Mum guilt and the bloody dog 

I know that as I had a baby just 8 days ago, and because I said New Years resolutions weren’t right for me this year anyway, I shouldn’t be worried about the fact that I have that stupid flailing feeling again. 

You know the one. Where you just want to get a handle on this whole coping thing, but you’re swinging your arms about wildly and no handle can be found. 

I should cut myself some slack. I deserve to rest. I’ve got stitches in my private parts, for goodness sake. I ache. I should be sitting down. 

But oh my goodness, the guilt. The laundry, the washing up, the fact that Iris is clearly desperate for fresh air. I feel awful about it all. I should fix it, not sit here crocheting in a sleep deprived daze. 

I’m like a zombie right now. Is a zombie right? I’m not sure zombie is really what I mean. I’m just here, just being. But not doing. And not really thinking either. Peer in the windows and you won’t see any cogs turning. 

I’m so tired. 

I don’t give a crap that my house is a dump and my to do list is as long as my leg. That’s probably a healthy improvement on my usual state of panic and anxiety about everything falling apart around me, but it’s unfamiliar and I don’t know what to do with it. 

The dog hates me. That’s what has caused this particular moment of silliness from my head. He truly hates me. Of course Trevor and everybody else thinks this is stupid. The dog doesn’t even have a big enough brain to be capable of understanding that he can’t just pee on the living room floor, so how can he be smart enough to hate somebody? 

He does though. 

Every time I walk the stupid thing he runs off. Or he does something so incredibly embarrassing that I fall apart from the shame. The second Trevor steps out of the house he starts behaving like a lovesick teenager, lying around under my feet looking broken. Chasing up and down knocking the toddler over. Peeing on the floor. Following me and staring at me. He doesn’t do this stuff to anybody else. Only me. 

I’ve been feeling guilty for a while because I don’t walk him anymore. What’s the point when he just runs off anyway? I have to keep him on the lead and he pulls so hard that it was hurting my hips and my huge heavy pregnant body. I should fuss over him more so we have a bond, but I’m chasing a toddler around all day and trying to keep on top of the mess. I try, but there aren’t many moments left over to spend with a dog that doesn’t like me anyway. 

It’s not really got anything to do with anything, but I feel bad about it. I always feel bad about something. I always feel guilty. 

I think I’m doing my best. If I am doing my best why am I doing so badly? Maybe I’m not doing my best. I don’t think it looks much like I’m doing my best. 

The cleaning rota is back. It’s all I can do to prove (to who anyway?) that I am at least trying. Because I worry that it looks like I’m just doing the bare minimum. I probably am just doing the bare minimum. But that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to do it all. I really am. 

There was no real point to this post, I know. And I know what the response will be. Cut yourself some slack. Take a break. For goodness sake woman you just gave birth. I know, I know. You’re right. 

I even need to do better at giving myself a break! 



Pictures of the Weekend #11

IMG_5885.JPGPoorly baby, poorly baby, poorly baby with dog, dog and cat.IMG_5886.JPGPoorly baby, poorly baby, hiding cat, poorly dog.IMG_5939.JPGGeocaching, poorly baby with poorly dog, sitting up for the first time, playing at Grandma’s

You may have noticed a bit of a theme running through our weekend. Iris has been poorly with a rotten cold since the middle of last week. Super runny snot has turned into a nasty barking cough. It’s unpleasant and means we haven’t really slept in days and days. I was on the verge of being too tired to cope, but last night we actually slept for most of the night. Thank goodness. Only now I’m worried I won’t have time for my new Grey’s Anatomy addiction. On Saturday we planned to go to a thing at Westonbirt Arboretum, but went geocaching earlier in the day and the stupid dog cut his foot. Blood everywhere. Bandages. Pizza ordered and us not going anywhere. Probably for the best with Iris’ cold.

Dare Valley Country Park

As you know, I love to walk and even more so at the weekend, with the whole family. Last month I said I wanted to try to find new places for our walks, and I haven’t really stuck to this. We’ve just found the one place, Dare Valley Country Park, but we’ve really fallen in love with it.
We’ve been twice already, and the weather has been absolutely dreadful both times. If there’s one thing this family know how to do it’s to have fun even when the rain is pouring. We’ve had plenty of opportunity to practice here in Wales. Did you see how wet our camping holiday was?
The first time we visited Dare Valley we didn’t have the big kiddos and it was late in the day after a trip to a Ikea. I looked up the place on my phone on the way there and found out that there are three signposted walks. One easy, one medium, one difficult. Each with colour codes arrows to guide the way. We picked the medium difficulty route, and set off following the blue arrows. We took the exact same route a week later with the kids.
First the path follows a track, and then crosses a field. On our first visit there was one lonely sheep hanging around here, looking for his buddies. It’s a perfect spot for a game of fetch!
The blue arrows then leads through a kissing gate (where the big kids insist on actually doing kissing as we pass through) and into a little wooded area. We spotted squirrels here, but crossing the little stream is probably everybody’s favourite bit.
Next you head out of the wood and onto a hillside. The grass is long and wild here, Seb’s favourite kind of grass! A lot of the time all that you can see is the tip of his tail. Usually Seb loses his ball in long grass then spends the rest of the walk looking at us like we’re hiding it from him.
On our first visit (when it was absolutely pouring with rain) we saw rainbows from here that appeared to end among the houses below, piercing straight through a tiny rooftop.
The steady incline gets slightly steeper from here, and the walkway climbs along an edge. There’s a gravel and stone path to follow, that is clearly used by animals too. The just-turned-9-year-old started a conversation with me about the differences between sheep poo and horse poo that lasted a good 10 minutes. Aren’t kids lovely?
This is where the blue arrows ended for us. They point right, down the steep hillside, and we turned to follow on our first trip. I don’t like walking downhill much when babywearing. It’s hard when you can’t see your feet. A man with a very large Basset Hound warned us not to go that way. Mud up to your waist, apparently! We stopped for a nice chat that ended abruptly when his dog pulled him over into the mud because he was trying to sniff Seb’s bottom.
So we joined the yellow path heading upwards into the hills instead. I’m still curious about the blue route though. On our first trip the rain got heavier around this point and the sky was turning dark. A shame because I’m told you can see the Brecon Beacons from there on a clear day. On our second trip it had stopped raining but was very grey. The girls climbed on rocks and chased Seb but never caught him.
Further up and round a bend we found some ruins. Sheep pens or old cottages? We weren’t sure. The view from this point is pretty amazing, even in pouring rain. I love living where this stuff is on my doorstep!
On both trips we turned back at this point. We were high enough! Plus you can never be outdoors very long before kids start saying “I’m hungry” every two minutes. Not Iris though. She slept right through both visits. Back near the visitor centre there’s a play area. Strangely the kids weren’t too hungry to play! There was a pretty cool big slide I wish I could have tested! The facilities were great. Lovely clean loos and great baby changing facilities. Although the changing area is in the disabled loo, which always bothers me a bit. I came out from dealing with a ‘poo-splosion’ to find somebody in a wheelchair waiting to use the loo and felt terribly guilty.
We went home for lunch with the kids but the smells from the cafe were very appealing. We definitely want to check it out one day after a walk. I can picture us going back regularly in all weathers, and hopefully one day it’ll be dry enough to follow the blue path. We’ve borrowed one of those backpacks you sit a baby in the top of, so once Iris can sit unaided I’m insisting Trev carries her up there!

*Nobody asked me to write this and I wasn’t compensated in any way*

Runaway Seb.

If you asked Trev, he’d probably tell you that this is a funny story. It’s isn’t funny. Don’t you dare laugh.

On Thursday morning Trev went to work too early to help me out by taking the dog for a walk first. I’d had a rough night with no sleep, and Iris had been cranky all morning. As a result I squeezed a dog walk in, after morning nap but before a feed. I knew I wouldn’t have long. I knew Iris would get hungry soon. I tied her into the wrap, and we headed for ‘the pit’ which is currently just a huge area of mud and muddy puddles. Seb loves it there, and I love it because we rarely see other people/dogs/bikes/joggers. Perfect.

I was cranky already, if I’m honest. The walk does me good though, and I was enjoying it. Squelching through the mud singing to little Iris. I was calming down. I had got a grip on the tension. Seb was happy, rolling in the mud. I was happy. Iris was hungry.

I decided to head back home before Iris screamed the place down, so she was still fairly happy when I called Seb back to go on his lead. He looked at me from across a muddy puddle, and when he saw me take the lead out of my pocket he bolted.

I don’t know where he went. I was pretty confused. He hasn’t done anything like this in a long while and I thought he was over it. I called and whistled and shook his bag of treats. No sign of him.

After a while I heard barking. I headed that way to find him barking at a nervous man who was trying to shoo him away. Unfortunately the man didn’t have the sense to stop and I just couldn’t catch up. I lost sight of them. I didn’t know which way they went. Another 20 minutes of walking and calling and whistling later, Iris was seriously annoyed. Poor kid wanted her 2nd breakfast. It was also about time she slept.

My kiddo doesn’t do patience. When she needs something she needs it right now. If you don’t provide she lets you know. Loudly.

I finally spotted Seb, far away on a hill, staring at me. IMG_4937.JPG
Can you see him over there?

I headed for him, Iris’ crying making me feel tense and flustered. Sticking her dummy back in over and over again just wasn’t working. I needed the dog and to get home. Now.

As I approached he sat perfectly still, watching me. I showed him his bag of treats, to let him know I came in peace. I used my silly voice that he likes. He didn’t move a muscle.

Until I reached him. Then he was off!

He ran towards the mountain, and probably up it too knowing him. I couldn’t see him anymore. I decided to pretend I was going home without him. A technique I’ve seen parents use with tantruming kids in supermarkets. It never seems to work for them but it worked for Seb. I crossed the bridge out of the pit and hid. Luckily Iris had gone quiet. In a few minutes I could see him, stealthily sneaking after me, to see where I’d gone.

When he was pretty close I softly called his name. He ran. Iris lost it, big time. I text Trev at this point, to find out what he would do, but he was somewhere in North Wales where mobile phones just don’t work. I had to feed this baby. Had to. I headed home.

As I crossed the road I felt guilty. I went back. One last try. Iris was not amused.

He sat at the top of the steps, totally still, watching me. As I reached him he ran again. Not just out of reach. He ran right away across the pit towards some trees.

That’s when I decided I wanted to kill him.

With nothing I could really do about Seb at this point I really did head home. I fed Iris and I fed myself. I even made a cup of tea, which I left to go cold. I wondered if somebody would find him. They’d never catch him. He hates other people. He barks at them sometimes but never lets them close. I didn’t think he’d follow me either. He’s terrified of the road and reluctant to cross it even when I’m with him. I sat and nursed Iris until she was calm and I was slightly calmer than before. My blood was no longer boiling. I felt incredibly bad for leaving him.

I bet he didn’t feel bad, the little monster.

I grabbed his lead, popped Iris in the wrap and headed back. Really I should have been settling Iris for a nap. Bloody dog. The teenage boys that are always on the bridge, day or night, informed me that they’d seen him a while ago, heading along the cycle path towards Pontypridd. Great.

He’s been running away from me for an hour at this point. I’m furious and have decided I will never ever walk him again. I’ll stop buying big bags of Dentastix from the discount shop too. Horrible dog doesn’t deserve them.

I call, I whistle and I walk. I try to hide the anger in my voice because I know it frightens him and will only make him run further away. Eventually I spot him. Oh how I wanted to shout at him! But I didn’t. I called him and called him. He sat down. He didn’t appear to have even noticed that I’d left him there for half an hour and gone home. He certainly wasn’t frightened and frantically searching for me.

The same trick again. Staying totally still until I’m near, then off he goes! Thankfully Iris had fallen asleep. I stopped approaching him. Instead I showed him a treat and chucked it into the space between us. He went to eat it. He really is that dumb. So I chucked another, slightly closer to me. This went on for a few minutes before I could grab his collar.

What I would have liked to do at this point is scream at him, obviously. But I didn’t want to wake Iris. So I dragged him home without once looking at him or talking to him, and I shut him in the kitchen and went straight back out. I went into town for a few hours, still fuming. See, I told you it wasn’t funny.

The trouble is that this means I just can’t risk letting him off the lead when I’m on my own with Iris too. I just can’t. So he’s gone and ruined the lovely morning walks that I enjoy so much. Now he’ll have to stay on the lead, trying to pull my arm off, and nobody will enjoy it as much as before. IMG_4505.JPG