No more baby days 

I’m on the sofa this morning, after dropping my biggest girl at nursery. The smallest one is fast asleep on me after a rough night of wide awake snuggles and sore teeth. I’m suddenly overwhelmed by how big and clever and grown up the two of them are now. And it hurts. 
I don’t have a baby anymore. The days of having two under two are long behind me, and Iris is very nearly three. She starts nursery class at a school this September, with a tiny school uniform and everything. She’s excited. I’m excited too, because I know she’s going to have such a fabulous time, but I’m also sad and a tiny bit terrified. Astrid is 16 months old now, and like a tiny wrecking ball. She is sturdy and speedy, and charges through life at 100 miles per hour. She climbs and runs and has no fear of hurting herself. I can’t leave her alone in a room for even a minute. Not even if I can’t see a single hazard. She will find one. It’s not unusual to catch her dancing on tables or scaling window sills. 
They are not babies. 
The first year after Astrid was born I went to bed every single night feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. Seriously. While they pleasantly surprised me often and it wasn’t always as hard as I’d imagined, it was exhausting. Iris needed constant interactions at the time, too young yet to create games and play alone while I fed Astrid. Little one was a screamer, and a complete mystery to me a lot of the time. I didn’t instinctively know what she was crying for like I had with Iris. I had PND (I can see now in hindsight) and was having a huge identity crisis when I should have been focussing on my babies. 
I really feel like it’s over now. The hard bit. Obviously I know there are many many many hard bits to come. I’m not daft. But I can’t imagine it being that consistently hard again for such a long period of time. I can’t imagine slipping back into the black cloud I lived in for a long time either. I’ve been making sure I look after myself too, and I plan to keep it up. 
Besides some health issues (for another day) life is really very good at the moment, but I can’t help but feel some sadness at the baby days being behind us.

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What’s new in the mouse house

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Actually, not much really.

I’ve just renewed my domain thingy which costs actual real money, and it made me think that maybe I should try a bit harder with this blog thing. I’ve been saying that for months actually, but I can’t quite find enough balance in our busy life. There’s just not much room for this, but I wish there was. I’ve always found writing about my life very therapeutic, and I still do. I really love having things written down to look back on too. I quite often read my old posts when they pop up on Timehop.

On the whole, life is really good right now. Apart from the usual money worries (how is Christmas so soon??) we’re doing really well. My mental health was worrying me for a while, but I feel like I’ve really got a grip of things at the moment. I’ve been feeling quite a bit better physically too, with migraines now a very rare occurrence and they’re mild even when they do appear. A combination of amitryptaline and sertraline seems to really work for me. I’ve had no aura, no flashing lights in my vision, and much less neurological pain. I’m tired though, and I haven’t been looking after myself. I still eat too much junk food. I really don’t need a big bar of chocolate every evening, but somehow I feel like I do. I’ve put weight on, I’m sure. Which isn’t great because I want to lose quite a bit, but it’s not the end of the world.

The big kids are doing great, with the eldest being made house captain at her school. Their days with us have been full of fun, with lots of train trips and boat trips and days spent in Techniquest doing science. Second kid made a gorgeous crown for a school project, and biggest kid has got really into photography. She turns 11 next week and has asked for a fancy camera.

Iris is still going to the local nursery two mornings a week and absolutely loves it. It’s a bilingual setting, and she keeps singing Welsh songs at home! She’s starting praising me in Welsh when I’ve done something ‘clever’ like using the toilet. Da iawn Mummy! I have no idea what she’s been getting up to there, but there’s a coffee morning coming up where I can talk to her key worker about how she’s doing. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s half term now, and I know she’s really going to miss it. She does have a Halloween disco to go to on Friday though! She’s got a witch costume but keeps telling me she doesn’t want to wear it, so she’ll probably go in her usual clothes.

We’ve not been letting the colder weather keep us indoors, which is lucky really as Iris now knows there’s a whole tv channel that just shows Peppa Pig all day every day and if we stayed at home she’d insist on watching it constantly. Because it’s been colder, we often get the big park in Pontypridd all to ourselves. If we go towards the end of the day there’s a tannoy announcement about the park closing, and Iris takes it much better from the tannoy than from me. This has reduced the amount of public tantrums by quite a few!

Astrid is doing really well. I planned to use the time Iris spends at nursery to spend some time with just Astrid, but she’s decided to sleep all morning nearly every time. It means I get some time to myself, but also means I have no excuse to ignore the dishes and laundry!

After struggling to dye my roots I decided that bleachy blonde hair was way too much hard work, and this week I went brunette. The plan is that it’s similar to my natural colour and so I can just stop dying my hair now. It’s just too much work and I can’t be bothered. I’ll probably change my mind. I have trouble committing to one colour!

With Astrid going to sleep pretty early in the evenings with Iris not far behind, I feel like we’ve got a little bit of time for us again. It’s nice. We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again. It’s weirdly nostalgic for me. Even though I was very late to it as a series, I watched it all when Iris was a tiny newborn. She never slept so I gave up going to bed. It’s such a good series and it kept me from getting really down during the worst days of sleep deprivation. Trevor caught the odd episode here and there, and he’s now enjoying filling in the gaps. I feel a bit bad about all the hours we’re spending watching tv because I really want to read some of my pile of unread books. I guess they can wait. One benefit to tv over books is that I can do something else at the same time. I’ve been crocheting loads, and finally finished Astrid’s star blanket that I started before she was born. Iris has one I made two years ago, and it’s nice that they’ve got one each now. I also made Iris a doll, which she has named ‘Jo with the bow’, but she refuses to play with it and says she doesn’t like it. I’m trying not to let that upset me!

My sister had a new baby when we were away camping in August, and we’ve been trying to get together as often as possible so we can all get to know my new baby niece. It’s great to get all the kids together anyway, as our little two and my sister’s three are all similar ages. I think cousins should be your first friends if possible, and I didn’t spend much time with mine as a kid. Now we’re not in contact at all, and I’d love for my kids and my sister’s kids to be there for each other even when they’re all grown up.

There’s been talk of getting a new kitchen here, even though we’re a long way from having the cash for it. I’m trying to convince Trevor that we need a dishwasher, but I don’t think he’s persuaded yet. We have a fairly good size kitchen, but it’s poorly designed and laid out in such a way that we actually don’t have much surface or storage space. If it was shuffled around we could easily fit a dishwasher plus more cupboards and more worktop space. Our bathroom needs doing too, plus we have a small hallway with a bare concrete floor that needs carpet or something. Our daft dog Seb has a thing for eating underlay and will happily rip up carpet to get to it. Thankfully that tiny hall was the only bit of carpet downstairs. Perhaps it might be better to put laminate in there.

I’ve started to think about what I want to do when it’s time for me to go back to work. I don’t think I’ll be doing anything anytime soon because childcare for two is too expensive. I’m thinking about not going anywhere to work at all, but childminding from home. I have a couple of friends who do it, and although hard work it does look like a good way to make some cash. I’ve worked with small children most of my adult life and have the relevant qualifications already, so it makes sense. I don’t plan on doing anything at least until next September when Iris will start nursery class at school. We applied for her place last week, which felt like a parenting milestone I was not ready for. She’s only 2!

It’s getting colder and the heating has been on a little bit for the first time this season. It feels like winter is finally on it’s way and I’m relieved for a change. Halloween has been spoilt a little bit this year by those stupid idiots dressing as clowns that we keep seeing on the news. The big kids have said they don’t want to go outside on Halloween, and I don’t feel much like it either. There have been quite a few clowns reported to police around here. Hopefully bonfire night will be better! We went to the display in Ynysangharad Park last year, and it was great. We’ll probably do the same this year. I love the big organised displays, but seeing fireworks for sale in supermarkets makes me nervous. How can it be right that anybody can pick up explosives when they’re just popping in for some bread?

We’ve started thinking about Christmas here, and like every year we’ve decided not to buy as much, even though we never manage to stick to any kind of budget. I want to buy Iris a balance bike and perhaps a Lottie doll but other than that I have no idea. Astrid has all of the old toys belonging to three big sisters to play with, so she really doesn’t need anything. Plus she’ll turn 1 just a couple of weeks later, meaning she’ll get even more presents she doesn’t need! I think we’re going to need a serious sort out before we do any shopping.

I don’t have any more news I want to record, so I’m signing off here. I’ll probably think of something else in a minute!

Teenagers

I’ve never parented a teenager, so I’m really not the authority on this. I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong.

I have been a teenager though. I think I was a fairly horrible one. You’d have to ask my mum. I remember that I thought I knew best and that I rarely went home at the time I was told I should. I smoked, drank, kissed boys and even slept at the park when I said I was at a friend’s sleepover. All things I most definitely deserved to be in big trouble for. I never hurt anybody though, and I’m sure I was respectful to my parents. I’m sure I continued to have a loving relationship with my mum and didn’t want to hurt her.

I also remember it being one of the hardest times of my life. I seriously thought I was a grown up, and that everybody needed to back off with the guidance! At the same time I was facing a world I didn’t understand at all and I just wanted my mum to show me the way. My boobs didn’t arrive at the same time as everybody else’s which made me worry they’d never come. When they did I hated them, and the way they made men look at me. I hated my body hair too. Shaving my legs! It was a disaster. I had to do it or be ridiculed, but I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I cut my legs to pieces, every single time. It seemed important to have sex, but sex meant showing the body I hated so much to a boy. It meant seeing a boy’s body!

I was never sure what music I was supposed to like, what to watch on TV, who to hang out with. Could I still invite friends over for tea?

Most of all I was desperate to express myself. Anything that made me a bit more me. I wanted everybody (including my parents) to know that I was a person now, a grown up one, that was going to do things her own way no matter what. I wanted to be edgy and cool, and stand out whilst also blending in. When people described me I wanted everybody to know exactly who was meant. I bleached my hair white, wore red lipstick and a Nirvana hoody every day. Doc Marten boots, black tights. I crimped my hair! Looking back I can see that this was all just part of growing up, and an important part too.

Essentially though, I was a very good kid. I mostly did my homework on time, very rarely got into trouble at school, and didn’t do too badly in my exams. I went to school to learn, and I did learn. Not just school stuff, but how to be a person among other people too. My teachers probably wouldn’t remember me, despite my slightly strange ‘look’ because I just got on with it and did my best.

I know why I did ok, too. It’s because nobody really made a big deal of all of my ‘experiments’ in finding out who I was. My mum was ok with my hair dye and piercings. I don’t remember the school being too bothered either. They were probably more focussed on my brother who had a habit of putting other kids through windows. There was no battle. I wore my school uniform (with a few little tweaks), went to school, and did what I had to do.

The other day somebody I know shared this story on Facebook. I won’t comment on the story. I don’t trust newspapers. That probably isn’t all of the details. They’ll word it in whatever way makes it more interesting, because it isn’t exactly newsworthy to begin with. Essentially the school is punishing a teenage girl for dying her hair purple. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be purple in the picture, but if it is then it’s barely purple at all.

There were a few comments on the post stating ‘they knew the rules, they shouldn’t have let her dye it’ and ‘teenagers need to learn what it’s like in the real world where there are rules’. I do agree with these comments, but only to a point.

The world seems to hate teenagers. People seem to gleefully pounce on any opportunity to punish them. Boundaries they need, I agree. Those are essential to keep them safe. And they do need to learn about the real world. But don’t you think they’d be a lot less rebellious and horrible if we allowed them some flexibility to express themselves? They are changing so rapidly and entering a whole new world of being a grown up. Can’t you remember how hard that was? Is it really beneficial to any kid to disrupt their education to punish them for something trivial that really isn’t hurting anybody? Don’t you remember thinking that all grown ups hated you?

Obviously if they don’t come home at night or they put other teenagers through windows then they probably do need you to step in.

I think it’s even harder for kids now. We didn’t have mobile phones or social media to get the hang of. If you didn’t want people to find you outside school you just didn’t tell them where you live. They couldn’t look you up online. There was no internet bullying. Our parents didn’t have to worry about internet safety or whether we were being groomed in chat rooms. Somehow the streets were safer then too, and we had freedom to roam that kids don’t have now.

The way I see it, they can’t win. They get in trouble if they hang around in groups, but there’s nothing else for them to do. They get in trouble if they spend too much time on computer games or social media. They get in trouble for just trying to work out who they are.