblerone.

The critical question is, will I continue with my new fitness regime? What are the chances of me going out for a run in the winter when it’s pissing down with rain, sleet and snow? Fairly slim, I’d say. But at least exercise is on my radar now. I may even have to consider joining a gym. Shudder. Better late than never, I suppose.

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When Friends Fall Out

We all have an inner circle of friends. People we see and speak to regularly. People we trust and make time for.  Sometimes however, these friendships go through rocky patches. When friends fall out it can just be a temporary phase, at other times it is well and truly stuffed/over/hashtag please don’t call me again EVER. The ultimate kiss of death is to be unfriended on Facebook… we all know there is no coming back from that.

A lot of the time tensions can simmer beneath the surface for a while and then something random will trigger the friendship meltdown. Recently I was out with a group of friends and witnessed the unravelling of various relationships. There was no public showdown but a very visible display of tension, frustration and anger. This was a case of extreme friendship politics. It was like watching tennis at the dinner table..my eyes darting from one person to the next, as they exchanged snappy comments and seething looks at one another. I’d never seen anything quite like it before and sat there with bated breath not knowing what would come next. Thankfully we are a civilised bunch and there was no Jeremy Kyle type confrontation as that would have been beyond the realms of awkward.

When friendships break down there are almost always repercussions for other people. Common friends, partners, siblings. How are they meant to react? Nobody wants to get involved in another person’s friendship war but sometimes they get dragged in kicking and screaming. The parties concerned may have expectations of loyalty and that’s when things get complicated. As a rule of thumb, I say run for the hills when your friends fall out and only emerge once things have settled down. Of course you could try and mediate but we all know how that story ends..with you in the dog house with BOTH parties. Run fast, I say.

Some friendships are uncomplicated and stand the test of time..
Some friendships are uncomplicated and stand the test of time..

What I have found, as I have got older, is that I have less time and tolerance for nonsense from people. Life is complicated enough without having to deal with the uninvited emotional baggage of others. Most people want simple, uncomplicated friendships that uplift and support them. Not ones that drain, confuse and frustrate them. This doesn’t have to lead to a falling out in the friendship but perhaps just a redefining of parameters, staying close to those that enrich your life.

Friendships are to be cherished and celebrated but there are times when they get derailed. It happens to all of us at some point (although the Old Git tells me men don’t experience this level of drama and conflict in their friendships –  discuss). Irrespective of whether the friendship recovers,  there is no point in anguishing over it for too long. After all, who wants to be that person who obsesses over another person’s actions, stalks them on Facebook and talks about nothing else? Not me. It may be that a bit of self-reflection and  compassion can help us process our own feelings about the friendship (or lack thereof) and move on from it either way.  You know……. forgiveness and all that jazz? Apparently it’s good for the soul.

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A Visit to Grandma and Grandpa

There used to be a time when visiting my parents’ house was a warm, welcoming, familiar sanctuary where I could unwind, kick back and be fed copious amounts of food. It was a retreat from life’s drama where the Old Git and I would be treated like royalty. The oldies LOVED hosting us but since having the kids this scenario has changed somewhat. Now, a visit to grandma and grandpa is nothing short of stressful, with frequent bouts of drama and hysteria. Oh, how times have changed.

Firstly let’s talk about rules. Basically, there are none. The kids act like they own the joint and ignore everything you tell them, safe in the knowledge that grandma and grandpa will undermine you and accommodate their every whim. Anything goes here… if they want to watch TV all day and night, they can. If they want a meal consisting of cheerios and chocolate buttons, no problem! If mummy says “no more!” you may as well be talking to a brick wall.

Then there’s the hysteria (sugar-induced, no doubt). No more peace, no more retreat. When all the grandkids get together (there are six in total from my siblings and I), the noise levels are brutal. There’s screaming, screeching, fighting and laughter all mixed in with a bit of wailing and sobbing (from Ludoo). And let’s not forget the mess. Crumbs everywhere. Food splattered across the floor and table. Ice lollies dripping over the carpet. Toys and puzzles scattered across the house. Shudder. My poor parents just watch on in a dual state of horror and devotion, as my siblings and I tidy up behind our offspring and/or yell at them to tidy up themselves.

And then there is the drama and misfortune that unfolds all too frequently at my parents’ house. Like when Ludoo locked himself in one of the bedrooms. For a good twenty minutes there was chaos in the Khan residence. Grandma was running around frantically looking for a master key whilst shouting instructions, a panic-stricken grandpa was running up and down the street in his slippers looking for someone to help, the other kids were downstairs fighting and screaming over the iPad (completely oblivious to what was going on) and I was irate at being placed in this predicament, whilst comforting a stressed out Ludoo through the keyhole. It was complete and utter mayhem. Needless to say, Ludoo made it out of the room but I needed a strong cup of tea to recover.

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Relaxing in my own home these days..
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What better way to unwind?

Pre-kids my parental home was a peaceful haven where I could escape and recharge. Now, it’s party central where the kids run riot. They’ve well and truly pissed all over that parade and claimed it as their own. Whilst Khan Headquarters will always occupy a special place in my heart, I have to say, I’m rather fond of my own home now and its creature comforts. I believe a person’s sense of calm, wellbeing and security is intrinsically linked to the home they create. Occasionally though, I will secretly visit my parents’ home, without the children, and experience a little bit of  bliss again.

 

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My Fourth Birthday

Hi, I’m Ludoo and it’s my fourth birthday today. My day began with my mum doing the Running Man into my bedroom whilst belting out “Happy Birthday” to me. She looked like a complete nutter but I had to play along as she seemed so deranged with excitement. We then went downstairs and my dad stuck the video camera in my face as soon as I entered the living room. I was about to teach him a lesson and start howling, full pelt, but then I saw the mountain of presents on the table and refrained. Some of the gifts were pretty naff, like the clothes and the Disney bed linen set, but the Scalextric car racing set saved the day. Crisis averted.

Normally my big sister ignores me and slams her bedroom door in my face, but today she was actually interested in hanging out with me. We played with my birthday gifts, ate chocolate eggs and laughed together. It was pretty cool. She then snatched one of my cars which sent me into a baby rage, resulting in me pinching her and shoving her across the room. She started screaming hysterically, I started wailing inconsolably and we both got sent to time out.

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The coolest Spiderman around..

Next it was my party. People started arriving at 3pm and I was dressed as Spiderman. I was, by far, the best dressed person there. I don’t have many friends yet so it was mainly my cousins and sister’s friends in attendance. There were some people there who I didn’t even know, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was that I was the star attraction and I was getting lots of presents. No gift, no entry.

We ate a lot of cake. My mum thinks I didn’t notice but she actually did not get me a Spiderman cake, as requested. She got me a Star Wars cake with a lame Spiderman figurine and candle stuck on top. Poor show, I say. I still ate it and then proceeded to scoff the chocolate brownies, eclairs and lemon tart that were all on offer.

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A confused cake #lame

I found most of the kids at my party annoying. They were all playing with my stuff and walking around my playroom like they owned it. One kid even thought it was acceptable to touch my Winnie the Pooh teddy. What the hell? Don’t these kids know kiddie protocol? You DON’T touch anyone’s favourite toy….ever. I taught him a lesson and screamed in his face with my full fury. He went running to his mum, the cry baby.

The party finished by about 6.30pm and I was pleased to see the back of my guests. Order was restored in the house and there was peace and quiet. At bedtime my mum got a bit overemotional [eye roll] and started reminiscing about the day I was born ..YAWN. She told me I’d always be her baby in her stupid baby voice and practically suffocated me with her needy kisses and cuddles.  I humoured her for a bit but then got vexed and told her to back off by head butting her.

It was a long day and I’m now ready for bed. I’m not quite sure how I feel about being four. I’m on the cusp of starting school but still act and look like a baby. I have complex emotions and have trouble processing them, often resulting in multiple meltdowns. Maybe this is my time to man up and start acting like a boy and not a baby. I feel a change coming on.

Love Ludoo, age 4.

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Dads on the School Run

The playground has long been a woman’s world but times are changing and there are now an increasing number of dads on the school run. They are no longer viewed as a peculiarity and offer a more varied cast to the weekly drama that unfolds at the school gates. It’s only right that men too should participate in the stress and drudgery of this ritual and experience the full glory of racing down the road in the pissing rain with a screaming/whinging child.

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The Old Git’s turn to do the school run today. Hoorah!

Although they are small in number, there are still certain observations that can be made about dads on the school run. They largely fall into one of the following categories:

1)The dump and run dad. He skids into the playground, deposits his child at the specified place and time, avoids eye contact or conversation with other parents and races off to work. Should you ask him anything about school, e.g “Do the kids need their PE kit today?”  he will just look at you completely bewildered. He knows nothing beyond what time to drop off and pick up. In fact, he doesn’t even know who you are or who your child is, despite your kids being in the same class. Deal with it.

2)The Flash Git of a dad who pulls up in his sports car every day. He normally wears sunglasses, a leather jacket and has the roof down, even if it’s raining. The mums all roll their eyes at him dismissively whilst the dads look on with contempt and/or envy. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing his car get slapped with a parking ticket.

3)The tracksuit dad who is bleary eyed, unshaven and wears stained clothes. He basically doesn’t give a monkey’s, waltzes into school like he’s just woken up after a big night out and has forgotten to wash. He tends to sit on his own, makes occasional inane observations about the weather and then astounds you with some amazingly insightful analysis of Southeast Asian politics or the pound to euro exchange rate. He’s a dark horse.

4)The workaholic dad who is rushing around with his phone glued to his face engrossed in some very important sounding, money making conversation. You wonder if he is the CEO of a big multinational company and whether there has been some family emergency requiring him to attend school pickup/drop off as ordinarily you barely catch a glimpse of him. He is detached and far too busy to converse with you. You wonder how rich he is.

5)The too cool for school dad. He is very trendy and probably works in the creative industry. He knows all the mums’ names, rocks up confidently and is always surrounded by a group of beaming, giggling women. He is the male centrepiece. The object of every mum’s affection. The dad that everyone fancies.

Of course I’m just scratching the surface of the school dad phenomenon. They vary considerably in style and character, but what they appear to have in common is a certain level of discomfort at being thrust into the socially complex world of the school playground.  Apart from the ‘too cool for school dad,’ most look a bit awkward and fumble through the drop off/pickup ritual with stoicism.

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Father and child moment on the school run

But let’s look on the bright side of dads doing the school run. It gives them an insight into the diabolical drama that mums endure every morning, creates an opportunity for them to bond with their children (albeit an intensely stressful one), develops their parenting and crisis management skills when they have to deal with meltdowns at the school gates, and finally but most importantly of all, sets an example to their kids that child rearing is a shared responsibility. Bring on the dads, I say.

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The School Run

I’ve been doing the school run for a few years now and it never ceases to amaze me how complex and fascinating a ritual it is. It’s a microcosm of (primarily) female behaviour where the drama and dynamics of modern day motherhood are on full display. A new storyline unfolds every other week as relationships change and judgements are made, all taking place at the precarious school gates.

There are many different types of mums on the school run but I’ve come to the conclusion they largely fall into the following categories:

1)The stressed out mum who has to drag her kids and baby in a buggy down the street as  they scream/sob/moan continuously in the pissing rain. She has to juggle seven different school bags with frizzy hair and feels totally and utterly defeated by 8am. That would be me.

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My pile of school bags this morning
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Heading out for the school run

2)The immaculately dressed and perfectly manicured mum who      always looks a million dollars with her blow dried hair and perfectly made up face. The morning drop off is an opportunity for her to parade her latest purchases whilst gliding effortlessly down the street as others look on in jealous disbelief.

3)The lycra mum who is forever in her gym gear putting the rest of us to shame with our preference for tea and pastry in the morning. She is completely unrecognisable when, on the odd occasion, she turns up dressed in normal clothes, without the headband, and we all wonder who the hell she is. We also wonder whether she really goes to the gym every day or just heads home and puts her feet up to watch Jeremy Kyle.

4)The schizophrenic mum who acts like your best friend one morning and then completely ignores you the next. You spend half the school year wondering if you’ve done something to offend her and then finally conclude she is just plain weird.

5)The moaner. You casually ask this mum how she is and she proceeds to complain about every single aspect of home, family and school life. At first you think she is just having a bad day but then quickly realise every day is a bad day. You spend the rest of the school term trying to avoid her as it’s not exactly the most uplifting start to your day.

In and amongst all of these contrasting personalities you have the parking issues and cliques to deal with, both of which cause further stress and irritation. Trying to dodge the traffic warden whilst competing for parking spots isn’t exactly fun. Nor is being excluded by a clique of mothers who stop talking every time you approach them.  And let’s not even get into the dynamics of the working mums versus the stay at home mums. The school run is an absolute minefield but a fascinating one at that.

Truth be told, this ritual, although stressful, offers a curious insight into female dynamics and the world of motherhood, whilst occasionally producing some good friendships. Despite the difference and drama, the shared dread and drudgery of the school run unites us. It’s not my favourite part of the day but there’s no denying that what goes on at the school gates makes the morning routine a little less dull, spicing up what would otherwise be an abysmal start to the day.

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Car Chaos

I don’t know what it is about family car journeys but lately they have been the stuff of nightmares. I’m not even talking about long road trips. I’m talking about the day to day car journeys we make to school/clubs/friends’ houses etc. The back seat bickering from my offspring is relentless and quite often escalates to full scale screechy hysterics. And it’s no better at the front. At least fifty percent of our shared car journeys result in the Old Git and I having some kind of dispute, ranging from passive aggressive muttering to unrestrained frothing at the mouth. The drama that unfolds in my car is really quite astonishing. This car chaos normally ends with me feeling like a complete and utter wreck all before 9am. Lovely. Thank you very much.

So let me tell you how it all begins. Before we even get to the car, the kids are fighting. They fight over who runs out of the house first, who reaches the car first and who gets into the car first. They then fight over who has more leg room or whose window is rolled down the most. It’s basically one big scrap. Snacks work and silence them for a good few minutes, but once they finish spraying my car with crumbs they resume scrapping. On occasion I’ve shouted so loudly at them I’m sure passing cars have heard my booming voice. I now make sure all the windows are rolled up before I start my angry tirade. Big sigh. The other day I actually had to stop the car to tell them to stop screeching and gave them a blow by blow account of what would happen if mummy crashed the car because of their screaming. Nice. Needless to say it alarmed them sufficiently to keep them quiet for the rest of the car journey.  Effective parenting at its best.

Happier days in the car..
Happier days in the car..

As for the Old Git and I, car conflict is nothing new. If I am driving he finds it physically impossible not to give a running commentary of all my “alleged” driving flaws, normally accompanied by a whole lot of head shaking, gasping and tutting. As you can imagine, this does not go down very well with me.  He then gets an earful, huffs and puffs for the rest of the journey, I get irritated and all the while the kids are in the back scrapping. Family bliss indeed.

So what is it about the car that brings out the worst in us? I suppose it’s similar to road rage. When we are in an enclosed space our senses become heightened and we are more likely to react to provocation.

I’ve already told the Old Git to keep his “driving advice” to himself when I am behind the wheel and he has made me promise to refrain from bringing up any controversial topics that will trigger him whilst he’s driving. Let’s see if this can make for a more harmonious car journey. As for the kids, well, that will require some long term and consistent action. Lecturing them doesn’t work, but stopping the car and refusing to move until the hysteria dies down seems to be a more effective method. Next time though, I won’t go into the gruesome, graphic details of what happens in a road traffic accident. #Notnecessary #Toomuchinformation.

I’m hopeful that the day will come when we will all be able to make witty, pleasant conversation in the car and use that time as enjoyable family time. In the meantime, I will just have to pump up the music (to drown out the screaming), drive very slowly, breathe deeply and remind myself that this too shall pass. I know at some point I will be able to laugh about this. Just not right now.

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That Broody Feeling

Shoot me now. Lately I’ve been having the most ridiculous, random, senseless and, quite frankly, alarming thoughts about having another baby. It’s completely crazy and is about as likely as me giving birth to twin Chihuahuas, but it’s causing me considerable anxiety. I have two children and more than my fair share of cuddles, affection, drama and angst. Baby number three has never been on the agenda, especially since turning forty. So why the hell am I getting that broody feeling again?

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The baby days..

Of course it doesn’t help that I have recently visited various friends who have produced the most beautiful newborns, as there’s nothing quite like that familiar smell of talcum powder mixed in with baby vomit to make you feel nostalgic. Their tiny little fingers, silky smooth hair and dreamy eyes gazing up at you is enough to tempt even the most hardened of women, albeit only for a few seconds. In fact, I went as far as to ask the Old Git what his thoughts were on producing another mini-me and he responded by practically choking on his Kit Kat. I had to quickly reassure him that it was just a fleeting thought.

After much analysis and introspection, I’ve realised there are two reasons why I have been having these pangs of emotion. Firstly, my youngest, Ludoo, is about to start full time school in September. The realisation that my needy, obsessive, demanding baby will no longer be a “baby” is a strange one. Whilst Ludoo does, undoubtedly, drive me bonkers most of the day, I know that I will miss him. He is like my shadow, following me around everywhere I go. Sometimes, when he is at nursery, I find myself looking at other women with their young kids, and missing him. Then I SLAP myself and remember that I am hands free, hassle free and completely free to do as I please for a few hours. Hoorah! These sentimental feelings do not, however, equate to a desire to have another baby. Rather, they reflect a wistful acceptance that my youngest is growing up and an idealised affection for the early years spent with him. Feelings of nostalgia are not the same as feelings of broodiness.

The second reason for these unexpected feelings stem from my entry into the forties club. There is an uncomfortable sense of doom about diminishing fertility and a wave of panic that if I do want to have another child I had better do it now before it is too late. But again, this is more about my own sense of womanhood than about wanting another baby. It’s not that I want to be knee deep in nappies and baby puke all over again. No. But the prospect of not being able to have another baby should I want one is a scary one that takes some getting used to.

So there you have it. Panic over. Nostalgia and the aging process have a lot to answer for. Now that I have regained my senses, I can go back to anticipating my imminent freedom from the preschool club and planning my life of (relative) independence. Be gone stinky nappies. Be gone night feeds.  I am not going to be tricked into thinking that’s what I want again. Whilst I will always remember the baby years fondly, I’m ready to reclaim my life.

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Musings of a Harassed Mum