Parent Shaming

I have noticed over the past month, there seems to be a growing trend on many of the parenting forums of what I am going to call “Parent Shaming”. This is the numerous posts mocking other parents for yes, you guessed it being a parent.

Last night on Facebook, I saw a post shaming a mum who was “being over dramatic” in a coffee shop. Her crime was simply reading stories to her toddler and role playing with his toys in the way that we all know toddlers love, with enthusiasm to bring their imagination alive and ultimately to keep their attention.

This post stuck a chord with me, it was as if the post on Facebook was written about me, for I am that parent who sits in a coffee shop and will read to their child and play in the same “over dramatic” way.  Why?, because that is the way we read a story at home and play with toys in the same way – why should we do it any different anywhere else? We do lower our voices a little to try not to annoy other customers, but we can’t always contain the excitement that may ensure, but that is the delight of childhood.

Let’s delve a little bit deeper into the parent who was subject to the parent shaming, who after all, for that particular moment in time, was only being the best parent they can be for their toddler. Perhaps, like me that parent was trying to manage their PNA (Post Natal Anxiety) that unfortunately, on that day crept up on them unexpectedly and that was the best way to do it whilst keeping an active toddler amused at the same time. Maybe, as a parent, they are simply keeping their child occupied until his snack and drink arrives, and their “over dramatic” interaction is just trying to avoid other customers hearing how loud a toddler can scream and yell! Or, maybe, they are supporting their child in managing an over stimulating environment, through distraction techniques.

Who knows?, and that’s the lesson here, we don’t know what’s going on in the person’s life sat next to us in the coffee shop, and likewise nor do we with other parent’s. Social Media has become entrenched in day to day life, what was once a passing comment in person, has become a comment that may go viral in a matter of minutes, and like this one it may strike a chord with a parent who is guilty to the act that is being so openly shamed. For a short moment, I felt my confidence being knocked and then I kicked myself, for I love story time and role play with my son, so why on earth would I change that for a flippant comment that probably never intended to go viral on social media.

So, let’s give parent’s a break – it’s one of the hardest jobs on earth, after all who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for no salary, but the undivided attention of a little person dependent upon you. For me, it’s the best job, I have ever had, although I feel at times I felt that needed a degree to do it!

 

So, why the name Pumpkin?

Since starting this blog, I have been asked a number of times why I refer to our son as “Pumpkin” and not his real name.  There are a couple of reasons for this, Pumpkin is an affectionate name I often call him and have done since he was born and it seems the most appropriate name to use on my blog to protect his privacy at this time in his life.

The name Pumpkin stems from my labour being brought on early by a Pumpkin Latte (Thank you, Starbucks!*).  I had managed to avoid coffee all the way through my pregnancy and I had just 6 days left until my planned C-Section, when I had the biggest craving ever for a Pumpkin Latte.  Luckily for me, Starbucks had launched their Autumn Menu that week (Thank you, Starbucks!), so I dragged my partner out for a 40 minute drive to our nearest Starbucks to drink Lattes in a September heatwave!  I was feeling all very smug, until a few hours later when I had my first show, this was not supposed to be happening and my Midwife reassured me the following morning that this does not necessarily mean that labour will follow immediately and it will be more than likely that I will still be delivering as planned next week.

With a big sigh of relief, off we went with plans of how we were going to spend our last weekend as a couple before we become a little family.   Our weekend commenced with…yes a Pumpkin Latte.  After we made the 40 minute drive to Starbucks and were walking in, I jokingly said “I bet I go into labour after this” and how we laughed at how ridiculous the notion was.  Roll on 10 hours later, and I wasn’t laughing so smugly then, as labour had well and truely started (Thank you, Starbucks!) and 19 and a half hours later, this is how Pumpkin got his name!

The main reason for not using Pumpkin’s real name is, as parents we both want him to have a say when he is old enough, to whether he wants to have his real name used on this blog after all he is a person in his own right and will he want his childhood exploits easily found by his friends?  This is a conversation to be had will him when he is older, hopefully before the grunts and bedroom door slamming starts.

Additionally, for the same reason, I will not be using any photographs of Pumpkin, as I will leave it up to him to whether he wants his photograph to be used upon my blog at a later date, or not.

For us as parents, we grew up in a world where we are lucky enough not to have all our childhoods, experimental teens, and twenties shared on Social Media (Hooray!!!).  It’s a different world for Pumpkin, so until he is old enough and ready to make his own mind up, as parent’s we are going to protect him for as long as possible.

*This post is not in anyway sponsored by Starbucks

Dear Google, (Other search engines are available)

Dear Google

Over the past year you have become a good friend to me, there for me in my times of need, moments of panic, and pure baby related paranoia. You never once laughed at the random things I searched, questioned my parenting abilities, or mocked my already growing worry that I was failing as a Mummy. As for in that brief moment that I confided in you, it felt like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.

Here are some of my searches I have made over the past year (I am hanging my head in shame/embarrassment right now):

1. What are the black wiggly things in my baby’s pooey nappy? (Yes, google images were also required for this). Worry not, Pumpkin had not been infected with a biological disease, it was the aftermath of eating a banana for the first time.

2. Is it normal for a baby to….feel/do/smell/look? Believe me, I probably asked this at least 5 times a day. Just thinking about it now makes me cringe!!

3. What does teething really look like? Followed by are Amber Bracelets just a load of hippyguff? (Sorry to the believers out there). Pumpkin didn’t cut his first tooth until he was 11 months old, I thought he was teething at 5 months!!

4. Too much information warning!!! How long am I going to bleed for, as this does not feel normal and seriously don’t you think my body has gone through enough as it is?

5. What is the difference between baby blues and Postnatal Depression/Anxiety? I love Pumpkin more than anything in the world, so why did I feel like I wanted to cry one minute and the laugh hysterically the next or at the other extreme not go out?

6. What consistency should food purées be? Believe me…I made purées ranging in consistency between water and wall paper paste; and I am still unsure what was right for which stage of weaning, but still Pumpkin loved them all (or at least pretended he did)!

7. What jobs can I do working from home? I found my self searching this almost daily for the first four months of Pumpkins life, as I couldn’t imagine life away from him; it just broke my heart. Then I realised, that as Pumpkin got more mobile, there was no way on this earth was I going to be able to work at home and have him playing at my feet happily and contented. The reality would be far from the romanticised view I had after he was born…I would have a trashed home, a little boy with arms reaching up for cuddles and big blue eyes that would look at me and give me immediate mummy guilt for not paying him enough attention.

8. How can I make bath time safe? Pumpkin turns into Houdini at bath time, so far, he has managed to break/escape out of 3 bath seats and triumphantly stand in the bath whilst shouting “I do” at us. Sadly, my dear friend Google has failed on this point and therefore bath time for the foreseeable future is a two man job!

9. Where has my baby learnt the skills of a poo ninja when it comes to changing a nappy? I feel like I have lost all control of Pumpkin when it comes to a dirty nappy; he has mastered stealth moves which means he can flip out of a half-off nappy (taking half the contents with it) whilst fighting off all my attempts to catch him and turn him back over. Again, a Google fail in terms of advice…short of early potty training (I don’t think I can handle that quite yet), I have to sometimes, OK, who am I kidding, quite frequently turn to YouTubeKids, to distract Pumpkin long enough to clean him up.

10. Am I wasting my Doctors time if…? I quickly learnt the quick answer to this is NO! If you are worried, your parenting instinct has kicked in and you need to get your baby checked over. Who cares if you have made a fuss over nothing and your baby smiles contentedly at you and the Dr (Thank you, Pumpkin for that one!!). It’s always best and safer to get them checked out, after all not all of us have medicine degrees to give us that ability to rule out the worry that every cough, cry and scream that comes out of our baby, isn’t a serious illness.

Over the past few months, my searches have changed and seen me look up fun things like birthday cake ideas, tricycles and things to do in Somerset. Like old friends, Google, our relationship has changed; always dependable, we pick up where we left off and there are always good laughs to be had – after all when you your trapped in a chair with a toddler asleep on you, the searches can become a bit random…like conversations with a best friend after one to many Ciders/Gins/Wines/Vodkas/Coffees/Proseccos.

Thank you for being there!

The Lupie Mummy x

*please drink and use Google wisely.
**or like me, liken the feeling of being drunk to being sleep deprived and googling random stuff to keep awake, so not to wake the baby (before they are in a deep enough sleep) with the sound of heavy duty snoring that only a person with sleep deprivation can do when sleep finally washes over them!!
***This blog has not been sponsored by Google, it is just my own personal choice of search engine…others are available, I think!

 

Hello Somerset 

The big move has happened, our little family has packed up our home in Margate; the home that we brought our tiny little pumpkin back from the hospital to, the home where we graduated from a couple to parents and the home which became a family home for the first year of Pumpkins life.

Over the last month we have tried to make the packing, sorting and trips to the recycling centre as low key as possible, without impacting too much upon Pumpkin’s day to day routine. However, throw in teething, nappy rashes, a Birthday and tantrums suddenly emerging; this was not as easy as originally planned! Pumpkin wasn’t silly, he noticed the boxes piling up in the spare room, the toys disappearing overnight, rooms becoming bare of photographs and worst of all the broadband being disconnected! The bribe of Mr Tumble or Elmo on an iPad, whilst changing a stinky nappy in order to try and pacify ninja pumpkin was well and truly missed (probably more so by Mummy and Daddy!).

Fast forward, one week…we are almost unpacked in our new home; Pumpkin is absolutely thriving here, he has so much more space to practice his walking and master stumbling around like he is milk drunk.  Most of all, he is happy, smiling and more often than not laughing at a new discovery!

We have an amazing view from our home, Pumpkin can often be found, climbing up on toys and peering out the window! Story time is now sat in a chair by the window, bringing the Somerset countryside to life and now all our new neighbours are quickly informed that cows go Moo! Whilst Pumpkin naps, I am able to enjoy a coffee and take in that same view and contemplate our new family adventure, knowing we have made the right decision and feeling excited for what the future has in hold for us.

Pumpkin is One

One year ago, I was in Labour, which wasn’t supposed to happen as I was booked in to have an elective C Section 4 days later, at a set time, with no, I repeat, no labour pains! However, no matter how much I was repeating the mantra “this is not how it is supposed to happen” to myself, I was reminded every 3 minutes for the next 18 hours, that I was well and truly in labour and Pumpkin was going to come out sooner than planned. It was at this point, I wished that I had paid more attention in the ante-natal class about other birth plans/pain relief. In the end, I had an emergency C Section, my surgical team were amazing and all was fine.

Roll on a year, one of the most magical, life changing years of our lives. A year ago, we became parents to the most adventurous, mischievous and comical little boy, who everyday without fail, makes us laugh and feel extremely lucky. I can’t lie, sometimes the realisation of the responsibility of being a parent to Pumpkin can be overwhelming. Frequently wondering if we are doing things right: are we feeding him the right foods, is he warm/cool enough etc. Then, all we have to do, is look at Pumpkin, he is thriving, happy and learning so much, so quickly; and then we fall in love with him even more than we already have.

Tomorrow, Pumpkin will wake up to his family celebrating his birthday, will he understand what is happening? The lovely scrunchy wrapping paper, the new toys and books, the bright birthday banner across the wall and the sugar loaded cake which he will have as a special treat for his pudding? I don’t know how much he will understand, but it’s his special day and we are going to make it as special as the day he arrived screaming into the world and our arms; the day our lives changed for ever.

For us, we are celebrating a year of surviving as parents and a stronger relationship as a result. This year has been amazing and really hard work; there has been laughter, tears, pure exhaustion, some bickering (again, usually down to pure exhaustion) and a love never experienced before for a little person completely dependent upon us. So, think of us tomorrow evening, eating left-over Birthday cake and then wishing we hadn’t, when we are desperately trying to fall asleep, but can’t because we are on a sugar high at 10.00pm (for those without children…that is a late night, when your little one likes to wake up at 5.00am!).
Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Pumpkin xx

An Unwelcome Visitor

This weekend an unwelcome visitor arrived, unannounced…and by the look of things she is here to stay for a few days. Unfortunately, this visitor does not take the subtle and unsubtle hints that it’s time to leave, as my family have made other plans. I’m sorry, but this time my unwelcome visitor, you are just not welcome.

Let me take a moment to introduce you to this unwelcome visitor…meet ‘Flare’, Flare likes to make an appearance every now and then, to remind me that I have Lupus SLE. Lupus SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), basically for me, means that my immune system doesn’t work properly and tends to behave rather hyperactively. When Flare visits, she brings with her a bag laden with the following things: fatigue, Joint pain, a facial rash and mouth ulcers. Can you begin to see why Flare is not a welcome guest?

Since Pumpkin has been born, there is an additional item in Flare’s bag, ‘Mummy Guilt’; this makes the physical pain bearable in comparison to the emotional pain of rearranging plans to make the day more manageable, yet fun for Pumpkin. In this case it was having to cancel pre-made plans to go out for the day, but instead it was now a day at home, with maybe a gentle walk at the end of the day. Of course, Pumpkin is only 11 months old, and he does not understand our daily plans, except roughly when food/milk is due and when he is tired and boy does he let us know!

I have found it hard this weekend to keep the happy Mummy face on, trying my hardest not to let it slip to show that Mummy is in pain; and most importantly to me, not letting Pumpkin know. Even when he happily jumps about on my legs as the sleeping bunnies wake and hop all over the front room… keeping things hop hop hop not ouch ouch ouch! Mr Tumble has a lot to answer for, but a lot to be thankful for this weekend!

For a brief moment, I worried about what Flare would bring in her bag for future visits as Pumpkin gets older. For a fleeting moment, I was a little worried and then I got excited and my imagination ran away from me. The quiet days in will be what and wherever our imaginations take us; from dens in the front room rain forest, to a pirate ship made out of Mummy and Daddy’s Bed. There are so many adventures our little family can have on quiet day’s at home, so perhaps Flare may become a welcome guest, you never know.

For more information on Lupus, please take the time to visit www.lupus.org.uk based at Guys and St Thomas Hospital, who have been absolutely amazing since my diagnosis in 2011.

I need a little time…for me.

I have toyed with the idea of writing about the adventures of becoming a mummy to our wonderful little pumpkin and living with Lupus; which likes to rear its ugly head when I least expect and want it to.

However, time has flown by for the past 11 and a half months and I have never quite found some time to sit down and write.  As there is always a nappy to change, better still a cuddle to be had, a lullaby to be sung or at its worse a blood test to be arranged. Oh, and now the The Great British Bake Off is on, so let’s throw another challenge into the mix and while we are at it, and I should just admit it, just by watching the GBBO I get serious cake cravings, so therefore, I’m playing my part increasing M&S’ cake sale profits, as I just don’t have time to bake at the moment – the Domestic Goddess is out of the office until further notice!

Despite all these hurdles, I wouldn’t change a single thing, I absolutely love my little family and everyday I am learning to live with Lupus and embrace it as part of my life too.
I have finally realised that I need a bit of ‘me’ time in this busy hectic thing called motherhood and did I mention we are also in the middle of relocating from Kent to Somerset, stressed? Me??!  Therefore, I am regaining some “me” time by writing a blog amongst all this chaos.

I am hoping that by writing about the day to day happenings in our family life, it will be therapeutic to me (taking away some of the stresses of packing/being surrounded by boxes), to perhaps become a journal to share with Pumpkin later on (I may have to be selective at times) and hopefully be a support to others in similar situations to myself.

So, pour a mug of coffee, grab a cake and join me on this blogging adventure. In reality, that should read…So, while you are enjoying a cold sip of coffee and left over Colin the caterpillar cake, enjoy this insight into my life.