The Hardest Days

The hardest days often start out normal. Even good. I was up early today, way before the kids. I had a coffee in peace, I vacuumed the living room. I got dressed and slapped on my make up ready to face the day. I felt good. 

The boys woke up and had breakfast, played for a bit and then I washed and dressed them and we left the house. We walked in the warm, comforting sunshine with our holiday tans looking lovely against our summer clothes. 

As we approached Omar’s pre school he started to quietly say ‘no no no’. As it dawned on him that he was definitely going inside the no’s became louder until they were full on screams. Then he threw himself on the floor and wouldn’t move as tears streamed down his face. The other mums who had already dropped their little darlings off were having to step over him as he blocked the gate with his tantrum. They gave me the look. You know the one. Half pity, half she-can’t-cope-with-her-brat-of-a-child. 

Omar doesn’t usually do this when I drop him off at pre school and he’s never tantrummed this badly before. He loves pre school, he usually skips straight in. Maybe it’s because we’d just spent an entire week together in the sunshine doing fun things, or maybe he just didn’t fancy pre school today, who knows. I don’t know because he can’t tell me. Because he can’t talk. 

Maybe Omar had post holiday blues. Can’t really blame him.

Anyway, with the help of his key worker I got him through the door. He was clinging onto me. I’d been carrying him on my hip and I totally let go but he clung on for dear life. His key worker prized him off me and assured me I could go and he would be ok. That she would call me in half an hour to let me know he was ok. I didn’t really want to go but I had to. I had his portage worker coming to the house at 9.30 to hand over a report on him following a 3 week assessment she had done. 

So the day had turned a bit shitty but it was salvageable. Omar would settle down and he’d have a good day. He loved pre school and he’d be ok after a few minutes. It was ok.

The portage worker arrived and handed me the assessment folder and her report. 18-24 months. That’s the only bit I saw. My boy, my 3 year old boy has the language skills of a child half his age. My heart broke. Again. It wasn’t a total surprise to me, his speech therapist had told us he is operating around a year behind his actual age. But it’s never any easier to be told again. My heart doesn’t ache any less each time. 

As I was trying to read through the report, holding back tears, my phone rang. The pre school. Omar hadn’t settled, he was still screaming. I could hear him in the background. He’d bitten his lip during his tantrum and it was bleeding. I told them I’d be there as soon as I could and rushed through the questionnaire the portage worker needed me to fill in. I was about to leave to collect distraught Omar when I got another call. He was ok now, he’d calmed down. Leave him there. 

Well that was something at least. 

I sat down again with the portage assessment to read it properly. All I could see were the things he couldn’t do. Things that most 2 year olds can do. Things like ask for a drink, tell me what he’d like to eat, ask to use the potty, make the sounds for different animals. Things that would make his life (and mine) so much easier. 


Some days I focus on the positives. I try to do that most days. He is happy, he is physically healthy, he is safe, secure and loved. And he knows it. It’s much easier to get through the day when I focus on the positives. 

But today, as I was handed in black and white a list of things my child is severely delayed with and unable to do, was not one of those days. 

Today I was overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness because I can’t fix this; sadness because I can’t bear the fact that he will struggle in life and fear because I don’t know what his future holds. 

These are the hardest days.  

Holidaying Abroad With Tots

Although I might be speaking too soon I think this holiday is going quite well. It’s exceeding my expectations anyway, although admittedly, my expectations were that the whole week would be a stressful nightmare. Happily, that is not the case!

I’m in Mallorca with Omar (3), Zaki (11 months) and my mum (she doesn’t want you knowing her age, sorry). We opted for a 4* all inclusive package holiday. I know, I know. It’s a soulless choice and I’m a slave to the capitalist machine. Really sorry for not chucking both my kids in a sling and backpacking around the Far East but quite frankly after the hellish last 12 months I’ve had I needed an easy option and this holiday, so far, has been pretty easy. 

The living room in our spacious apartment. Omar is mesmerised by Scooby Doo in German.
We’re staying in an apartment, so we have facilities to make Zaki’s bottles and a cuppa when we need one, but I don’t have to cook because we’re all inclusive, win! The restaurant is a buffet style one so I can always find something the kids will eat and there’s loads and loads of fruit for dessert, so I don’t feel too bad when they turn their nose up at all the veg I heap onto their plates and have chips. 

The occassional bowl of ice cream is obviously a holiday essential.


We’ve spent most of our days around the pool and both boys LOVE it in the kid
paddling pool. Obviously I have to supervise them in there but it’s no hardship. I actually like being in there, it stops me from melting from the heat.

I bought Zaki a baby swim support seat and I’d definitely recommend one, it was about €8 and would be worth every cent if it was triple that. 


Omar loves wearing a swimming ring and arm bands for some reason (weird kid) but he doesn’t actually need them in the little pool, I don’t think there’s much cope for drowning in a metre of water. 

We went to the beach for a day but to be honest, I can’t stand getting sand everywhere and Omar wasn’t keen on the sea, so as lovely as it was, I don’t think we’ll go back. 

There are lots of potential days out we could have; Alcudia Old Town and Porta Pollensa look beautiful, but this holiday is all about the kids and they just wouldn’t appreciate a day of walking around looking at ruins or eating in upmarket fish restaurants at the marina, so pool days work just fine for us.  

Out for an evening stroll and its still boiling at 7pm.

In the evening we sometimes go for a walk after dinner or have a coffee in the hotel bar but often it’s just bath and bed for the kids and then me and mum read or watch a bit of TV before we go to sleep. There is hotel entertainment on each night but Omar and Zaki are always too tired to stay awake for the cheesy tribute acts and magicians, which is no skin off my nose.

Overall I think we’re all having a great time, just being in the sunshine makes people feel better, don’t you think? If you’re considering going abroad for a sunny holiday with young kids, do it! It’s not as difficult or stressful as you might think, the kids will love it and if nothing else, at least you get to feel the sun on your skin and a break from the washing up. Win. 


If you’ve been on a successful package holiday to somewhere sunny please let me know where in the comments. I’m already thinking about where we’ll go next year. I quite fancy Turkey. 

My Child’s Age Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Number

‘Two. He’s only two.’ Was my reply to the mother who loudly asked ‘how old is he?!’ with disbelief in her voice when I told her that I didn’t need the toilet cubicle thank you, because I was waiting to change my child’s nappy on the changing table.

It’s wasn’t a lie, he was two. But he was a week off his 3rd birthday.  I omitted that information when the mother exclaimed that he was extremely tall for his age. (He is tall for his age anyway, as it goes. He wears 4-5 year clothes, mostly.)

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So anyway. My son has just turned 3 but in terms of some aspects of development he is more like 2. The main delay is with speech and language; he’s not yet talking and he doesn’t understand as much as he should. And so he’s not yet toilet trained because we just can’t communicate with each other enough for him to grasp the concept. I’ve tried 3 times but he just isn’t ready.

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I’ve gotten over the grief of finding out my boy has learning disabilities and now I plough my energy into trying to help him and encourage him wherever I can. So it really pisses me off that I still cringe when strangers ask me how old he is. I shouldn’t care. I should just give them the honest answer without feeling the need to justify his behaviour/silence/nappy to them. But I don’t. I don’t want them to judge him as a child or me as a mother.

The difficulty is, if I say ‘oh he’s just turned 3 but has learning disabilities so is actually more like just turned 2’ the poor strangers don’t know where to put themselves. And if I just tell them his age with no explanation of his delays they assume he’s a brat and I’m a rubbish mother. It’s a tough one.

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Now he is actually 3 I know I’m going to find it even harder. When he was 2 (or ‘only 2′ as I always found myself saying) there were some 2 year olds that were at the same stage as him developmentally. Albeit they had just turned 2 and he was almost 3. But 2’s 2. Now he’s 3 people expect so much more from him.

At the doctors surgery yesterday I was struggling to keep him sat next to me, gripping onto him for dear life if I’m honest. Two old ladies told me to just let him have a wander. ‘Oh I can’t’, I told them. ‘He’d be out of those doors and into the carpark.’ They looked at him. ‘You won’t will you? Tell mummy you’re a big boy and you’ll be good.’ They meant well but they had no idea. If I’d have been able to tell them he was ‘only 2′ their expectations would have lowered instantly.

My son’s age really doesn’t matter. If I tell people he’s 2 they won’t question his behaviour and abilities, although they’ll probably have him pegged as a giant. They’ll tell me he’s going through the ‘terrible two’s’ with a sympathetic look on their faces and assure me that he’ll grow out of it soon. But I refuse to lie. His age in terms of the how many years it’s been since he was born means nothing to him, or to me really. I’m more concerned with the age his brain is operating at. 

He’s 3. My boy is 3. And it ain’t nuthin’ but a number.

They F*ck You Up

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.

They may not mean to, but they do.

Yep. Philip Larkin hit the nail on the head with ‘This Be The Verse’. We can all probably attribute some of our issues to our parents and the way they did (or in some cases didn’t) raise us. Even if they did their absolute best Even if they were attentive and doting and as mumsy and dadsy as could be. 

And if we know that our parents messed us up then we have to know that we’re messing our kids up. And we can’t stop because we don’t even know we’re doing it.

But it works the other way too.

They fuck you up, those kids you had.

They make you feel helpless, useless and like you’ve lost control.

And that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling for the last ten days. I don’t mean that I haven’t been coping with the general parenting stuff or that I’m tired or my house is a tip. Well yeah, that too. But it’s more serious and it’s got me feeling like absolute crap. To the point that I couldn’t face writing any blog posts or even watching tv. I just wanted to cry and sleep. Sleep brought sweet relief from having to think. 

You might have read about my baby Zaki and his heart. Open heart surgery and a 3 week stint in intensive care saved his life but he so very nearly died and life was hell for a while. Then it got better and I dared to think that we might be in for an easier ride for a while. Because we deserved it after what we’d been through, didn’t we?

I know it doesn’t really work that way but I thought that after something so awful, that was our fair share of crapness done with and there’d be nothing else major coming up. But yeah, it doesn’t work that way.

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I’m not quite ready to explain just yet but there are things going on with my oldest boy that are breaking my heart. I don’t have proper answers yet but what I do know is that we’re going to be in for a tough time of it. Again. And yes, I am feeling sorry for myself because quite frankly, it’s not bloody fair.

I’ve been a total mess but I’m starting to pull myself together now, for his sake, so I can get him the help he needs. I’ve done an awful lot of crying and wallowing though and I’m guessing there’s more to come.

See, this is how our kids fuck us up. They make us vulnerable because anything that hurts them or impacts on them in a negative way, hurts us a million times more. And I’ll be honest, I find it hard to deal with. Especially when everything is totally out of my control and nothing I do will change the outcome.

I’m sure it’s not healthy to love our kids to the extent that we do. For our whole happiness and wellbeing to depend on their happiness and wellbeing just cannot be healthy. And that’s how they fuck us up.

Get out as early as you can,

And don’t have any kids yourself.

Lately I’ve found myself telling people they really ought to consider not having any kids… ‘I mean, if you can live without them, do. Don’t put yourself through it…’ I said.

Now that my kids are here I love them with every fibre of my being, of course. I couldn’t live without them. But if I could stop my currently childless friends going through the pain that they bring, I would. I don’t buy into the ‘oh you need the tough times to appreciate the good times‘ school of thought either. I can do without the tough times. Honestly. They do nothing for me.

Just give me the good times, please. I promise I’ll appreciate them.

 

At What Age Should I Leave My Baby Overnight?

It started when my baby was 4 months old – my friends suggesting I leave him for a day and night to hang out with them. They are good friends, great friends, and I have no doubt they believed it would be good for me to be away from my kids for a night. To relax, to eat a meal without being interrupted every 10 seconds and to get some gorgeous, uninterrupted, deep sleep. It does sound good. Especially the sleep part. That sounds marvellous actually.

At 4 months old I wasn’t ready to leave my baby
But it was never going to happen that early on. My baby had a rocky start, which no doubt has made me super cautious with him. But regardless of that, I really don’t think I would’ve been ready to leave him at 4 months old, even if he hadn’t had heart surgery. I wasn’t ready to leave my first baby that early either. So I told my friends that and they accepted it.

My baby is now 7 months old and the issue has come up again and again. My friends and I would excitedly be arranging something through a group text chat and it would dawn on me that they were assuming we would have an overnight stay somewhere. And that I would be fine that. But I’m not. Not yet anyway.

And there’s another issue… my husband works unsociable hours and he wouldn’t be able to look after the kids if I was away for a night, so my mum would have to step in. Can I really ask her to have my baby overnight knowing that he is the world’s worst sleeper and still has at least one night feed? I don’t think I can. That’s assuming she was even free to look after my kids on the night in question. She still works part time and has other commitments that keep her really busy. It’s also assuming that she would agree to have the baby overnight and she won’t, she’s too worried he’ll stop breathing or turn blue.

Still not ready to leave him at 7 months.
But aside from all that, I am just not ready. Even if my mum was itching to have the baby overnight, or there was someone else I trusted to look after him, I’m not ready to leave him for that long. I’m not ready to not put him to bed and I’m not ready to not be there when he wakes.

Am I being clingy? Do I just need to convince my mum to have him overnight, bite the bullet and go? Or is it still too early and my friends just don’t get it? If it is too early, at what age should you leave your baby overnight?

I suppose the answer to the question is, when you’re ready. When you’re ready because you feel your baby’s ready. When your baby wouldn’t be distressed at you not being there. When a night away from your baby wouldn’t just be a huge worry-fest consisting of tears on the drive away and a million calls home. When you would actually be able to enjoy the time away to let your hair down and put yourself first for a little while.

I’m not there yet and I don’t know when I will be but I refuse to give myself a deadline of say 10 months, 1 year or even 2 years. When I feel ready I will leave my baby for a night but not a minute before.

My friends don’t get it, they think I’m being over-protective. They don’t say that but say other things like ‘oh your baby’s a tough cookie, he won’t even notice you’ve gone, don’t be silly…’ etc. They don’t seem to get that it’s me who isn’t ready for a night of separation yet. Or if they do get that, they think it’s totally unreasonable. 

And don’t get me wrong, I know there are some mums (and dads) who leave their baby’s overnight much earlier. Through choice or through necessity. I’m not saying they shouldn’t, or judging them at all. The same way I hope they wouldn’t judge me for not wanting to leave my baby yet. 

  
I don’t think there’s a golden rule when it comes to this issue. Except only leave them when you are ready to. Otherwise the night away won’t be any fun anyway and what’s the point in that? My view is that you may as well bank the babysitting hours for when you are ready to go all out and have a baby-free blast. 

I’d love to hear other people’s views on this. Do you agree with me or am I just being a massive mumbot?