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!

 

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!

 

 

Doing it right – they’re loved & feel safe

My friend Jaime, from James and Jax, started a weekly Bloghop that will be exploring those things we’re doing right. There’s no topic per say but a general heading by which you can write whatever you want about & how you’re feeling. I’m a few weeks late in jumping on board but I’m starting today. Life is busy. It’s full of ups & downs but this weekly reminder of things I’m doing right will make a difference to me & help keep Patty at bay. Cos that bitch is back at the moment which pretty much sucks.

I’m sure that it’s not just my house that has what is known as ‘feral hours of bath & bedtime’. It’s the end of the day & everyone’s tired & Orli sees this as an opportunity to test her authority, independence & her stubbornness all while being exhausted because it’s the end of the day. It’s bloody exhausting. I actually get anxious leading up to this time, not because I don’t think I can manage the situation (because I always do & one way or another she gets into bed) but get anxious about ‘the unknown’. There’s absolutely no way I can predict her mood or behaviour from one minute to the next & this unknown factor every night can be really challenging.

I often wonder if she can sense my anxiety, my fear, my trepidation as we get closer to bath time. I then tell myself to stop being ridiculous as there’s no way she can see or feel it as I’m not displaying anything that could lead her to making those assumptions.

There are some nights that things run smoothly & everyone goes to bed happy. And then there are those nights…. full of frustration, tantrums, shouting, demanding & defiance that I would do anything to just get her in bed so I can forget it ever happened & gear up & re-energise for the day ahead. On those smooth running nights, I reinforce how lovely it all was after I finish reading her her bedtime story & she agrees & we snuggle & cuddle & say goodnight. But there’s no guarantee that moment will be remembered, cherished or replicated the next night.

On those hard nights, I often wonder if my giving her time out or arguing with her is going to damage her long run. I wonder if she knows that sometimes I feel terrible & guilty at yelling at her about putting her shoes away – cos really, who cares? They’re just shoes. I wonder if my friends are having the same challenges & wonder if they’re handling them better than me, differently or just have angel kids that don’t require any reprimanding. Thinking, wondering, obsessing, convincing mental loop. It’s one thing that I struggle with when my mood is low (when Patty’s visiting) because the negative thoughts, negative self-reflection & negative self-talk turns something like how I handled bath time & bedtime into a yardstick on my parenting as a whole & my capacity & ability of being a good mother.

And then each morning I am met by a happy four year old who wants to give me kisses & cuddles & say ‘good morning mummy’. And for that time I relish her happiness, forgive myself & remind myself that she’s ok & she’s going to be ok. Because for every battle, for every argument, for every time she defies my authority, challenges me & asserts her independence I know that SHE knows, she’s loved. And I also know that she feels safe. And you know what, it means that I’m doing an ok job. I’m being a ‘good enough’ mum. Some might even say, I’m doing it right!