I’m ‘that mum’ & proud of it

In a recent post in the Mama’s Comfort Camp FB group, there was a thread where one mum commented that she didn’t want to be labelled ‘that mum’. We all know ‘that mum’ & whatever it is that’s had her labelled as such. The mum that has certain idiosyncrasies, mannerisms, oddness, bluntness, pushiness or completely neurotic – whatever it is that makes her ‘that mum’. This particular post on MCC was about a mum who’s sending her child to kindergarten & her child has a nut allergy. Despite the school having rules & regulations when it came to students with any allergies or intolerance’s or medical conditions, her concern was more about the other kids & the parents respecting the rules especially as she can no longer be there all the time to ensure her child safety. And she didn’t want to be ‘that mum’ that most of us don’t want to be.

So I’m putting this out there. I WANT to be ‘that mum’. I want to be ‘that mum’ that’s not afraid what others will think about me – for standing up for my kids, for disciplining them whenever & wherever it’s required no matter who’s around, for ensuring their safety & security, for insisting that other parents respect the way in which we’ve decided to bring up out kids – everything from faith to what clothes brands fill up their wardrobes. Note, I didn’t say that other people should accept our decisions & choices that we’re making for our kids, but I’m asking for them to respect them.

After thinking about this for a few days, these are the ways I’m already & will forever be ‘that mum’:

* I’m ‘that mum’ in that insist that my kids use their manners. I will stand there until they utter those damn annoying words ‘thank you for having me’ when leaving a friends house, I’ll tell them to thank the waiter/waitress that delivers their drink/meal to our table, to thank the checkout person at the supermarket, to thank their bus driver, doctors, dentists – ANYONE they come into contact with. Manners are just decent & a display of kindness & I want my kids to not take anything or anyone for granted.

* I am ‘that mum’ that won’t accept a dinner invitation when I know the kids will have a late night. I know the ramifications for the late night & I’m the one that has to deal with it that night, the next day (& sometimes a few days after) & often a few nights also. My sanity relies on sleep, so I’m looking out for myself too. So thank you for your kind invitation, I’ll accept it in a few years or next week without the kids.

* I am ‘that mum’ that watches my son around food in case he puts something in his mouth that he might choke on. Luckily for me (??) he has a food aversion (for which we’ve just started a feeding clinic) so I’m pretty sure he’ll not put anything he deems unsafe into his mouth, but it doesn’t stop me watching him because I don’t enjoy seeing him gag & vomit.

* I am ‘that mum’ that is strict about time for dinner, bath & bed time. My kids do better with routine & structure & frankly, so do I.

* I am ‘that mum’ that gets my sons ears checked after he’s had a snotty nose for a few days, because it’s been our experience that he gets an ear infection which is not only painful but also affects his hearing & speech. And given his history with reflux (until he was 18mths) & the correlation between ear infections & reflux I’m always extra vigilant. I didn’t want to be ‘that mum’ with my second child, but the universe told me I didn’t have a choice.

* I’m ‘that mum’ that will be the first to tell you that’s it’s ok to not be instantly in love with your newborn baby. Just because you have carried this baby, it doesn’t mean you know them & are besotted by them. It can take time, especially after a premature birth or difficult delivery. It’s just like any relationship – you didn’t instantly fall in love with your partner, it took time. So please be kind to yourself if that instant Mack truck of love doesn’t hit you. And in addition to this, I’m also ‘that mum’ that will tell you that there will be times that having a baby, sometimes, is nothing like a Huggies ad. Seriously, those mums wear crisp white shirts & have pristine houses!

* I’m ‘that mum’ that gets really really annoyed when you tell me how to parent & or when you minimise any of my hardships because you’re a one-upper or just one of those insensitive types. Why can’t you just say, ‘I don’t know how you feel, but I’m here whenever you need to talk about it’. Surely kindness beats competition.

* I’m ‘that mum’ that will not judge how you give birth or judge whether you breastfeed or bottle feed your baby. The type of birth you have is about the health & safety of you & your baby & how you nourish your baby are merely methods of feeding your baby & is in no way, a gauge  or reflection for how much you love & have bonded with your baby. I’m ‘that mum’ will defend your decision, because YOU are the mother & need to do what’s best for you, your baby & your nuclear family.

* I’m ‘that mum’ that will escort my kids away from yours or increase the gap between us in the queue if I see that your kids are snotty & coughing. I don’t want Orli getting sick, well because I don’t want her to be sick, but more so because I don’t want her getting Flynn sick. Even though I feel as though we are out of the woods when it comes to his Laryngomalacia & his breathing has been good for over a year now, nothing scares me more than him getting croup, whopping cough or any type of respiratory infection. Yes, I know it’s me & still suffering with an element of PTSD with him hospitalised as a baby for nine weeks & having numerous tests & procedures done. But more than that, I don’t want to see him suffering again or struggling to breathe. And you want to see me turn into ‘that mum’ quicker than anything – drop your off at kindy or creche with snot running down their face or a barky cough. Seriously!?

Thank you to all the mums on MCC that contributed to the thread & put another mothers mind at ease. And thank you to that mum who got me thinking about being ‘that mum’.

I’m proud to be ‘that mum’. You know why? Because my kids deserve me to be!

 

How I live is how they’ll learn

There are times I’m asked a question that literally stops me in my tracks. And this happened to me last week. Sitting at my fortnightly shrink appointment, my therapist asked me how, as a result of my experiences are now shaping the type of mother I am for my kids & what traits & values I’m stilling in them, also as a result of my life experiences. Answering this for me was simple & the qualities rolled off my tongue.

I responded: I would hope my kids are going to be humble, considerate & compassionate. I would hope that my kids are  going to think really hard before making a judgement or sizing someone up & I would hope that they are going to be kind hearted. Simple really.

Most of the qualities I wish upon my kids, I learned throughout my life, (mostly) the older I got, the more experiences I had & by the  friends I’ve had along the way. Funnily enough, it’s been my kids that have taught me the true meaning of some of these traits, specifically, humility & to refrain from judgment.

I think the most amount of learning I did was when I was admitted to the nuthouse (psych facility, parent-infant unit). I learnt that certain things in life doesn’t discriminate, most obviously at the time, mental illness. I learned it didn’t matter about my education, my background, my University degree, my relationship status, my income, my level of class in society, what car I drove, how big my diamond was – nothing mattered. I was no better than anyone else I sat with & spend my time with. In fact, I was no better than anyone in admitted to the facility then & forever. I needed help just like everyone else. It was the most humbling experience of my life (so far) & one that keep me grounded daily. I also hope my kids see mental illness as an unfortunate condition & not a character flaw, an excuse for odd/bad behaviour or social awkwardness or a result of being weak or impressionable.

It’s easy to learn not to be judgmental when you become a parent.Well it’s easy, but not necessarily upheld & practiced. You learn very quickly that what works for you & your child might not be acceptable & approved by someone else, but it becomes their issue & not yours. You learn that no child is the same (especially if you have more than one child), you learn they all develop at their own pace, you learn that they overcome challenges when they are ready, you learn that you will move mountains for your kids in order for them to be happy, healthy & safe & you learn that we all do it that way that we know how & what works for us. You learn that there will still be those that will judge you for choices you make for your kids, but that their opinions are just opinions. You learn to accept others for the choices they make, whether you agree with them or not. You may not know the other person’s background or journey or what led them to make certain decisions, but to try & just be supportive of them. I’m not naive, I know we are all judgmental, it’s human nature, but it’s those of us that have learnt to accept choices of others that tend to carry less anger, resentment & jealousy.

This wasn’t a revelation for me, however I was still surprised at how the words flowed at the time, how instant the words came & how passionate I was when answering. I don’t know if my answer would have been as passionate had I not spent time in the nuthouse, had I had an easy time becoming a mother, had I had a child without special needs or had I had a different upbringing. What I do know is that this has all shaped the person, wife & mother I am & the person, wife & mother I want to be.

An open letter to the International Mummy Olympic Committee

Dear IMOC,

I’ve been a proud member of your organisation since September 2008 when my daughter was born. I didn’t know this then, but I was thrust into this organisation by association, rather than membership. For the most part the members of your ‘infant, baby, toddler & pre-school’ divisions are supportive, informative, constructive & compassionate. And then there’s the other part – the judgy, high-horse & disapproving members that seem to have a louder voice than the members I feel I have more in common with.

I try to avoid interactions with these members, or remain tightly lipped when in their company because frankly, it causes me to become defensive, bring out my sarcastic smart-arseness & get my back up quicker than anything you can imagine.

I often wonder why these members are so judgemental. Sometimes I rationalise it by saying it’s because they’re covering up their own insecurities, questioning their own parenting decisions & choices & gripping onto their own anxieties. There are other times I actually don’t care why they are the way they are, I just want them to stop it & shut up – respectfully of course.

We all want to be the best parents we can be. We all want to have happy & healthy kids. We all want them brought up to be contributing & respectful members of society. We all do the best we can with the means we have. Why can’t we all just support one another through this hard, unrelenting, testing, tiring, confusing & all encompassing part of our lives? There are so many events in the mummy Olympics & I’m just not interested in competing.

I know there is the other layer to my parenting decisions & actions based on the whereabouts of Patty & Selma as those bitches often cloud my brain making me over-analyse, over-think, deplete my motivation & energy & I have to work extra hard sometimes to just make it through the day. And I’m well aware that Selma often rears her head when it comes to Flynny because of the start he had & because of his ongoing medical & behavioural issues & concerns, but this response is because of the feelings & memories that come about when thinking about it all & no one can judge me about that (can you see my back up through your screens yet?) One thing I can say is that I’d fair well in the ‘mad sad mummy’ events!

If my kids have taught me anything, it’s that they do things in their own time. Orli decided to crawl at 19 months & got up one day at 25 months to walk. There was nothing wrong with her. We still had a Pead assess her & also do a hip x-ray in the case there was something medically compromising her. Despite all of this, I got questioned as to why she was being lazy, being a ‘lump’ for just sitting & blaming me for her delayed walking as I carried her everywhere & had her in the pram at the shops, or worse, let her crawl around at her age.

Years later, Flynn couldn’t drink more than 40-50mls from his bottle because of his Laryngomalacia, but we got to the stage that he was drinking enough so that he maintained or even (slowly) gained weight. He was also called lazy, often bothered the nursing staff that had to tube feed him as they had other things to do & other patients to attend to.

I often get questioned by mothers of kids that are (luckily) healthy & never been unwell as to why we are pursuing certain therapies for him. Flynn has feeding delays & due to his reflux & sensitive gag reflex he’s still eating puree as he chokes & gags & then vomits any food that doesn’t feel safe for him to swallow. He eats dissolvable snack & even biscuits but it takes him a long time for him to find these snacks ‘safe’ to eat. I watch him & read his queues & he tells me when he’s ready. We’ve spent days playing with food before he’s put anything in his mouth, but when he does, it’s the most rewarding feeling ever & keeps me motivated & hopeful for days. And that’s something that some high-horses won’t see from way so up high.

As a result of Flynn’s feeding delay & lack of chewing (hence jaw development) & a number of ear infections last Winter, at 22 months he’s not speaking yet – he only has about six words. He can hold full conversations, but only he can understand them. I am not concerned about this because I know he will speak one day, but if there is something I can do to help him I will. So we started speech therapy this week. That’s right judgies, my less than two year old is having speech therapy. (I’m giving you some time to mumble mumble your opinions here – yes, I know it’s considerate of me). And I am crying as I’m typing this, but the same place, they also have a feeding clinic so they’re going to help my little boy learn to eat & to trust food & textures & provide him with confidence – something that I try each & every day but aren’t able to provide him on my own. So, yes, I’m taking him to feeding therapy too. My 22 monther that looks healthy, is engaging, is lovely & edible & my heart explode to a feeding clinic.

No one can understand the level is sadness, frustration, disheartening moments, anger & dread when your child can’t eat. Being able to feed your child is primal & when this is taken away from you the grief & feelings of being robbed overtakes you & take a long time to dissipate, if ever. To even know that my son can attend a feeding clinic is beyond thrilling for me. To those judgy high-horses, no my son is not lazy, I have not enforced his eating preferences, I have not delayed his feeding because of my anxiety & because it’s easier. He chokes, he gags & he vomits. And if you’re comfortable watching your child do that, then kudos to you.

No parent, whether the members of the compassionate committee or high-horses, would avoid, delay or refuse to provide their kids anything that would help them. So do it, don’t do it, but don’t judge me for doing it. And if you’re going to judge me, make sure you’re far enough away from me or my family or be prepared for me to hand my shoes to you & offer you to wear them for a day (thank you Kirsten xoxo). Oh & if we’re going to be honest, I give myself enough judgmental crap… I really don’t need any more from you gavel holders! Now, gallop along to the next Olympic event with all your ribbons & medals as you head back to the stables.

Thank you IOMC for providing me with so many supportive, wonderful, caring, generous & beautiful mums for me to ask advice, lean on, cry & celebrate with. One thing I know for sure, is that this gig would be a lot harder without them. And for the ‘other’ members, good luck & don’t hurt yourself as you climb down from your horses or break a nail on your gavel.

PS. If you would like to become a member of the most non-judgmental group ever, join the Mama’s Comfort Camp. I’ve written about them previously herehere & we are celebrating our anniversary (or birthday) the month of March. To join the group, click on the link below. This URL goes to the Mama’s Comfort Camp open FB page. If you would like to join the closed group, please let us know on that page & you will be added. New members are added every week on New Member Monday, so I’ll just say, see you on Monday!