Sunday, 28 October 2012

Happy Halloween - this is how scary having twins is

Saturday, 20 October 2012

An odd gift for a child?

Is it me or is this an odd gift to buy a child? 

I understand kids want to copy their parents with dust pans, irons and vacume cleaners...but an INDUSTRIAL cleaning station?  Really? 

"Mummy I want to be a professional cleaner when I grow up"

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

How do you know you love your kids?

I’ll let you into a secret.  I’ve been preoccupied with the word Love recently, and I’m being completely open here when I say (deep breath), I don’t know if I love my kids. *wince*
Now, before you judge me or my situation I want to ask you a question.  What is love?  What would your reply be?  Whatever it is I bet it’s not a fully formed idea and you’re having to fully engage  your grey matter right now.  And you see, this is my issue.  I don’t know what love is.  I can’t define it in my mind, so how can I state that I love someone/something if I don’t know what it actually means?  It would be like saying I understood electricity when I don’t.  I just use it with no thought as to how it came to me.  I’m an analytical and practical person and it’s important to me to really understand meanings, in a real life way, before I feel comfortable using them in conversation.
My worry is that I’m not a particularly loving person.  I’m not maternal, I’m impatient and don’t often feel warm and fuzzy inside – the state of being that I unconsciously believe shows you’re experiencing love.
I mentioned this preoccupation to a friend, and she admitted to thinking along the same lines, which has given birth to this particular blog post.  And yes, Anonomum’s going to attempt to rugby tackle the subject that can’t even be caught.
(I’m not talking about love between two lovers.  This I understand and have (thankfully) experienced.  It’s more about plutonic love towards your fellow man, or a love of a hobby etc.)
Where to start –my up bringing.  I’m the fourth child from a happy(ish) marriage.  I was told that I was loved.  I guess proof of this is that I had a stable home where I was always fed, cleaned and clothed.  It was far from perfect by my parents often put us first, and still do.   It’s what parents do, but that can’t constitute Love.  Surely you can do all this and not Love someone.
What do I know about my thoughts and feelings towards my twins ?:
·         I’ll always be there for them
·         I’ll feed, clothe and clean them for as long as they need
·         I’ll give them the best of everything I can
·         Their healthy development is my top priority
·         I can’t stand to see them upset/unhappy
·         I’m fascinated by them
I’m pretty sure that these are symptoms of Love, and it’s safe to say I do Love my kids, but the pop psychologist wants to take it apart and understand the workings of Love.  How do I know for sure it’s Love and not duty for example.
So I asked some close friends and was surprised and amazed by the different answers I received.  All brilliant, and all different. 
Friend A – said that Love was a positive action towards someone or something that comes specifically as a result of a warm/positive emotion about them.  This has been along the lines of what I have thought, which worries me because I’m not an emotional person.
Friend B (and my wise mum) – said that everything is a particular degree of love.  Passion, trust, laughter, excitement – All high degrees of love.   But also, inertia, jealousy and angst – all low degrees of love.  You can look at all emotions and feelings as on a vertical scale of the amount of love it contains.  Hate having the least Love I guess.  And therefore everything that is created out of these mental and emotional states also hold varying degrees of love.  This explanation really appeals to me because if true, it means that I do love my children, and helps me to feel that no matter what high or low I’m experiencing, it’s always involves love. 
Friend C – said that he loved people and things which activated both sides of his brain, that produced a synergy between left and right hemispheres– and therefore Love was a unifying force that sparked a feeling of wholeness or oneness.  This really appeals to my obsession in how the mind and body are related.  It brings Love to a physical and biochemical level, and provides a practical way of trying to explain the unexplainable.
M Scott Peck (Author of A Road Less Travelled) – says that love is the force that propels you to do something that helps another better their life in some way with no regard for receiving something in return.  It’s a force that builds up and prevents natures instinct towards inertia.
You know I’m no philosophical, scientific or spiritual expert but I am obsessed with these big questions of life, and I think all of these are true.  We hear from Greek philosophers and great sages that Love is all there is, that love unities (“one Love”) and we can all relate to some degree with our own thoughts and feelings about it. 
As I put my friends on the spot, it’s only fair that I do the same.  So here are my thoughts, after much brain cramping and staring into space.
Me – There are moments when I look at my twins and I melt at how beautiful, clever and resourceful they are.  I have little moments of bliss that dawn on me and I guess this is Love.  What I’ve noticed is that I’m blessed with these “bliss pockets” when I stand back and just observe.  It’s like my ego takes a coffee break and I’m left with that part of my soul that it always there in the background being quiet – that is always loving – and I only connect with it when I (my ego) stops getting on with the daily grind.  Being an avid meditator, I’m used to putting myself in this Observing state – but I’ve never made the connection before that these are the moments I feel love.  This would mean that I am a loving person, and I do love my kids (genuinely a relief) but that I’m only strongly connected to it when I stand back, take myself out of the situation and just be.  This state is like walking under a powerful waterfall where all my cares are washed away and I’m just receiving an unending powerful flow of peace, bliss and love.  It’s when I see the big picture and I don’t care how much food they’ve thrown on the floor, or that they’ve tried to climb the table lamp again.  The second I bring myself into the “real world” (and there’s a massive debate to be had with what constitutes the real world) I pick up all those annoyances again and those warm feelings are pushed to the backburner.
This a big-kipper-like slap in the face to STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF, and to take time to see my life in context.  To connect with the sane part of me that really loves my girls and start applying this lesson to other areas of my life too.  For those of the spiritual amongst you – it’s connecting to the source of ALL THAT IS and resting there regularly.  (For those unspiritual of you, erase that last sentence and replace with your own funny joke about farts).
Peace out.
I would genuinely love to hear your thoughts of Love and how you know that you Love something/someone.  It’s not easy to put into words, but give it a go.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

When I had to face I was a terrible mum

This is a tale of gut dropping, guilt infecting fear.  My worst moment as a mum hands down.
I picked the girls up from nursery and during the “mad half hour” (as my mum calls it) when they run around like over tired crazed dirt balls, I noticed something odd in Itchy’s mouth.  After asking nicely to open her mouth, then being authoritative, pleading and then finally wrestling her and prising her jaw apart, I saw a horrific site – black dots at the top of her teeth and some more under her gums.
My mouth went dry, I felt physically sick and froze.  Could my daughter really have tooth decay at 18 months?  A whole load of images I’d once seen of tooth decay, and filed as “not likely”, were jumping up in my mind and mocking me.  They were saying “we warned you and you ignored us”, “you thought only neglected children got this way”, “you’re a terrible mum and everyone is going to know it”.
I couldn’t move.  The girls were full of beans, happily and innocently racing around and I couldn’t connect to them, or any positive feeling for that matter.  I wanted time to rewind to 2 minutes ago before this black fog had descended.
First came the shock, quickly followed by shame.  How could I have done this to them?  Oh God, they’ll have noticed at nursery, they’ll be talking about me.  I’ve neglected my daughter.  I’ve been so stupid.  What will my friends think?  My family?  What about when other kids notice?  They can be so cruel. My husband’s going to kill me.  Free falling.
I eventually pulled my led body off the floor and paced the room.  The first thing I did was call my sister who was a medic in the navy and who I use instead of NHS Direct (who I’ve found to be about as useful as a knitted nappy). She didn’t answer.  Shit, she’s usually my lifeline in these situations.  So I called the health visitor, then promptly hung up before they answered because well...knitted nappies comes to mind again.  My next call was to a dentist, who couldn’t fit us in for a few weeks.  Oh the shame of explaining the problem brought on crimson cheeks and that sick feeling again.  Booked the appointment.
How the hell did this happen?  Scratchy is fine and she eats/drinks the same stuff.  They have very watered down juice and hardly any sweets, but I do put them to bed with a bottle which you’re advised against...which they chuck out of the cot as soon as they’ve finished.  So I don’t really see the difference between that and drinking it down stairs.
I grab her tooth brush try brushing off the black marks in desperatation...surprisingly the stuff on the tooth does come off.  Weird.  But the black under the gum is still there.  Ok, maybe it’s not as bad as all that.  If it can come off that easily perhaps the dentist must be able to do something to help.
My sister calls me back.  Thank God.  I explain the problem with shaking hands and a wobbly voice.  She’s slipped into “Medic” mode and goes through all sensible scenarios.  She asks what drinks have I been giving them?  I tell her and even admit to that one carton of Ribena they had when we’d forgot their cups once. (Ok, two)  She then asked if perhaps Itchy had fallen at nursery.  I explain that it’s definitely not a bruise - it’s as black as my spiralling mood.  And this is why I both love my sister and why I call her for advice.  She sighed and asked in a manner only reserved for dealing with crazy people – “has Itchy been eating black crayons again”?
Um.  Oh.  Ahhhhh.  Yes I believe she has.  In fact I saw her with a black crayon the day before.  “You nutter” came her reply.  I may be a nutter, but I was the happiest, most relieved nutter in the world at that moment.  Like getting off from a prison sentence.
And sure enough, the black under the gums promptly disappear after a few days.  She’s been checked by the dentist and all is fine.  It was crayon.  Beautiful, tooth staining crayon.   I may be up for that Mediocre Mum Award after all.
I have used this experience to start introducing a sippy cup at bedtime instead, watering down their juice even more and making sure they brush their teeth twice every day.  It was a positive scare, and one I hope never returns for real.  Crisis averted.  I now watch through my fingers, waiting for the next one.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Thank God for girlfriends

There should be a Girlfriends Day, because I do believe they are the backbones of society.  Good fun, supportive and willing to help...even if you didn't know you needed helping.

I met a close girlfriend today and although it started off just another chat over coffee, I just did not see it coming.
So there I was getting on with the usual grind this morning; getting kids up, cleaned, dress, fed.  Off to play group where everything was so hard.  Girls crying at everything, both needing to be hugged at the same time, me trying to get them interested in various toys to no avail.  Bigger kids running around and knocking them over making the situation worse.  Mums staring at the wailing twins and the mum trying to hold it all together.  Thankfully my closest friend was there with her boy and we decided to ditch the group and steam off to a coffee shop to try and hold a meaningful conversation.  Not always guaranteed these days, when we’re at the age where kids are everywhere you look multiplying like bacteria.
So there we were discussing the usual stuff.  How the girls can be such hardwork sometimes and do my husband and I move somewhere nearer to London where my his commute would be less, mortgage more expensive and where we have no friends.  Or do we stay where we can easily afford the mortgage, I have friends but my husband is unhappy with the area?    It’s been a recurring issue for about 3 years now, and one thing for sure is it’s not going away.  There I was going through the same possible solutions and getting nowhere when my good friend says lets off the D bomb.  She thinks I may be depressed.
It was like receiving an electric shock.  Totally stopped me in my tracks.  My immediate knee jerk reaction was to deny it, but I could hear distant alarm bells ringing somewhere in the archives of my mind.  Could I be depressed and not be aware of it?  I had been thinking that our issues are the normal stuff that people with young kids have.  Money, no time, tiredness, needing a bigger house.  But maybe my friend is right.  Maybe my problem isn’t the housing issue or how hard I’m finding the twins, the problem is that I can’t think my way to any solutions.  As someone whose experienced depression herself, she had a wonderful analogy of depression.  Like having only one small room in your brain that you just keep going round and round in, getting nowhere.  That’s exactly how I feel.  I can’t seem to think myself out to a happier place.
I have been depressed before, and it certainly runs in my family, So I know what the warning signs are.  If I’m completely honest, It did take me four weeks to book a doctors appointment, and I have been putting off looking at the finances.  I dread the post coming through the door and my ideal day would be spent sleeping.  Now that I think of it these are all classic depression symptoms.  I’ve also taken an online depression test and let’s just say she may be right.  How could I have missed it?
I guess it makes sense that if I can’t see my way out of a problem, it may take a person looking in to help.  But how surprising that the same problem can look completely different depending on who’s looking at it.  However pessimistic I am, I’m so thankful to my friend for her honestly and willingness to listen to me.  You can’t beat a good girlfriend.  Maybe I should make a doctors appointment...and not in four weeks time either.